Shaping Lead Came

How do I put lead came around glass pieces that are not straight? I am making a candle and holly leaf pattern, cannot get lead around the pieces neatly.


I will assume you are using hobby came and are wrapping the entire piece of glass. If I'm wrong, please give me more information as to the type of lead you are using, what size it is, and how you are constructing the holly and leaves.

Use this tutorial as the basis for the technique of wrapping lead around a piece of glass. The tutorial is for a circle, but it will work for any shape.

Make sure the lead is absolutely straight before you start. Any lead that has twisted, is almost impossible to straighten. You can try to straighten it by stretching it. If it's badly twisted, don't use it.

Cut a piece of lead that is slightly longer than the perimeter of the glass you will be wrapping it around. Press the lead onto the glass with your fingers, bit by bit, working your way around the glass. When you get back to where you started, use the illustration in the tutorial for the method to cut the lead to make the ends meet. When you have completed wrapping each piece, solder the two ends together. Be quick, but make sure the solder joint is smooth and flat. Hobby came is very thin and melts easily.

If you have more questions about this, please ask them in the comments section, just below.

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How Do I Overlay Came Face to Glass?

by David

Hi Sue,

GREAT info on your site...

Question: I've done some copper foil overlay, but am interested in overlaying the face of the lead came in a similar fashion. Once the heart is removed, what is the best technique for affixing the face of the came to the glass? Would you solder it to some copper foil or use some sort of adhesive?

Thanks for all of your dedication to your craft and this site.



Hi David,

I would use an adhesive. E6000 works very well on glass and metals. It dries clear, which is a bonus. I've used it to glue all sorts of things to glass. There are other adhesives for glass, but I have not used them, so E6000 is the only one I can recommend. It is available at most craft stores.

Your project sounds interesting. If you would, please submit a picture to the Photo Gallery when you're done. I'm sure I'm not the only one that would enjoy seeing it.

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Copper foil v lead came

by pixie

Why can copper foil be created into 3d shapes but lead came only 2d?


Lead can be used to create 3-D shapes. There have been many lampshades and boxes constructed with lead. It's just easier and quicker for most people to construct 3-D projects using copper foil.

With lampshades, lead adds a lot of weight. There is a right way and a wrong way to construct them to prevent problems. I can't tell you how many of them I have repaired over the years due to improper construction and/or reinforcement which causes the shades to pull apart. The weight causes the lead to stretch which in turn allows pieces to fall out.

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Cutting the came

by Shellene
(Eugowra NSW)

Good Afternoon,

I have been watching videos on you tube and as a beginner to leaded glass I have a question.. the videos dont show and I cant find in the tutorals where it says so I can not tell if you cut your lead and fit in into the channel of the junctions or cut it to fit snugly against the channel there seems to be some preferances here. I have had no formal teaching and have been using books and video to learn as I live rather out of the way to get into a class. I have read several confusing thoughts and would very much like to know as I have just finished my first piece and as you can guess I need LOTS of practice but the came is rather hard to fit inside the channel and is rather distorted due to trying to widen the channel to much for acceptance of the connecting piece.
there has got to be a better way that is easier on the came.
Could you maybe clarify this for me

Thanks so much for your time in this matter


You butt the lead up to the lead it touches, don't put it in the channel of the next piece of lead. You can see what I'm talking about Here

My entire lead tutorial is Here

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Lead verses Zinc frame for side light 5 3/4" X 69"

by Larry Hauck
(San Antonio, TX)

Would you still advise using lead came for frame on a window of this size? If so, how exactly would you start and end the frame?


First of all, I wouldn't make the panel in one piece. It too long and narrow to be stable while constructing it let alone installing it. I'd break it up into 2 or 3 sections (which ever would work the best design wise).

Use whatever H lead you'd normally use for three sides but on each section put U came on the top of the bottom panel and H came on the bottom of the top panel. The H came should be reinforced came and have enough room in the channel for the U came to fit in it. Try to get round U. Run the reinforced H and the U all the way across the panel.

