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Glass Vocabulary

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COE or Coefficient of Expansion

glass cutter

standard - 3mm         thin - 2mm
transparent/cathedral or opalescent/opal/opaque

full fuse
contour fuse
tack fuse
bubble squeeze
kiln wash/glass separator/fiber paper

The Basic Tools for Glass - you can visit our Tools page to check out pictures!

Glass Cutter

     Your number one, most essential tool is your glass cutter. The glass cutter does not actually ‘cut’ the glass, but scores it to prepare it to be cut. Do not just go out and buy a glass cutter from any old store. You can ask for a glass cutter that will work for stained glass if you don’t want to wait and order one from a glass supplier. You can try different kinds- either a pencil grip or a pistol grip. Try both types and buy the one that works best for you. Some of these are plastic, some are brass. Some people prefer the pistol grip. I prefer the brass pencil grip. The best ones can hold oil, which can protect the sharp cutting part of the tool.
Grozers, Nibblers or Glass Pliers

     Some people call them grozers, some call them nibblers and some just call them glass pliers. They all look like pliers, but go to the hardware store, ask for pliers and you’ll be amazed at how many different types there are. Some people can use just a pair of cutters and pliers to score and break their glass. Most grozers or nibblers are used to snip off the jagged pieces of glass that occur from an imperfect cut. Like cutters, you should try out different grozers, nibblers or pliers to see which ones work best for you. Some people have all different kinds and swear they could not do their glass work without all of them. Most people use only one pair.


     Next to the glass cutter, the number one most important piece of equipment is a good pair of runners. Glass runners are used to break the glass on the score line created by the glass cutter. A good runner has a ‘bump’ in the middle of one of the ends. This is lined up on the score and when pressure is applied, the glass pops apart. This is as important as your cutter, and I picked out one of the best on the market for your packages. Most of the time, I only use my cutter and runner when making glass jewelry.


     As discussed previously, a machine glass grinder, can be used to make certain the edges of the glass are smooth and perfectly shaped. This helps if you are trying to fit two pieces together. If you choose to eventually buy a machine grinder, we urge you to find out more about the safety precautions.
     You can also simply use the handheld grinder included in the packages we offer. They are great for taking off a sharp edge here or there. It is also highly recommended that you wear a pair of safety glasses when using a grinder of any kind.  This is to prevent glass particles from accidentally lodging in the eye.

Safety Glasses

     It is very important that any and everyone cutting glass wear some kind of safety glasses. They are clear glasses and usually plastic and protect your eyes when cutting whether it is you doing the cutting or the person sitting next to or across from you.
     You can pick these up at Home Depot or Lowes. There are relatively inexpensive. Be sure to have enough for all students or customers that will be cutting in your studio.

     If you are going to be looking INTO the kiln during firing, you will also need to have the infrared glasses. You can try welder's glasses which aren’t too expensive. Just make sure what you choose is rated for your use with glass.

Morton Board or Waffle Grids

     These white or clear plastic grids are great to cut glass on. You can use the squares to help you measure when cutting. A major plus in using the board is that when you are cutting, small slivers or bits of glass fall off the piece. Having the board to catch those tiny pieces is helpful from a safety standpoint. I would even recommend putting paper underneath the board so that when you are done with a cutting session or at the end of the day, you can dump the fragments into the trash (we often save ours – great for frit projects), and also wrap up the paper and throw it in the trash. Be sure to sweep the area between the glass bar and the glass-cutting table often.


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est. 1976.

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