Picture of How To: Stained Glass
Stained glass is easier than it seems.  Although it does require a special set of tools and equipment, once you have access to these, you'll find that the process of turning your designs into gorgeous stained glass pieces is really quite simple! My brother and I started working in stained glass at our father's side when we were just 8 and 10 yrs old, so I can confidently recommend this to a wide range of ages and skill levels.

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Picture of Tools and Materials
There's a broad range of really fun materials involved in stained glass.  Here are a few essentials to get you started.  You can always add to your collection as you go along (and trust me, it's hard not to!) It's best to find a specialist stained glass supplier for these materials. 

Glass (obv.  Hard to do a glass project without glass) - there are SO many kinds of glass available!  I used a combination of streaky and textured glass for this project.  You'll see the wide world of glass available to you when you visit a stained glass supplier!

Glass Cutter - these also come in a variety of styles.  Here you see a tungsten carbide wheel cutter which has an oil reservoir in the handle.  I also like using a pistol-grip style cutter with the same features, but in a more ergonomic design. 

Cutting Oil -  required to prolong the life of your glass cutter and improving the quality of your score on the glass

Pliers -   Do not use ordinary house pliers for this!  There are two styles of pliers used in stained glass.  Grozer pliers are designed for breaking glass and nipping off little edges.  Running pliers are designed for snapping long cuts in the glass.

Copper Foil - Some stained glass works use lead came, which is a lead channel that holds pieces of glass together.  This is a completely different technique than I am showing you.  This technique uses copper foil which has an adhesive on one side to hold the glass pieces together.  Copper foil comes in a variety of widths to accommodate different thicknesses of glass.  The copper foil is what gets soldered to hold the glass together!  Copper foil also comes with silver or copper backing.  This is important to keep in mind for the design of your piece.  If you are using clear glass, the backing of the foil will be visible.  I used silver backed foil because I wanted the finished piece to be silver. There are patinas available to change the finished color of your solder if you like. 

Soldering Iron - You'll need a soldering iron that's designed for stained glass, minimum 75 watts.  These come with a variety of tips.  For most projects, I prefer a wide soldering tip.

Solder - Solder is a mixture of tin and lead.  Solder with a higher tin content has a lower melting point and will flow more quickly, with a more silvery finish.  Lead free solder is also available. 

Flux - Flux is available in liquid or gel form (I find the gel to be more forgiving to work with), and is used to assist the solder flow between the copper taped pieces.  Brush every copper foiled surface with flux before soldering every time for best results.

Grinder - if you're just starting out and don't want to make a big investment, you can use a Carborundum stone to file down the sharp edges of your glass after you've made the cuts.  If you can get access to one, I recommend an Electric Glass Grinder which makes quick work of the job.  It has a water-cooled grinding wheel that can rapidly grind down rough edges and even help achieve shapes that are more difficult to cut.

Safety Glasses - any type will do as long as they completely protect your eyes.  When you're cutting and grinding glass, little flecks of it will be flying everywhere!  For this reason, I also recommend long sleeves when using an electric grinder.

Safety Gloves - I've never used gloves during this process, but after counting the cuts on my fingers and hands from this last project (well in the double digits), I'm going to give latex gloves a shot for the next one.  Let me know if you've ever tried this and what your experiences were!

Lightbox - A lightbox will help you transfer your design from paper to the glass.  If you don't have access to one, just cut out the paper pattern and trace it onto the glass.
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anypattern2 months ago

Nice intro to stained glass! After you get the basics you have to find a pattern you want to make or you can make your own. There are so many places to look. You can get some ideas at www.anypattern.com

Yup, a good series. My last question has to do with the top... did you give any tho't to securing the tops of the flower pieces with a supporting wire? Not necessary I suppose but...

Good series and I'm sure helpful for a lot of newbies and new-to-the-gamers... your instructions/photos are right on and the final product is quite attractive. Wonder what else -- oh, I see this was done in 2011. Oh, I imagine you've moved on since then. Ah, well....

Thanks, and a big pat on the back.......


Also I don't understand your watering system. When using my grinder, a Diamond Star, the grinding bits picks up sufficient water to lube the piece. Ah well....


All clear... and for most people I suppose quite doable. The only hard part would be cutting the long stem. Bet most first timers ended up cutting more than one or having more than one piece when satisfied.

Good morning ms scoochmaroo... hmmm interesting first name, makes me wonder what kind of surname would go with it. Anyhow, not having any clue as to when this design instruction was created I may be writing to the wind. Dunno. But as I plan on going thru all the steps, and being a talkative sorta bloke, I'll take the opportunity to comment as we go.

