How to Cut Glass Without Getting Frustrated

Several years of house flipping and home improvement projects has given me the delusion that I can do any project and get it right the first time. It’s a useful misconception. I replaced the wood floors in our second house with nothing but a reluctant assistant and seven or eight calls to a contractor-friend. I ignore it when people say silly things like “maybe you should call a professional” because, I can do anything. Especially something as simple as cutting glass.

The Hardware Store
I’m not going to say who broke the window when they were moving the vanity. We’ll just say that the window was broken and I was on my way to the hardware store to fix it before my husband could come home and tell that person (again) that they should have waited for him to come home.

They sell the glass in big panes that you can usually have carried right to your truck. Before you leave the hardware store, they’ll ask you two or three times if you need someone to cut it. But if you’re a master DIY expert whose left her measurements in the car, you don’t need their condescending services. So I picked up a glass cutter and told them that it was fine, I could do it myself.

Home Again
I laid the pane out on the table, fished the measurements out of my purse and marked them with a straight edge and a washable marker. Then I got the glass cutter out, turned Slayer up loud and got ready to cut the pane out in record time. The concept is simple enough, score the glass, snap it and you’re done.

Not Quite
I lined my straight edge along the straight line I made and tried cutting it with the straight edge. The first pass made a lot of crunching sounds but didn’t do much cutting. On the second pass, the wheel kept sticking. The cracking sounds and glass dust weren’t good signs either. By the time I hacked a cut line into the glass it was a splintery, chipped, cracked mess.

Back to the Hardware Store
This time I got three planes of glass. No, I didn’t get it cut there this time either because by that time it was personal and glass panes aren’t the boss of me. I did, however, ask the guy in charge of cutting the glass what I could have been doing wrong.

Tuns out, you have to lubricate your glass cutter before you cut glass panes with it. Just dab a bit of olive oil on the blade before you cut. It’s that simple. Apply medium pressure and one or two passes will result in a smooth cut.

Snap the Glass
To snap off a glass pane, you have to rest the bulk of the glass flat on the table. Hang the narrowest slit off of the edge of the table. Line your cut line up with the edge of the table. Put on thick work gloves. Stabilize the glass on the table with one hand. Use the other to snap the excess glass off. Sounds easy right?

Wrong. The glass snapped off alright, but not cleanly like the guy at the hardware store suggested. It snapped off in big pieces that only mostly broke along the cut line I made. It left little shards behind. I tried snapping them off by hitting them with the butt of my glass cutter. Don’t do that. You’ll break the chip off and crack the pane you wanted to keep.

The Final Pane of Glass
Scoring glass is much easier the third time around. And this time, when I snapped the excess glass off, I used a pair of pliers to grip the shards and snap them down and off the pane cleanly. It was roughly three hours and roughly two albums later, but I did it.

Fitting the Glass
I kid you not, it was the wrong bleeping size. I’d measured it wrong three times! Three.

Moral of the Story
Just suck it up and get the glass cut at the stupid hardware store. But before you do that, measure three times before you take those measurements to the hardware store. If you insist on cutting your glass panes at home, lubricate the wheel and work carefully when snapping off the excess glass. And even then, buy at least twice as many panes as you think you’ll need. You can return them if you’re some sort of glass repair wizard that manages to get the project right the first time.

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