Methods For Repairing Broken Stained Glass
Fixing broken stained glass is a necessary evil. With glass as a material breakages are inevitable. You know the scenario; you’re happily soldering away on your latest piece only to turn it and realise there’s a crack in the glass. And you don’t have enough art glass to replace it. This is what happened to one of my readers Ken Keith. He wrote to me asking for suggestions to fix it.
Luckily, there is a way to fix this broken stained glass without dismantling your work and driving 75 miles for replacement glass.
You can see the crack in close up here:
Milly’s Quick Tip For Fixing Broken Stained Glass
Rather than having to undo your work there is a simple fix:
- Find a spare piece of interior lead came longer than the crack
- Cut the top face/flange off a this piece of lead came with either a lead knife, nippers or lead angle cutters
To do this, I use a SHARP lead knife or for this job I particularly like these Lead Angle Cutters ( affiliate link from Amazon) in the US. If you’re in the UK I found a pair here from UK Amazon (affiliate link) – at a very reasonable price considering the price I paid for mine!
- Shape the flange to fit over the crack and trim it to butt up to the adjoining lead
- Solder it at either end to hold it securely in place
- Turn over and repeat on the backside
- Cement, clean and polish as normal
Adjusting The Design
As this is a geometric panel, I suggested add matching ‘false’ leads on the other side of the panel to even the design up visually. You can see how this balances the design below.
If you’re new to using lead came as a technique I would highly recommend you give it a try. It will add a great deal to your skill set and give you the best of both stained glass worlds – foil and lead.
If you don’t have a local class my Leaded Stained Glass Artistry course has taught many people – even those who have never used lead before – how to make a stained glass panel using lead came. The course is self-paced and online so you can learn this lovely technique even if you are unable to get to a class. You can find out more about it here Leaded Stained Glass Artistry.
The client loved the finished stained glass window. I don’t know about you, but I think the additional ‘false’ leads actually ADD to the overall design! They give it a nice bit of detail in the centre.
This is a very good method for lead came when the broken stained glass window doesn’t have to be weather proof. If the window is an external window and DOES need weather proofing, you’ll need to remove the piece of glass and replace I’m afraid.
The amazing Karal has a page on how to do this here.
PIN IT FOR LATER!
There are different solutions for panels that have been constructed using copper foil. I’ll add to this page later with those so keep checking back 🙂
If you struggle with cutting accurate angles in lead came there’s a page for you here.
30 thoughts on “Repairing a Broken Stained Glass Window”
I have done a similar thing for a piece that was made using copper foil.
I placed copper foil over the crack on both sides and soldered it as if it belonged there — made sure that the copper foil is anchored well to the copper foil on both ends of the foil and soldered on both sides.
Also, if the crack is on a place that might look our of place, place copper foil and solder it making it look symmetrical For example if the crack occurred in the top left corner and the top right corner was of similar design, perform the same things on both corners.
Thanks Milly for all of your tips – I enjoy and benefit from them all.
The perfect solution David, thanks so much for taking the time to share it with everyone. Very useful indeed.
Me gusta mucho el vitreau, pero tengo una dificultad para pegar con la soldadura Estaño 50%, al pegar con la soldadura, ésta no me queda pareja, lisa. ¿que puedo hacer para que quede lisa la soldadura?
I have soldering help here for you: https://everythingstainedglass.com/tag/soldering
I hope that helps.
Helll, I love in Brooklyn, NY. I have two pieces of broken glass on two doors in my house. The panels are clear but are in a leaded glass, or came and solder part of the design of the door. Does anyone know who can fix it?
Hello! I am desperately looking for someone that repairs stained glass lamp shades in the Princeton, NJ area. I googles, searched and had no luck.
How would I find someone? Can someone recommend a person or place please?
Thank you for your time!
Wishing all the best – Betty
I’ve been designing and building stained glass projects for over 40 years. I live in Falmouth Me., next town north of Portland, Me. My Website is http://www.maineglassdesign.com
If interested I’d need a photo of your lamp, and history of your lamp. If it’s made in China, you may want to hold it up to the light for there could be a number of fractures in the glass. I’ve recommended to many people to have a custom lamp made with structure, and quality.
