How do I cut curves in glass?
Thanks for the article on making arched raised panel doors (WOOD issue 208, Nov. 2011). I'm altering the design to use glass rather than panels. But how do I cut curves in glass?
—Ramon Gordon, Kemah, Texas
In a word, Ramon: carefully. Start by arming yourself with leather gloves, safety glasses, a glass cutting tool like the one shown above (you'll find it in your local hardware or craft store), and spare pieces of glass in case you break one accidentally.
If you need to cut the glass to size first, place it on a flat surface and mark the desired dimensions with a fine, felt-tip marker. Coat the scoring wheel with a drop of machine oil. Hold a framing square or steel rule along the line and, with firm downward pressure, pull the scoring wheel across the glass against the rule. A continuous crackling sound indicates sufficient pressure. You get one shot at it; attempts at retracing the score line could shatter the glass. Align the score line with the edge of your bench, grip the protruding piece with a gloved hand and quickly break the piece downward.
Now for the curves. Make a pattern by tracing the sized glass on kraft paper; then mark out the curve on the pattern. Use masking tape to hold the glass in place on top of the pattern; then follow the steps, below, to cut the curve, pulling away and discarding the pieces as they break off.