Tips for Cutting Thin Strips of Glass for Fused Glass On-Edge Construction

Long StripsI 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.

ScoringFirst 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.

Running ScoreIf 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 Breaking Pliersbend 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

Cut StripAlso, 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:

 

 


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6 Responses to Tips for Cutting Thin Strips of Glass for Fused Glass On-Edge Construction

  1. Hi Margot,
    Thanks so very much for the info! It was very informative and love the pictures of your work…incredible. I have been fusing for the past three years, and am working on expanding my range of techniques. Creating pieces using strips and using reactive glass is the next area I wish to develop. After that perhaps boiled glass! Please keep in touch concerning any new info or tips you might have,

    • Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I haven’t been very active on my blog lately. Hope to get back into it soon. Helps when I know someone is actually reading it. πŸ™‚

  2. Hi Margot –

    Thanks for this – I’m going to try it. I’m working on a piece with a few long and VERY acute angles and keep breaking off the ends, which are crucial to get the effect I want. Do you have any additional tips for cutting sharp angles? Thank you!

    • If I understand your question, the points are breaking off. Hard to describe in words but I will give it a shot. If a precise point is what you are after, you will have to waste a bit off glass. Imagine you are cutting an isosceles triangle. You will cut the glass with the base of the triangle at the bottom of the glass. Here is a picture that I hope will help: Triangle The glass should be at least 1/2 inch longer than your triangle. You might want to leave 1 inch at first. This means the point will be down from the top of the glass about 1/2 inch. Score one side of the triangle starting at the top edge of the glass extended above the point down to the base (the yellow line). Then score the other side also from the top down to the base (red line). Your cutter will cross over the first score at the point of the triangle. This is perfectly okay for your cutter. Then break each score line from the base of the triangle up towards the point. To break the glass along the score, I often use two pair of pliers, one each side of the score to do this especially if the glass is narrow. Having the extra glass above the point allows you to cut and smooth continuous line that should break easier. Hope that helps. Let me know how it goes.

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