How to handle and cut glass

Whether glazing a window area or re-glazing a broken pane, it is important to handle glass correctly. Glass is not a difficult medium to work in, provided simple rules are followed.

1 When carrying or handling glass, wear protective gloves. Professional glaziers wear wrist bands against splinter injury.

2 Always carry glass vertically and allow plenty of clearance space when negotiating tight corners. Single small sheets can be carried by one person. Hold the sheet under the arm, supporting it with the hand, in the middle and at the centre of balance.

3 Larger sheets should be held by both hands. Place one hand under the bottom edge in the centre, tilt the pane forward and put the other hand near the top corner of the leading edge. Rest the upper portion of the sheet against the forearm and shoulder.

4 Very large sheets should be carried by two people. The leading person should use the same support position as one person carrying a large sheet. The rear person then supports the glass with one hand cupped round the lower corner, holding the bottom edge, with the other hand holding the top edge.

5 Small sheets of glass can be carried on the back seat of a car. A single sheet can be laid on a piece of blanket, the edges turned over the glass, to protect the upholstery. Several small sheets can be carried but interleave each sheet with newspaper to prevent damage.

Cutting glass

Most glazing jobs can be done successfully by the handyman with a steel glass cutter. The small notches on the back of the cutter are a gauge for checking the glass thickness. A T-square, proprietary or homemade, may be useful to mark the cutting line accurately.

Cutting. Take great care when cutting glass as glass splinters easily and can cause serious injury. Glass should be cut on a large, firm, flat surface.-When using a table, cover the surface with a blanket to protect it and to stop the surface of the glass from being scratched.

Normally only straight cutting is involved in re-glazing a window frame. Before cutting, clean the surface of the glass thoroughly and mark out the cutting lines. Use a felt-tipped pen, crayon or chinograph pencil. To ensure the lines are square, use a T-square.


1. Lubricate the glass cutter by wiping it with a piece of felt which has been soaked in light machine oil.

2. Hold the handle of the cutter between the first and second fingers, with the bottom of the hand clear of the glass.

3. Place the straight edge about 1, in. (or 3 mm) from the marking line to allow for the width of the cutter and score the surface along the line. Make smooth but firm strokes, keeping the body still and using the arm to make the stroke. Do not go back over the scored line. Even scoring of the surface should be completed in one operation.

4. Once the cutting line has been scored, lift the glass and tap gently along the line from beneath.

5. Next, place a 2 in. (50 mm) wide batten directly under the cutting line.

6. Position your hands on the surface, one on either side and close to the cutting line, and press down with the finger tips until there is a clean break along the line.

When only a small sliver or strip of glass is to be removed, score as before and “nibble” away the waste with the tip of a pair of pliers.

Cutting curves.

It is possible to cut a curved or angled piece of glass. Make a card or paper template to the shape required. Place the template on the glass and mark the outline cutting line. Score as already described, tap carefully from the underside and then exert finger pressure until the glass snaps.

Glass should be cut slightly undersized to allow for expansion. About 2 mm should be allowed for average-sized sheets but, where the pane is bigger than 370 mm sq., allow twice this amount.

Any sharp edges can be smoothed down with an oil-stone lubricated with water, oil or white spirit. Mark, with a felt-tip pen or crayon, the outside face of the pane.

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