Soldering Beaded Edges

Stained Glass Tutorial

Learning how to do stained glass means getting to grips with soldering those tricky edges. You don't want to let untidy finishing spoil your beautiful glasswork. This stained glass tutorial shows you how to make a lovely rounded edge for your suncatcher.

Once you've soldered all the inside copper foil seams, you need to do the same to the outside edge.
This is a little bit more difficult, as there's three surfaces to deal with instead of just the one, and one of them is vertical!

What You Need

60/40 solder, flux, soldering iron and stand, wet sponge for cleaning tip, Q-tips or cheap brush to apply the flux and heat resistant gloves.
Optional: bricks or similar to hold your glass vertical.

Soldering Edges

1. Tinning the front and back edges

"Tinning" means covering the copper foil with solder.

soldering copper foil top edge

Apply flux and tin the top face with a thin layer of solder

- Paint the liquid flux over the edge with the Q-tip. Be generous with it, too little flux will stop the solder sticking
- Tin the top face of your edge.
- To do this simply add a few blobs of solder to the foil and melt it along the top edge with the soldering iron.
- Turn your piece over and do the same to the back face.
- Don't worry about the solder spilling over the sides, you'll use that in a minute.

beading stained glass edge

Tin second side and start soldering the edge

2. Beading the edge

Beading means creating a rounded edge with the solder.

The secret with edges is to keep moving your stained glass so that the area you're working on stays as horizontal as possible. This stops the solder running off or flattening out.

- Put your heat resistant glove on, or prop your stained glass up between two bricks
- Join the blobs that are already on the edge by heating them with the iron
- Move slowly along, holding and lifting, making sure that the solder is rounded as you go

stained glass soldered edge

A soldered beaded edge

- Turn the panel as you go so that the piece you're working on stays horizontal
- If you need to add more solder, put it on the tip of the iron and add it to the edge
- You can get rid of excess solder by 'flicking' it off sharply. Be careful though, it will burn where it lands!

You can always practice on small scrap pieces of foiled stained glass before you start 'for real'. By the end you will have a neat rounded edge and sides.

glass with neat soldered edge

Glass with rounded soldered edge

Wipe the flux off with a damp towel, but don't worry too much about making it perfectly clean now. There's the hooks to attach before you get to the polishing stage.

Helpful Resources

This guy is a genius. The whole how to do stained glass video is 13 minutes and I'd highly recommend watching it all. If you haven't got time, go straight to 7mins 25 secs and the soldering edges sequence lasts one minute.

Great idea to bend the solder up like that and take a little bit from the top. Inspirational.

How to do stained glass beaded edge, very skilfully!

Now you've soldered your edge, you're ready for the next step, Attaching Hooks.



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