Recommended Tools For Stained Glass Making

Favourite Stained Glass Tools & Equipment

My tried and trusted stained glass tools have followed me around for years. We share a history like old friends.
I thought it could be useful to share a few of my favourite recomended tools and – more importantly – why I use them. Just in case you’re missing some and aren’t sure which to choose.
I will say that when I started I had a handful of ancient borrowed stained glass tools. Only once stained glass got into my bones and become an addiction did I start to invest in better equipment. And even then it was a slow process – I didn’t start with the very best tools but got there eventually through trial and error and as my business took off.

I’ve chosen a selection of my most important everyday stained glass tools and some quirky ones that you may not have thought about or heard of.

Just so’s you know, if you click and buy through the 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 🙂

New-To-Me Stained Glass Tools & Materials

Every year I try some new tools or materials to see if they help my stained glass. We all have things to learn!

As a result, I’m adding 2 new things to my list of must-haves:

Toyo Cutter

Toyo Custom-Grip Supercutter

I find the shape of it, with the saddle, very easy to use. It helps both with downward pressure and control. You don’t have to grip hard and your hand can relax! It might help those who have problems gripping AND pressing at the same time.

View on Amazon (paid link): Toyo Custom Grip Supercutter

mink oil

Snowproof Mink Oil

Vanishing lines when grinding or using a saw have always been a problem. Mark Stay, petroleum jelly, soggy pattern pieces… ugh. Imagine my delight when follower Bill Tait sent me this tip. Yes, shoe polish! Just smear a tiny bit over your pen line/s and it repels the water like magic. A tub of this will last forever. Thanks Bill 🙂

View on Amazon (paid link): Snowproof Mink Oil

Glass Cutting Tools

Comfort Grip Supercutter by Toyo

toyo glass cutters

This is the type of cutter I started with 20+ years ago… and I still use it, along with my new find (above).
Although you don’t need oil to cut glass I prefer it. This Toyo is oil-fed, lightweight, comfortable to use and seems to last forever!

View on Amazon(paid link): Comfort Grip Supercutter by Toyo

Strip and Circle Glass Cutter

circle cutterThis simple strip cutter from Glastar is the perfect tool for making boxes and lamps; I use it for any projects that call for multiple identical geometric shapes. It’s accurate and speedy which is precisely what I need for 3-D or geometric projects.

View on Amazon (paid link): Strip and Circle Glass Cutter

Studio Pro 3/8″ Breaker / Grozer Pliers

breaker pliersGrozing is my secret weapon! It speeds you up at the cutting stage and saves your grinder head from hours of grinding. These plier handles are spring-loaded which stops you having to open them up after each grozing action. The jaws last longer than other makes I’ve tried and they are very reasonably priced.

View on Amazon (paid link): Studio Pro 3/8″ Breaker / Grozer Pliers

Silberschnitt Glass Cut Running Pliers

pliers silbershmittI’ve been using Studio Pro Running Pliers forever and found them both hard-wearing and accurate.
Then I tried Silberschnitt Running Pliers. Well! These pliers are a class above. They take a bit of getting used to because they have an adjustable rubber pad that you twist to follow the direction of the score. Once you’ve got the hang of it you won’t break half as much glass.
They’re especially useful for cutting curves and shapes with narrow sections.

View on Amazon (paid link): Silberschnitt Glass Cut Running Pliers

Glass Grinding Tools

grinder for stained glassI’m delighted to see that this Inland grinder is available again – they were impossible to get for a good while.
Before I got my Glastar All Star G8 (which I also love) I used one of these for years and years. It’s still going!
I’m adding it to this list because it’s a reliable, solid grinder – at a very reasonable price – that I couldn’t have done without when I first started out.

View on Amazon (paid link): Inland Craft WizlingCG Glass Grinder

Grinder Cookie

grinder cookieI was so dubious about this space-ship-shaped ‘thing’ when I first saw it.
I couldn’t see how it would help hold those tiny bits of glass to the grinder head without filing my fingers off…
…but it does, perfectly.
I now use this all the time when grinding small pieces of glass.

View on Amazon(paid link): Grinder Cookie

Soldering Tools and Materials

tin of tip tinnerThis is a little-known gem. It magically removes that build up of black gunk that occasionally gathers on your iron tip.
I don’t use it instead of a damp sponge, I use it every now and then when the gunk won’t come off with the sponge. A small tip; leave the lid off once you’ve opened it – you won’t get it back on otherwise!

