Safest way to break sheets of glass?

I'm moving and have a sheet of brand new picture framing glass 39 x 30 inches.  Nobody wants it... I've tried giving it to framing places.  What's the best/safest way to break it into small pieces to go into the garbage? 

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Vyger1 year ago

I was thinking big until I read the size again. That is a pretty small piece. If it was tempered just a poke with a nail would reduce it to little bits. But for something that small stand it up in a box and tap the lower part with a hammer. I broke up a lot of stuff this size when I replaced the cracked and broken windows of my shop to be. once reduced to smaller bits I put it in a kitty litter plastic tub and using the hammer again made it even smaller so it could lay flat in the tub. I have 2 of the 40 pound tubs full of broken glass. I have wondered if there was anything I could do with it, which is why it is still sitting in the tubs. Never had a mishap with the process, probably because I always wore leather gloves. By the way, after you are done take the gloves off and clap them together to make sure you don't have any small shards stuck in the leather.

I am very impressed by your ability to keep something like that, like broken glass, around, just based on the hope, the possibility, it could be useful for something someday.

Perhaps, some hours in a rock tumbler, or maybe a cement mixer, like shown in this 'ible,

could maybe take the rough edges off some of your broken glass, and perhaps, make it more useful.

I actually tried something similar to this years ago. I smashed up a bunch of glass bottles and jars, and put the pieces in a cement mixer, with some sand, with the goal of making polished glass pieces, smooth, with zero sharp edges.

But then I got impatient, after just a few hours. I feared for the life of my cement mixer. I feared it would break the mixer if I just left it running for half a day, or a day, or however long it would take to actually make sharp broken glass into smooth broken glass. I ended up aborting the experiment, and taking the resulting mass of glass plus sand, to a landfill.

Also years prior to that, I discovered a kitchen blender can be used to turn glass from a discarded fluorescent tube light, into a substance resembling sand, with just a few hours of blending. In this experiment I actually did break the blender.

But, you know, a kitchen blender is cheaper to replace than a cement mixer.

I was actually just looking into sea glass or beach glass. Was thinking of using a rock tumbler for making it. The glass is for sale on E bay but the shipping is pretty high.

Among other things I was thinking of possibly melting some of the glass down and playing with molten glass. It appears to be a complicated process to do it right though.

The tubs sometimes come in handy because they have some weight to them. I have used them to press stuff together while gluing. But then I also have one full of old nails, now that is heavy.

We had a series of monster hail storms in the early summer, 2 1/2 inches across and now I have a lot more broken glass to add to my collection. A friend of mine had his car totaled by the hail, $15,000 in damages. Lots of fun.

Did you ever see the "Will It Blend Videos"? You might find them fun.

You could in principle make a big one with a 5 gall plastic tub, sand makes a good abrasive, leave it rotating overnight.

Yeah. I have seen "Will it blend?". I am not sure if I have seen all of them.

I am sorry to hear about the hail damage. Where I live, I have never seen larger than pebble-sized hail, and I am thankful for this.

Regarding molten glass, I had a neighbor, a few years back, who built his own glass blowing studio. I remember that for some reason he was not using the same glass used commercially to make clear bottles and jars. He actually bought clear glass "cullet" from some place that sold this stuff. It came it big woven plastic bags, similar to the same bags used for other bulk solids, like grain, or animal feed. Superficially, this glass cullet stuff, it looked like ice cubes.

My neighbor said this professionally made glass cullet had better working properties, was better for the work he was doing, than the glass used to make to make bottles and jars.

Also I think he said most of what he knew about glass was self-taught, mostly from reading online forum discussions. I do not recall what particular forums he was reading, although I think, was one of them.

There is an easy way to dispose of pieces of glass like the large rectangular piece you have described.

All you have to do is just find a window that is bigger than your piece of glass. It doesn't have to be a window on your house. It could be a window on a completely different building.

Then affix your piece of glass to this window using clear packing tape.

I am guessing you have packing tape, since you are moving, and clear packing tape is commonly used for strengthening cardboard boxes used for moving.

Anyway, as I was saying about the window to which you tape your spare piece of glass: If you do it right, from far away it should just look like an ordinary clear window. Moreover, if you pick a window in a low traffic area, it could be weeks, months, or even years, before anyone notices that window actually has two thicknesses of glass, and by then you'll be looooooooooooong gone!

mole1 (author)  Jack A Lopez1 year ago

Ahhh... you have brightened my day. Thanks!

iceng1 year ago

Go and buy a small glass cutter at home depot or any hardware store for $3

see image below. It does not cut glass, but puts a scratch line in the glass with the little wheel.... Once glass is scratched it looses 75% of its strength for a few minutes.. .. Put the glass flat and a rod or wood 1" x 2" the length of 30" under the glass and behind the scratch. Then wearing gloves push the unsupported glass down an it will separate along the nearly straight scratch line you put into the glass.

NEVER run the roller over the same line !!!

Avoid point pressure which makes sharp daggers to the finger at the pressure spot.

Above All Broken glass is scalpel sharp be extremely careful handling broken glass fragments...

mole1 (author)  iceng1 year ago

Excellent directions and warnings, iceng. Thank you! I didn't know about the point pressure issue.

...put a dab of water on the score before snapping...Initiates the crack better

Didn't know that, thanks...

mole1 (author)  iceng1 year ago

+1 I had no idea

seandogue1 year ago

lay it down on concrete, place a tarp over it, hit with hammer a few dozen times, then start sweeping up the debri. Put it in cardboard box for pickup, mark box with "glass" in case your local refuse department sorts that sort of thing out

+1 for labeling the resulting package as "glass", or even "broken glass", since it is kind, a worthwhile courtesy, to let the garbage professionals, dumpster divers, and anyone else downstream, know what they're dealing with.

On a lighter note, does anyone else remember that SNL skit with Dan Aykroyd as Irwin Mainway, president of a toy company that sold exceedingly dangerous toys? Including, memorably, a toy called, "Bag-O-Glass".

That broken glass was labeled too. In defense of this "toy", Irwin Mainway says,

"Look, we put a label on every bag that says, 'Kid! Be careful – broken glass!' "

Wish I had a working link to a video of this skit. Best I've got right now is an article written by the CPSC about this skit. It includes a single picture, a single frame from the video, in which the "Bag-O-Glass" is shown prominently.

Yonatan241 year ago


I think it would work best of you find a big garbage bag. Put it inside, and smash it!

Put it out for the recycler. Put it out, prominently displayed, with the trash and if the pickers don't take it, the trash guys probably will. If you live in apartments with a dumpster, it will be big enough. Use a glass cutter and reduce it in size (cheaper than parcel post). I watched a video of a guy cutting glass and squirmed the whole time because he wasn't wearing gloves or eye protection. Drop it by the art department of a nearby college. Drop it off at a window glass company.

I almost forgot the easiest one. Securely tape a sign to the glass that says REPLACEMENT GLASS - DO NOT DISCARD and leave it behind.

Mark it fragile and send it parcel post ;-)

Cut open 1000L tank comes into mind....
Put glass in, cover with some strong tarp and use a long rod to bash the plate into smaller pieces.
After that continue till you get the desired size.