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?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Top Glass Grinders For Stained Glass Work

While glass grinders aren’t essential to stained glass work, most stained glass hobbyists who work on more than a few pieces a year eventually reach the point of wanting one. Glass grinders make short work of the painstaking hours of hand sanding and grinding needed to ensure that glass edges fit smoothly together.

If you’re like many hobbyists who came to stained glass artwork through a craft or hobby center, you may have had access to professional grade glass grinders through the shop or craft center where you took lessons. When you set up your own workshop, however, those top-of-the-line glass grinders may be more than you need for a home shop. At the same time, the cheap glass grinders aimed at novices and beginners may not offer the torque and flexibility you need to work on the larger, more complex projects you’d like to try. The solution is to choose your new glass grinder from the mid-range glass grinders that offer attractive prices, plenty of power and the flexibility to expand your base unit with accessories as you need them. With that in mind, you might consider one of these top-rated glass grinders when you’re shopping for stained glass grinders for your workshop.

The Gryphon Twister Glass Grinder

The Gryphon Twister is an impressive addition to the world of stained glass grinders, thanks to a simple, intuitive advance that is offered by no other glass grinder in its class – a grinding surface that converts from horizontal to inclined so that you can work in comfort. It also ships with two Gryphon Slip-On grinder bits, which simply slide onto the grinder without the need for tools or levers. It accepts standard grinder bits as well, making it nicely adaptable for your stained glass workshop. And at under $200, it’s reasonably priced.

Inland Wizard IV

Inland is a well-regarded name in the world of glass grinders. The company puts out a number of professional-grade glass grinders as well as several stained glass grinders aimed at novice hobbyists. The Inland Wizard IV is designed for the professional glass worker, but is priced for the stained glass hobbyist. It offers all the features you want in a quality glass grinder, and some little niceties that you won’t find on many other machines. The package includes a second story work surface and a face shield, two of the most bought accessories for working with stained glass grinders.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Useful Facts About Glass GrindersGlass

Glass grinders are used in a number of different industries and businesses and for many different uses. Among the most common business uses for glass grinders is grinding lenses for eyeglasses. Outside of industry, however, glass grinders are most commonly used by stained glass hobbyists to help them grind and smooth glass pieces for their artwork. If you’ve taken classes in a stained glass workshop, chances are that you’re familiar with using glass grinders in your work. If you’re like many people who learn on their own, however, you may be interested in these useful facts about stained glass grinders.

Glass grinders aren’t a necessity for working with stained glass, but using a grinder can make your work easier and more professional. Grinding makes it easier for you to alter the shape of your glass. Because grinders allow you far more precision than glass saws or cutters, you waste less glass due to inaccurate cuts. That ensures that all of your pieces fit together better, which guarantees a more professional finished piece.

In addition, copper foil adheres better to an edge that’s been ground because glass grinders leave a rougher surface for the adhesive to grab and bond with. A grinder makes it possible to grind perfectly angled mitered edges for lamps and 3-D glass pieces. You can use specialty glass bits for drilling holes and adding or removing texture from your glass pieces.

Choosing the Right Glass Grinders

Grinders come in two basic sizes. Large glass grinders have a 12”x11” work surface. Midsize grinders have a 10”x9” work surface. Choose a grinder that will fit comfortably on your workbench or worktable, and that will provide enough space for the types of projects you enjoy creating. A midsize grinder works well if you do lots of precision work with small pieces. If you work with larger pieces of glass, invest in a larger glass grinder.

Torque is the unit of measurement for power. The more torque your grinder has, the more quickly and efficiently it will grind your pieces. If you intend to work with larger diameter grinding heads, invest in a glass grinder that has more torque.

You can buy a basic glass grinder for less than $100, but many hobbyists outgrow basic grinders quickly. You may find that a mid-level grinder is a better investment for your workshop. You may also want to invest in accessories that make your grinder more useful or help you operate it more safely. Accessories for glass grinders include additional work surfaces, face shields and different types of grinding heads and drill bits.

With all the glass grinders available on the market, you’ll have no trouble finding the best one for your needs. Consider how your hobby may expand in the future and choose a machine that doesn’t limit your future choices.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Stained Glass Grinders and Accessories for Your Workshop

Setting up a stained glass workshop is an exciting step for a stained glass hobbyist. It means that you’re ready to get serious about your glass work and start creating more complex projects, perhaps even start designing your own projects. It can also be confusing to choose among the many stained glass tools and accessories for your workshop. From stained glass grinders to glass kilns, there are so many choices that it can be difficult to pick the ones that are the most important for the kind of work you like to do. Here’s a quick look at the many options available to you for glass grinders, glass knives and other stained glass tools and accessories for your workshop.

A glass grinder isn’t a necessity for small hobbyists, but if you’re planning to work on larger projects or planning to do many projects, it can be a handy tool to have on hand. Stained glass grinders eliminate the tedious work of hand sanding and grinding the edges of your pieces to smooth them before you fit them into place. Depending on the disks and bits you choose, they can also drill smooth holes in your pieces and texture or polish the surface of your glass pieces. For those who enjoy doing glass bead work and glass bead fabrication, stained glass grinders can assist you in shaping and etching beads for your work.

