Newbie glass cutting question

VixSA

Grumbler
Joined
Apr 29, 2024
Posts
27
Location
Cape Town
Business
PictureBox Framing
Hi :)
I'm a total newbie and while I did do a basic framing course they only taught us how to cut glass manually on small pieces. It's very straightforward when working with smaller pieces of glass, but now I've had half sheets of 2mm glass delivered (914mm x 1220mm - 3 x 4 feet) and they look huge! I'm terrified of moving and cutting them 🫣

I'm planning to get any big pieces of glass I need cut to order but it doesn't make sense to do that with the smaller pieces. It might be a silly question, but can I just cut a small square out of one corner, leaving the rest of the glass sheet intact? Or do I need to cut down the full length of the sheet to get a long piece that I then trim to the correct size (= lots of wastage)? Not sure if I'm asking this in a clear way so maybe just tell me your process for manually cutting a small square of glass from a big sheet?? Help!
Vickie
 
Hi, VixSA. It doesn't really work to just cut a corner, so you need to cut off a section. If you're the sort of wizard who can make a perfect cut, do that.
If you're a clutz like me, cut off a larger piece than you need, break it off, and then trim it to size. (I've used wall-mounted cutters almost exclusively,
but in years past, a boss would get in big, filthy sheets of 4 x 8 glass. I'd whack off a crooked section with the manual wheel trimmer, then cut it
down on the wall cutter.) After giving away our ancient glass oval cutter, we let a local glass shop cut them down. I quote the customer the price
for a piece of glass two inches larger each way than the frame, then take one to the glass shop to cut down.

Whatever you do, here's an important thing to remember. A small chip in the edge can often be sanded and work fine. But, any amount of crack
is a no-go. Must be removed, as it could run and cause a break. Happy framing!
 
Hi, VixSA. It doesn't really work to just cut a corner, so you need to cut off a section. If you're the sort of wizard who can make a perfect cut, do that.
If you're a clutz like me, cut off a larger piece than you need, break it off, and then trim it to size. (I've used wall-mounted cutters almost exclusively,
but in years past, a boss would get in big, filthy sheets of 4 x 8 glass. I'd whack off a crooked section with the manual wheel trimmer, then cut it
down on the wall cutter.) After giving away our ancient glass oval cutter, we let a local glass shop cut them down. I quote the customer the price
for a piece of glass two inches larger each way than the frame, then take one to the glass shop to cut down.

Whatever you do, here's an important thing to remember. A small chip in the edge can often be sanded and work fine. But, any amount of crack
is a no-go. Must be removed, as it could run and cause a break. Happy framing!
Thanks Shayla! I figured a corner wouldn't work. I'll just have to be clever about what lengths I cut to avoid too much wastage.
 
You are on the right track.
Are you good at spatial visualization?
If not it can be useful to draw a diagram.
Make a list of a group of cuts you will need to do.
Plot them out (pencil and paper, basic computer drawing program, whatever) so you can maximize your usage of the full sheet area.

Here are a couple of examples...
This one I did myself with Corel Draw, but almost any program that can make basic shapes will do (as long as you can accurately set the dimensions of each shape).
From a 32x40 lite of glass:
cutlist.jpg


This one was done using a website called Cut List Optimizer
I use this when I have a bunch of varied non standard sizes to cut.
Can be used for glass, mats, support/backer board, etc.

Optimizer.jpg


Notice the difference in the remnant sections between my diagram and Cut List Optimizer.
The diagram I did myself has more waste of small areas.
However, the 19x32 remnant will likely be more useful to me for a future cut of other non-standard sizes.
The Optimizer diagram shows very little wastage, plus a remnant that is easy to cut into two standard 16x20 panels.
Extremely efficient.

Your wastage factor will vary greatly depending on if you cut primarily "standard" whole number sizes, such as most common photograph sizes (such as in my sample diagrams), or if you cut a wide range of highly variable dimensions with many fractioned measurements.

When I have remnants that are of use for future cutting, I wrap them in kraft paper and store them with a label stating the type of glass and the dimensions. Then it's easy to make use of those remnants to minimize total wastage over the course of using the entire contents of the package of glass.
Just yesterday I used three odd-sized Conservation glass remnants under 16" in width from my "secret stash" of off-cuts. I would otherwise have used most of a single lite of glass with no useful remnants. So I saved money using glass that may have been tossed away and saved one full lite of glass, which means I don't have to order more glass for a little bit longer.
This works for me as a small low-volume one-person shop. For a larger company, this may not be viable from a production standpoint.
 
