No Circle Cutter Needed
Cutting stained glass circles can be done easily with basic stained glass equipment. Expensive circle cutters can help you – and they do work, but here you’ll learn how to cut perfect circles with just a cutter and a pair of grozer/breaker pliers. Not even a grinder!
You will need to be confident making a cut line with your cutter before you start with this cutting stained glass circles tutorial. If you don’t feel confident with this there are many tips that will help you get better.
My Conquering Curves course has taught lots of people the skills to cut shapes confidently. Including circles!
The class is self-paced and online so you can learn these methods even if you are unable to get to a class. You can see if it’s right for you here Conquering Curves.
Cutting Glass Circles Video
1 Getting Started with Cutting Stained Glass Circles
- Draw your circle on the art glass with a permanent marker
- Put some linoleum or newspaper underneath to cushion it from the pressure
- Wear safety goggles
- Make your first cut line by coming in from one side, follow the circle around, and off the opposite edge
- As always with cutting, make sure you keep the pressure consistent along the whole length of the score line so that you get a good break
2 Opening The Cut
- Turn the glass over, so that the cut (or score line) you’ve just made is underneath
- Press firmly along the score line with your thumb until it opens
- You will see the cut ‘open’ out along its’ length. It will start to look shiny and as if it is cracked
3 Separating The Cut – Method 1
- Turn the glass back over, so that the score line you made is on the top of the glass
- Place your thumbs either side of the line where your score line FINISHED. It’s always best to start opening the cut from this end
- Ease the two pieces of glass apart by gently waggling your wrists back and forth
- If the score only opens half way you can repeat this waggling action starting from the other side (where you started the cut)
- Make sure you hold it securely underneath with both hands as you do this
4 Separating The Cut – Method 2
Repeat 1-3 on the other side of the circle. These alternative methods for cutting stained glass circles are good if your thumbs aren’t very strong.
- If you can’t press with your thumb for any reason you can use the handle of your breaker/grozer pliers (paid link) to open the score line
The plier jaws can be used for separating the glass:
- Make sure the flat jaw is on top
- Line the end of the jaw along the cut line where you ended the score and bend it gently downwards, making sure that you are holding it securely
- If the glass doesn’t break apart, go to the other end of the score and repeat, this time with more of a ‘snapping’ motion
- Your art glass should now break apart in one clean piece
5 Cutting Stained Glass Circles – The Sides
Now for the trickier bit – the two slithers on the sides. It’s not advisable to use the pressing method to open the score when you only have a small bit of glass on one side. It’s easier to use the pliers.
- Choose one of the sides first
- Score along the remaining bit of the circle with the cutter
- Using the grozing pliers, line up the flat jaw along the cut and ‘snap’ as much as you can off with a short, sharp movement downwards
- Keep your fingers underneath close to the pliers to hold it securely
6 Removing The Shards
The breaker/grozing pliers leave little ‘nubs’ of glass which have to be removed. This is done in two ways, and you will probably need to use both.
If the tiny shards are big enough for you can get a hold of with the grozing pliers, you can snap them off, as in 5 above.
If they’re stubborn, more rounded nubs that are making the edge uneven, you need to to ‘groze’ them away.
- Hold the circle firmly underneath with your spare hand
- Place the flat jaw of the pliers over the uneven edge and scrape them down and around the edge
- The serrated inside of the grozer jaws will ‘groze’ or nibble the uneven bits away. This takes some practice.
- You must wear safety goggles for this.`
7 Finished Glass Circles
And there you have it, a perfect circle. And all without using an expensive circle cutter 🙂
If you need a bit more help with your cutting, I’ve written ‘Cutting Perfect Curves‘ just for you. It’s a free e-book that shows you how to avoid cutting mistakes by learning from all the costly ones I’ve made over the years!
To receive it, sign up below for the Everything Stained Glass Newsletter and the ‘Cutting Perfect Curves’ e-book will magically appear in your inbox, along with all sorts of other great tips and inspiration.
If you continue to struggle with cutting circles you could always try a circle cutter. They are easy to use and the results are very good.
Go to the main tutorial page to see all the other How To Cut Stained Glass instructions.
Return to the Everything Stained Glass Home Page.