View on Amazon (paid link): MG Chemicals Lead Free Tip Cleaner

Hakko Solder Reel Stand

solder standI use this nifty solder holder instead of a third hand! It speeds my seams up and means that my solder is always to hand when I want a small amount on the end of my iron.
It’s really good quality too, which pleases me.

View on Amazon (paid link): Hakko 611-2 Dual Solder Reel Stand

Hakko FX-601

hakko soldering ironI have a range of soldering irons but this is the most versatile one. The temperature dial means that I can easily adjust the temperature to the job in hand.
It’s light, heats up quickly and – most importantly – maintains a consistent temperature for soldering smooth seams.
This is another new(ish) addition to my essential tools and one I wouldn’t be without now.

View on Amazon (paid link): Hakko FX 601

A Readers Experience of the Hakko:

I have also upgraded both my glass cutter and soldering iron (both replaced with products recommended by you) and they make the process so much better. The proper tools really do make a difference. I feel that my pieces look better – that could also be due to practice 🙂 – but there’s a lot less frustration with each step.

Hakko FX601-02 soldering iron and the Toyo Supercutter glass cutter  both much better quality that what I was using before. Well worth the extra money.

Polly Smith-Blackwell USA in New York State/Chemung County.


Lead Came Tools and Materials

craftsman utilityThese angle cutters were a relatively late addition to my ‘essential tools’ list. I use them to cut long tapering angles in lead came.
They don’t squash the came and use less effort than either a knife or nippers because of the razor sharp blade.

View on US Amazon (paid links): Craftsman Edge Utility Cutter

I found a very reasonably priced version in the UK Amazon here – the exact ones I have aren’t available anymore but these are tried and tested.


Rutland Stove Polish for Lead Came

rutland stove polishThis may be a new one for you. I use Rutland stove polish to blacken off my leaded panels. Not copper foiled solder seams. It works better on lead came than black patina and polishes up to a gorgeous shine.

View on Amazon (paid link): Rutland Stove Polish

So now you have some of the tools I use to make my creative stained glass work. I’d like to stress one thing though; tools don’t magic up quality and creativity.

My instinctive reaction to questions about the tools I use is typically “it doesn’t matter“. Tiffany Studios didn’t create stunning windows because of their tools. Harry Clarke’s delicate genius wasn’t reliant on the latest gadget. They didn’t have access to HALF the tools we use!

Stained glass tools can make things better and easier but they can also be a distraction. Tools are maybe 5% of the equation at most, the rest is you creating beautiful work.

I too have a fascination for what tools people use so I do understand. My own personal mantra is this; first I work at the skill I want to develop, then and only then do I dive a little into what tools could make it better. Oftentimes I’ll end up using the same tools I started with, even if it’s not seen as the ‘best’ or most luxurious. Like using a simple lead stretcher like this one rather than the more complex (and expensive!) Stanton Stretcher like this one .

More of Milly’s Recommended Tools

If you click and buy through the 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 🙂

Chartres Cathedral Book

Not a tool but something I’m excited to share with you. It’s a delightful retelling of the Good Samaritan story through lots and LOTS of images of the stained glass in the cathedral. All on glossy paper. It’s pretty special. You can have a look at it at Amazon here – but only in the US I’m afraid 🙁

charetes cathedral book

Stained Glass Safety

Studio Pro Safety Glasses

Respirator

Heavy duty respirator for soldering

Design and Pattern Prep

31 Weekend Stained Glass Project book

Louis Comfort Tiffany: Treasures from the Driehaus Collection

Bird Designs Stained Glass Pattern Book

How to design stained glass book

Precision Craft Knife with 5 spare blades

Studio Pro Foil Shears

Studio Pro Lead Shears

Cutting

Toyo Pistol-Grip Supercutter

Novacan Cutter Oil

Breman Precision Stainless Steel Cork Back Ruler (18″)

Leponitt 24″ Cutting Square

Studio Pro Running Pliers

These are perfectly fine if you can’t stretch to the Silberschnitt cut runners just yet.

Taurus 3 Diamond Ring Saw

A luxury and something to move on to when you have everything single stained glass tool in the universe!

Grinding

Glastar All Star G8 Grinder

Sharpening Stone, 12″

These aren’t for grinding but they’re very useful for deadening the edges of glass to make it safe to foil.

Assembling

Copper Foil Technique

If you’re right at the beginning of learning stained glass you might want to choose a kit rather than each tool separately. This one is contains solid and reliable tools and materials to get you started: Stained Glass Start-Up Kit

Homasote Board

Good for holding your projects in place before and during soldering.

