Soldering Stained Glass

 Cut and shape colored glass, add a copper foil surround to the pieces and solder them together to make a decorative stained glass panel.

A glass extravaganza can be created using the ‘Tiffany’ technique, which involves wrapping the edge of each piece of colored glass in strips of copper foil and joining them with solder.
To make the most economical use of the glass, cut the biggest pieces first, saving any leftover buts to cut the smaller shapes. Using a pattern as a guide, cut all the pieces required in one color before moving on to the next color.
Always draw two copies of your design. One is used as a cutting guide under the glass and the second one is filled in with the cut pieces. This allows you to keep track of how many pieces have been cut and how many you still need.
Brass edging is attached to the outer edges of the glass to hide any slight unevenness, then a light layer of solder is applied to color the seems black. Wash off the patina to prevent it staining the glass.

Use stained glass ∙ to fit window panels ∙ to make decorative panels

For details of cutting straight lines and curves, and snapping the glass, see Glass Cutting. Oil the cutting wheel on the glass cutter occasionally as you work. Any unwanted edges can be nibbled off with the grozing pliers or filed down.

 

SAFETY:

  • Keep the barrel of the soldering iron in a rest or stand when heating but not in use.
  • Make sure the room is well ventilated when soldering. If possible, use an extractor fan to remove fumes from the flux and the lead in the solder.
  • The patinas used to color solder are toxic chemicals. Always wear rubber gloves when you apply them
  • Wash your hands after handling lead solder or any chemicals
 
 
YOU WILL NEED:

About 76 cm / 2½ ft square of assorted colored glass

Glass cutter

Glass cutter

Grozier pliers
Glass file or carborundum stone
Kitchen paper or soft cloth
One roll 6 mm / ¼in copper foil
Brass channel edging
Straight edge
75 watt electric soldering iron
75 g / 3 oz of 50/50 solder
Liquid, non-toxic flux
Copper wire
Patina
Rubber gloves
Glass cleaner
 

 

 

CUTTING THE GLASS TO SHAPE

Draw two copies of your design on tracing paper. Using these as a guide, start by scoring the largest pieces of glass. Lay the glass over the design and use a straight edge as a guide to score lines and score the curves freehand using a glass cutter

Tap the underside of the glass along the scored line using the ball end of the glass cutter to snap the glass. On larger curves, grozing pliers are useful to help break the glass along the curve. Place each piece of glass on the second design sheet.

When you have cut all the pieces to complete the pattern, use a glass file or carborundum stone and, working away from you, smooth down all the edges and remove any imperfections. Place each completed piece of glass in hot, soapy water.

Gently swirl the pieces in the water to remove any traces of oil left over from the cutting process. Remove the pieces, one by one, and set them on kitchen paper or a soft cloth to dry. They must be completely dry before you start applying the copper foil.

   

 

APPLYING THE COPPER FOIL

Starting along one edge of the glass, apply the copper foil, centering it over the edge and peeling away the backing strip as you work. Overlap the starting point and clip the foil.

Using a thumb and forefinger, press the edges of the foil around the front and back face, smoothing it into place. Rotate the piece as you work to make it easier to apply the foil

Repeat with all the pieces of glass, use a soft cloth to burnish the foil, and set each piece in place on your design as you work. When complete, use rules and straight edges to square it up.

The soldering iron needs to be at the right temperature if the join is to be successful. To make sure it is hot enough, hold it against the solder and check that the solder melts at once.

Spot soldering is used to hold the panel in place while you solder it properly. To do this, paint a little flux on to the copper foil between two or three pieces of glass.

Hold the solder just above the join and heat it so it drips on to the join.

Remove the solder at once and smooth the join with the iron, repeat on several spots.

 

FINISHING THE PANEL

  1. Remove the supports from the edges. Paint a long seam with flux. Apply solder to the iron tip and flow solder along the entire length of the seam. Don’t take it right to the outer edge.
  2. Repeat and complete all the seams. Turn the panel over and repeat. Cut a brass edge channel to length and attach it around the outer edge. Solder the corners to secure it.
  3. To mach the brass with the solder, spot solder two or three places, then brush flux along the whole edge. Using a small amount of solder, run the iron along the edge to tin the brass.
  4. Cut two lengths of copper wire and bend them into loops using pliers. Twist the ends together. Solder one loop to each top corner on the back. ‘Tin’ the loops to coat the copper.

 

FINAL TOUCH

Wash and dry the panel. Wearing rubber gloves, paint patina over the soldered seams. Wash to remove all traces of the patina and polish the glass.

 

WORK BOX

Soldering iron and flux

soldering iron

The heated tip of the soldering iron is used to melt the solder to join the copper edging around the glass pieces. The flux is spread on the areas to be soldered. The solder will spread wherever the flux is applied. Paint some flux on to the end of the soldering iron (it will give off smoke, which is normal), before soldering. Always work in a well-ventilated room when soldering.

 

Patina is applies to all the soldered areas to blacken them. Wash the patina off thoroughly to prevent it from staining the glass, then dry the panel