Before we discuss how to solder stained glass, let’s quickly check out what actually is stained glass. Stained Glass is a process in which various pieces of coloured glass are bonded together. It is an art and I must say beautiful art.
Now, most of you especially beginners will be thinking that how glass gets the colour. Well, the colour of stained glass gets colour from the various metallic salts used during the manufacturing process. If you have ever observed the church windows closely, you will find beautiful designs and patterns of stained glass in various styles on the church windows.
Stained glass is a perfect way to decorate your window or to make a lovely picture frame, and many other things.
How to solder stained glass- Safety measures
Learning how to solder a stained glass can be very much creative and if you are able to master the art, it will open the new doors of exciting ideas.
But it can be dangerous also, so it’s vital that you prepare all your equipment such as soldering iron, flux, glass etc. properly so that you can perform it safely.
Soldering iron is a handy tool, we all know that but do you know that it can reach up to 800′ F? So it becomes vital to place and use soldering iron carefully and you must precisely know where your soldering iron is during the whole process. For this purpose, we would like to advise that always use the iron stand to avoid any unforeseen damages.
Similarly, always perform this process in an open or ventilated area because when you are using the soldering iron, it releases toxic fumes that are injurious to your body especially for your eyes and lungs.
To curtail this risk, you can use a fume extractor. Basically it is a fan with a charcoal filter and will absorb all the toxic solder fumes.
Speaking of the safety measures we would also like to recommend that you should use a wear protective glasses to prevent from accidental splashes and plops of burning solder.
Lastly, (if one is the most obvious) always wash your hands properly after soldering as any residue left in your hands can have an adverse effect on your face or body.
Stained Glass Soldering
For those you are new to this field and does not have an idea regarding how to solder stained glass; don’t worry we have got you covered. Below you will find all the details regarding stained glass soldering.
Stained glass soldering joins all pieces of stained glass together by using a bead of solder alongside each seam. It isn’t the simplest method but it is also not impossible. As you will start learning, you will notice that how exciting it is.
Here are some methods to improve your soldering.
Things You Will Need
- Copper Foil
- Soldering Iron and Stand
- Wet sponge
- Brush (for flux)
- Your pattern
- Masking tape
To begin with, place all the pieces of glass in final position or pattern, wrap the copper foil on the borders, and apply flux on the edges of the glass and join them together by using a copper foil.
In our opinion, it would be right if you hold all your pieces together and in position before soldering. Remember, keep your pieces in a still position and stop them from sliding or moving. If the pieces will move or slide your design will lose its original shape and ultimately soldering will get affected
Small blobs of solder can be handy for this. This is process is ‘tack soldering’.
Positioning the glass
Stick your tracing paper on to the working table and place all pieces in position. Look out for alignment of the pieces, because if pieces are not aligned correctly, ultimately your design will lose its original shape. It is the most common error that can happen and will ruin all your hard work.
You also tape your pieces together so that they remain in place. For this masking tape can do the job for you.
If you have pins, you can also pin them in place
Before starting soldering
Now, turn on the soldering iron. Organize other stuff such as copper foil, flux, and solder coil.
Now, set your soldering iron on its stand, and let it heat up.
As advised above, organize all the stuff properly before you begin because timing plays a vital role in this art.
In this type of projects, timing is very important because of the heat and melting solder. So if your stuff is not organized you will waste your time by looking out for necessary things here and there.
Apply liquid flux onto the foil. The flux will help the solder metal and the copper foil to stick together firmly.
Normally, Rosin flux is used to protect the metal from getting oxidize when heated. Flux also keeps the solder bonded to the metal. So that way flux is useful in this soldering process.
You can apply the flux liberally to the cleaned metal and heat it with the iron until the metal is hot enough to directly melt the solder.
Apply liquid flux onto each and every part of the foil. The solder needs a flux to flow smoothly and bond to other metals, so for better bonding, all parts of your pattern should be coated with flux.
Soldering the seams
Now, with solder iron in your right hand and coil in your left, place the tip of solder just above the copper foil. You can hold the solder in your left hand if you are left-handed. But be cautious, the soldering iron can cause some serious burns.
Keep the soldering iron at least 13 mm above. To achieve the best results, let the melted solder drop between the glass pieces.
Here 133mm is not the accurate figure it is the estimation. The catch is to keep the tip of iron above the glass when you are soldering stained glass.
As you will touch the tip of the iron, it will melt instantly and drop into the seam. If solder drops on the glass, don’t worry it won’t stick.
Now, be confident and start to move your both hands along with the seam. The seam is a line where two (or more) pieces of glass are joint together.
Move your hands steadily beside the seams and let the solder drips down onto seams. Move at a constant speed and don’t allow the melted solder to bunch up in any particular area.
If you find any bunch building up, wipe it clean by using a wet sponge as it can create an uneven surface or line on your pattern.
Move till the whole seam gets coated.
Things to Remember
The Art of soldering requires a perfect balance between time and heat.
If the iron is hotter you should move faster. On the other hand, if you are a beginner and like to work slowly, keep the heat down.
Keep the iron tip clean by wiping it on a wet sponge frequently. Using a wet sponge keeps the tip of soldering iron clean by eliminating any build up corrosion or oxidation. If the tip of your solder iron is covered with oxidation or corrosion it can turn black and will not accept solder.
Ensure that you have sufficient liquid flux to melt the solder. Add more if required.
There is not any particular quantity of flux that we will advise to use. Instead, we will suggest to use the flux liberally and as per your needs.
When you reach the end, you can remove the soldering iron.
Now, you will see a line of solder between the pieces of glass. The pieces of glass are now bonded together.
Repeat the process
If there is any area that you need to rework, let it cool down first, it will take a few minutes to cool down, then clean and reflux and rework. Or else it will leak. If there is any bunch building up, wipe it down with a wet sponge.
In the end
By now we hope that you get the idea and basics of how to solder stained glass. Soldering stained glass is not as simple as it looks in YouTube videos! So, don’t worry if you’re unable to make a straight line in your first attempt. This requires a lot of practice, dedication and above of all consistency.