Cutting Circles

by jim martin
(west warwick, ri)

Trying to cut what I call an inner circle. It is a piece that goes around a small circle. I keep trying different ways but it keeps breaking. Your best solution.Jim Martin


If you are trying to cut a circle with a hole in the center of it, you need to use a circle cutter.

Cut the circle with a circle cutter and break it out. Read this Tutorial and scroll down to the section titled "Up Side Down". That will show you how to get the circle out.

Once you have the circle out, use your circle cutter and score a smaller circle in the center of it, making it whatever radius you need the "hole" to be.

Run that score just like you did for the larger circle.

Using your glass cutter, make many scores in that smaller circle, from edge to edge, crisscrossing them, being careful not to go over the edge of the score around the circle. If you go over the edge, the entire piece of glass will break when you start to remove the smaller circle. The more scores you can get in there the easier it will be to get the glass out of there.

Turn the circle over and tap the scored lines with the ball end of your glass cutter. Do this while holding the glass over newspaper so the bits of glass don't fly all over the place. As you tap, the scores should run and finally bits of glass will start falling out. Keep tapping until all of the glass is out. Start out tapping gently but firmly. As the score lines start to run you can tap harder and harder.

You should end up with a perfect circle cut out of the center of the larger circle.

If I were you I'd practice this technique on some scrap glass before you try it on the piece you want to keep.

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Cutting Two Curves in One Place

by Freida Woods
(Windsor, KY)

I am having problems with cutting two curves in one piece of glass. One is really a very deep curve and the other is not as deep inside. But i can get the one and not the other. Could you tell me how to do this. Thank you very much.


Hi Freida,

It's going to depend on how wide the curves are. A very deep, very narrow curve is extremely difficult to cut without using a glass saw.

If the curves are more like the one's I have illustrated above, there are 2 ways you can do it.

The first way is the way I'd cut the deep curve out:
1. Score the curve
2. Place your running pliers on one of the points where I have put the arrows.
3. Squeeze, slowly and gently, until you hear a click.
4. Put the running pliers where the other arrow is and squeeze, slowly and gently, until you hear a click.
5. Look at the glass to see if the score has run all the way around.
6. If it hasn't run all the way, repeat steps 2 thru 4 again only squeeze harder and wiggle the running pliers as you squeeze.

The score should run all the way around the curve by now.

Grasp the piece of glass that you will remove and wiggle it as you are pulling. It should come right out in one piece. I can't remember this technique ever failing me.

It might be a good idea to practice on some scrap glass first until you get comfortable doing it.

The second method is:
1. Do a series of scores.
2. Remove each segment, one at a time.

You can use your running pliers or breaking pliers, to get the segments out. If you use running pliers, you might find that all of the pieces will come out at all depends on the width and depth of the curve.

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Cutting Inside Square Corners

I am a newbie and am probably trying something that can't be done without an electric saw. Is there a way to cut glass to have an inside square corner (like an "L") without changing the pattern to be two adjacent rectangles?


You're can't be done. I wouldn't recommend doing it with a saw either. The stress at the area where the two sides of the L join could cause the glass to fracture at any time. I've seen pieces, that were hanging for several years, suddenly break precisely where the "stress" cut was made. You'd be better off to re-do your design to accomodate a couple more cut lines.

Before I get a slew of email saying it can be done, I'll tell you how some people do it. In my 35 years of glass work I've never used this technique.

Drill a hole where the two legs of the L join. Make straight cuts to the hole, run the scores and the piece will come out leaving you an inside cut. It will take quite a bit of practice to perfect the technique, so it's not a good idea to try it on expensive stained glass...practice on window glass first.

You will need diamond drill bits and make sure the area being drilled is wet at all times. However, this technique is not something a newbie should be trying, so once again I'll say, no it can't be done by a newbie.

If you want, email me the pattern and I'll show you some ways to re-do it.

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How to Cut Circles

by Brooks Gardner
(Mebane, NC)

I have seen many different methods for cutting a circle, but I have never seen a real evaluation of the various tools and methods.

Is someone brave enough to discuss this subject. I have tools that are absolutely useless for this proceedure.