It works like a tongue in groove. When you install the panels you'll need 2 people. Set the bottom panel in at an angle. Hold the top panel above it and push the 2 panels together, then set the entire piece in place. Nothing needs to be soldered once they are together. The H and U will fit snuggly enough to make a solid bond.

I'd practice putting the panels together before the actual installation, first of all to make sure everything fits correctly and the dimensions are right, and secondly to know what you're doing when it comes time to install it.

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Zinc came miter

by Suzanne

I need to know how you measure your art piece to make the cuts on zinc came for the miter corners. I end up having to make several small cuts and that doesn't always work.


Slide some scrap zinc on both the top and bottom of your panel and measure the length of the panel with the zinc in place. That measurement is how long the side pieces of zinc will be. Do the same by sliding zinc on the 2 sides of the panel and measure the width. That the measurement for the top and bottom pieces of zinc. Make your mitre cuts and the pieces should fit perfectly.

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Lead came to frame a copperfoil window

by Adrian

I've been asked to make a tiffant-style window panel 20" x 40" - with an arched top. Previously, my panels have been fidded into wooden doors - so have been 'stiffened' by the timber beading - but this one's going to be 'free-standing' in front of the existing upvc double-glazed window.

I'm concerned about strength - so I'm considering using lead came around the outside to add some strength.. The client likes the rounded effect from 'H'-came - but I can only find 'flat' U-section lead came...

If I use H-section around the edge, do I need to fill the 'empty' part of the section with something to prevent it deforming under the weight of the panel ?

Adrian - Ireland


Hi Adrian,

I need more information. How do you plan to display the window? Will it be standing on the floor in front of the window, sitting on the window sill or hanging in front of the window? Will it be in some sort of a frame? If no frame, how do you plan on securing it so it won't fall over?

You can put your answer in the comments section below.

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Want Shiney Lead Came

by John


I just finished a project that has both lead and zinc came.

We want to have the lead came stay shiney and bright like the zinc.

Is there some sort of wax or sealer you can put on it.

By the way I used your lead came tutorial and it really helped.



Hi John,

Unless you have the panel silver plated (which is expensive and difficult to find a place that will do it), there isn't a way to keep it shiney. It will oxidize over time no matter what you do to it. You can wax and polish it, but that will have to be done every time the oxidation begins to show up again.

Exposure to air is what causes oxidation. Unless you could work in a vacuum, air will always be present and oxidation will start, even immediately after you clean the lead. The lead will look nice for a while, but it will eventually turn a dull gray. That's one of the reasons why we darken our lead.

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Putty or Patina First?

by Jack Hegarty
(Penville On. Canada)

Hello, I have just finished making four leaded windows for our new kithen cabinets. The windows are constructed using lead caming soldered at the joints with twelve lites per panel. I have purchased premixed dark coloured glazing putty and a black patina chemical. I am unsure if I should apply the patina before the putty or the putty first.

Thanks Jack

Hi Jack,

You need to putty first. Be careful of what putty you use. You don't want a commercial putty for glazing windows. It forms a skin so it can be painted over and never really dries. Make sure you have a putty for stained glass, and one that does not have cement or plaster of paris as an ingredient. If you are going to be making a lot of leaded windows, it would be wise to buy the ingredients to make your own. The ingredients and how to make it is on the putty page.

Also, make sure your patina is for lead, not solder. Just brushing the panel with a natural bristle brush is enough to darken the lead very nicely. A tampico brush is natural bristle and can be purchased at most discount (WalMart type) and grocery stores.

After you putty, pick and clean up the window, let it sit for a couple of days before you brush or apply patina. Give the putty a chance to dry out a bit. If it hasn't done so, you will be squeezing putty out of the lead as you work on the window. Then you'll have to pick and clean up again, as well as having lost a fair amount of putty.

If you have more questions, don't hesitate to ask.


