by Tammy Honaman, Author, Jewelry-Making Expert and Educator,
Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®
There are two styles of glass cutters--dry and oil-filled. Each is made with a steel wheel that scores the glass. For either tool, you can use a metal-edged ruler to help guide the cutting wheel along the glass for straight cuts, mark the glass with a permanent market and free-hand along the line, or cut free hand without any guidance.
Please use care when cutting glass. Wear safety glasses to protect your eyes and be aware of the sharp edges on the glass pieces which might cut your finger when handled.
The dry glass cutter has a wooden handle that is fitted with a metal head that houses the cutting wheel as well as has slots or notches along one side. This glass cutter can be used with glass-cutting oil if you’d like. The oil helps the wheel do what it needs to do to glide along the glass but many prefer to use it dry. This tool is intended to be disposable and should be discarded once the wheel does not score cleanly, or skips as you push it along the surface of the glass.
Put the wheel to the surface of the glass then push forward; you will hear a sound similar to opening a zipper.
Note: Some prefer to pull the tool rather than push.
Once the glass is scored, place the glass into the running pliers so the mark on the tips of the pliers lines up with your score line. Depress the handle to "run" the score and ease the glass apart along the score line.
The Pistol-Grip Oil Cutter
The pistol-grip oil cutter is designed for comfort and to help ease hand fatigue when cutting glass for extended periods of time. The handle is also a reservoir intended to hold glass-cutting oil. Glass-cutting oil allows the blade to roll along the surface of the glass easily as well as keep the wheel lubricated and free of any debris that might be caused while cutting glass. The wheel will last a long time however will wear over time; replace with a replacement head as needed.
To fill the cutter with oil, remove the plug on one end of the handle, use the bulb syringe that comes with the cutter to extract oil from the glass-cutting oil bottle then deposit the oil into the reservoir. Replace the plug.
Press the cutting wheel to the glass surface then push forward to score the glass to suit your pattern. Oil will be emitted as you work.
Once the glass is scored, place the glass into the running pliers so the mark lines up with your score. Depress the handle to "run" the score and ease the glass apart along the score line.
Optional: Breaking/Grozing pliers can be used as breaking pliers to break glass along the score line if the score is in a difficult place to handle or as grozing pliers to grind the glass when the break is not clean or straight.
Once the glass is cut and ready for use, it is advisable to wash the pieces with soap and water to remove any oils from either the glass cutter or your hands. This step will prep the glass for either wrapping the edges with copper foil or for fusing.
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