Wednesday, September 28, 2011

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.


  1. God bless you...been looking for just this :) Thank you so much!