You are on the right track.
Are you good at spatial visualization?
If not it can be useful to draw a diagram.
Make a list of a group of cuts you will need to do.
Plot them out (pencil and paper, basic computer drawing program, whatever) so you can maximize your usage of the full sheet area.

Here are a couple of examples...
This one I did myself with Corel Draw, but almost any program that can make basic shapes will do (as long as you can accurately set the dimensions of each shape).
From a 32x40 lite of glass:
View attachment 49259

This one was done using a website called Cut List Optimizer
I use this when I have a bunch of varied non standard sizes to cut.
Can be used for glass, mats, support/backer board, etc.

View attachment 49261

Notice the difference in the remnant sections between my diagram and Cut List Optimizer.
The diagram I did myself has more waste of small areas.
However, the 19x32 remnant will likely be more useful to me for a future cut of other non-standard sizes.
The Optimizer diagram shows very little wastage, plus a remnant that is easy to cut into two standard 16x20 panels.
Extremely efficient.

Your wastage factor will vary greatly depending on if you cut primarily "standard" whole number sizes, such as most common photograph sizes (such as in my sample diagrams), or if you cut a wide range of highly variable dimensions with many fractioned measurements.

When I have remnants that are of use for future cutting, I wrap them in kraft paper and store them with a label stating the type of glass and the dimensions. Then it's easy to make use of those remnants to minimize total wastage over the course of using the entire contents of the package of glass.
Just yesterday I used three odd-sized Conservation glass remnants under 16" in width from my "secret stash" of off-cuts. I would otherwise have used most of a single lite of glass with no useful remnants. So I saved money using glass that may have been tossed away and saved one full lite of glass, which means I don't have to order more glass for a little bit longer.
This works for me as a small low-volume one-person shop. For a larger company, this may not be viable from a production standpoint.
This is awesome! Thank you :)

So the moral of the story is to save up cutting glass for multiple jobs and do them all at once, to make maximum usage of the glass area. Don't cut one job at a time if you only have a big sheet of glass available. 💡
 
This is awesome! Thank you :)

So the moral of the story is to save up cutting glass for multiple jobs and do them all at once, to make maximum usage of the glass area. Don't cut one job at a time if you only have a big sheet of glass available. 💡
It depends on your own work flow, available space, storage and organization abilities, etc.
Try it for a while and see how things work out.

Sometimes I will make a list of all my cuts, organized by glass type.
Use Cut List Optimizer to calculate the least wastage possible for my lists.
Then cut them all at one time, then carefully store each piece labeled with the project it belongs to.

Sometimes when things are hectic I don't have the extra time or space to set all that up, so I do one at a time.
Personally, I like to get as much of the prep done ahead of time to assemble, it makes the assembly time more efficient.
But, time is time. You either spend time pre-preping components, or the same time during assembly/fitting, so what's better? I dunno :shrug:

As you've noted, the real advantage to the "cutting list" system is to maximize your glass usage.
 
Here's how I store small/medium remnants that haven't been cut for a specific job, but I think I can still make use of.
I call it my "secret stash".
Larger remnants go back into the box they came from, also wrapped to reduce accidental scratches.

20240627_105457.jpg


I made use of that one labeled "13 3x4 by 15 1/2" of UltraVue just before posting this.
 
You are on the right track.
Are you good at spatial visualization?
If not it can be useful to draw a diagram.
Make a list of a group of cuts you will need to do.
Plot them out (pencil and paper, basic computer drawing program, whatever) so you can maximize your usage of the full sheet area.

Here are a couple of examples...
This one I did myself with Corel Draw, but almost any program that can make basic shapes will do (as long as you can accurately set the dimensions of each shape).
From a 32x40 lite of glass:


This one was done using a website called Cut List Optimizer
I use this when I have a bunch of varied non standard sizes to cut.
Can be used for glass, mats, support/backer board, etc.