Take a look and let me know, and we can discuss it further.
Carol Coffin………Maine Glass Design
As always you give the best hints and tips for Everything Stained Glass. 🙂 I look forward to everything you have to offer. 🙂 Thanks kind lady.
Aw Nancy, thank you 🙂
What do you do for small cracks if you’re using solder not came?
I love reading your news – great ideas, suggestions and help!
It depends where the piece is going Debbie; if it’s a commission I’ll repair by recutting and foiling, if not structural and not a commission you can stick tape over the crack on both sides of the glass, solder to the seams at either end and quickly tin the foil.
I am looking for someone who can add steel rods to a wood door with a 2’x7’ Leaded glass insert. I need at least 3 bars attached to door and leaded glass to stableize glass so it won’t crack or bow when door is closed,
Please contact me if you know someone, or are someone, that can do this type of repair.
Anyone out there? You don’t say where you are Del, which won’t help people offer their services.
I have a dated mid 17th century window, which my grandmother purchased in 1931. It remained in place for ten years and was then packed away until now. In its removal a number of panels got cracked. The cracks unhappily in the painted parts. Currently, I have the pieces secured w invisible Scotch Tape. I suspect using tape is frowned upon. I have pictures if that helps. Thank you.
What a shame. Painted work is done in a kiln Stephen so you’ll need to find someone local to you who can do this repair properly, unless you put a false lead over it as I show on this page. It depends if it needs to be weather proof.
I have a few pieces of foiled glass that have broken and I don’t know how to fix them. I’m hoping there is a way to do it although I’ve taken a few apart.
Yes there is Dolores. Make a rubbing template of the broken piece for size reference. Then criss cross score and break out the broken piece. Do this with pliers if you can. And then melt the copper foil off, strips of aluminium can can be inserted in between the old and existing foil as you move around the gap where the broken glass was (solder doesn’t stick to aluminium). Then trace and cut new glass, foil and solder as normal. I hope that helps.
I have a piece I made and cracked a few pieces. Thank you for the above advice as I’ve always been afraid to remove the broken pieces. But how do you get it to actually fit inside again? Is all the lead removed in that space? Thank you for your response.
This is a quick fix Jeanne, just soldering or sticking lead on over the crack. If you were to do a proper repair you’d have to make a call – depending on where the piece is in the panel and the width of the lead – as to whether you fold back the flanges to insert a new piece or systematically take it apart from the closest edge to repair the broken piece.
Genius! My son is a blacksmith – metal artist. His instructor/mentor once told him “it’s not the skill of the craftsman that counts, it’s how well you cover your mistakes”. I was somewhat offended by this at first but over the years I’ve rethought it on occasion. Sometimes, no matter how good you are, how good your product is, you simply need to “fix” something.
That’s so true Erin. I always think stained glass makers have to be engineers and problem solvers as well as artists and makers. We’re a versatile bunch 🙂
Thanks, Milly. I know we all appreciate having your helpful tips coming to us. In the midst of this deadly global pandemic, your emails are reassurance that we can continue to share our love of stained glass together and carry on. Be safe, be well!
Thanks Mary, good to know you’re still stained glassing 🙂 Take good care.
I have used the glue that is used to fix dings in auto windshields. You get one shot at forcing it into the Crack then allow it to cure overnight. You then scrape off the excess glue and if your lucky polish and move on. You can find it in auto parts stores or on line. Worth a shot!
Thanks for this tip Jim; the ‘one shot’ sounds a bit nerve-racking!! Other readers will be happy to have an alternative method, thanks.
Thanks Milly, I just finished a panel and noticed a bubble in the glass that looked like a crack when backlit. I elected to replace the piece rather than be annoyed every time I’d look at it. Your solution is both clever and attractive.
Glad to offer another alternative for you Joyce. I’m with you; I can’t leave anything that isn’t right!
I’ll be looking for the copper foil repair since I don’t use came.
Keep checking back Charlene, I’ll get to it 🙂
Me too, I have worked with came a bit, but I have a few foil pieces that will need repairs, looking forward to your suggestions. Thanks