Monday, February 23, 2015

Pick the Right Glass Cutter for You

The Score is all about glass. But a score is also a very basic step for most glass techniques. A good score means you get a good cut. So how do you get a good score? First, start with quality tools.

You'll need a glass cutter and running pliers for the very basic cuts. Beyond those, you may consider groziers, breaking pliers, wheeled nippers (mosaic cutters), a grinder, and possibly a wet saw ($$).

I'm going to stick to covering manual glass cutters in this post. A quality glass cutter will make a big difference in your work.

The cheapest glass cutters are dry, steel wheel cutters.
They run from $3 to $5 and are available at any hardware or craft store. These will get the job done, but the steel wheel wears out after a few projects. The dry wheel needs to be dipped into cutting oil before each score. This will keep the wheel lubricated, which will help it last longer and perform better. The cutting head is fixed, so curved cuts are very difficult. You will also find that these cutters require much more pressure to get a good score than the carbide wheel types. 

The next step up is the dry, carbide wheel cutter. These cost $25 to $30, but worth the investment.
Because the wheel is dry, it needs to be dipped into cutting oil before each score. The carbide wheel will last for years, it's replaceable, and it swivels for curved cuts. Stained glass specialty stores and online suppliers are the best places to buy this type of cutter. 

Glass cutters with oil wells are very useful. They come in the pencil style and a pistol grip style.

They each have the same functionality of the dry cutter, but because the oil can be poured into the grip part of the cutter, there's no need to dip the wheel into oil before each score. The pistol grip style is especially helpful for people who have repetitive motion pain in their hands or wrists. The pencil style starts around $18 and can be as expensive as $30. The pistol grip style can cost between $20 and  $40.

The last type of cutter I'll share is a custom grip cutter.
This model has the same quality cutting head and wheel, but no oil well. It's much shorter than the other models (about 4.5"), but features a "saddle" that you "sit" in between the forefinger and thumb. It's another cutter for control and comfort.

If you are just starting out, it would be a really good idea to take a class where you can try out different types of cutters to see which works best for you. Then buy the best quality you can afford. I still have my very first dry carbide glass cutter from 15 years ago, and it still works fine!

Bonus! Here's a link to a beginners guide to hand-cutting glass by Lou Ann Weeks:

May all your scores run true!

1 comment:

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