Your Glass Cutter

When you hold your glass cutter does it feel uncomfortable? Do you have trouble seeing the wheel the entire length of the score?

Being uncomfortable and not being able to see the wheel are just some of the problems encountered when you are cutting stained glass. Learn about the different types of glass cutters, for stained glass, and how to use them. Many of your problems can be solved by using the cutter that suits you best.

You can hold your glass cutter any way that feels comfortable to you as long as:

1. You can always see where the wheel is in relation to the line you are cutting along.
2. The cutter is always absolutely perpendicular to the glass.

You can read more about this at Glass Cutting Tips and Techniques

Oil Versus No Oil

All glass cutters that we will be talking about, for cutting stained glass, are oil filled cutters. There is always a big discussion as to whether to use oil or not. Just because there is a chamber that can be filled with oil, some people prefer not to use oil in these cutters.

I have always used oil and most people I know who cut glass for stained glass do the same. I feel that oil is needed to lubricate the wheel of any glass cutter. It keeps the wheel of your glass cutter turning smoothly, and free of tiny glass chips that can lodge between the wheel and the shaft. It is also needed to keep the score clean and cool. It helps to prevent minute chips of glass from flying about. The final reason I use oil is because it preserves the life of the wheel. Did you ever listen to a dry cutter going over glass? It sounds like you’re dragging it over sand paper. In my opinion, that shortens the life of the wheel.

To fill your glass cutter with oil, unscrew the brass cap on the end of the cutter and remove it. Fill the barrel with oil to about 1/3 to 2/3 full. Replace the brass cap. To regulate the flow of oil, open the brass cap about 1/2 to 1 full turn. Totally unscrewed will make the oil run fairly fast (not a good thing), and full closed will give you very little or no oil at all. Experiment with your cutter. They all seem to flow a bit differently. When your cutter is not in use, tighten the cap so that oil doesn’t leak out.

An alternate suggestion for oiling the wheel of your glass cutter is to keep a small amount of oil in a shallow container with a sponge or a piece of cloth in the bottom. Fill the contained with just enough oil to soak the sponge or cloth. Rather than filling the oil chamber of your glass cutter with oil, just roll the wheel over the oil soaked sponge or cloth before every few scores. That will keep the wheel lubricated.

Taking Care Of Your Glass Cutter

There are a few simple things you can do to preserve the life of your glass cutter…especially the wheel.

First of all, don’t ram the wheel over the edge of the glass when you are finishing a score. That will eventually chip, or at least dull the wheel. A gentle roll over the edge is quite sufficient to finish the score. You don’t need to let up on the pressure just be aware that you are getting close to the edge and be ready to gently roll the cutter over the edge.

If you don’t use your glass cutter frequently, don’t fill it absolutely full of oil. The oil deteriorates over time and will stain the inside of the barrel. The oil becomes thick and darkens. It makes a mess in the barrel and is very hard to clean out. A small amount of oil will last a long time.

When you are storing your glass cutter, leave it upright rather than laying on it’s side. There is a cotton wick that runs from the oil chamber to the head of the cutter. Leaving the cutter upright will keep oil feeding the wick. If the wick gets dry, it will take a minute or so to get the wick saturated so the self oiling can begin.

When you have your glass cutter apart to put a new wheel on, don’t pull the piece of string out, thinking it’s something that shouldn’t be there. It’s the wick and the lifeline between the oil chamber and the wheel. Believe me, it is an impossible task trying to put that wick back. Once the wick is out, you will no longer have a self oiling glass cutter. You will have two choices: either buy a new glass cutter, or use that one by dipping it in oil every few scores.

Every now and then, hold the cutter up to the light so you can see between the wheel and the head. You will be looking for tiny pieces of glass that might get lodged in there. If you see any, take a fine needle or pin and poke it through the opening (which is very small). That should push out any debris that is in there.

If your wheel is scoring a dotted line the wheel is chipped. If you are having to use more and more pressure to score the glass, the wheel is dull. It is time to buy a replacement wheel.

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