Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Glass Cutter Types And Brands

For doing stained glass or other glass crafts, the most basic and most often used tool is the glass cutter. Contrary to the name, cutters do not actually cut the glass, but score it and allow it to be broken along the score. There are a large variety of glass cutter types and brands available today. Popular brands include Toyo, Perfect score, Fletcher, Creator’s Stained Glass, Inland, and Silberschnitt. All cutters have a head with a cutting wheel mounted inside. Wheels are either steel or tungsten carbide. Always choose tungsten wheels as they are stronger and have a longer life. Nearly all cutters require some kind of oil lubrication for a smooth score and to prolong the life of the wheel. Of the common handheld cutters, there are oil-filled/self lubricating and non oil-filled cutters. Oil-filled cutters have a reservoir of lubricating oil inside them and a tiny wick in the head which conducts the oil directly to the wheel. There are also many specialty cutters and accessories to go along with them.

Handheld Cutters

Toyo is the most popular brand of glass cutter and offers the greatest variety including pencil grip, pistol grip, and special grip cutters. Perfect Score is also popular brand.

Pencil Grip Cutters

This glass cutter has a straight shaft and is comfortable to hold and is oil-filled. This cutter can be pushed or pulled. Either is fine as long as the wheel is clearly visible. As the name suggests it can be held like a pencil, but may also be held like a dagger when pulling. Keep a constant pressure as you score until the wheel rolls off the edge of the glass. As with every cutter, you will hear and feel a rather pleasant scoring sound as the wheel rolls across the glass. Pencil grip cutters come in a variety of colors and brands.

Pistol Grip Cutters

First manufactured by Toyo, this glass cutter features a hollow pistol-like grip which can be filled with lubricating oil. It is very comfortable to hold and puts less strain on the wrists. This is probably the most popular glass cutter for beginners and was the same kind of cutter I first learned with.There are many different colors and brands.

Toyo Custom Grip Cutter

The Custom Grip along with the Thomas Grip both have a unique design and are the next generation cutters by Toyo. They are both oil-filled. The Custom Grip is short with a saddle to be held between the thumb and index finger. The saddle is adjustable to four different heights. It offers a lot of flexibility. Exclusive to this glass cutter is the revolutionary “tap wheel” design. The wheel has eight cams which create taps on the wheel as you score, allowing the wheel to cut deeper into the glass. It requires less pressure to use, prolongs the life of the wheel, and makes for a better score.

Toyo Thomas Grip Cutter

This next generation glass cutter is even smaller than the Custom Grip. It also has a saddle and is almost invisible while holding. Your index finger rests squarely on the head. The Thomas Grip features a swivel head and is easy to guide. This cutter is good for people with weak wrists of fingers.

Fletcher Glass Cutter

This is old school. This is the original type of handheld glass cutter as seen in many cartoons. It’s simple and bare bones. It has a thin metal shaft and a ball at the end for taping the glass to break it. The notches at the top are used to snap off any remaining glass like a pair of pliers if the break was not clean. It can be touched to an oil-soaked cloth for lubrication. These cutters are cheap, but wear out quickly. Fletcher is an old, respected name in glass tools. Today they produce many kinds of cutters including oil-filled and pistol grip ones.

Pro-Score Glass Cutter

This lesser known glass cutter, made in the USA by MacInnes, is unique among cutters for two reasons. First, the precision tungsten wheel does not require any oil lubrication, though oil can be used. Second, it’s the only cutter that comes in right and left-handed designs. The shaft is a solid piece of metal with comfortable beveled shape and a ball at the end. These extra sharp cutters require less pressure to use. MacInnes tools are designed for industrial uses and less for hobbyists, but are great for stained glass.

Specialty Glass Cutters

Cutter’s Mate

This looks like something which belongs on a drafting table. This glass cutter by Creator’s Stained Glass makes scoring easy. The arm guides the cutter smoothly across the glass, while maintaining a perfect 90 degree angle. The head rotates a full 360 degrees which lets you cut any curve or shape. It can easily score glass sitting down. It’s good for the professional or the hobbyist. This is especially useful for people who have physical difficulties in cutting.

