Stained Glass Tools – Pliers

As is usual with stained glass tools, there’s often a different tool for different parts of the same process. And pliers are no exception.

Find out about the range of pliers, what they’re for and how to use them. Stained glass pliers are indispensable for cutting and will soon become one of your most important stained glass tools.

Running or Cut-Running Pliers

These pliers are to help you ‘run the score’. They are used to apply pressure to either side of the scoreline. This make the fissure open all along the score (running) and breaks the glass apart.

Recommended: Silberschnitt Running Pliers

Silberschnitt Running Pliers
Best of the Best: Silberschnitt Running Pliers

These pliers are a class above. They are especially useful for cutting curves. You can cut curves successfully that have very narrow sections of glass – say 5/16th” wide. They’re robust, well made and can tackle any type of cut you wish. 

I would recommend the Silberschnitt Running Pliers above all others if cost was not a problem.

How to Use the Silberschnitt Running Pliers

  • Hold the pliers at the far end of the handles for better leverage
  • You can start anywhere along the score, you don’t have to start at the end or beginning
  • If it doesn’t break immediately, try moving along the score and squeeze the handles again
  • Once the score starts to open up, keep moving along it, squeezing gently
  • For stubborn pieces you can squeeze and release quickly. That sometimes makes it break apart

A Few Additional Tricks

  • The rubber pad on the Silberschnitt can be turned
  • The lower part, with the raised bump that breaks the glass along the score line is fixed
  • Turn the rubber upper part so that it’s perpendicular to the score line
  • This can help with small and difficult cuts and when you’ve cut a bit too close to the edge

Other Running Pliers

Running Pliers are indispensable, an absolute must for making stained glass. They have an ingeniously shaped curved cushioned jaw that puts pressure on either side of the score to break the glass apart.

Simply line up the mid-point of the jaw with your score and squeeze the handle together gently.

They’re good for straight or slightly curved cuts, and for big sheets.

There are two types of running pliers – metal and plastic. The metal ones are far more robust and have a plastic coated jaws to prevent chipping.

They also have a thumb screw adjustment to enable you to control the amount of pressure applied to the score and to accommodate thicker glass. Recommended.

stained glass tools - pliers
Metal running pliers are recommended
plastic cut runners
Plastic running pliers are a bit flimsy

The plastic ones wear out fairly quickly and sometimes bend if you’re trying to break a thick sheet. Not recommended.

Grozing or Grozer/Breaker Pliers

These are particularly useful and have two uses:

  1. as breaking pliers by lining up the end of the jaws along your scoreline and snapping the glass along the score line.
  2. or as grozers, which means using the serrated edges of the jaws to remove stubborn nubs and tidy edges during cutting. Using these will save you lots of money on grinder heads as you won’t need to grind away so much glass.
grozer pliers
Grozer/breakers are essential
jaws of grozing pliers
The flat jaw is for breaking, the curved for grozing

Breaking Pliers

As their name suggests these are used for breaking pieces of glass off at the scoreline. You line the top of the flat jaw along the score and snap the glass apart. I’ve never owned a pair as the breaker/grozer pliers do this job perfectly.

Lead Nippers

Used to cut lead came, they cut through the came easily and don’t squash it like a lead knife.

For annotated photos on how to use grozer pliers to help tidy your shapes when cutting, go here.

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