Detroit Glass House Blown Glass Stencil - Cutting Glass on a Waterjet Without a Vacuum Assist




Introduction: Detroit Glass House Blown Glass Stencil - Cutting Glass on a Waterjet Without a Vacuum Assist

Watch the video!:


How to make a glass stencil!

If you have to ask why you are missing the point... simply because we can. (THANKS TECHSHOP DETROIT!!!) This instructable is brought to you by Detroit Glass House, where we love a challenge and are not afraid of process! In the event a glass stencil is not on your "to do" list, please use this instructable as a how to guide for cutting glass on a water jet without a vacuum assist.

*A vacuum assist will allow you to pierce entry points into your glass on the water jet before you cut. If you do not have entry points the force of the water jet (at 60,000 psi) will crack, explode and destroy your glass! A vacuum assist does this by drawing the abrasive material across the water stream before the venturi pulls the abrasive into the stream, eliminating the brief moment when the force is water only. Since TechShop Detroit is brand spanking new their vacuum assist is not set up yet, so we drilled our own entry holes!

Step by Step Breakdown

1. Blow Glass! Create a rondel (or use sheet glass)
2. Create a vector drawing of your stencil
3. Place pre-drilled holes in your file for Water Jet entry points
4. Create a laser template to locate pre-drilled holes on your glass
5. Cut out your laser template
6. Drill holes in your glass
7. Manually path Water Jet cut file
8. Positioning your glass on the Water Jet
9. Cut & Enjoy


Blown Glass Rondel (can purchase plate glass from a local supplier if you are not a glassblower and don't have any as friends...)
1/16 clear acrylic
wax pencil
core drill
pink foam



TechShop Prerequisites

Laser Cutting & Etching SBU
Concepts of CNC (recommended for those new to CNC)
CAD to CAM (recommended for those new to CNC)
Corel Draw for CNC (recommended for those new to CNC)
Water Jet SBU

Step 1: Blow Glass! Create a Rondel

Note to the maker: Sheet glass purchased from a local glass vender can be substituted for our blown glass rondel. Be sure to check with a TechShop Dream Consultant to make sure you are using an approved glass before you purchase it!

To create a flat surface for our glass stencil, we created a rondel! A rondel in glass blowing terms in a blown sphere that is spun out (as seen in the last picture) to create a flat & round surface. This is traditionally how window glass was made prior to large scale manufacturing processes where long cylinders were cut and flattened. Rondels are also used by some stain glass artists and casting artists.

If you (or your buddy) is a glassblower, make sure your rondel is blown an even thickness and the final result is almost perfectly flat. Any inconsistencies will crack the glass!

Step 2: Create a Vector Drawing of Your Stencil

Use a vector drawing program to create a stencil or image you would like to cut out. We love CorelDraw, it's extremely user friendly and TechShop offers classes so even your circa 1 A.D. glassblower friends can learn to use (and love) it.

For our image we chose a stencil of our initials d.g.h, Detroit Glass House.

After running a day of production in the glass studio, we made 5 glass rondels that ranged from 22" to 28" in diameter. The circle you see in the screen shot has a  22" diameter, we fit our image on the smallest circle so we could use the same file to cut on all of the rondels. (The larger rondels as a result will have more space around the edges.)

Step 3: Place Pre-drilled Holes in Your File for Water Jet Entry Points

You will need to place pre-drilled holes in your vector file for Water Jet entry points.

These holes will be used later for:
1. Creating an Acrylic Laser Template
2. Creating a Manual Path for your Water Jet file

Follow the photographs for a step by step guide.

Step 4: Create a Laser Template to Locate Pre-drilled Holes on Your Glass

After you have:

1. Created a vector stencil or image
2. Place drill holes or entry points in each shape

Now you need to create a template to locate these holes on your glass! Follow the photos for a step by step guide to creating a laser template.

Step 5: Cut Out Your Laser Template

To cut out our laser template we choose 1/16" clear acrylic from TechShop's retail.

- Clear allows us to see where we are placing the image on our glass rondel.
- 1/16" is just the right size to not be to bulky on top of the glass

Follow the photos for a step by step guide to cutting out your laser template

Step 6: Drill Holes in Your Glass

Using the template you just created, now you can mark and drill your glass. Follow the photos for a step by step guide.

FYI: Drilling holes in glass is not your standard drill bit! Use a diamond core drill bit.

Handling and manipulating glass at its room temperature state is called "cold working". This is done through a series of different diamond bits, pads and blades. A water assist is used to keep the glass cold, this is very important because if you over heat the glass from friction it will break. Detroit Glass House used a drill press in a Glass Blowing studio that was already set up with a water assist. If your only access to a drill press is someone elses, like at a TechShop, make sure you talk to a Dream Consultant on staff ahead of time about how you can set up a water assist. This is very messy, so you'll have to set up a bin to catch the water run off and promise your local TechShop that you will clean & mop up after yourself!!! Communication is key in shared spaces, so always inform others if you are embarking on a "cooler than normal" process.

Step 7: Manually Path Water Jet Cut File

Follow the photos for a step by step guide to create a manual path for your Water Jet cut.

After you have completed, work with your local TechShop Dream Consultant to export your file in a format that will best suit the Water Jet you are working on. This information will also be available in the class and in your class handout for reference.

Step 8: Positioning Your Glass on the Water Jet

Center your 0,0 home on the Water Jet to match the 0,0 (or first entry hole) on your file. It helps to remove the skirt on the Water Jet to see and measure. But make sure you put it back on!!

Positioning your glass on the Water Jet is extremely important! This will vary depending on what your file is, it's always smart to have a Dream Consultant double/triple check your set up before you cut.

Step 9: Cut & Enjoy!


We've been to busy writing this instructable to play with our new Detroit Glass House stencil... but we'll post photos soon on our Facebook page:

Thanks for reading and learning with us!
... and BIG thanks to TechShop Detroit for making this possible.

- Andrea & Taylor

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    8 years ago on Introduction

    This was a very well-written instructable! Good job, guys. In advance of the Make it Real Challenge deadline, you should consider changing the main image to the finished product only (without the pink panther panel, weighted bags, etc.) It'll bring in more clicks and votes for your entry.

    I'm assuming you've entered the Make it Real Challenge, because this would make a stellar entry. You might even be able to get this into the Wheels Contest, as this is, you know, round. :)