Pre Release | Scoring Stained Glass



Continuing the discussion from Ideas for stained "glass" windows:

Okay, I did a little test today, in between working on a different project. Just to see if scoring stained glass for cutting is a possibility. I used some relatively smooth (i.e., easy to cut) yellow translucent glass and cut a flower petal design that was part of a design I previously cut for a mosaic brick.

For settings I used Cut, 100% power, 60 speed, focus height 0.116"

It definitely chowdered up the surface. Okay, I gathered up my two pair of glass breaking pliers (running pliers, and grozers), some safety glasses, and my normal glass scoring tool and took everything outside. Decided to cut that piece off the main piece of glass in case the breaking didn’t go too well (didn’t want to ruin the whole piece).

Then I used both pairs of pliers to break at the score lines. The problem being there was no running score to the edge of the glass like I would do with normal glass cutting, to relieve the pressure on either side of the line.

Surprisingly, it worked better than I expected:

It’s not a clean smooth cut in any direction, but if you are going to use a grinder anyway you can probably clean it up a lot. The tiny concave cut at the base of the petal was maybe not quite as good as the convex ones but that can be true with regular glass scoring/cutting as well.

One thing to keep in mind is that this was done on some of the easiest to cut glass; it would probably be more difficult on highly textured glass (which is also true for regular glass cutting). It’s possible that straight cuts (which are quite easy with a glass cutter) might be problematic; I didn’t test that. If you go this route you are still going to need pretty much all the regular glass cutting tools. Bottom line, for me it’s still quicker and gives better quality to use a glass scoring tool because I’ve already developed a minimum level of skill with it.

Weekly Highlights for the Week Ending April 22nd, 2017

You may find you’re more consistent as well. Individual glass samples react differently even with the same patterns and cuts. One comes out like yours and the next will fracture any which way. The inconsistency is what made it a non-starter for the glass artists I know. They’re quite comfortable with their manual scorers & nippers and don’t lose as much glass as they do with the laser. But, YMMV.


I have really been hoping someone would test this. Definitely surprised by the results, but in a good way. :slight_smile:


So you know what you’re doing @cynd11. For someone who is inexperienced with stained glass, and whose fine motor skills are questionable, in your opinion would a laser score followed by running the glass cutter over the score bring any improvement? Understanding that any fracturing done by the laser has to be repaired (or hidden) are there any “rough edges” below the laser score line? I ask on the theory that following score lines with a glass cutter will be easier and bring better results than free handing a glass cutter. And I consider a glass cutter against a template to be free hand in one direction.

The last time I did stained glass was middle school with lead channels (the school was full of asbestos so how bad could a little lead exposure be?) The idea of incorporating some glass into larger designs (not pure stained glass pieces) has appeal to me, but I can have problems dragging a pencil against a straight edge. Therefore, I was really hoping a light score for the glass cutter to follow would work well.


Would it make sense to run a few scores to the edge, either with laser or by hand? (Makes me think a little of the relief cuts you do when cutting some kind of fancy curved outline on a bandsaw or jigsaw.


Haven’t tried it but I have to think it is unlikely. The way a glass scoring tool works is completely different; it’s really essential to get very smooth movement and the wheel of the tool would get caught up in the many rough cavities and make that movement impossible. You are better off just trying it with the laser and some glass tools to see if you can get it to work. I would advise watching some YouTube videos on cutting stained glass because there is a certain amount of technique involved in breaking the glass around the score.[quote=“paulw, post:5, topic:7158”]
Would it make sense to run a few scores to the edge,

Absolutely. I thought of that but it would have taken additional design time in Illustrator and just adds to the extra time it would take. Making it much more likely I would just use my hand tools. Again, watching YouTube videos would help because there is an art to placing those extension lines to get a successful break.


I had some Red colored fused glass. the K40 barely touched it, even though it scores regular plate glass pretty deep, So it appears the composition of the glass will have a lot to do with it.


@mad_macs, If I remember correctly, and sometimes that isn’t very well, red glass gets it’s color from gold, gold is a very good mirror for a CO2 laser, Copper makes another very good CO2 mirror. Could be one of the reasons the laser does not score the glass.


Gosh… There are so many textures and colors of stained glass I think it’d be tough to make any calls at all. NICE TEST though!


I’m wondering if maybe this isn’t a case of where it would be cool to use the GF in this way, the existing tried and true method of working the glass might not be an example of “using the best tool for the job”?


thanks so much for all of this! You’ve “taken one for the team” again, and I appreciate all of this info. I’ll continue working on my glass cutting skill. The GF looks like a great tool, but I see that actual skill is still required for a few things, so I shouldn’t let the laser make me lazy :pensive:


I am so happy someone is testing this. It’s one of the reasons I wanted to get a laser. I love doing stained glass but it can be murder on my hands when they are hurting.