Monday, November 14, 2011

Choosing Bits and Grits for Stained Glass Grinders

Stained glass grinders are among the handiest tools to have in your glass workshop, but their utility depends up on using the right bits for your project. These tips will help you choose the right bits and grits to use with stained glass grinders.

How Many Bits Should You Have?

That’s a question we hear often, and the answer is – it depends on the projects you do and the way you use your grinder. Bits for stained glass grinders come in many different sizes and shapes, and each has its own use in creating beautiful stained glass artwork. Most stained glass grinders come with a standard grit bit designed for most sanding and grinding. Other grits you might want to have in your toolbox include:

Super fine grit, which is used for grinding the edges of mirror and very soft, thin, delicate glass. It’s also the grit you want to use if you’re leaving the edge of the glass exposed

Fine grit, for soft or delicate glass that chips easily. Fine grit grinder bits are gentler on thin and delicate glass than standard grit

Speed grits and super speed grits are coarser, and are useful when you’re grinding away large surfaces and will be covering the edges with foil or lead, or will be refinished with a finer grit after you do the major shaping

In addition to the different grades of grit, you can also buy specialty bits designed for doing special jobs on stained glass grinders.

A lamp bit is a reversible bit that provides two differently angled sides. It’s designed to grind glass pieces that have to fit on a  miter, such as glass for multi-sided 3-D projects or Tiffany style lamps. Mitering the edges – grinding them at an angle – will allow the glass to meet more precisely and give you a more professional solder seam.

A ripple bit is used to thin the edges of thicker glass and to remove texture from glass so they fit into lead channels more easily. Ripple bits grind glass to make a thin edge that will fit into the channel.

Drilling bits mount on the shaft of glass grinders and are used to drill holes in glass. They come in a number of different diameters to allow for different sized holes.

Stained glass grinders are only as useful as the bits and tips you choose to use with them. Explore the various glass grinders and accessories and decide which ones will be the most useful for the types of projects you most want to do.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Using Stained Glass Grinders to Make Your Projects Easier

If you look around online, you’ll find lots of stained glass sites that say you don’t really need glass grinders to finish your stained glass projects professionally and beautifully. What they don’t tell you is how much easier a glass grinder makes it to fit and set your glass pieces properly. A glass grinder can turn hours of tedious hand grinding into a few minutes of work. In fact, once you’ve gotten used to creating your projects with access to a stained glass grinder, you’ll find yourself using it in many different ways, including shaping and smoothing edges, drilling holes and adding texture to glass surfaces.

The top of the line glass grinders are certainly expensive, but you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a decent quality grinder for use in your stained glass project. The cheapest glass grinders for beginners start at around $50, and are perfectly serviceable for a beginning hobbyist who doesn’t expect to create larger pieces, or to create many pieces.

Those who are a little more advanced or who expect to create larger stained glass projects will likely be more satisfied with mid-range glass grinders, which feature more powerful motors and more options for expansion. The mid-range stained glass grinders, generally in the $100 to $150 price range, often accept a variety of glass grinding bits and can be expanded with various accessories to increase their usefulness in your glass workshop.

If you’re buying a glass grinder for the first time, you’ll want to take several things into consideration. These aspects and features will help you make your choice among the many glass grinders on the market.

More Torque Equals More Power Equals Less Work

The torque rating on glass grinders refers to the amount of power with which the bit will rotate. The more torque a motor has, the more firmly you can press your glass piece against it without slowing or stalling the rotation of the bit. While you’ll always have pieces that require a very delicate hand, having more power at your disposal means that you can grind away rough edges and do serious shaping much more quickly.

Larger Work Space Allows You to Work on Larger Projects

Choose glass grinders with a larger work platform to give you more versatility. A small work surface can make it difficult to handle larger pieces of stained glass. You can always add a second, smaller work platform for more delicate work.

Glass grinders take the tedium out of creating beautiful pieces of stained glass and allow you to concentrate on the creative part that you enjoy the most. Why work harder than you have to when stained glass grinders can make it so easy?