› Leading A Came Panel

Leading A Came Panel

Simple Instructions For Beginners


This is where making stained glass really gets exciting! Once you have to cut all your glass pieces out, the next step is to join them together using stained glass lead came. The lead comes in 6 foot lengths or on a spool. It can either be flat or rounded and comes in different widths, from 5/64 to 1/2 inch.

Leading is one of the trickiest things to learn, so take your time and be patient. It's worth it! For the first time you start to see your panel beginning to take shape and looking like a real stained glass window.

What You Need

all the tools for stained glass leading

Materials and tools for leading a panel

Stained glass came, cut glass pieces, horseshoe nails, lead knife or lead nippers, lead stretcher, pliers, a piece of chipboard roughly 3 inches (75mm) bigger than your panel all round, 4 straight wooden batons, pattern, masking tape, fid, hammer, set square and nails.


Making A Lead Came Panel

1. How To Stretch And Open Up The Came

When you first get your came it is floppy and bends all over the place. To make it stronger and easier to use it has to be stretched.
- Put the end of the lead into the jaws of the stretcher and hold the other end with the pliers.
- Pull at it with little sharp tugs until you can’t feel any more ‘give’.
- Carefully place the came on a table. Using the fat end of the fid, run it inside both channels of the lead. This opens it up so that you can fit the putty in easily later.


came in stretcher and fid opening lead

Came in lead stretcher and opening up lead with fid

2. Preparing The Leading Up Board

- Tape your pattern flat onto a piece of board, leaving about 3 inches around each edge.
- Before you make your jig with the first 2 wooden batons, make sure you leave room for the outside leaf of the lead came. Your glass will not fit the pattern if you don't do this.
- Use the set square to make sure the wood is at right angles.


jig for stained glass

Nailing the jig in the correct place

3. Cutting The Border Lead

The first pieces of stained glass lead came to cut are the vertical and horizontal ones.
- Mark the angle you want to cut across the top of the lead with the lead knife or a pen.
- Then push the lead knife gently and vertically through the top flange, rocking it from side to side to make sure you don’t squash the lead. If you are using lead nippers, simply line them up with your mark and cut through the came.
- Use a scrap of your border came to work out what length to cut these leads.
Once you’ve got the outside leads in you can put your first piece of glass in.


showing how to lead first piece of glass into stained glass panel

Marking the angle before cutting

how to use lead knife and lead nipper

Cutting came with a lead knife (left) and nippers (right)

4. Leading The Panel

The internal leads used for leaded panels are usually 3/16 (5mm) or 1/4 inch (6mm). Any wider and they start to look too much and hide the glass. You can use different widths in the same piece to make part of it stand out if you like.
- Stretch and open the channels of the internal leads as before.
- Work out and mark the angle at which one lead meets the other before cutting.
- Cut the leads a little shorter than the glass, to make room for the flange it's butting up to. You can use a scrap piece of came as a gauge to help.


what length to cut lead came

Cutting the leads the right length

- Some angles are more difficult than others. Long, thin ones are the most tricky, as it's easy to squash them.


leaded panel with difficult angle of lead to cut

The most difficult angles to cut


lead knife cutting difficult angle

How to cut long thin angles

5. Holding It All In Place

As the panel grows, you'll find that the pieces want to keep popping out all over the place.
- Use horseshoe nails banged into little pieces of scrap lead to keep everything in place.
- Build up the glass pieces from the left hand corner of your board if you’re right-handed.
- Try and carry through the leads that run vertically. This makes a stronger panel.


6. Making Sure The Panel Is The Right Size

- Keep checking that you're sticking to your pattern.
- Don't panic if your panel is getting bigger, this often happens. Just grind or groze the glass pieces down as you go.


7. Cutting The Final Leads

- Carefully rest the came along the edge of your panel to see what length you need.
- Measure, mark and cut the vertical lead, making sure you leave room for the horizontal one.
- Repeat for the horizontal lead.


how to measure border lead

Measuring the border lead

- Now nail in the two remaining batons, checking they are at right anges and that the panel is the correct size.


checking lead panel with set square

Using the set square to check right angles

Green leaded cactus ready for soldering

Leaded panel ready for soldering

Helpful Resources


Here's a useful short video showing how to cut lead came with three different tools; a knife, nippers and angle cutter.




Video showing how to cut lead with three different cutting tools


Once you're happy that the leading is neat and finished you're ready to move on to Soldering Stained Glass.


 

 

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