Tools I use
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I wear this apron when I work in the studio (especially when soldering), that way I'm not bringing anything from the glass studio home via my clothes. I also keep my shop laundry separate from my home laundry and use a de-leading detergent on studio rags.
If you need to glue your work for any reason (came to glass for example), E6000 glue is recommned.
- Stoggles Eye protection - a MUST when cutting/grinding (and soldering). I've tried a lot of options (including the cheap Amazon knockoff of these). Because they are so easy and comfortable, it prevents me from being lazy about being safe (I was using safety goggles that I hated, and I was not always being safe about my work). These glasses are absolutely worth it! I wear the narrow square glasses if you want to match.
- Toyo TC-10 is my personal favorite cutter, however some people find the Pistol grip Toyo cutter more comfortable.
- Cutter oil - A must! Both of the Toyo cutters I recommend come with a built-in oil reserve for smooth cutting. My hot tip is to keep a cotton ball in a cup with oil handy and use it to roll your cutter out every few cuts to prevent buildup and keep your cuts clean.
- Hand tools- Running pliers and Groizing pliers for breaking glass. Here is a multipack to save money if you need both.
- Lightboard - this was one of my favorite upgrades to my process! I use it for designing patterns (tracing and adjusting them when working by hand and for tracing patterns onto transparent glass).
- Markers- my favorite are these Milwaulkee Markers (2 pack) and I usually buy the 12 pack to save money.
- For opaque glass (where I can't just trace over my lightboard) I just started using these glass markers and love them! So far no issues with washing off while I'm grinding or using my ring saw if you let it dry a bit before getting it wet. I recommend storing them horizontally so they don't dry out.
- Glass- I get this question a lot. I have never personally ordered glass online, so I do not have any recommendations! I prefer shopping in person to see the actual colors. I do offer Mystery Boxes of beautiful vintage glass occasionally ;)
- For sharp interior curves and angles, I use a the Taurus 3 Ringsaw. If you buy it used, you will probably need to replace the grommets. This is a luxery tool and absolutely not necessary for creating quality glasswork. In fact, I am glad I waited a few years to get my ringsaw because it allowed me to practice cutting by hand and gave me a better understanding of glass in general.
- HOT TIP: use an embrodery hoop to keep your circles perfect!
- I previously used The Grinder by Techniglass, however it's not my favorite and I would recommend looking at Inland or Gryphon grinders as reliable starter grinders. I am currently using the Glasstar Allstar Grinder, and I love it, but it's on the more expensive side.
- Make sure you clean your grinder regularly and keep the bit wet while working to prevent glass dust. This is NOT something you want to be inhaling!
- EDCO Foil all the way! I generally use 3/16 or 7/32 for most projects, but keep 1/4 handy for thicker glass. I prefer black backed foil for everything (unless it is translucent glass and I am going to patina in copper or leave it silver, then purchase foil that matches the patina).
- Foiling hand tools - these are a great 2 pack for foiling that most glass artists use. The straight tool is for flattening the edges of your foil to glass and the curved tool (a fid) is used for widening the channel in lead came.
- Foil roller for foiling the flat sides. This was a recent game changer for me!
- Hakko FX601 Soldering iron - this is my absolute favorite soldering iron and I personally wouldn't use anything else. The built in temperature control is a must for me because I am constantly adjusting (usually around 475 soldering- down to 360 when I'm attaching came or just soldering slower than usual). Here is the same size replacement tip for it.
- Valtcan smoke absorber - breathing the fumes from soldering is really dangerous! Work in a well ventilated area and use an exhaust fan and/or mask. Make sure you are replacing the filters as well. Save 10% on your order with Valtcan using code Erin10
- 3M Respirator - I initially was just using the smoke absorber, but after working with both, I think the respirator is a must!
- 60/40 Solder - they usually come in one pound rolls. Here is a link to order solder in bulk if you do a lot of glasswork. (Links to eBay- it's less expensive when you order more at a time).