First point: you say taking the thumbnail and blowing it up worked. Au contraire, I'm sure. One blows up things with TNT or dynamite. Now I suspect you meant to say you enlarged the thumbnail.

Forgive me for being picky, it's just 1) my sense of humor showing up or 2) habits of a lifetime of editorial work.

Okay, onwards now........

BarbaraR25 months ago

More steps than I thought there would be. Your step-by-step instructions were easy to follow, though I now have a better understanding of what's involved and may chicken out attempting it. :)

Tarannumh6 months ago

i have tried looking for adhesive copper tapes in my city. but they all seem to have the non adhesive ones. is it possible to still get results if i don't have this? how can i work around this disability?

nor6178 months ago

Thank you for your help. Could you recommend a good reference guide/book that gives a step by step instruction with examples?

KinsleyM9 months ago
That's so cool
KinsleyM9 months ago
You are so amazing

Thank you so much for posting this info! My aunt was a professional stained glass artist but I was never able to learn the trade from her because I was too young and lived far away. This is a great basic guide for getting started.


Erchan1 year ago

That is not easy :)

Very nice! I love the poppy and how it comes above the "framed" glass, very art deco. Could I ummm "borrow" your pattern?
scoochmaroo (author)  barefootbohemian3 years ago
YamiEridani3 years ago
Very pretty. Would the tinned copper wire work to hang a very large piece? My grandfather made 32 x 29.5 in piece, which I'm pretty sure it was meant to be a window, and I'd love to hang it on the wall instead.
scoochmaroo (author)  YamiEridani3 years ago
I would check with a glass shop if you can find one. It's really going to depend on how heavy the piece is, and I don't want to give you bad advice!
angelabchua4 years ago
gorgeous. Because I am the crazy dog lady, I kind of want to try and make something like this of my doggies
You can make a pattern using a photo of your dogs with a lot of the available software. Most of it is rather pricey, but Dragonfly Software's Glass Eye has a 30 day free trial I think. Lots can be designed and copied to pattern in 30 days :)
alex23 years ago
When cutting deep curves in glass, do it underwater - in bath for example.
Its easy & never break off in its own direction
Watch it, glass can shatter when cut underwater due to impurities. This is very nasty. Though usually a safe process you don't want it to happen to you, make sure you have good quality glass from a reputable dealer.
Mrballeng4 years ago
Could you use clear/smoked glass from the hardware store? Or is stained glass specific to the craft?
scoochmaroo (author)  Mrballeng3 years ago
You can use any glass!
Juleemt3 years ago
Amazing, great image and super simple pattern!
BCZF4 years ago
Mongpoovian4 years ago
Wow! Very cool. What a lovely product, too!
rachel4 years ago
I knew someone years ago who did stained glass but they used the lead channel method. This looks much easier to work with. I may have to try it! Lovely results.
ghoulcreeps4 years ago
wow I m in awe of u
splazem4 years ago
Awesome! It's so pretty.
sunshiine4 years ago
Thanks so much for sharing this! Very pretty!
Carleyy4 years ago
Really pretty :)
Mauigerbil4 years ago
Cool project! I <3 the flower
studleylee4 years ago
Brings back memories of coming home from college and seeing my mom soldering stained glass. She used a 'buttering'-like technique when soldering for character and I ( and electronics person ) would do a 'flow' soldering and she'd say it was too neat looking, but she'd line up panels for me to do :-) Love stained glass! Thanks for sharing this great article.
Mr.Sanchez4 years ago
scoochmaroo (author)  Mr.Sanchez4 years ago
Thanks! It's super fun. I wish I had the set-up at home, I would definitely do more of it.
Just one question...do you think a Dremel Stylus could work to Grind the Glass.?
scoochmaroo (author)  Mr.Sanchez4 years ago
If you can get a diamond wheel, you should be all set. Not sure how you would keep the glass wet though, as it's critical to keep the glass item well lubricated to keep it from overheating and cracking.
This could be but takes a long time to grind 2 or 3 mm.
Best is to cut very acurate if you cut 2 or more mm to big it takes a long time with
a "dremel" and a small bit to grind this away.

If your going for this hobby a grinder is a good investment.

Scoochmaroo nice instructable.
Ok...I´ll try...your project encourage me to try something that I always want to do...
MsJaxFla4 years ago
Great job teaching us step by step. Wondering if I can do this now. I always thought you had to have a kiln....... laughing and so very encouraged and wanting to try it sometime in the near future.

I really learned a bunch....... thanks ever so much.
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