Beetle Bits Cutting System

Also by Creator’s Stained Glass, this system is simple and easy to use. It has compass dials resembling beetles with angles clearly marked for cutting shapes. It’s also excellent for cutting strips. It’s designed to use with a waffle grid surface.

Score one

This table mounted glass cutter by Inland uses an opposite strategy. The cutter remains stationary while you move the glass. One hand guides the glass while the other rotates the wheel on the side of the cutter. It can also be used for cutting circles.

Circle and Strip Glass Cutters

As the names suggest, these table top cutters are perfect for making circle or strip cuts. There are various types and brands and are sometimes combined. Some come with a cutter built in, while others are meant to be used by inserting your existing handheld cutter. These are more for the professional who has a lot of cutting to do.

Bottle Cutter

Have you ever had a beautiful old bottle or jar and didn’t know what to do with it? With this glass cutter by Armor, you’ll have fun transforming them into planters, bowls, or candle holders. Or use the bottoms to make a window. Simple and fun to use.

Mosaic Glass Cutter/Disk Nippers

This looks like a pair of pliers with two wheel cutters at the end. These are used in mosaic glass work, where many small pieces are cut from a strip of glass.

Glass Cutter Pliers

These are a pair of breaking pliers with a cutting wheel built in. Excellent for mosaic cutting and do-it-yourself home improvement projects.

Glass Cutter Accessories

In addition to replacement heads and wheels, these are some popular accessories for your glass cutter.

Glass Cozy
This is a cushioned foam grip that fits over the handle of your pistol or pencil grip glass cutter to give you comfort and control.

Safety glasses
A must with any kind of glass work.

Cutting Oil
Most cutters require lubrication. You can buy specialty oil for cutting and filling your glass cutter. However, other types of oil may be used. Sewing machine oil, 3-in-1 oil, lamp oil, and kerosene are all good substitutes.

Glass Cutting Square
Just as carpenters use them for marking straight lines, glass cutters need them too. Most are made of plastic as not to scratch the glass and have a lip that fits over the edge of the glass to protect your thumb and give you more stability.

How To Use a Glass Cutter

Step one: take the glass cutter out of the box. (just kiddng)
For just about any glass craft, cutting glass is basic technique. Contrary to the name, glass cutters do not actually cut through the glass. It’s not like sawing through wood. Cutters make a score line across the surface and allow the glass to be broken along the score. In glass work, scoring and cutting are synonymous terms. Cutting glass is not particularly difficult, but it takes a bit of skill and practice. It can be made much easier by following a few simple guidelines.

Before you cut

1. Cutting stained glass usually involves cutting shapes from paper pattern pieces. There are several ways to do this:

a. You can trace the piece with a marker and then cut on the line. Remember to cut on the inside of the line or your piece will be too big.
b. If the glass is clear or translucent, you can place the paper pattern under the glass and cut along the lines.
c. I usually glue the pieces directly to the top of the glass with a glue stick and cut around them. The paper and glue are can be easily washed off later.

2. Always make sure the surface of the glass is clean and free of any debris. Running your finger along the surface is good enough.

3. It's a good idea to always use oil. Make sure your cutting wheel is well lubricated before you start. For oil-filled cutters, roll the wheel across a test piece of glass to make sure the oil is flowing. For non oil filled cutters, dip the wheel in oil or touch it to an oil-soaked cloth.

When you cut

1. The wheel of your glass cutter must always be visible.

2. The wheel should be perpendicular to the glass. This does not mean however, that you have to hold your cutter straight up and down. In fact doing so will probably make it impossible to see the wheel. You can hold the cutter in any position that is comfortable. It’s not like turning the corner on your motorcycle. You don’t lean into curves.

3. If possible, stand while cutting. You will have better control of the cutter and be able to see the wheel better.

4. Always cut on the smoothest side of the glass. Sometimes glass is textured.

5. Always run the cutter completely from one side of the glass to the other. Never stop a score in the middle of the glass.

6. For tight curves, make several smaller cuts. Glass breaks easier along more or less straight lines rather than tight corners.

7. Maintain a constant pressure while cutting. This is perhaps the trickiest thing to learn for beginners. If the cut is too light or inconsistent, the glass won’t break the way you want it. If you push too hard, you can gouge the glass and make the break go off score. If you cut glass properly, you will feel and hear a rather pleasant ripping or static sound as the wheel rolls across the glass.

