When you first think about getting into a stained glass hobby and learn a little about what it takes to get started, you’ll find you will have to decide if you need to get a stained glass grinder immediately.
The cost for a grinder is the largest item that you’ll have to consider among the collection of tools and supplies you’ll need to get started. So for many this is a fairly big decision to make. The truth of the matter is that whether you get a grinder or not will probably determine if you actually end up making some excellent projects and decide to continue working with glass or not.
Many people see a magnificent Tiffany type lamp, or marvel at the elegance of a tasteful stained glass window as an accent in a home, and think that if they learned about making stained glass themselves that they would be able to create something at least nearly as nice for their own home.
And when you research and learn about what it takes to make your own colored glass windows or lamps you’ll find that it is not that difficult or expensive to learn the craft yourself. Only a very few basic tools are required. And for many years in the past there was no such thing as a powered stained glass grinder.
So a new hobbyist may think, “The artisans who made all the great stained glass windows in the cathedrals in Europe or the original Tiffany lamp craftsmen didn’t have an electric powered grinder, why would I need one?” And they go online and get one of the stained glass kits that include the very basic tools but do not include a grinder. Then they start their first project and either find that they can barely get it put together if they are using lead came, or that they are done before they start if they were trying their first project using foil.
While there were no electric grinders in the past, the new glass crafter will quickly find that after cutting the glass, the edges are sharp. And that when glass breaks it doesn’t break in a perfectly straight line up and down on the edge. It is just like when you break a piece of peanut brittle in two. The broken edge is sharp at either the top or the bottom and is always slanted.
No matter how accurately he scores the glass it will not always break where he wants it and the cut piece will not be accurately shaped. He will try nibbling away at it or try to make new small scores on the edges and will end up just making more sharp and variously slanted edges that still don’t exactly match the pattern.
If he is making a lead came project, the channel in the came will allow some irregularities to be covered up, but if his idea was to start with a foil project he is done before he starts. So he has two choices, either learn to grind and smooth the edges by hand using hand held grinding stones and emery sanding paper or go online and order an electric grinder.
You need a stained glass grinder to smooth the edges of the glass after it is cut and to roughen the edge if you are doing foil to allow it to adhere well. You’ll be happily surprised at how you can use the grinder to perfectly shape the piece of glass so that it fits exactly into your project. Doing this by hand is tedious and extremely time consuming.
It can be said that the availability of the reasonably priced electric home use stained glass grinder is the main thing that has allowed making your own stained glass lamps and windows explode as a hobby. What used to take hours can be done in minutes. You don’t need to be a full time craftsman now days to make an exquisite stained glass lamp or window. Give it a try and if possible get one of the stained glass kits that have a grinder as part of the package. You’ll be glad you did.