- I use this copper wire to make all my jumprings and add wire details to my work. Make sure you order an uncoated copper wire so you can solder it.
- Came - there are a lot of options. I personally use a lot of 3/32 Round U Came which would be a hobby came size (link to eBay). I buy the 15 lb spool and it's lasted me over a year so far for most of my projects. I recommend trying different options to see what works for you. I also like 1/8Flat U came for larger projects that neeed a thicker frame.
- Came needs to be stretched before use. Otherwise it will stretch over time on your project. I use the Stanton Stretcher and love it, but you can also do it by hand with a vise clamp and pliers for a lot less money. I went from having it stretched at a local shop to my own stretcher and it is such a money saver!
- If you are going to be making items meant to be worn or handled, make sure you use lead-free solder AND a separate iron tip for your soldering. (I do not have any experience with this).
- Liquif Flux, Gel Flux and Paste flux are other options to try if you don't like the liquid, but I recommend trying several and seeing what works for you.
- Brush for flux application. They do last me awhile, but corrode over time so it's nice to have a fresh one ready.
- Soldering tip cleaner - keeping your iron clean is a must for smooth solder lines. In addition to the tip cleaner, I use this housing I got on eBay to scrub as I'm working.
- Gloves- flux is a corrosive chemical you don't want on your skin. I wear gloves to prevent chemical contact AND remind myself that I am working with lead and shouldn't be touching my face/phone/etc.
- Lead-off soap. Regular soap and water is NOT ENOUGH to remove lead. De-leading soap (or wipes) and an absolute must for safe glasswork!
- I scrub with baking soda and dawn to neutralize the flux. Kwik-e-clean works well too - I recommend trying out a few options to see what works for you.
- Your tap water might be affecting your patina. Try rinsing with distilled water or 70% ethanol alcohol.
- Let your piece dry, and then scrub with fine grade steel wool to prep for patina application. Do not skimp on this step; really work the solder seams.
- NEW TIP: I got these scuff pads, and I like them because they are easier to hold than steel wool and less messy! I get this box becasue it comes in a roll and it's easy to cut off the size you want to work with. I only use these on the outside edge (beaded solder or came) because I find they scratch the glass tiny bit.
- Patina options- Black or Copper (for silver, skip the steel wool and just neutralize the flux, dry and polish). Bundle Pack to save!
- For zinc frame, I recommend Gun Blue to turn it black
- Make sure you pour patina into a separate container when using- do not dip your brush into the bottle because contamination will reduce the chemical reaction.
- I wax using Clarity wax or this Carnuba wax, let it dry, and buff with a cloth (and toothbrush for the nooks!). Or for black patina, Pledge works great!
- For displaying pieces without nailing to the wall, I use this display rack with wireless LED puck lights
- I spruce up my recycled packing using a custom logo stamp from @TheSweetestFern and @TheFrogPrints_ and ink pad. I use this ink to refill the pad and save money!
- Label Printer- Saves me SO much money on printer ink, I waited awhile before making this investment and wish had gotten it right away! And replacement labels if you need more :)
- High quality business cards/Postcards: I've been using Moo for about a year now for all my printing needs. If you use this link, you can save 25% off your first order!
- I use this is a 3" binder and these tab dividers to keep paper copies of receipts and expenses tracked by month. There are a lot of ways to do this, but this works for me!
- Stickers! I've been very happy with my Sticker Mule prints (and you can order small batches to test stuff!). I usually get the die-cut stickers from them. Use this link for a $10 credit
- Fiverr for graphic design projects. Get up to $100 off your first order using this link
- Phone stand for recording content
Most of these are affiliate links (meaning I make a small percent, however there is no extra cost to you). I have created this list with integrity- there is nothing on here I do not personally use, with the exception of some of the extra options I included and noted as preferences/options from other artists.
I hope you find this helpful!