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.


  1. Thanks for describing the types of glass cutter for Glass Cutting

  2. This course is useful for newbies. And the tool is a must to have.

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