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zinc came won't solder

by Jacki
(Whitefield, NH USA)

I purchased several pieces of 1/4" zinc came to frame pieces. However, when I attempted to solder the pieces together, they wouldn't attach! I carefully cleaned the came with cleaner, used steel wool to clean the surfaces, even tried a brass brush to polish the surfaces. No luck. The solder just sort of clumps and falls off. I re-cleaned, re-fluxed, heated the zinc first, but nothing works. Suggestions?


The clumping indicates that you need to use a hotter iron/higher temp on the controller. Also, use paste flux such as Nokorode.

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cutting miter

by Daphne McCoy
(Boynton FL)

I don't know what angle it is but how can I cut came around a diamond corner???????


This tutorial will teach you how to Lead up a Diamond.

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Does lead came have a shelf life?

by Liz


Does lead came in a box 'go off'?

How long can it sit in a box before there are any issues? Or is it just a matter of brushing the joints before soldering to remove any oxidation?

I have unused lead came that is 18 years old.


No, lead doesn't have a shelf life. It should be okay for 100 years or more!

Unless the lead is extremely oxidized so that it would look bad in a window, go ahead and use it. I have lead that's not in a box. It's been sitting on an open shelf for 14 years. I use it with no problems at all.

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zinc and lead came size mismatch?

by ken

I am just starting to build my first leaded stained glass panel and have run across a problem. I have already purchased lead came that has a face size of 3/16th of an inch. My problem seems to be with finding the correct size of zinc border came at the same 3/16" face size as the lead came. I have not been able to locate any. I tried to use the 1/4" zinc but it does not match evenly. How do I work with this problem?

Thanks for your time,


I have never used zinc on the perimeter of my leaded panels, but if you must use it, get a wider zinc, perhaps 3/8" that would "frame" your panel. It would give the panel more balance, artistically, than using the same size as the internal lead.

However, I would use lead (again, a larger size than the internal lead) around the outside. Once your panel is puttied, it will have all the strength it needs.

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Pressing Down Lead Came Edges

by Keith Robinson
(Cottingham, UK)

Hi Sue,

What is your advice about pressing down the edges of came after soldering a panel, either before or during puttying or cementing. There seems to be conflicting schools of thought here in the UK.

Many thanks

Hi Keith,

We wouldn't do it unless the lead was wider than 3/8" (9.5mm). However we don't use interior lead any wider than that, so the answer is no...we don't press down the edges on the panels that we build.

The narrower lead is very difficult to press down. The possibility of breaking glass, due to the pressure it would take to press down the edges, is very real.

If you see a reason to do it, the perimeter lead could be pressed down, after it is puttied, as long as it is more than 9.5 mm wide.

Whatever you decide to do, don't press it down until you have puttied. If you press it down before, you won't get enough putty between the lead and the glass.

I hope this helps you make a decision,

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Lead Came and Round Projects

by Pam

I am new to stained glass. Do you have to use lead came for round projects?


Hi Pam,

I'm not exactly sure what you are asking, but I'll assume you want to know if you need to border a copper foil project with lead came. If I'm wrong on my assumption, let me know in the comments section below.

Anyway, do not have to use lead came, but it would be my first choice. You could use zinc if you're wanting a solid metal border. You would need a came bender to form the zinc in a circle.

However, there are many ways you can finish the edges of a copper foil project. Have a look Here for other ways to finish the edges.

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Lead Came With a Copper Surface

We have an old stain glass window that used a lead H frame but has a copper surface on the top and bottom of the H frame. The gentleman at the stained glass shop said he hadn't seen anything like it in 35 years. We were wondering if you would know when and where this type of stained glass was made. It is old, strong and very well made.


I saw lead came of that type when we had our stained glass business in Australia. One of the people we bought supplies from had some. My husband says it had a copper cap over both sides of the lead. Other than that, neither one of us knows any more about it. Sorry I can't give you any more information. The person that had it is no longer in business and I have no way of contacting him.

