Learning how to make Leaded Glass Windows

By Andy the stuff doer

I’ve cut glass before but only ever in straight lines. So cutting curves accuratelyhas been quite a learning process.

Just for practicing I’ve used green house glass. Using the self oiling glass cutter, it’s quite easy to score an even line. The difficulty is following the pattern.

Sighting through the glass to printed pattern below means I have to look straight down. If  I look at an angle it’s easy to cut too small or too big.  The line I’m trying to follow is just to the side of the Line representing the core of the came. With the came covering just over 3mm of the glass I can drift away from this slightly If I go too far (more than 1.5mm ) away from this all the way round then it’s possible that the glass will sit in the came at one side but be out of the came at the other.

After the glass is scored it need splitting or a crack chasing through. The special pliers makes this easy on external curves or straights as long as enough glass is left either side of the line.  Internal curves however are a different matter.  If its short and gentle then OK. A sharper curve presents problem as the brake wants to carry on in a straight line and can crack through the piece I want to keep. 

The procedure for cutting internal curves that works for me is:

  1. Scoring the curve
  2. Turning it over on a flat piece board
  3. Taping over the curve with a small metal tool (I used the end of some thin nosed pliers)
  4. The taping causes the crack to form up from the score.
  5. When the crack has gone all the way through the pieces can be gently wiggled apart.

With those skills being mastered I soon had all the piece cut. Getting more accurate as a went along.

Cutting pieces of glass for a leaded window

Practicing cutting glass, pieces laid out on the template

Leading The Glass

This proved to more time consuming than I had originally thought. But then it is a complex design and the joints are supposed to pretty tight.

First stage is to fix batons to the board then cut 16mm came for the bottom and left hand edge. I did the corner miter but apparently a butt joint is fine.  Then working from the left hand bottom corner slowly building up the design.  Not forgetting first to stretch the came.   

The difficulties I found were: Forming tight curves, getting the angles for joints just right and choosing the best /easiest  order of assembly and where to cut some of the curves.

I slowly worked my way through, again improving in speed and accuracy as a went.

making up the lead came for a leaded glass window

Leading the practice window, removable nails holding everything in place.

Practice how to Solder a Leaded Glass Window

I had thought this would be easy, after all I’ve been soldering for years. But it’s quite a bit different from electrical of plumbing soldering.  The trick is not to apply so much heat that the came melts away whilst applying enough for the lead to flow. 

First I  rubbed the joint over with the tallow candle for flux. Then a good blob of solder needs to touch down on to the joint. Then move across the joint whilst feeding additional solder in to the blob.  Its quite an art that I’ve not fully mastered but I was improving and some joints look really smooth and neat.  I might do a bit more research in to this particular skill.

Practice Leaded Glass window Soldered up

Lead came soldered up, more practice required

So that’s it for me on the this project for now. When we’ve got it fully sussed I’ll write up a “how to” on the website.

In the mean time, if you’ve got any comments or suggestions please let me know.

Back to the design post

One Response to “Learning how to make Leaded Glass Windows”

  1. Wow, great walkthrough guide. Interesting to see the process step by step.

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