Author Options:

Is using a wet grinding wheel or a wet belt sander easier to grind curved glass pieces? Answered

I make lamp shades out of glass pieces. I take glasses in different colors break them apart and then wire them onto frames to make the shades. I have found that hand sanding down the edges on these pieces just takes too long to do. I am contemplating getting a sander but am wondering wether the flat surface of the belt sander will work for the curved pieces of glass, or if a wheel would get into the curve better. Anyone had any experience with either method?


a bench-mount wet belt sander is commonly used for all sorts of shapes, it's down to the skill of the operator to get in the nooks and crannies. I'm not very fond of rotary grinder-style tools...just personal preference.

Almost all crystal glass grinding is done on wet wheels.

In lapidary (cutting and polishing stones) work, they commonly use what is essentially a bench grinder which has multiple wheels on both shafts of the motors (Google image lapidary grinder or cabochon machine). I personally have a 5 wheeled unit and have to refill a bucket of water which slowly dribbles out onto the wheel you are currently using. You can get different kings of wheels such as solid with diamond grit, padded wheels, and sanding drums. With it, I can take slabs of rock which have been rough cut into a shape, smooth out the shape and then dome it to make a cabochon (commonly an oval shape that is flat on the back side and domed on the other side). After that shaping, you can take it to multiple felt wheels which you put on progressively finer mesh diamond paste until you have a polished piece. Softer materials such as obsidian (volcanic glass) can be worked fairly quickly and I would assume it would be essentially the same as the kind of glass you are using. Safety glasses are always a good idea but I've never found gloves to be needed. So essentially, I would say use a wet belt if you are smoothing out and doing shaping now and again, or use a grinding wheel if you are doing lots of shaping. Hope this helps and feel free to ask me more questions if you need more explanation.