There are many stained glass grinders on the market, ranging from inexpensive and fairly limited models to deluxe glass grinders that would fit into a small business workshop. If you’ve already made enough of a commitment to glass art work to want a grinder in your workshop, you should probably skip the entry level models and go directly to the mid-level stained glass grinders that offer upgrade options for more flexibility. While you’ll lay out a bit more cash up front for an intermediate glass grinder, you won’t find yourself outgrowing it within one or two projects and being stuck with an underpowered glass grinder that doesn’t do what you want it to do.

Grinding Bits

Stained glass grinders typically come with a single 1-inch bit, though some may include a second smaller ¼-inch bit. If you enjoy doing decorative work or are planning to do glass bead or specialized cutting work, you may want to also invest in fine and ultra-fine grinding bits for working with mirrors and delicate glass pieces, as well as a lamp bit to help you cut angled pieces for that fit flush for lamps and other miter-join pieces.

In addition to stained glass grinders and bits, you might be interested in glass saws for making larger cuts and in specialty work surfaces that are designed to make it easier to work with glass on a glass grinder.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Using Stained Glass Grinders in Beadwork

Making beaded jewelry takes on a whole new dimension when you start creating your own glass beads. While it’s possible to create glass beads without the use of stained glass grinders, using one greatly simplifies some of the tasks you’ll need to do to create, shape, polish and pierce your glass beads. These are just a few of the ways you’ll use stained glass grinders in making glass beads for your jewelry or artwork.

Trim Beads

Fused glass pieces don’t always fuse perfectly. A quick turn on a glass grinding disk will remove spurs and unevenness where the glass pieces come together. You can also use a glass grinder to flatten and shape the ends and edges of beads after you’ve cut them from a rod.

Facet Beads

Faceted glass beads can resemble precious and semi-precious gemstones and they can be just as difficult to polish precisely. While you can attempt to grind glass beads on a lapidary grinder, a stained glass grinder outfitted with the right grit tool does the job just as well with less risk of shattering the glass.

Shape Beads

Use the diamond grit of a glass grinder to smooth the contours and shape glass into barrel beads, round beads and pony beads. Shaping beads on a grinder is not much different than using a sander and drill to shape wooden dowels into beads and posts. Shaping beads with a glass grinder can truly stretch your creativity. The various grinding tools allow you to round edges or give them a convex shape, smooth surfaces or texturize them, create ridges along the sides of barrel beads or carve them into balustrades. You’ll be amazed at the flexibility the right tools provide you.

Drilling Beads

The right bit can also make it easier for you to drill holes through glass beads when you’re working with shorter lengths.

As you get more creative and skilled with your work in glass beads, you may find that you want even more flexibility and creativity in your work. When you’re ready to start creating, shaping and fusing your own beads, it may be time to look into other stained glass supplies, such as a glass kiln, glass saws and even, perhaps, an upgrade to the glass grinder you started with.

Stained glass grinders range in price from under $100 to well over $1,000, depending on which bells and whistles you choose to accessorize your new toy. Better quality glass grinders are definitely worth the investment if you’re sure you’ll use one. Get a feel for how glass grinders fit into your creativity with bead-making at a local craft or bead shop. It makes more sense to lay out a few dollars more for a quality machine than to upgrade in a few months when you find out that the one you chose just isn’t enough to meet your needs.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Most Wanted Accessories for Stained Glass Grinders

Most stained glass hobbyists and crafters eventually find that they can’t get along without a stained glass grinder in their glass workshop. After exploring the many options for glass grinders on the market, many choose a mid-range glass grinder that offers the features they need most, but not the bells and whistles that come on the super-deluxe factory models of stained glass grinders. Many of them do come with little added extras – built-in eye shields, for example, or splash guards to keep water and glass grit confined to a small portion of the work surface. There are, however, many accessories and stained glass supplies a glass worker might want to add to their stained glass workshop.

Magnifying Face Shield

A face shield or eye shield is essential for working with glass grinders. Without it, you risk getting glass dust in your eyes, which is not only uncomfortable, it’s dangerous. Entry level base models of glass grinders seldom come with an attached face shield, so it’s up to the user to don goggles, which are unwieldy, uncomfortable and can make it more difficult to see the details of what you’re doing. That’s why the first upgrade purchased by most users is a face shield and face shield support. A magnifying face shield, such as the Inland MagnaShield, goes one better than the standard face shield because it’s made with a convex magnifying surface that allows you to get a good, close look at your work. It’s especially helpful for doing detail work on small glass pieces.

Splash Guard

Working with glass grinders can be messy, making a splash guard a necessity for safe, clean working. Few entry level glass grinders include a built-in splash guard, and most users get by with creating their own out of cardboard or plastic. An actual splash guard, such as the Inland Grinder Station, is designed to fit around any grinder and keep the overspray safely confined.

Specialty Bits for Glass Grinders

While an expert glasscutter can create nearly any shaping using standard bits, specialty bits for glass grinders can make it easy to create beveled edges and rippled surfaces, as well as to drill holes through glass beads or glass pieces for jewelry work. In addition, a glassworker might want a variety of bits with different grits to work with different types of glass. An ultrafine grit bit, for example, makes it easy to work with the delicate glasses that require special handling to avoid chipping.

Glass grinders are the base of a fine glass hobby workshop, but when you add the most wanted accessories to your stained glass supplies and workshop, you can really take your hobby work to the next level.