8. Always start with the most difficult cut first. Also, cut from the narrowest angle to the widest.

9. You can stop in the middle of a cut, but don’t take your cutter off the glass.

After you cut-Breaking

1. There are several ways to break the glass after scoring:

a. Use your hands. Simply hold the glass with two hands and twist your wrists to break along the score, just as you would break a potato chip in half.
b. Place a pencil under the glass along the score and gently push down on either side with both hands.
c. Use running pliers. Match the line on the head of the pliers with the score line on the edge of the glass you finished scoring on. Gently apply pressure and break the glass along the score.
d. If it's a straight cut, you can break it over the edge of the worktable.

2. If the score wasn’t clean, use grozing pliers to break off any excess glass.

3. Sand the edges of your cut glass with sand paper or a glass grinder, but be sure to use water or you risk inhaling the glass dust.

Glass Cutting: Buy A Glass Cutter Tool and Oil Online

Whether for stained glass or a do-it-yourself home improvement glass project, the most important tool you need is a glass cutter. The best deals and on the web with a wide variety are available from Some of these bestselling glass cutter tools are nearly half the price as found elsewhere.

Glass Cutter Pliers

An Amazon bestseller! This versatile cutting tool can be used to cut glass or tile. It features a tungsten carbide scribing wheel which is far stronger and lasts longer than the older steel wheels and “breaking wings” which allow for easy and clean breaks. It’s simple to use and requires minimal pressure to break. It can be used for a variety of projects and is especially good for the do-it-yourselfer.

Perfect Score Professional Oil-Feed Glass Cutter

The heavy duty metal handle of this glass cutter acts as a reservoir for the glass cutting oil. The automatic oil dispensing system lubricates the wheel and gives you a perfect cut every time. It’s great for the professional or the hobbyist. It is convenient to use and easily fits into your glass cutter pouch for use around the studio or in the field.

Perfect Score Pistol Grip Oil Feed Glass Cutter

The pistol grip of this cutter gives you outstanding comfort and control, while minimizing hand and wrist strain. The clear, hollow handle lets you to see the level of cutting oil and the screw on brass cap allows you control the flow of oil to the cutting wheel. This is a favorite for the beginning stained glass student.

Toyo Custom Grip Supercutter

Toyo is the name of quality in Glass Cutters today. This next-generation cutter has a unique design. It has a small saddle that fits comfortably between your thumb and forefinger and allows you more control with less fatigue. The four way adjustable grip fits almost any hand position. Also unique to this cutter is the new Tap Wheel system. The head has eight microscopic cams which tap the wheel, driving it deeper into the glass and requires less pressure. Comes in a variety of colors. Warning, If you try the Supercutter, you’ll never go back to your old one.

Basic Cutters

All of these old type, basic cutters are no frills, but get the job done. They have a ball at the end for tapping the glass to break it and notches near the head for breaking off any excess glass like a pair of pliers. And between 3 and 4 dollars, they can fit anyone’s budget.

Fletcher Carbide Wheel Glass Cutter

Fletcher is one of the oldest and most respected names in glass cutting. These high quality tools feature durable tungsten carbide wheels for a long life and excellent scoring. Designed for industrial use or stained glass.

Wheeler Rex Glass Tube Cutter

This unique cutter can be used to cut any kind of glass or porcelain tube. Convenient to carry and easy to use. Just wrap the chain around the tube and insert it through the metal jaws. A quick twist of the wrist and a slight squeeze and pop, you’re done.

Bottle And Jar Cutter

This is a fun way to recycle and remake old bottles and jars.

Glass Cutting Oil
Nearly all glass cutters require cutting oil. A must have for any artist. If in doubt, use oil.
Running Pliers

Used to break the glass along the score. Line up the head to the score line and gently squeeze.
Grozing Pliers

Used to snap off any excess glass after the break.

Glass Cutter And Pencil Pouch

This Pouch for your belt has three pockets for your pencils or glass cutters and a strap for hanging measuring tape or pliers. Makes for ease and convenience around the workshop.