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Tech Tips Table of Contents

About Stained Glass
Tools and Supplies
Glass Cutting
Breaking Glass
Cutting Circles
Project Patterns
How to Cut Glass to a Pattern
Soldering Technique
Leading Technique
Copper Foil Technique
Making a Lampshade

Whenever you break glass be sure to keep it away from your face. There are three methods of breaking glass:

  1. Hand Method: When breaking glass using your hands, grasp the glass on the edge that is closest to you, your thumbs on the top side of the glass on each side of the score line, with your index fingers on the underside of the glass. Holding the glass firmly, make a sharp upward and outward motion with both hands. The glass should snap cleanly and easily along the score.

    Straight score lines can also be broken on the edge of your work table. But this method should be used only for larger pieces. Position the score line so that it is parallel to , but slightly over the edge of your work table. With one hand firmly holding the glass on the table, with a downward movement, snap off the piece of the glass directly along the score with a downward movement.

    Another way to break glass is to tap the glass with the ball end of your cutter on the underside of your glass directly along the score line. Tapping can most safely be accomplished by turning the glass over on your work table. Firmly tap along the score line until the glass separates.

  2. Plier Method-Breaking Pliers: Glass breaking pliers are used like your hands to break off pieces of glass at the score line. Position the jaws of the pliers parallel to, but not on the score line where one of your hands would normally be. Make a sharp upward and outward movement.

    Breakers will separate the piece of glass from your score line. They are used to remove narrow strips and small pieces of glass where your hands cannot do the job safely.

  3. Plier Method-Running Pliers: The concave and convex jaws of this plier will "run" a score line from one end of the glass to another. The score line in the glass is lined up directly with the notch in the upper jaw, the handles are squeezed gently, resulting in a clean break along the score line. Some models of runners are adjustable for thickness of glass.

    It is also possible to break simple concave and convex curves using your running pliers. Line up pliers to one end of your score line and gently squeeze handles until you see the run in the glass at about the halfway point. Repeat from the other end of the score line. Continue to alternate until the glass separates.

  4. Morton Tool System: This system of breaking glass works on the same principle as the running pliers described previously. It consists of a pressure block with a concave undersurface used with a running button that has a convex upper surface on top of an open grid work surface.

    With practice, it will allow the novice to accomplish many breaks that were once felt to be impossible by master glass cutters. The pressure block is used to control the breaking pressure. The score line in positioned on top of the runner button; pressure is applied with the pressure block until the run in glass appears. The glass is continually moved along the runner button and the pressure block is used until the run in the score line is complete.

    • Benefits of the system are:
    • You will be able to bring pressure to areas that running pliers cannot reach, and therefore, you can easily break serpentine shapes.
    • This system is safer to work with, since glass is not broken by holding it in your hands.
    • The special cutting surface will help you keep glass chips off your work surface.

Go to "Cutting Circles"

Not only are the Tech Tips a great way to learn about stained glass, but there's a wealth of information waiting for you in Glass Chat! Glass Chat is a Warner Stained Glass online message board where stained glass artists from all over the world meet to discuss stained glass.

If you're looking for more information on this subject, you can try searching through the Glass Chat archives by entering a word or phrase in the box below.


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