Notice the difference in the remnant sections between my diagram and Cut List Optimizer.
The diagram I did myself has more waste of small areas.
However, the 19x32 remnant will likely be more useful to me for a future cut of other non-standard sizes.
The Optimizer diagram shows very little wastage, plus a remnant that is easy to cut into two standard 16x20 panels.
Extremely efficient.

Your wastage factor will vary greatly depending on if you cut primarily "standard" whole number sizes, such as most common photograph sizes (such as in my sample diagrams), or if you cut a wide range of highly variable dimensions with many fractioned measurements.

When I have remnants that are of use for future cutting, I wrap them in kraft paper and store them with a label stating the type of glass and the dimensions. Then it's easy to make use of those remnants to minimize total wastage over the course of using the entire contents of the package of glass.
Just yesterday I used three odd-sized Conservation glass remnants under 16" in width from my "secret stash" of off-cuts. I would otherwise have used most of a single lite of glass with no useful remnants. So I saved money using glass that may have been tossed away and saved one full lite of glass, which means I don't have to order more glass for a little bit longer.
This works for me as a small low-volume one-person shop. For a larger company, this may not be viable from a production standpoint.
I use a (free) desktop application called MaxCut V2. You have to do a small amount of prep work, such as entering the various types of materials and sizes, kerf (0 for glass), etc.

 
Let us not forget that common 2mm clear glass is a pretty cheap product so a bit of waste is not the end of the world and there is probably a better use of a framer's time than trying to wring one more frame out of a lite with clever maths.

Most shops have multiple leftover pieces and it is fairly simple to pick one by eye for a job, place it over the frame and cut it to size using the frame as a guide. This was how I did 90% of my work. I also did my cutting flat with an oil filled cutter as I found using my wall-mounted cutter too scary with a lite of glass on the stand reaching above my head. The only time I cut glass with it was for multiple jobs the same size.

A couple of hints about glass cutting generally:

Carry lites by gripping them about 1/4 to 1/3 down from the top, using your fingers to press the glass against the heel of your palm. Do not let the edge press against your palm or it may cut you. If the glass slips open your hands and step back. trying to stop it will result in a serious, possibly crippling injury.

Cut glass for frames allowing around 2mm of "rattle room" to allow for the wood expanding and contracting.

Glass gloves will give a better grip but won't protect you from cuts. Personally, I never used them but others do and swear by them.

Keep plenty of bandaids handy and use them for any cuts, however minor, as blood on the artwork is a cardinal sin and sometimes you don't even feel the cut at the time.

 
Let us not forget that common 2mm clear glass is a pretty cheap product so a bit of waste is not the end of the world and there is probably a better use of a framer's time than trying to wring one more frame out of a lite with clever maths.

Most shops have multiple leftover pieces and it is fairly simple to pick one by eye for a job, place it over the frame and cut it to size using the frame as a guide. This was how I did 90% of my work. I also did my cutting flat with an oil filled cutter as I found using my wall-mounted cutter too scary with a lite of glass on the stand reaching above my head. The only time I cut glass with it was for multiple jobs the same size.

A couple of hints about glass cutting generally:

Carry lites by gripping them about 1/4 to 1/3 down from the top, using your fingers to press the glass against the heel of your palm. Do not let the edge press against your palm or it may cut you. If the glass slips open your hands and step back. trying to stop it will result in a serious, possibly crippling injury.

Cut glass for frames allowing around 2mm of "rattle room" to allow for the wood expanding and contracting.

Glass gloves will give a better grip but won't protect you from cuts. Personally, I never used them but others do and swear by them.

Keep plenty of bandaids handy and use them for any cuts, however minor, as blood on the artwork is a cardinal sin and sometimes you don't even feel the cut at the time.

Thanks! Great tips 😊
 
Great advice, but there is one thing I do differently.
I carry the larger lites by the top edge and I use glass handling gloves for both glass and acrylic to protect my hands and to improve my grip.
If it hasn't been mentioned, invest in a carbide wheel hand cutter. They are more than worth the additional cost.
 
I recall the first lot of glass I bought. four 6x4' sheets. 😒
I was working at home at the time and nowhere to store the huge sheets so I decided to cut them in half.
The kitchen floor was the only flat area that was big enough....
I ended up with a lot of triangular bits. 😆

Several lessons learned......