Morton Layout Add Ons 12″ & 3″ for Stained Glass

Studio Pro 1/4″ Copper Foil – 1.25 Mil

Fid/ Burnisher

Handy Wedge for Stained Glass

3 Copper Foil Sheets 6″ X 6″

Great for adding decorative detail to your work with foil overlay.

Lead Came Technique

Ultimate Lead Upgrade Tool Kit

3/16″ round H lead came

Lead Came Vise/Stretcher

Professional Weighted Lead Knife for Stained Glass Work

Studio Pro Lead Nippers

Horseshoe Nails for Stained Glass

Stop Blocks for Lead and Glass

Glazing Hammer

1/2 pint of black Stained Glass Putty

Soldering

Hakko FX-601

Weller W100PG Soldering Iron

Fume Extractor

Ruby Fluid Flux – 16 Oz

2oz Ruby Paste Flux

12 Flux Brushes

Studio Pro Iron Stand

Canfield 60/40 Solder – 1 Lb

50-50 Solder from Mastercraft

Suede Brush Cleaner

Finishing

Copper Foil Technique

Kwik Clean Flux Cleaner 16 Oz

A revelation. You can now clean flux off your work without soap and water.

Novacan Super Brite Copper Patina For Solder – 8 Oz

Jax Pewter Black Patina

Simichrome Polish – 50 Gram

Great for final polish if you’re not using patina.

Lead Came Technique

Novacan Black Patina For Lead And Solder – 8 Oz

Black Patina For Zinc – 8 Oz

1lb Whiting Powder

Rutland Stove Polish

This is for LEAD and not for copper foil soldered seams.

Framing and Hanging

Stainless Steel Open Jump Rings

Selling Stained Glass

How to price crafts …
A Beginners Guide To Making Money With Art Glass

Etching Glass

Floral Glass Etching Stencils

Over n Over Stencils

Grafix 9 X 12″ Stencil Film, 4-Pack

Rub n Etch Glass Etching Stencils

Just so’s you know, if you click and buy through the 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 🙂

Go here for more explanations of tools used for the copper foil method

You’ll find the lead came tools discussed here

Favourite Stained Glass tools

33 thoughts on “Recommended Tools For Stained Glass Making”

  1. Waterproof grinding patterns.
    ………………………..
    CAD Drafting paper by the roll.
    Satin Finish Spray Lacquer
    Big Box store copy master pattern 2x’s
    Spray lacquer on both sides of layout and cutting pattern.

    Reply
    • That sounds like a very efficient and useful approach Dale. It’s so annoying when the patterns disintegrate. Thanks for taking the time to add your ideas, much appreciated.

      Reply
  2. i am going to try a stained glass appliqué using my “scrap” glass. Should I get a hand tile nipper? And which do you recommend?
    Thank you

    Reply
    • Hi Patricia, stained glass scrap is perfect for mosaics. I’d recommend you get yourself a wheeled nipper – probably the best one for the money is a Leponitt Wheeled Nipper. I use it all the time with my mosaics. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  3. Hi there. Love all your recommendations on tools, however my question is about sheet glass. Do you have any information about Hobby Lobby sheet glass? Does it meet industry standards as far as strength and durability? Can you trust it has been annealed properly so your project wont crack down the road with temperature changes?
    Any info you have would be very much appreciated.
    Thank you.

    Reply
    • As a European I haven’t had personal experience of Hobby Lobby glass but I do know lots of my students use it and have never complained that it isn’t annealed/cracks. I don’t think you need worry. Anyone else with experience want to chip in?

      Thanks for the question.

      Reply
  4. Milly,
    I enjoy and appreciate your experience and sharing what works from other people. Earlier this year I was making a large window for a customer and I dropped my Hakko FX-601 and it stopped working. I ordered another right away and I had so many problems with that window. I thought it was the flux, the lead, the solder but it never occurred to me that it could have been the iron. After looking on Youtube I was surprised to see that making fakes of the Hakko irons is really big business. I was trying to solder with an iron that would not keep temperature steady, it made the job so much longer than it should have taken. Often people selling on Ebay or Amazon don’t realize they are selling counterfeits.
    Thanks,
    Mark

    Reply
    • Wow I hadn’t heard of this scam Mark, thanks for letting me/us know. I’m sorry that you had to find out the hard way and hope the panel was finished and found its home in the end.