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Learning The Lead Came Method

by Yvonne
(Temple, Tx)

I do the copper foiling method but want to do some old windows I found. I believe it will be best to use lead came, but I know very little about doing this method. I know there are several sizes and types of lead to choose from.

I am having trouble getting the panes and the putty off the old windows. Any suggestions?

I've been doing the foil method about 7 yrs. How hard do u think it will be to learn the lead came way? I'm eager to start. Thanks

Hi Yvonne,

To remove the old putty, straight ammonia brushed on the putty usually works. Also, steam works very well. I use an Eureka Enviro Multi Steamer. It wets the putty and controls the dust, making little mess. That old putty can contain lead, so you don't want to be breathing the dust. Be sure you wear a dust mask when working with it.

I'm sure you will be able to learn how to work with lead. As you've probably read on my web site, lead is my favorite method of constructing a window.

You should be able to learn from my lead tutorial at: Lead Came.

I'd suggest starting on a small practice panel, just to learn the techniques. It's not difficult, and it's not harder than foiling. It's just different. I always have my students start out with lead. As a result, they fear copper foil!

If you have problems or more questions, you can email me by going to this web page: Contact Me.

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Pantry Door

by Sharon Holzhausen
(Michigan United States)

Our store is doing a pantry door for a kitchen in Michigan. We are dividing the leaded area in half. We thought about using 7/32 lead with brass channel for reinforcement. The customer also approved a glass pane on one side of door. We will have a local glass company provide the glass pane since we think that that should be tempored. We would like your imput since this is our first large came project.

I need more information before I can give any input.

How big is the panel?

Is it all lead and if not, how much of it is lead.

Do you plan on using any copper restrip, besides the lead with brass channel, for reinforcement?

Will it be in a door that will be constantly opened and closed?

Have you checked your local building code to find out what has to be done with a stained glass door in a commercial property (as far as installation)?

What type of design is it?

Are there any hinge joints?

I know there are a lot of questions, but every scenerio takes a different approach.

You can answer by submitting another question, or you can give me your answers in the comments section below.

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Hanging a Large Stained Glass Panel

by JoAnne

I acquired a stained glass panel that was originally used as a window, flanking an exterior door. The piece is 64" long x 13" high and weighs about 20#-ish. It looks like lead came has been used to construct the whole piece, including the outside framing which has a channel. I want to hang the panel against a window that is 59" wide measuring between the interior frames. So I have to either suspend the piece from the top of the window frame or find something with a track that will support the piece on the bottom and that I can mount to the sides of the window frame. Given the weight and the lead used in the piece, I'm in a quandary as to whether I can successfully do this at all and if so, how. I've spent hours searching websites for u-brackets, wire hangers, etc., etc. to no avail. Any input would be very much appreciated. If I have to reinforce the outside with something to strengthen it, info on what to use/how to use it would be very helpful as well. Thanks a lot.


The best and easiest way would be to frame it in a wooden frame. Then you can put eye hooks in the top of the frame and suspend it from the ceiling with chains. The frame would also give it a finished appearance. Many free hanging windows are done that way.

I can't think of another way the would be safe and secure.

Perhaps someone reading this has hung a large heavy window and can give you some ideas. If so, they will put their thoughts in the comments section below.

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Allowance between pieces when using 3/16 in. lead came

In drawing the cartoon for a lead came panel how much space do I allow for 3/16" lead came? Am designing a geometric panel 54 3/8" wide by 20" high. Will cover just the bottom 1/3 of a bathroom window.


It's all depends on how accurate your cutting is.
Assuming you cut with accuracy, measure the width of the heart of the lead and that will be the measurement you will allow. Do go a little on the loose side, don't be precisely exact or you'll have pieces that are too tight. I'd add another 1/64" to 1/32" to make sure the glass is loose enough.

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pattern shears cut away slightly more than needed

by Diana Aldridge
(Salisbury, N.C.)

