For this week's Toolbox Tuesday post I want to cover a tool that took a previously intimidating job and turned it into something that anyone can handle. The tool in question, the Fletcher Terry Glass Cutter with carbide wheel, isn't terribly expensive, but does the job that any high end glass cutting system can do.

I've been doing a lot of glass cutting over the last week while getting the new front french doors ready. It's a lot of measuring and patience, but I'm no longer intimidated by the process, thanks to this high quality glass cutter.

Old and wavy glass is a fragile and expensive thing to make mistakes with. Our previous glass cutters had steel wheels that dulled quickly and were difficult to keep a reliable line when scoring the glass. After making mistake after mistake, I got to the point where I was almost afraid to cut glass, expecting it to shatter or produce a piece too small for what I was working on.

That all changed when I bought this Fletcher Terry Glass Cutter with a Carbide Wheel. The wheel is sharp and lasts up to 10 times longer than a steel wheel, the weight of the tool is balanced and heavy with a ball tip that you can use to encourage breaking with slight taps, and the ergonomic finger position makes it easy to get a reliable grip, which is very important when trying to maintain a line against a straight edge. Now I actually quite enjoy the glass cutting process.

Now it's as easy as: measure, mark, score, snap! And you're left with a cleanly cut piece of glass that is ready for your project.

We had a bunch of broken and extra pieces of old and wavy glass in the basement that I've been cutting up while working on the doors. I actually got into the groove of the project and started to cut pieces for other things that have needed it, like the new transom window I built a little while ago that will eventually go above our bathroom door.

As I said, I no longer fear the process, and I have this tool to thank for it. I'll just keep my eye on the cutting wheel and will be sure to replace it before it gets the slightest bit dull. That's the real secret to success.

Do you do any glass work? What are your tools of choice? Would it help me to add some cutting oil to my process? 

Also, I'm thinking of picking up a Fletcher Terry Glazing Point driver for all of the glass lites I need to install in the doors, rather than using the points with the ears that you push in with a putty knife. Any opinions?

Comments 4

Comments

Veronica
7/26/2011 at 2:09 PM
I've been dabbling in making stained glass windows for the past 6 months or so. I like the pistol grip cutter (I can't remember which brand--maybe Toyo) with the oil feed, but I don't use the oil well because it's too messy. I believe cutting oil is supposed to make your blade wheel last longer, so it's probably worth it. Breaking pliers are also handy if the glass you're cutting is too small for the "snap it on the table" method, or if the score is curved. A glass grinder is also very helpful for taking off little bits. They're a bit expensive if you don't do much glasswork, but you can rent them at glass studios (I know Weisser Glass rents them out).
Alex
7/27/2011
Thanks for the feedback. I do need a pair of breaking pliers. I've had situations where I sit and tap on the glass for about 15 minutes to get it to break on a line that is too near the edge. I think there may be a glass shop near us that will do free or very cheap grinding when you need it. I've never looked into purchasing them or renting one, but it's something to keep in mind.

What sort of stained glass have you been doing? I remember doing it a little bit when I was in high school. I am a Cleveland Indians fan, so I made a stained glass Chief Wahoo. I may be remembering it without it's flaws, but it was kind of cool for being made by a 15 year old. I do remember the whole process being quite fun.
JC
7/31/2011 at 10:56 PM
My only comment regarding glazing points is that I HATE the kind you describe that you push in with a putty knife. I find that they feel really cheap, and that they never really seem to hold all that well. They also take up a lot of space, and I've had a few places where the glazing couldn't quite hide/bury them. I much prefer using the old fashioned triangular ones, or any of the small flat ones that sit flush with the glass. They are mainly just to hold the glass while the putty dries. I can't wait to see those finished French doors.
Alex
8/1/2011
I agree, I hate the ones with the ears. I tried to use the triangles on my own with a putty knife, but then broke an original piece of glass. I nearly freaked out and lost it. I think the only good way to do the triangles is with the driver.

If I do use the ones with the ears, I always find myself trimming them so they don't stick out of the glazing.
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