Lead and Zinc Questions

Cleaning hobby lead came

Q: I am struggling with my stained glass project. How do you clean the simple leaded angel after soldering so that corrosion doesn’t form on the hobby lead came?

A: You can clean the tallow (or other types of flux) off with a wire or suede brush until it’s shiny. If you’re using a wire brush, be sure to use one from a stained glass supplier, as they’re less harsh than standard wire brushes, and won’t scratch your lead came so much. I prefer suede brushes; they’re softer still.

You can then blacken and shine it with grate or graphite polish.
Thanks for your question, I hope this answers it.

How To Cut Acute Angles in Lead

Cutline Showing Best Leading Solution

Cutline Showing Best Leading Solution

I always have a problem when it comes to cutting a lead which meets another at an acute angle – see attached photo. What shape should I cut the lead to and how do I do it? Any help/advice on this would be very gratefully received!

A: Good question Carole, and thanks for the photo, it really helps me explain. These are the hardest type of cuts to make in lead came, but they do look so good.

To help you I’ve added green lines to show you the correct angle to cut – they should butt up nicely to the leads marked in blue.

To cut them, mark the angle you want to cut first. To work this out, place your lead along the cutline at the angle that it will be meeting the ‘blue’ lead, and mark the angle. Then place the lead on its side – if you cut from the top you’ll just squash it out of shape. Put the lead knife at the end of the marked line and push and wobble it slowly along the diagonal towards the other end of the angle and towards your work surface. Make sure you work away from your body.

It’s quite difficult to explain in words, hope that helps. Get back to me if not.

See below for Carole’s success at cutting her lead came.

Success With Cutting Lead!

Carole's Successful Leading

Carole’s Successful Leading

This is a follow-up to the question I asked you a couple of weeks ago about how to cut acute angles in lead. I thought you might want to see how I got on following your advice – see image attached – it’s not perfect, but a HUGE improvement on my first attempt. Thank you!

Milly’s reply: How fantastic is that, Carole? They’re really not the easiest angles to cut, but I think you’ve done really well. Thanks for bothering to reply with a photo too, it’s always good to see how people progress with their skills.

How to bend zinc came

I have not worked with bevels before this project but I am going to use zinc came. Is there a secret to bending zinc came?

Milly’s reply: Thanks for your question June. It’s quite difficult to bend zinc came, especially if you’re making small pieces. As you don’t specify size – to give you a clue, it’s hard to get it to curve round a bend with less than a 4′ radius.

To do this, fix your work securely on to a board with horseshoe nails and then hold one end of the zinc came over the edge of the glass with more nails. Gradually ease the came along the side of the glass, making sure it follows the shape of the edge. When you’re happy you’ve got the shape right, mark where you need to cut, and use a fine-toothed hack saw to cut it.

If your piece is much smaller than this, you can use dykes or clippers to snip the top and bottom edge of the zinc came, before bending round a sharper angle. Alternatively, lead is far more pliable and possibly more appropriate for this project. Is this of any help?


4 thoughts on “Lead and Zinc Questions”

  1. I am making a large stained glass piece with nothing but straight lines (geometric). I was thinking of using just zinc came for the whole piece. Is this correct? or should I use lead?

  2. Hi Milly,

    I’m making my daughter some stained glass jewelry using the proper silver solder…..my question is, if I want to patina the item will it be safe for her to wear?

    Thank you,

    • When you say ‘proper silver solder’, do you mean it hasn’t got lead in it? It’s the lead that you don’t want next to your skin. The patina is okay. Use lead free solder for jewellery to get around this problem. I hope that answers your question.


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