I was recently asked for any tips I had for cutting strips. While there are a few things that I can suggest, I really think it is mostly practice that makes the difference. I had many years of cutting stained glass pieces before I started cutting strips. So the first thing I recommend is to get some inexpensive float glass and practice, practice, practice!
In my strip construction pieces I use either 3/8″ or 1/4″ strips. Using a 3/8″ strip on edge is close to 9mm, the height of 3 standard sheets of glass stacked on top of each other. When I use 3 sheets of glass I often use a contrasting color in the middle which adds a nice design element. Using 3 sheets of glass, however, makes the piece heavier and bulkier. So when I want a lighter piece I cut smaller 1/4″ strips which are close to 6mm, two sheets of glass. My suggestion is to first get some practice and expertise cutting and breaking larger 3/8″ strips.
To cut the strips, you can measure and mark the strips with a marker or use a jig of some sort. The most important part of the process is the score. You have probably heard much of what I am about to say before, but it is particularly important if you are cutting strips.
First you need a good glass cutter. By good I mean the one that works best for you. I experimented with several different styles of glass cutters when I started. I settled on the Toyo Custom Grip for most of my cutting. But when I cut long strip I usually reach for my Toyo Pencil Grip with a wide head as seen in the picture to the right.
Next, use a sturdy ruler or straightedge. Line it up with your mark and be sure to have a good grip on it so it doesn’t move or slide as you make your score.
Put your cutter at one end of the glass and use even pressure and a continuous motion to the other end. I do this as a pull motion not a push because I can get more even pressure that way. I also pull the cutter all the way off the edge of the glass.
The position of the glass cutter is important too. I try to keep the cutter standing tall and make sure I am not leaning it to the left or right. It should go without saying that this should be done standing, not sitting.
If I am cutting just a few long strips, I cut and break them off individually. To break off a single long strip, I move the glass so that the score line is just off the the edge of my table.
Standing in front of the strip, I place my pliers at the end where I finished my cut and gently bend the pliers down until I see the score line run. I move my pliers in small steps along the strip continuing to gently bend and run the score. Hold onto the the strip with your other hand. As you continue moving down the strip it will begin to separate and break off.
If I am cutting many strips I usually score several at a time and then break them using the rule of halves. You can see that process in this video by glass artist Randy Comer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8YiTAD5Yss
Also, if you are a subscriber to Bullseye Glass Education Online, they have a video on strip construction that is helpful. To learn more about the Bullseye Glass Education Online look for the link in the sidebar of this page.
Hope that helps!
Here are a few samples of my work that use glass strips: