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Heavy Stained Glass Work

Jerry Ervin

PFG, Picture Framing God
Jul 13, 2001
North Carolina ... The Picture Frame Capital of th
I have a customer that would like a large piece of stained glass work framed. She wants to hang it from the ceiling by chains and view it from both front and back. I found several mouldings that I can add a second smaller one to the back to finish it off and solve the double view obstacle. My concern is this thing will hang approx 14 feet off the floor. It weighs a good 20 pounds or more and is 24 x 36 in size. How can I ensure that the upper and lower joints hold the weight, and the hanging hardware never pull out the top? If it falls, it is history.
...And if it falls on a person, they may be history too. This is a good question Jerry. Gonna look forward to the answers posted here.
I would use 1 1/4 - 1 5/8 inch screws. Pre-drill and recess for a plug on the sides, top and bottom. From that distance in the air (14') they should not show. For the hangers, I would use at least #8 - 1 inch screws (better yet # 10's or # 12's) or similar eye bolts.

I would also not offer to hang the monster. Let it be someone elses responsibility.
Foster's Planing Mills, Picture Woods, Vermont Hardwoods and Xylo Inc. all (and probably some others as well) make a channeled hardwood moulding specifically for stained glass. The rails of the frame are assembled with screws around the stained glass. The hanging hardware is attached to the sides of the vertical rails so the pull from its weight are perpendicular to the screws. The lower corners may need some reinforcement and there are kinds of decorative hardware for this...try Lee Valley (www.leevalley.com).

This is one instance where I would drill and nail (with substantial nails) from the side legs instead of top and bottom. Eye bolts with lag screw type threads and proper pilot holes should be plenty strong on top. In the ceiling if the joists aren't in the right place, a strip of wood with matching paint that is screwed to joists should be strong enough.

I have already backed away from the hanging. Their house is still under construction and is almost completed. The contractor will hang it for them and supply the chains.

Screws may just be the ticket! I didn't think about using plugs for the screw heads.

Oh yea Lee Vally, I always forget about them and their hardware.

Thanks Everybody!!
Hey Jerry,
I know I am chiming in late on this, but I have another source for you to check... after you have your channel moulding for glass, of course. This is a stained glass site, they teach and publish books. More importantly, their "beginner" classes require a first panel to be 200+ pieces. Thus, the beginner pcs. are around the size of your customer's. They've started to sell hardware to hang such pcs. and the suggestion to put the hangers on the side is a good one. Explore the site, it will spark some ideas!

Also, you didn't mention this, and it is out of your scope, but is the back reinforced with rebar, or at least within the lead or solder lines to make sure it doesn't bow/sag? No amount of careful framing/mounting will stop that...I mean in addition to zinc came border it probably already has... anyway, here's the site- hope this works!

Thanks for the website Gumbogirl. I have no idea about the solder joints. It did seem a little "flexible" when we were handling it. The piece was custom made for them by a stained glass artist in Florida and was installed in a transom over the front door in their home. When they moved to NC they had it removed so they bring it with them.
Ugh- I messed up the site, anyway- www.abasg.com
24 x 36 should not "seem flexible" if properly reinforced. That worries me- I just don't want you to have any liability b/c you touched it! It wouldn't take much for a glass shop to reinforce any "hinge points" - I would highly recommend they do that before you commence to framin'!
Just my two cents...
Screws are always a good idea when frames get
heavy or are hanging in perilous places. With
large frames, they can go into the top and
bottom of the frame and no one will see them.
Here, the plugs to cover the screw heads sound
like just the ticket.