A Note From Josie Cirincione:
I have a friend who is a textile artist. When she has a spark of an idea she envisions the process using fiber as her medium. That’s how I feel about soldering. I see things encased in glass or segments of glass soldered together to make a larger dimensional piece.
I am so excited about the release of my new book, Solder Technique Studio, and the opportunity to share with you everything that I have learned through the years, so I want to introduce you to the first building block in the process, “Learning how to cut straight lines.” (Keep reading for details about the giveaway!)
(This tutorial was previously published in the book Solder Technique Studio by Giuseppina “Josie” Cirincione, copyright 2012; republished here courtesy of CreateMixedMedia.com.)
Cutting Glass: Cutting Straight Lines
When cutting glass think of it as scoring a piece of paper. Once you get a feel of how much pressure you need to apply, it’s a fairly easy technique to master. If you plan on cutting multiple pieces of glass that need to
be the same size, look into a Morton glass cutting system. It’s essentially a jig for cutting glass. For more information and video tutorials, check out their site: mortonglass.com.
• Fine-tip Sharpie
• Metal ruler with corked back
• Toyo pencil-grip glass cutter and cutting oil
• Safety glasses & gloves
• Cutting grid or piece of foam core larger than the glass
• Running pliers
• 200-grit diamond sanding sponge
• Make sure you wear safety glasses and gloves.
Using your ruler and fine-tip Sharpie, measure 1″ (25mm) in from the outer edge of the glass. Mark it by making tick marks with the Sharpie. Repeat this measurement on the other edge of the glass. Loosen the top of the cutter to release the cutting oil. If you are getting too much oil, tighten it up a bit.
Notice that the cutting wheel is in the center of the cutting head. Place the ruler a couple millimeters away from the tick marks. Place the wheel on the mark and adjust the ruler so that the wheel sits right on the mark and the edge of the ruler is touching the outside edge of the cutting head. The ruler is only used as a straight hard edge that will guide the cutter.
Make the same adjustment at the top. Apply enough pressure on the ruler so it does not slide around on the glass. For good measure, place the wheel on the tick mark at the top and bottom just to make sure the ruler hasn’t moved. Grasp the cutter with the screw facing up. Hold the cutter like a pencil and hold it perpendicular to the glass. You can cut away from you or towards you—whatever feels most natural. Set the wheel on the tick line and drag the cutter along the edge of the ruler until you get to the opposite edge. Try not to go over the edge. You want to hear a zipping sound as you are cutting. If you have big chips in your score, you are pushing too hard.
Put on your gloves and safety glasses. Grasp the glass on either side of the cut as if you were trying to break something in half with your two hands. You want to break away from the cut.
Apply light pressure on each side of the cut. Keep your arms and elbows straight, then simply twist your wrists (your right wrist will turn clockwise and your left will turn counterclockwise), and snap.
If you cut larger pieces of glass or need to break shapes out of
glass, use running pliers with an adjustment screw. Grasp the glass with the pliers and tighten the screw so the opening of the pliers is the same as the thickness of the glass. Remove the pliers from the glass. Loosen the screw a turn (to the left). Hold the running pliers with the line facing you and the bump on the bottom.
6a–Place the scored glass into the pliers (score facing you). Line up the score with the line mark on the top of the pliers and gently squeeze the pliers. The tightness of the screw should be relative to the thickness of the glass, so when you squeeze the pliers, the pressure forces the bump up under the score and snaps the glass.
Depending on your cut, there may be some flares and sharp
edges. These can be extremely dangerous. If this happens, luckily it’s an easy fix. If you see any flares, brush over the edges of your freshly cut glass over with a 200-grit diamond sanding sponge like you would use an emery board.
Even if you don’t have any flares, you should still round off the corners. When filing, sand in the same direction—don’t go back and forth. Sanding the corners is important not only for your safety, but also in later steps of the soldering process. When wrapping copper foil tape around the corners, there is less chance of puncturing the tape.
Note: When you are scoring the glass, you are essentially rearranging the glass’s molecules so that when you tighten on the glass, the glass snaps.
Now I want to hear from you, and I’m excited about teaming up with CreateMixedMedia for a giveaway! Leave a comment here by July 12, telling me how you enjoy using soldering as your medium or tell me what you would like to learn most about soldering glass. Two random winners will be drawn from everyone leaving a comment. One will receive a book and the other lucky winner will receive the pencil house that is featured on the book’s cover. I can’t wait to read your ideas!
To learn more about soldering or cutting glass, check out Josie’s book, Solder Technique Studio.
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