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS SITE! My problem is - I used pattern shears that cut out ever so slightly more than 1/16 and the heart of the came I obtained is slightly too small also. The face of the came is 5/32, and I thought that would look better because some of the pieces are small. Anyway, now I am thinking that I need a wider face and a thicker heart to avoid having to recut too many pieces that are going to have too small of a fit. I hope you are following me. Should I go ahead with the 5/32 and the small heart and recut glass to make up the difference as I go? What would you do?


That's one of the many reasons I don't like pattern shears. The few times I've tried them they have caused me nothing but trouble.

I use a black Staedtler Lumocolor Permanent marking pen to draw along the cut lines, then cut out the line by cutting on either side of the line with regular scissors. I know it takes longer, but I've never had pattern pieces that were too small.

To fix your problem, you have three choices:

1. Cut the heart out of some scrap lead and put it against the heart of the lead you are using, then slide the glass in place. It will make the glass fit better unless the glass is way too small. That's a trick we use when we have a piece of glass that's too small.

2. You can do the same as above using pieces of copper restrip.

3. Re-cut the glass.

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Copper Patina on Lead

by Jim Thomas

Does your process fror copper patina on Solder apply to lead as well? Which patina do i use - the one for solder or lead?


Hi Jim,

No, the technique for copper patina on lead is not the same as for copper foil. I have found the copper patina for lead less than desirable. but that is the one you would use.

It has been a while since I have used it, but I found that applying it by scrubbing it into the lead, before you put the lead on the panel, is the best way to approach it. Once the lead is copper colored you can wipe off the excess.

I have also found a product call Rub 'n Buff to work well on lead. You can get it at most craft stores like Michaels, AC Moore and Hobby Lobby. It comes in many colors. You rub it on, then buff it to a shine.

Rub 'n Buff is not something I would use on a leaded panel, but for perimeter lead on a copper foil panel it is great.

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Question about Zinc Came

Do you need to stretch zinc came that is going to be used to frame a 6 sq ft panel? Or is it just lead came that has to be stretched? I really would like to know and your answer will be greatly appreciated. --Myrna


Zinc is a hard metal and does not stretch, therefore it doesn't need to be stretched.

Most lead came made today does not need to be stretched either, although you could stretch it if you wanted to. It is manufacturered with another element added to it to keep it stiff. When you hold a piece of lead horizontally, if it droops like a piece of cooked spaghetti, it should be stretched, if it stays straight or with only a slight droop, it doesn't need to be stretched.

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Leading up bevels

I am doing an external window that has a bevelled dragonfly in it. I would have thought the bevel should be leaded facing the interior of the house however I am getting conflicting advice. The window is in an extenal wall and is half way up a stair well. If I do lead it up on the inside should I do the panel with the rough side facing up first so that the bevel sits flat?
Help! Thankyou for your wabsite, it has been most helpful since I discovered it.


You can do which ever way you want...but bevel side up is the most common way to do it. Also, leading them up with the flat side down (bevel side up) is much easier during construction of the window.

When sunlight comes in through the bevels, they will give more sparkle and rainbow effects if the bevel side is facing into the room.

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Cutting and Assembling Lead Came Projects

by Diane
(Charlotte, NC)

I am doing a 24" x 38" SG piece for inside a light box with 280 pieces. Do you recommend cutting all the glass before starting the lead assembly or can I do sections at a time? Love your site - learned some great tips and ideas. Diane


Hi Diane,

I cut a few, then lead them up, then a few more and so on. That way you can see if pieces are too big, to small or don't fit well against the next piece of glass. Unless you are an absolutely accurate glass cutter, you'll be re-cutting lots of glass if you cut them all at once. I consider myself an accurate glass cutter, but I'm still more comfortable cutting a few pieces at a time. The only time I cut a lot of pieces is when I use a strip cutter. After I check to make sure the size is accurate, I'll cut them all at once. Unfortunately, most patterns don't use a lot of the same size geometric shapes except for borders.

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