glass cutting techniques?

I'm trying to improve my glass cutting skills and have a question of technique. I just finished watching the Rudi Gritsch video produced by Corning and was fascinated with the ease and skill by which he scores his glass.
He uses a pencil-grip cutter with nice, smooth pull strokes. He keeps dipping the head in a jar of ?? Is it water? I've stopped putting oil in my pistol-grip cutter because I've read that messes with your glass. Can I dip the head in water every few cuts?
Any suggestions you guys have for helping me improve my glass cutting skills is greatly appreciated. Thanks.

* I'm sure that is cutting oil Jerry. Not sure what you mean by "messes with your glass". You do have to clean it off the glass before it goes in the kiln but other than that it doesn't do anything bad to the glass. Water would not lubricate the cutter.

* Jerry
Try the Toyo Custom Grip tap wheel cutter.
Rudy is dipping in cutting oil. You can buy1.7 oz of Bohle cutting oil for $6 (plus shipping) or you can buy a gallon of K1 kerosene, at the local gas station for $2. Your choice.
My routine is to paint the glass with a paint brush before I cut. I agree that the self oiling cutter systems don't work so well.
I cut heavy float glass and SWEAR that without kerosene many cuts don't work. With kero most do. (at least in my hands) Some days you cut the glass and some days the glass cuts you.
Go to the Morton Website. Look at their material for teachers and find the PDF about glass cutting. I learned a lot about glass cutting from this essay.

* I'm sure he's using cutting oil. Dipping the cutter in the oil is the traditional way of getting oil to the cutter wheel. Instead of oil, you might want to try mineral spirits, which burn off so it's not a problem if your glass cleaning is less than perfect.
The best piece of advice regarding cutting is to practice. Get some cheap float scraps from a local hardware store and spend some time practicing. Rudi Gritsch has probably been practicing for 30 years or so. That's long enough to get pretty good.

* I have tried using cutting oil, and find kerosene is cheaper, allows more consistent cutting, and is easier to clean up. If you are using standard art glass or float that is less than 3/8 inches, you can dry cut fairly easily.

* Wow Bert your studio must be very odoriferous! I take it you don't smoke while cutting!!! :biggrin:

* Thanks for your quick responses Amy, Bert, Brad, and Gabriel. I went to the Morton website -- lots of great info. They are promoting their 'system' and tools, which is fine, but do any of you guys use the 'Morton Safety Break System'? or are you like me and use running pliers, grozers, wide jaw pliers, etc.
Bert, I was confused by your painting the glass prior to cutting. Painting with kerosene? Please explain further if you get a chance.
I've been cutting glass for several years (stained) and now realize the copper foil was masking my indiscretions. Trying to make decent looking fused glass objects has revealed my sloppy techniques.
Thanks again for all your help.

* Any glass (from 1/16" to 1") can be scored dry or wet but will score smoother with an oiled cutter. It makes no difference if you use a self-oiling cutter like the Toyo, or you just dip your cutter into oil. Toyo didn't originate the idea of oiling cutters. Glaziers have been dipping their cutters in oil for at least 100 years.
The Morton stuff does nothing you can't duplicate perfectly without it. To run a straight line score, put a pencil under the score and push the glass down on both sides (that's how Morton's thingee works). - or just snap it off on the edge of your work table. To run long and gentle curves, turn the glass over and press down on the back of the score with your thumb. (that's how the other Morton thingee works). To run complex compound curves, turn the glass over and tap it to run the score. Any score that can't be run be tapping will require a saw.
I've been doing stained glass for almost 25 years and never had need for anything other than a glass cutter and a pair of combo grozer/breaker pliers. I grade the other stuff as trinkets.
Several other posters have recommended using kerosene. So does Toyo. If you're dipping your cutter, "Cutter Oil" is fine. Just about any oil is fine. If you're using a self wicking cutter, do NOT use Cutter Oil. It's much too heavy to wick properly.