1] Don't buy full sheets.
2] Kitchen floors are not as flat as they might appear.
3] Don't buy cheap glass cutters.

4] You have to pay to learn. 🤣🤨
 
Another piece of advice is: Don't plan "efficient" cutting that creates a need for you to cut off 1/4" or less from a piece you have. Doing so is difficult even using a wall-mounted glass cutter.
Scoring the glass is one thing, but cleanly removing that little excess is quite another. Plus, as Artfolio said, this glass is pretty inexpensive, so keep it simple and don't be "penny-wise and pound foolish".
:cool: Rick
 
Before I was a framer, I learned and did stained glass. What I learned there transferred 100% to framing.......................so if you are looking for a new hobby, consider taking a stained glass course. Just saying. :beer:

What you learn about the tools of the stained glass trade also comes in handy.
 
Another piece of advice is: Don't plan "efficient" cutting that creates a need for you to cut off 1/4" or less from a piece you have. Doing so is difficult even using a wall-mounted glass cutter.
Scoring the glass is one thing, but cleanly removing that little excess is quite another. Plus, as Artfolio said, this glass is pretty inexpensive, so keep it simple and don't be "penny-wise and pound foolish".
:cool: Rick
Good tip. When I first started I got frustrated a few times when trying to trim of a "sliver" of glass, like 1/8" or less. Almost always fails on thicker glass. I don't work with 2mm, so don't know if it's less of an issue?
I try to make sure I have at least 1/4" or more of excess for the measurement I need to cut when using up my off-cuts.
 
For paring off slivers thinner than 1/4" off 2mm glass you need a good oil-filled tungsten carbide wheel cutter and a pair of small carpenter's pincers. Score the glass, grip the waste with the pincers and twist gently. I could pare off a long1mm strip on my good days. On my bad days I would have to nibble along the length of the cut an inch at a time. 3mm glass is not so easy.

The pincers need to be the type which are perfectly flat on the outer edge and meet tightly and evenly along the edges.
 
How many of you (probably the majority) make up for the "loss" by going to standard sizes? Examples: 8 1/2 x 10 = 9 x 12 ---- 9 1/4 x 16 1/2 = 14 x 18--- 22 x 36 3/4 = 32 x 40, etc. I find this words out better than just putting a high price on glass to make up the loss of the scrap. ☺
 
For paring off slivers thinner than 1/4" off 2mm glass you need a good oil-filled tungsten carbide wheel cutter and a pair of small carpenter's pincers. Score the glass, grip the waste with the pincers and twist gently. I could pare off a long1mm strip on my good days. On my bad days I would have to nibble along the length of the cut an inch at a time. 3mm glass is not so easy.

The pincers need to be the type which are perfectly flat on the outer edge and meet tightly and evenly along the edges.
Dis be dem.

To view this content we will need your consent to set third party cookies.
For more detailed information, see our cookies page.
 
Good video. Anyone notice the bird nest?
 
Dis be dem.

To view this content we will need your consent to set third party cookies.
For more detailed information, see our cookies page.

Now that is a cool tool and the guy obviously knows his glass. Also the first time I heard the term "grozing":beer:

This was my weapon of choice: No need for an expensive pair, just make sure the outer edges are flat and meet evenly along their length. If a sliver was too narrow I could nibble along the length and leave a slightly ragged but serviceable edge.
 

Attachments

  • pincers-tool-for-removing-nails-black-carpenter-pincers-isolated-on-white-clipping-path-includ...jpg
    pincers-tool-for-removing-nails-black-carpenter-pincers-isolated-on-white-clipping-path-includ...jpg
    47.8 KB · Views: 4
The main thing when using pliers to snap off narrow bits is to grip and pull. Don't twist.
My 'party piece' is snapping off a strip that is <3mm wide. Sometimes I can do it in one piece. 🙂
 
Whilst sorting out a book of old notes I found something of relevance.
Years ago I had printed out some info I had found at www.clubframeco.com
All my web searches have failed to find that site or company as extant today.
None of the four web addresses listed are active.
So I think it will be OK to share this here.
It's a handy "map" of a wide range of mat (or glass) cutting charts.
It may be a bit hard to read as it is a scan of an old photocopy, but someone might find it useful.
SKMBT_C36424071911530_0001.jpg
 
Back
Top