10 Things to Avoid When Cutting Art Glass for Fusing – Part 1
How to Make Your Glass Cutting Experience More Effective and Fun
Some people have learned glass cutting as part of an introductory stained glass or glass fusing class or workshop. Others have only learned the very rudimentary skills in a trial-and-error fashion, or by a friend giving them a few pointers and maybe (if you are lucky) a demonstration.
This guide is meant to give you some basic rules and guidelines to make your experience a lot more pleasant and successful. I am writing this based on my 25+ years of experience in working with art glass, both stained (copper foil and lead came techniques) and fused glass. I have come to love cutting glass. In fact, it is my favorite part of the process.
So, here is what NOT to do when cutting any glass, especially art glass:
- 1. Avoid pressing too hard when you make the score in the glass. You will know you are pressing too hard because the score line will be a VERY visible “scratch” and you may even see tiny shards of glass flying away from the score line as you move your cutter wheel across the glass surface. Sometimes you can still break along such a score line, but the results are not very predictable. This is especially important when cutting some of the thin dichroic or other fusing glass.
- 2. Also, avoid pressing too lightly when making the score. This will be evident in several ways. You will not be able to hear the score being made and/or the score line will be very faint, if visible at all. In thicker glass especially it will be very difficult to break along such a score or the break will not follow the score line and may veer off in a direction you do not want.
A good score will be visible, consistent, and will break easily. It will be made with a medium but firm, consistent pressure. I have found this easier to do using a pistol-grip glass cutter which is more ergonomic to hold. Also, by leaning my body weight into my score, rather than relying only on pressure from the wrist, I have had better success. Standing while scoring is recommended rather than sitting down, I have found.
- 3. NEVER re-score over a line you have scored already. This is a definite No-No! When you do this, you not only ruin your cutter very quickly if you do it repeatedly, but you also run the risk of your glass not breaking well. By scoring more than once at the same place, the molecules become very “confused” (my term!) and do not follow the rules of breaking. Besides, a good glass cutter is expensive, so why make its useful life so short?
- 4. Do not run your glass cutter right off the edge of the glass and make it go “clunk” as your cutter hits the table. It may sound kind of interesting, but it also will shorten the life of your cutter, and it is really not necessary. That brings me to the next point.
- 5. Don’t forget to start your score near one edge of the glass piece and end at another edge of the glass. This may seem obvious to the seasoned glass cutter, yet it is very important. Here is a clue about how close to the edge you need to start and finish your score. It does not have to be exactly at the corner of both edges. In fact, starting and ending your score on the top surface of the glass near the edge (within about a sixteenth to an eighth of an inch from the actual edge) is sufficient.
Thanks for reading this little guide. Happy cutting! For the rest of this guide (Tips 6 – 10), see “10 Things to Avoid When Cutting Glass – Part 2”.