Hi Brooks,

Cutting circles can be easy or hard, depending on the technique you use. This tutorial from Spectrum Glass Company demonstrates the correct way to cut a circle and run the score. This is the way I do it.

Over the years I have used many different circle cutters. I never found one that was impossible to use. Some of them do have a learning curve, but once you've figured out the best way to use the particular tool, they all work.

In my home studio I use the Morton Portable Workshop circle cutter for cutting smaller circles, and the Inland strip and circle cutter for larger circles. Both of those tools work well.

The only problem with the Inland (and the Glastar which is very similar to the Inland) is that they slip because the suction cup doesn't hold very well, especially on textured glass. I have overcome that by using the "play dough" type material, used to attach posters to a wall. I put a small ball of it at four points on the suction cup, then press the cup on the glass. It works like a charm, and can be used over and over.

In my opinion, the Silberschnitt Pro Circle Cutter is top of the line. It will cut circles 2 1/2 to 24 inches. For smaller circles the Fletcher Lens Cutter does a great job. Both of these are tools will last you a lifetime. They are precision made and expensive. If you only cut the occasional circle, they are an expensive item to store away for the few times they'd get used. We used them in our production studio when we were cutting a lot of circles, but now that our business is mainly repairs and restorations, we don't need them any more.

Circles can also be cut accurately, by hand. The technique, in a nut shell, is to draw the circle on the glass. Start the score, then stop moving the cutter, but hold it down on the glass like you would if you were making a score. Now you will turn the glass with your other hand instead of trying to move the cutter all the way around the circle. Make sure you keep the cutter on the line. If the glass is on a piece of paper, it will turn quite easily. Stop scoring as soon as you get back to the starting point. Turn the glass over and run the score as shown in the Spectrum tutorial. If I'm in a hurry, and don't want to get out a circle cutter, I use this technique.

If anyone reading this has any circle cutter/cutting experiences to tell us about, please use the comments section below.

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Cutting narrow strips

by Brenda Nelson
(Clearwater, Florida)

Hi - wow - great site! I do fused glass, but refer often to stained glass info, and I love your site. My problem is being able to score and break very narrow strips. I've wanted about 1/4", sometimes narrower, but usually 1/4" will do. The piece breaks off short, usually I can only get 3 or 4 inches length, sometimes longer, but not much more. Any hints for breaking off longer/narrower strips? Is there some breaking plier specific for this that I've missed? Thanks for your help and keep up the great ideas!
Brenda Nelson


Hi Brenda,

Cut a 1" strip, then cut it in half and break it off with your running pliers. Then cut the 1/2" piece in half and break with your runing pliers.

The reason the glass breaks off short is because you are trying to break off a narrow strip from a wide piece of glass. The running pliers must hang over both sides of a narrow strip equal distant, that's why you start with a wider strip, then cut it in half, then half again. You can't have the pliers covering one side of the glass and hanging over the other edge. You'll have problems every time.

Have a look at me running pliers page. there are instructions as well as a video showing how to use them and how to cut strips. You'll find it at Using Running Pliers

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Curve cuts are hard to do

by John
(Arden, NC)

How do I cut curved glass and get the correct brake?


To cut the curve, your glass cutter must be held perpendicular to the glass all the way around the curve. Placing the glass on a lazy susan and moving the lazy susan rather than your hand makes cutting curves quite easy. Start the score and while maintaining the same pressure turn the lazt susan with your other hand. Putting the glass on a non-slip material will keep the glass from sliding around.

To break the score, use your running pliers. You can see a video about using running pliers On this Page. It will show you how to break out curves.

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Cutting Ovals

by Mary
(Wichita, KS)

Is there a tool similar to the circle cutter for making oval cuts?


Yes, but they aren't cheap. This one is $135.98.

You can do it by hand fairly easy. place your glass on a lazy susan. Place your glass cutter on the inside edge of the line and hold it firm and steady. Slowly turn the lazy susan with your other hand. By turning the lazy susan instead of your glass cutter and/or body, you should be able to keep on the line and cut a perfect oval.

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