* Wow Bert your studio must be very odoriferous! I take it you don't smoke while cutting!!! :biggrin:
Not an issue either way. Neither is cleaning the glass. A regular swipe with glass cleaner does the job. I might carry a bit of residue back to the house on my hands, but is still a nonissue to me.
The place where it was once an issue for me was cutting stained glass for copper foiling. I didn't want to have to clean the glass before foiling so I cut dry with no problems.
My take on float is that I use kero no matter what thickness. Works for me.


* Almost all our 3D models are done with copper foil with all glass cut using kerosene (several hundred pieces each day). The only cleaning we ever do is dip the glass in a tray of water and set it out to air dry. There are lots of reasons for foil to not stick, but residual kerosene isn't one worth worrying about.

* Bert, thanks for sharing some of your cutting techniques in more detail. It certainly makes me more comfortable working with kerosene.
For what it's worth, I purchased a pencil-grip cutter and just couldn't get comfortable with the 'feel'. I went back to my pistol-grip cutter and now dip the head in a small container of oil. After the score is made, I wipe the head on a cloth and dip again. This seems to be working much better than my old system (pistol cutter, dry).
Thanks for all your expert help. Although this thread is rather elementary, it has probably aided lots of folks like me who struggle with the most important skill of all -- cuttin' that durn glass!

* That's where everything starts.
We conduct clinics at GlassCraft Expo Las Vegas and in our studio in Victoria BC to help artisans improve cutting skills. Those that had gone directly into fusing or slumping (compared with those that evolved from doing stained glass) were usually the ones that had the weakest skills. I have the impression many were so anxious to just get stuff into the kiln, they weren't willing to spend the time mastering good basic glass cutting skills beyond straight lines and simple curves.

* Years ago, after being scoring with a toyo pencil grip for a few hours, I started to feel pain in my fingers due to a lack of a proper finger rest in the cutter. So I removed the cutter head, put a suitable washer and reinstalled the head in place.
The washer external diameter is around 3/4". Worked fine, allowing better control whilst preventing fatigue as well.
If you try this solution, you will have to experiment with different internal diameter washers because you will want to keep the head swivel feature and the spring action working fine too.

* Jerry
The key is finding a technique and tool that work for you. Once it gets comfortable, the whole process gets smoother and easier.
As I recall my neck size grew when I learned to cut glass. I guess those muscles got excercized.

* Good points, Hugo and Bert. When I was working in a stained glass studio, I often spent entire days cutting glass for intricate windows, and experienced numb fingers and sore muscles. I found if I switched from the Toyo pencil cutter to a Scoremaster held in the traditional "between the index and middle finger" grip, I could cut all day, because the difference in grip positions gave one set of muscles and nerves a chance to rest while the other set kept on cuttin'!

* I moved from the pencil grip to the pistol grip to the custom grip. For me the easiest to control and best feel is the "Toyo custom grip", with pattern head. Fusion HQ is the best source for these.

* just got my first cutter. Its a Toyo, so would vegi oil or olive oil work? Im thinking it might be to thick. Im just starting out here so some one through me a bone. thanks to anyone who takes the time to answer.

* Any oil will work...but the thicker oils will collect small glass chips and can prevent the wheel from turning. If you do use olive or vegi oil,do not put it in your cutter...dip the wheel. Kerosene is fine.

* I'll toss you this bone...low odor or no odor mineral spirits. Cleans easily...burns off cleanly if you don't clean your glass well and it's cheap. Dip your cutter and score.
I have a Morton System. The tray is nice since it traps the little shards so they fall down and out of your working surface...but other than that it's pricey and pretty worthless. It's plastic...and mine arrived with a little warp in the T part of the T square...It warped further so that it won't seat into the grid...and even before that it never was square. I was foolish enough to buy another setup thinking it would be's just as dopey (buying a second system was dopey) and it isn't even warped.

  • Temperatures for UV Filter Glass?
  • Polishing with CORK?
  • Buying A Circle Cutter?
  • Putty:for the leaded glass crossover crowd?
  • Grinder head still it possible?
  • Kiln stand casters?
  • Evenheat rant?
  • Glass paints?
  • Glass Cut by my Tile Saw?