Hobbyists often asked me what tools and supplies I use and recommend. And, there are so many tools that we use, that for newbies, it can be really hard to sift through the options, especially when you don't know the lingo. So I've made a list of tools and supplies I use to create my copper foil stained glass artwork to help you.
Disclaimer: Some of the links below are from my online shop and other affiliate links (which means that I may earn a commission should you decide to make a purchase using my affiliate link, but there is no additional cost to you.) My promise to you, however, is that I only recommend tools and supplies I've used personally and trust.
- Toyo custom grip cutter (tap wheel) - My all-time favourite cutter.
- Toyo brass cutter - My first cutter which works very well. (I only moved away from this one to find one that was more comfortable since I was still experiencing nerve issues in my arm and hand from an injury I sustained as a teen.)
- Brass cutter by Studio Pro - This cutter has a ball end for tapping under the glass in necessary instances.
- Pistol Grip Cutter - Some of my students absolutely love this cutter.
- Grozing pliers - Available in both narrow width and standard width. You'll want a pair of standard width ones as they're a necessity,
- Running pliers - Buy a solid metal pair of 8" running pliers like these from Leponitt. The plastic ones tend to create unreliable breaks...No one wants that!
- Glasstar strip & circle cutter - A versatile tool for cutting strips and circles. I discuss this tool a little more in this article.
- The Portable Glass Shop & Morton's Mini Surface Plus - This tool I use quite frequently. It's a jig system using waffle boards that enables you to cut angles perfectly and so much more. It's pricey but well worth it for the avid hobbyist. I describe how I use it a little more here.
- Teeny Circle System by Morton - If you have the portable glass shop and use the grids, the Teeny Circle System is another jig you can use on the waffle boards. I still use this system to cut circles that are too small to cut on the Glasstar strip & circle cutter mentioned above.
- Morton Safety break - A surprisingly fun little tool that reduces the need to use pliers to break glass. It also help break out deeper inside curves.
- Safety glasses - A must have item! Even if you wear prescription glasses, the safety glasses often extended well beyond the edges of our own and can prevent glass chips from flying up in your eyes. Even the best artists need to protect their vision. Please don't risk your eyesight!
- Glass Cutter Oil by Novacan - used to lubricate and clean the cutting wheel. I also dribble some of this oil on the joints of my pliers every few months to keep them in tip tip shape too.
- Glastar Super Star II - A great little workhorse. Both of mine have been in use for 12 years now.
- Replacement Tray - Another thing I love about the Glastar Super Star II is that once the work surface wears down, replacements are available.
- Aanraku Twofers Standard Grit 3/4" bits - Great all purpose grinding bits that chew away excess glass quickly and last a long time.
- 1/4" Grinding Bit - A narrow grinding bit works great to get into deep, narrow grooves or inside little notches. I use these a lot when grinding the profile of a face. It allows more detailed curves around nose, mouth and chin.
- Splash guard - I've made my own using corrugated plastic. I'll create a step-by-step post soon to show you how to make your own, inexpensively.
- Fid - It's basically a plastic stick used to burnish (rub) the copper foil to make sure it is nice and snug against the glass.
- Edco foil - My preferred width is 7/32. Edco foil has great adhesive and the foil is soft enough to foil regular depth inside curves well without tearing. It comes in the usual copper back, black back, and silver back.
- Foil Dispenser - Keep multiple rolls of foil sorted and with just a little pull, the foil you're using unrolls and but stays put!
- Edco 12" x 12" copper foil sheets - For doing foil overlay, this foil is nice and thick (thicker than regular rolls of Edco foil) which allows for more ease of use in cutting intricate designs and is super sticky on the adhesive side.
- New Wave Foil by Venture - This scalloped foil can be used to create interest or add details to your stained glass work. Also available in copper back, silver back and black back.
- Utility knife - A utility knife is handy for trimming foil when needed if you don't have a craft knife.
- Excel knife - For creating foil overlay designs, a craft knife like this is much easier to use than a utility knife. Just be sure to buy extra blades. The copper foil will dull the blades so you'll want to have backups.
- Hakko FX601- My personal favourite! Lightweight and adjustable temperature soldering iron.
- Weller 100 - Reliable 100W iron. Was my favourite until I tried the Hakko.
- Iron stand - solid stand for holding your iron and sponge.
- Sponge - This sponge comes packaged as thin as cardboard and fluffs up the first time you get it wet. Don't use kitchen sponges for wiping your hot iron as they will often melt. Use a sponge created for this purpose.
- 60/40 Solder - Canfield and Artist Pure are two brands I use and like.
- 50/50 Solder - Use 50/50 solder to add a layer when creating 3d projects. It has a slightly higher melting point giving you an extra second of two of playtime before it melts and falls through.
- Lead-free Solder - Always use lead-free solder on items that will be handled often (ie kaleidoscopes) or worn against the skin like jewelry.
- Gel Flux by Novacan - Brush onto copper foil before soldering to create even coverage of solder.
- Chemical Brush - Can be used for flux and patina
- Sal Amoniac - A brick (looks like a bar of soap) used to clean soldering iron tips.
- Morton Assembly Tray - Hold multiple pieces of glass in place with this jig to make soldering 3 dimensional objects easier and angles more precise.
- Morton Layout Block - Available as a bundle or separately in varying sizes, the layout block is a great setup for creating straight edges and holding glass pieces in place while soldering. Metal push pins mean no nasty burning plastic smell like one would get from accidentally touching the soldering iron to plastic ones.
- Ceiling Tile (fire retardant) - Many people use homosote boards as a surface on which to solder. The ceiling tiles can be purchased at hardware stores and come in 2ft x 4 ft pieces, perfect for most panels.
- Cork Board - For small suncatchers or ornaments, a 12 inch square piece of cork works great and can often be purchased from stationary type stores.
- Copper patina for solder by Novacan - Creates a brilliant copper finish on solder.
- Black patina for solder by Novacan - Darkens solder to a dark black tone. Watch a video on How to Apply Black Patina to Solder.
- Black patina for zinc by Novacan - A specially formulated patina to use on Zinc.
- Neutra clean by Classic - Cleans and neautralizes flux and patinas from stained glass.
- Stained Glass Finishing Compound by Kempro - Use as a polish to shine solder and protect it from oxidation.
- Chain - Having various chains on hand can be helpful when creating various size panels. Be sure to buy chain that is rated for the weight of what you are hanging.
- String - I found a twisted metallic craft string years ago that I still use for hanging small suncatchers. I've not seen it available lately but you could always check local craft stores for something similar. You could use satin ribbon as a substitute.
- Monofilament (aka fishing line) - Makes a great way to hang small suncatchers. Just be sure to buy a heavy enough "test" (weight the line can bear) so that your glass creations are safe.
Lightbox by Huion 20"x 12" - Perfect for lighting your glass while choosing colour combinations or painting. I'll write a full review on this item at a later date to elaborate on everything I love about this lightbox. There are various sizes available. I've also tried out an unmarked brand of LED lightbox that was much smaller (A4 size) and purchased for my son for his art and it works perfectly as well. I just like the larger size of my Huion for everything that I do with it.
Pipers pattern paper - Sticky card stock that you can cut your pattern on and adhere to art glass for cutting and grinding help.
Glass Eye 2000 - Drafting software for stained glass patterns. It has a glass library to use for colouring patterns and many versatile options to help you create amazing designs.
Glass Patterns Quarterly - Industry Magazine for inspiration with your glass crafting.