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.
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.
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 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.
3. Cutting The Border Lead
Nailing the jig in the correct place
Marking the angle before cutting
4. Leading The Panel
Cutting came with a lead knife (left) and nippers (right)
- Some angles are more difficult than others. Long, thin ones are the most tricky, as it's easy to squash them.
Cutting the leads the right length
The most difficult angles to cut
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.
- Now nail in the two remaining batons, checking they are at right anges and that the panel is the correct size.
Measuring the border lead
Using the set square to check right angles
Leaded panel ready for soldering
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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