      Reply
  5. Hi Milly, I may be here under false pretenses. Karen and I have had a glass studio for 45 years. A friend sent me your site, and I figured one can always learn .I did try the silberschnidt breaker and is’s pretty cool. Didn’t like the Haako iron, too light weight. have used it for some small lead repairs.always used Hexagon irons. Toyo cutters are amazing, whatever handle you prefer. incredible long life, though I like fletcher for a pistol grip. For leadlight cement, make your own. 2 parts whiting, 1 part plaster of paris, boiled linseed oil to a thick batter, turpentine as an evaporant, and lampblack to color dark grey to black.
    For a foil presser, cut a square of stiff but not too thick leather, fold in half, and pinch between index finger and thumb. use it to run along the edge and press the foil. skip angle at corners.and fold at next side. works best if you pre press foil with the flesh of your fingers as you roll the piece around to each edge. Thanks to the women prisoners of Clinton reformatory who used to wrap pieces for the glass workbench, in Flemington, NJ.They used half a folded matchbook cover. We just upgraded to leather. For fun I’ll send you some of my homemade glass tools just for fun. Best wishes and enjoy the new year., Geoff Caldwell. Sunflower glass studio

    Reply
    • Hello Geoff, thanks so much for all your helpful comments, they’re so different and useful! You don’t like the lightness of the Hakko and that’s one of the things I like – it’s so personal isn’t it?
      I certainly hadn’t heard of matchboxes and will give the leather a try. Sounds intriguing 🙂
      I look forward to any homemade glass tools that come my way, thanks!

      Reply
  6. I am very interested in starting to learn stain glass, however can you lead me in the direction on better startup kits for both copper and lead stain glass. I would like to purchase the kits. Appreciate your time. Thank you

    Reply
  7. Will the Stove Polish work on zinc? I’ve found the zinc patina pretty worthless, the lead patina works just as well or better but it still isn’t a really good finish.
    I too have arthritic hands now and I’ve found a number of ways to adapt. Pistol grip cutter, grinder’s mate and grinder cookie are some of them. They enable me to continue creating and what’s better?

    Thanks for all the great tips!

    Reply
    • No, the stove polish is for lead only Erin.
      You’re welcome and thanks for your tips for how to get around the problem of arthritic hands. There is NOTHING better than creating 🙂

      Reply
    • Tüm ücretsiz bilgilere sahip olabilirsiniz! Yardımcı olduğuna sevindim Hatice

      Google Translate: You’re welcome to have all the free information! I’m glad it’s helpful Hatice

      Reply
  8. My all time favorite “go-to” tool is the Silberschnitt running pliers. The way they work for breaking out a curve is great. The padded jaw can be turned all around so you can line up the score from almost any angle, and you don’t have to start at an end to run the score. This tool has helped me break some curves that would probably have been impossible without them (at least for me). They are expensive, but they are also an investment.

    Reply
    • Thanks for your additional information and enthusiasm Gail. ‘Expensive’ is relative, isn’t it? If a tool is indispensable and lasts forever, it’s not expensive. If it’s cheap and breaks or doesn’t work, it’s expensive!

      Reply
    • The stove polish is for lead came work Helen, so you shouldn’t need to go over the patina, no. Maybe I need to make this clearer on the page, I’ll have a look. Thanks!

      Reply
  9. Thank you Milly. This is really helpful and I’m sure I’ll refer back to it from time to time. There are things on here I certainly wouldn’t have thought of, and I hope to track some of them down to add to my hint list for Christmas. 🙂 Unfortunately a lot of the links aren’t right. I was offered some very strange things like cots, waterproof mattresses and cookie cutters lol!

    Reply
    • Oophs, sorry Alex, where are you based? Most of the visitors to the site are based in North America so the Amazon links try and go there first. If you are outside that area Amazon then redirects to as close a product as they can find – and often that’s not the right thing.
      If you let me know which things in particular I can try and help you find them where you live.

      Reply
  10. Hi Milly ,
    I’m glad you mentioned the little ” space ship ” thingy !
    I’d wondered if it was worth getting one so its now on my to buy list .

    My ” couldn’t do without ” tool is my Pistol grip cutter . My hands are a bit mishapen due to arthritis and I found
    this cutter far more comfortable to hold .
    I’m still amazed when a curve breaks in the right place , it’s ” so o o” satisfying ! Sad ! Must get out more ! 😂😂

    Reply
    • You’re right, the pistol grip cutter is brilliant for those people who can’t easily exert downward pressure Barbara, thanks for mentioning it.
      Don’t get out more… only to your workshop! I totally understand that delight when things go right. MUCH better than a night out 🙂

      Reply

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