Hand Cutting Oval Glass


CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
Feb 23, 2004
Kennebunk, Maine
It's really been bugging me that I've never cut my own glass ovals. I can do SO many other things manually, I should be able to cut glass ovals, right??? Well, I whipped out my books and followed all the steps to the letter and I haven't been successful yet. The intructions say that it takes practice, but I'm wondering if my hand scorer is just too dull.

I trace the outline, lightly score along the line a best I can, score release lines around the perimeter about 1/8" from the outline, flip it over, press with thumb or tap with end ball and...

... the whole thing explodes.

Do I just need more practice? How long did it take some of you to perfect the technique?
I haven't had much luck cutting ovals, either. I end up making a template for the frame and sending it to a glass shop about 30 miles away. Normally, that adds at least a week to completing the job but the price and fit are right. It is one of those things I'm determined to master.
Score the oval first, flip and press on reverse of score line on a soft surface (short nap rug, ,etc), then score the split off lines to the edge of the glass and remove waste.
If you are scoring the split off lines before pressing the oval, everything will break at once.

Using a sharp tool and proper lubricant helps

Get your *** down to my shop and you can use my oval cutter!!!!!

I can't believe I have to gop on-line to here about your problem! And I thought we were friends!

Youcan hand cut by puttinf the frame on the glass and drwawing your cutting lines with a sharpie, or you can measure teh outside demensions and come the 2 miles to my shop! Bring your own glass and they're will be no charge (for now!)

PS How's business?

Happy holidays!
Wow Bob! Thanks for such a friendly offer! I'm going to give this one more shot using Wally's advice and if I get my usual shatter I'll be down to see ya. Thanks so much.
When I hand cut I use a similar method to Wally's. I score (hardish not lightish pressure) Flip the glass onto a fome core and give a good smack to get the score started.

Then I press around the score (from the back) like I used to chase the spider lines in the windshield of my parent's car ( I was a little kid cut me some slack!)

Then I cut some relief score lines and *snap* off the outer pieces. Piece of cake, only waste 4 pieces each time doing it before I got the oval cutter!

Oh and I use the grinding wheel on my air- cuttoff tool that came with my first compressor. It makes it easier to cut down teh glass that's too big!
As a former Stained Glass teacher ...this is how you do it.
Make sure you have a good glass cutter and make sure it is oiled before every cut.
You should "hear " the the glass cutter as it makes the score.
If you see flakes of glass popping out of the score line you are scoring with too much pressure.

Score the glass like you said you did. Make sure your score line meets up at the end of the score.

Score your tangent relief lines around the oval just like you said but make sure they are NOT perpendicular to the oval.

Make the OUTER tangent relief lines are at an angle /... going in the same direction as the way you scored the oval.
Hold face up and tap gently UNDER the scored oval first then under the scored release lines. Wear gloves as it may fall apart in your hands.

Hope this makes sense.
Steve, Once the oval has been scored and run (BTW I don't thwack the glass with the ball end of my cutter...pressure from my thumb is enough to run the score). I cut the waste off. It doesn't seem to matter the angle since a perpendicular run won't jump the existing run of the oval. I tried once to get the oval out without any scores in the waste...like the cat burglar always does in those old TV shows...and I couldn't do it. I've done it once with one tangential score, but that was just for fun. I mean what do you do with a piece of glass with an oval hole in it anyway?