Cutting Stained Glass Circles

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!

The cutter I use is the Comfort Grip Supercutter by Toyo and the pliers are the Studio Pro 3/8-Inch Breaker Grozer.


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

cutting circle in yellow glass
Making first circles cut
  • 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

using thumbs to press glass score open
Using thumbs to open score
  • 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

cutting yellow glass circle
Separating the scoreline with thumbs
  • 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.

grozer pliers glass circles
Using grozer to press on cutline
  • If you can’t press with your thumb for any reason you can use the handle of your breaker/grozer pliers to open the score line
grozers for snapping glass circle
Use breaker/grozers for easing artglass apart

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.

cutting stained glass circles
Using grozing pliers for smaller bits
  • 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

grozing shards off yellow glass
Removing tiny 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.

Snapping
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.
Grozing
If they’re stubborn, more rounded nubs that are making the edge uneven, you need to to ‘groze’ them away.

grozing circle edges
Grozing circles edges
  • 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 🙂

yellow glass circles
Finished circles

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.

38 thoughts on “Cutting Stained Glass Circles”

  1. thank you Milly looks like a snap Soto speak…and I just received a carborundum stone in the mail because my grinder is packed away cant wait to try this..i love your relaxed manner of speaking when you teach

    Reply
    • Just to be clear Gloria, the carborundum won’t grind the glass, it’s used to ‘deaden’ the edges so that it’s safe to foil.
      Thank you for your nice words about my teaching 🙂

      Reply
  2. Thanks Milly. I shall work on mastering that task. The video was brilliant and very clear to show the correct way. Now…how do you cut a perfect….Inner circle …like a 1/4 moon. That inside curve gets me everytime!!

    Reply
    • Thank you Nancy, it’s kind of you to take the time to comment 🙂 Keep practising and you’ll get there.

      Reply
  3. Thanks for this extremely useful video Milly. When I received it I was working on cutting very thin strips of glass which were tail feathers on a lovely Red Cardinal. Flipping the glass over and tapping gently helped to separate the thin strips without breakage. This helped me a lot and wish I had known it when I did all those other bird feathers and the strips representing vineyards in Tuscany!

    Reply
  4. Good morning Milly I so enjoy all your encouraging tips on stained glass. I save them all so I can go back and refresh my mind. Thank you.
    I have a diamond lazer Speedster saw which I bought second hand. I put a new blade in it but it breaks the glass, would you mind giving me some insight why this is happening.
    Thank you so much for all the information.

    Reply
    • I’m glad you find my tips helpful Vivian. If you’re not signed up already I have a newsletter here.
      The saw. I’m not familiar with this particular one but I’m wondering if the blade isn’t installed correctly? It’s tricky for me to make a call on this without seeing it, sorry I can’t be of more help this time.

      Reply
  5. Thank you Milly.
    I always look forward to your Sunday tips and hacks. I read/watch/devour them as I have my coffee and early morning cup of coffee. I find that, even if I’ve seen them before, I often catch something I missed and refreshing the info works for improving my skills and project results. I’m newbie Hubbit still. I’ve been at it about a year now and love every step of the task. Thanks again. Your “student”.

    Reply
    • Aw that’s so sweet Deborah, thank you|! I have a mental picture of you now on a Sunday Tip morning, sipping coffee. Glad you’re a total convert, that’s what we like 🙂

      Reply
  6. Thank you once again, Millie.
    I’ve used these tips before but never the one for the padded surface.
    I can’t wait to try that as had trouble before. I like that your tutorials are so complete and easy to follow.

    Reply
  7. Hi Milly,

    Brilliant idea on step 2, opening the cut.Pressing the back of it. I have never seen that before. Just tried it and glass broke cleanly.

    Reply
  8. Hi Milly, once again you give great tips and good directions. I’ve found that everyone, instructors, have their own ideas/ways of cutting glass, but I feel for me yours are easier for me. Thank you so very much for taking the time to do tutorials on videos. 🙂

    Reply
    • Aw, that’s really nice to hear Nancy, thanks. Finding your own way takes time but it’s worth trying new ways I think.

      Reply
    • Hi Javier, there’s a free Cutting Perfect Curves eBook which you should’ve already received. I’ll check and email it to you privately if not.

      Reply
  9. Thank you for your straightforward instructions Milly – watching the video has built up my confidence to cut circles. Now to practice this skill.
    Have just cut my first circle and pleased that it worked so well. Many thanks!

    Reply
    • I’m so happy to hear that my instructions helped your circle cutting Caroline. That’s great news indeed 🙂 Thanks for commenting.

      Reply

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