Saturday, April 19, 2008


The leaded glass panel shown here is fitted together but not soldered. Soldering is how we bring the 36 pieces of lead came and 29 pieces of cut glass shown here into one leaded glass panel.  I know I'm missing a great opportunity here to come up with an analogy to something bigger but it eludes me.

This is a close up of what the lead came joint looks like before it is soldered. You want the joints to fit as tightly together as possible to get the best solder joint.

These are some of the soldering irons I use. The bigger one is for a heavier gauge lead. The smaller iron is ideal for the type of soldering shown here. The little black box regulates the heat of the iron. If the iron gets too hot it will melt the lead. Solder, a 60/40 mix of tin and lead, melts at a lower temperature than lead. The hotter the iron, the better the solder fuses with the lead. A real master doesn't need a little black box to regulate the heat, he can do it through feel, smell and some zen like 6th sense. I need the black box.

The solder comes in a wire spool. First  take a little bit of solder onto the tip of the iron..

Next  touch the joint with the tip and press down for a beat or two.

Lift the iron and you have a solder joint. A good joint is one where the solder has spread out smoothly and appears to 'melt' into the lead. A poor joint looks like the solder is sitting on top of the lead.

As with everything in leaded glass repeat, repeat, repeat until the whole glass panel is complete. I counted 59 solder joints for one side, so including both sides that's 118 solder joints. Now we just have to putty and clean and the panel is ready to go. This panel is for an entry door, the simple door design from

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

cutting glass

Glass cutting. This panel is for a couple in Florida who instead of ordering a whole door with a leaded glass panel just wanted the panel and are ordering the door separately. The door is a craftsman style door. 

The first step is getting the rondels and laying them out on my template. The rondels dictate the rest of the  design. 

The template gets cut up into patterns which I use to cut the individual glass pieces. Here you see the sheets of glass I use with the patterns laid out on the sheets. The trick is to get as many pieces I can  out of a sheet of glass. 

Here I start cutting the sheet down to smaller pieces. 

The actual cutting. A close up of the glass cutter scoring the glass on the patterns edge. 

If you can make out the line in the glass that is the cut in the glass. Looks like a big scratch  This scratch is what starts the break in the glass. 

Here you see the first cut along the edge of the pattern.

You just keep cutting along the edge of the pattern until you've cut each edge.

Here are all the pieces that came out of that one sheet of glass. These six pieces have 37 edges that are individual cuts. It is a labor intensive process as you can see. Lots of repetition. 

And here are all the pieces that will surround the rondels used in the glass panel.

The final product after it has been leaded and soldered. What a difference the glass looks like from sitting on the bench. Not bad. When the glass sits on the bench you are seeing it with reflected light. Here the glass is shown in transmitted light.