Art glass tools are there to make stained glass easy but what about when you need THREE hands? When two just isn’t enough. Like soldering a beaded edge on a sun catcher for example… you know the one; you have the iron in one hand and the stained glass in the other – but what about the solder?!!
Here are some ideas for cheap art glass tools that I have gathered from my readers and students over the years. I’m sure you must have some of your own stained glass tool ideas too. Please share and let us know.
Try twisting the solder so that it stands up vertically on the bench on its own. Then you can melt solder on to the tip of the iron without putting your stained glass project down.
Using A Hand Clamp
Here’s another idea that will solve your ‘how can I hold everything’ problem. Place the solder in the hand clamp and rest it on your work bench like this:
Using A Corner Vise
A brilliant idea for a great box making tool was sent to me by one of my followers Althea Collinsworth.
To hold the pieces of glass perfectly use a corner vise.
You can set it, use it to hold the glass while you solder and then slide the glass out and put new glass in of the same thickness without changing the tension. You just want to tighten it to hold it in place and since the mouths are plastic coated the glass slides in and out easily.
It’s just as good and cheaper than the dedicated stained glass box makers you can buy.
Take a look at this on Amazon here*
Alternatively you could copy this set up from Janusz Niedzielski to get a nice right angle. He places a piece of wire in the ‘V’ shape to stop solder leaking through to the other side. Ingenious!
Using A Micro Vise
Gail Koebke suggested this clever idea. It’s a tiny vacuum held vise that ‘sucks’ on to your work bench. It’s perfect for stained glass; very handy and good value.
Amazon have the vise here if you like the look of it*
*Just so’s you know, if you click and buy through the Amazon links within 24 hrs I get a small % from Amazon, (not you!). Thanks in advance but no worries if you have a local store – I’d always support them first 🙂
Other Stained Glass Tool Ideas
You can use a cardboard box with scrunched up newspaper. How simple and effective is that? SO cheap and cheerful!
Modelling clay moulded to support the glass
Or a dish of dried popping corn to hold small things
Kinetic Sand. This is for children but us stained glassers like to use children’s toys 🙂
Here are some very sophisticated ideas for holding 3-D objects from follower (and retired engineer!) Janusz Niedzielski. Big thanks 🙂
One of my readers Ray has kindly sent this clever idea to me. Thanks for sharing Ray. As he says this is a stained glass window upright support – it’s nice and simple with only one moving part.
This is another good idea from Janusz Niedzielski You can use plasters to enable you to hold glass blobs with less chance of getting burnt when soldering. The heat will transmit around the sides so be careful as the plasters will only offer a small amount of heat proofing.
More Art Glass Tools
If leaded glass is your passion, I have a page on Stained Glass Leading Tools here for you.
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23 thoughts on “Art Glass Tools – Handy Ways to Hold Stained Glass”
Another idea for holding down small objects :
I use a wooden clothes pin to hold glass nuggets in place while tinning,
works great for me.
Oh that’s a great idea Lilo, thanks so much for taking the time to add your tip 🙂
I like to make small, three dimensional stained glass suncatchers. I have made 3-D stars as Christmas presents and a flying dragon and bumble bee mascot for my granddaughter. My instructor designed a 10×10 inch jig out of two layers of wood that has a triangular moving piece that can slide out, insert a glass piece upright and slide it back to hold it in an upright position, making it very easy to solder parts together. I also use it to stand up and view smaller pieces. I’ll ask him if he can share pictures with all of you. I really find this jig very useful and had my husband make one for me.
Oh great, thanks for taking the time and trouble to comment and email me the image Jo Marie. And can you thank your instructor for me? I’ll put it on the site asap. Very helpful 🙂
Thanks for the tips, Jackie and Milly!
You’re welcome Amy, I’ll tell Janusz 🙂
For making and edging lamps ( and I’ve made a lot,) I simply get a box large enough to hold the lamp , then I lightly ball up newspaper or other packaging paper and put it loosely in the bottom of the box. I put the lamp upside down in the box and puff up the paper around to suit the angle I want the lamp to be…..cheap and easy
So cheap and very easy, thanks Jackie for adding your idea. Just be careful of the iron heat setting fire to the paper everyone 🙂
I use those small styrofoam peanuts in a box, instead of newspaper. They never flatten out and need replacing. (and they’re harder to set on fire 😉)
Great tip Maureen, thanks 🙂
Hi milly, I have used florists oasis to hold my projects in place, with good results. There are two different types, one for dry work and the green one you can add water to.
Another fantastic idea Sarah, thanks so much for taking the time to share it. Brilliant 🙂
I have also used a foam tube with a long cut in it lengthwise. We call them swim noodles here in Canada as they started as toys for swimming pools.
Put the foam tube in a cardboard box. Cut the ends at an angle to fit snuggly into the box’s corners. It goes in diagonally so it is held firm by the corners. The slit or groove in the foam faces upwards. Put items in the slit in the box. It holds smaller items like jewellery and sun catchers well.
Oh that’s great Shannan – not only the idea but the name too; Swim Noodles it is from now on :-). Brilliant tip – I’ll have to get a bit to demonstrate and take photos. Or if you have photos, email them and I’ll put on this page. Ingenious!
Thanks for featuring the little vise that I use in my shop. I use it for things like adding wire to small items that need to remain steady while I solder.
I went to the Amazon link you posted for the vise to hold things square. While looking around I found another similar tool used for squaring up things. It was even less expensive than the one on your link (at least in US dollars).
I ordered it!! It will be great for making boxes, and for making those spinners that must be made with true right angles. I never knew there were tools like this.
Thanks for the great ideas!!!
Thanks for the additional ‘adding wire’ comments on how you use the vise Gail, that’s very helpful. Let us know how the new tools goes 🙂
Hi Milly, I got my little vise at Harbor Freight. They have very reasonable prices. I have used it for years and it does an awesome job holding small projects such as sun catchers etc. for putting on hangers or doing wire work or any other decorations.
Thanks Jennifer, that’s very helpful to everyone 🙂
Hello Milly, I wanted to share with you an idea I got one day while burning my fingers trying to solder a small gem glass bead. I kept burning my fingers and have a real difficult time with it. Upon burning myself several times it dawned on me to use my curling iron glove that prevents burning one’s fingers while curling our hair. Wholla! It worked! It worked so awesome that I take with me to class every week and use it at home too!
Who’d have thought it?! Not a curler of hair myself, I’d never have come up with this. Brilliant, thanks so much for posting Dina 🙂
ps. Can I add , I should like to send good wishes to all fellow “ glassers “.
Hope you all keep well.
Thanks Milliy ,
Always grateful for your hints & tips .
Thank you for your good wishes , likewise to you & yours .
A bit of an uncertain time , for sure . At least if we are “ confined to barracks “ , we have our glass work to stop us getting bored . Who knows what masterpieces might appear . 🤗
Yes, the virus will focus our minds on what’s in front of us. Not a bad thing in that sense at least! Stay safe Barbara.