Each Tool Explained
Helpful Information For Beginners
This isn’t a stained glass kits wish list, that would be far longer! This page introduces you to stained glass tools and materials and helps you decide which ones you really need.
* Tools needed for copper foil kits are tagged with 'C'.
* Lead came tools are labelled 'L'.
Those tools essential for both techniques are labelled 'C & L'.
Stained Glass Starter Kits
If you don't want to choose and buy each item individually, you can always buy a starter kit. Ready-made stained glass kits from Delphi Glass
make the whole process easy and are a great choice if you’re just starting up.
There's quite a few different ones, so if you're not sure which you need, you can read my review of each and find the best one for you here
- Cutter. C & L I’d recommend an oil-filled cutter for all kits, simply because I don't like the cutting stained glass without oil. They've all got the same tungsten carbide wheels, but I'd recommend Toyo cutters. I've used mine for years.
If you're a fuser, it's best not to use oil as it leaves greasy marks which can fire in permanently.
There's different shapes to suit different people. If you have trouble applying pressure with a pen-shaped cutter, you could try a pistol grip cutter.
Grozer Pliers and Pencil Cutter
- Grozing Pliers or Breaker/Grozers. C & L These pliers are specifically made for making stained glass. They remove any splinters of glass after the scoreline has been broken, or eat into sharply angled curves.
- Safety Goggles. C & L A common but essential item in all stained glass kits.
- Grinder. C If you are doing copper foiling, then you will definitely need a grinder if you're doing lots of curves! You can just about get away without one if you're using straight lines all the time! Which rules out most of us.You can get away without one if you are leading, as the lead came covers the edge of the glass.
If you're not sure which one to go for, there's some recommendations here.
If you don't know where to start with tools, this eBook will explain everything
Leading and Foiling Tools
- Lead Knife. L These knives nicely weighted to bang in the horseshoe nails and they cut the came accurately. Keep them sharp for best results.
You can also buy lead nippers, which are more like pliers. They're easier to use and great for all but the very long, thin angles.
Lead came panel with horse-shoe nails
- Fid. C & L This is an extremely useful, cheap plastic tool and essential for all kits. It opens up lead cames before leading and presses them down after cementing. Use it for burnishing if you’re a copper foiler.
- Lead Stretcher or Vice. L Holds the end of your 6ft lead cames firmly so that you can stretch them before leading.
- Lead Came. L Comes in 6ft lengths in lots of different widths so choose carefully to suit your design. You won’t need this for copper foiling, but you might want to use it or zinc came as a frame for your panel.
- Copper Foil. C Think Sellotape but narrow, sticky-backed copper instead. Used for sticking to the edge of each glass shape so that the solder can stick the pieces together. Comes in different widths. ¼” is best for beginners.
Soldering Stained Glass Tools
- Soldering Irons. C & L You need at least a 100-watt soldering iron. They’re light, safe, flexible and – best of all – thermostatically controlled if you buy one 100 watt or above.
This is an expensive and essential part of all stained glass kits, and worth spending some time thinking about. There's a helpful page on the best soldering irons here if you are thinking of buying one.
Heating solder over the lead joint
- Flux. C & L Use a flux – either a liquid flux or tallow – to ensure the solder runs smoothly and sticks to the lead. This is essential, the solder will just roll off the lead or foil if you don't use it.
- Solder. C & L Solder that’s 60% lead and 40% tin is standard for copperfoil work and 50/50 is best for lead work. Of course, you can solder lead with 60/40 too.
It’s all to do with melting temperatures. The 60/40 runs smoothly and lends itself to foiling.
Cementing And Polishing Tools
- Black Cement or Leaded Light Cement. L This is a black putty that goes under the came to make it strong and weatherproof. You can make this yourself, but it’s horribly messy.
- Whiting Powder. L This is just chalk dust. Use a mask when you're using this.
Simply sprinkle the whiting powder on after you've pressed the putty under the lead. Use a brush and a bit of elbow grease to remove all the mess. It's surprising how quickly it soaks it all up.
Using whiting to brush off black cement
- Grate Polish. L Use a standard shoe brush to apply polish and blacken your lead cames. This finishes your work off beautifully.
- Patina. C Use liquid patina – it comes in different finishes – for stained glass copper foil projects. It changes the color of your soldered foil after you've cleaned your panel. It comes in black and copper. It's not essential, as you can leave the solder silver and just polish it.
Suppliers Of Kits and Tools
Any outlet that sells stained glass art supplies will stock these essential tools. If there isn’t a store near you don’t worry, as there are many online stained glass suppliers that will ship all over the world.
I’ve always found Delphi Glass to be very helpful and prompt. They stock just about everything you could possibly think of. The only down side is trying not to resist all the unnecessary delights available! If you stick to the list above you should be ok.
If you need more help with a buying guide and stained glass lists and explanations of tools my 'Discovering Tools and Materials eBook'
will help you.
So now you know what tools are needed to make up a decent stained glass kit you might want to have a look at my free how to make stained glass tutorials.
They start right from the beginning and take you through each step, with useful photos and videos.
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