Reinforcing a lead window

by Sandy Ciarrocchi
(Powell, TN USA)

Hi Sue,

I am making this window for a church and it is to fit inside the front edge of a window casement which is about 8" deep. It will not be touching the window glass at all and as this is a north facing window, no direct sunlight will ever hit it. It is an elliptical that measures 62" wide and 34" at it's tallest point. This is the inside measurement of the window casement. I am using lead came even on the edge in case it needs to be trimmed, and will use putty rather than cement. The only horizontal line is along the bottom border and there are no straight vertical lines. If I use stongline in all the seams of the rainbow will this be enough reinforcement? Would these lines be considered vertical enough? If I stopped the strongline at the top of the botton border rather than the actual edge will it matter? Does weaving strongline around pieces defeat the purpose?

Thanks so much, Sandy

Hi Sandy,

First of all, I'd use copper restrip instead of strongline. it is much easier to work with and is equally as strong as strongline.

I have added a picture showing you where I'd use the restrip. The pink lines show you where to put it. I would extend the bottom inner border all the way to the edge and try to put cut lines wherever the restrip starts. Added strength comes from it being attached to the border lead (which happens during the soldering process).

I hope you get the pink lines are anything but straight due to using the computer mouse to control the marker.

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Re-strip / Rebar

by matthew hutchison

Hi,can the restrip be ran at right angles to enable it to weave through from one end to another(see pic)

I have not found rebar specific to leadlight?
What type of bar should I look for, ie, material, size and where.

With the re bar, does it sit into the window frame to transfer the weight from the top side of the panel to flow down through the border onto the window seat, reducing the weight on the bottom part of the panel?

How do you install the bar into the frame? I think the rebar would still have support to the panel as to preventing it from folding even if it was not going into the window frame...


Oh, the panel is 920mm high 600wide.


Hi, can the restrip be run at right angles to enable it to weave through from one end to another (see pic)?

I have not found rebar specific to leadlight? won't find it in most stained glass supply shops.

What type of bar should I look for?
Steel Rods (galvanized will solder to the lead, plain steel will have to be attached with wire ties)

1/4 inch diameter, most generally

Where will I find them?
Most any of the larger hardware/building supply stores.

With the rebar, does it sit into the window frame to transfer the weight from the top side of the panel to flow down through the border onto the window seat, reducing the weight on the bottom part of the panel?
It should go from side to side.

How do you install the bar into the frame?
Solidly attach it to the side of the window frame with some type of metal fastner screwed into the frame. It might be better and easier to dado or cut into the frame and secure the rod firmly into the dod/cut. The cut can be covered up with plastic wood and paint or whatever else you would want to use to hide the cut in the frame.

I think the rebar would still have support to the panel as to preventing it from folding even if it was not going into the window frame...
It absolutely has to go into the window frame for any kind of strength. It will prevent the window from "oil canning" and help it from flexing in and out from wind pressure. You might as well not bother with the rebar if you don't intend to attach it to the frame.

Oh, the panel is 920mm high 600wide (3ft x 2 ft).
For that large a panel it definitely needs a rebar.

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Zinc rebar versus Copper Re-strip

by Daniel

I am trying to replicate a Frank Lloyd Wright Willits house piece for our bathroom window. The overall dimensions of the piece is 46" wide by 57" tall. I was planning to use a zinc rebar along the backside on three horizontal lines about equal distance apart. Is this the best way to support this piece or is copper restrip better. Also - do I need to add any support in the vertical direction?


If I were doing it, I'd use restrip as well as the rebars. There are a lot of hinge joints in that window. 2 rebars should be sufficient as long as they are embedded in the window frame on either end. If you have more questions about reinforcement, I have an ebook for sale. You can read about it Here

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Where Do I Reinforce This Leaded Window

by matt

Hi again,
Here is a pic of my latest design. What reinforcments would you advise for this?
The panel is to be done in lead came and is 680mm by 500mm (2.2 ft x 1.6 ft).


Hi Matt,

I put some heavy lines on your picture to show you where I'd use copper restrip. The lines with X's denote extra pieces to give the window more stability. Those extra pieces don't follow the rule of going from one edge to the other, but they will help to stabilize the window.

It is unfortunate that the design does not have any lines going horizontally for the use of restrip. When you design from now on, keep that in mind. The horizontal lines give more strength than the vertical ones do, although the vertical lines (with restrip) do give the window strength, just not as much as horizontal lines.

When you are using the restrip, cut it long enough that you can bend a little bit over and then along the edge of the glass (perhaps 2mm/1/2 inch). That way it will be attached to the perimeter lead and give the window more strength yet.

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Where would I reinforce?

by Cassandra
(Bundaberg, QLD Australia)

Re-inforcement lines

Re-inforcement lines

Hello Sue, I'm beginning a new panel and would appreciate your advice please.
I did a leadlighting course earlier this year and since then have been doing leadlight panels for six cabinets in my home.
I'm almost finished and ready for my next project. A Jillian Sawyer piece, modified to suit my panel size.

Question time :)
Reinforcement....the finished glass size will be approx 2ft10"W x 1ft5"H. I'd like to use copper restip. Where in the picture would I reinforce?

In the leadlight course, I did lead and copperfoil. I enjoy lead more but was thinking of doing the birds in copperfoil as some of those pieces are much smaller, and the remainder in lead. What would you advise?

The panel will be exterior and face the coolest side of the house. As you will be aware, here in Australia we replace the glass for the leadlight glass so will be exposed to the elements including rain.
Thank You :)


Hi Cassandra,

I deleted your picture and replaced it with one showing places to reinforce. I also added another gum leaf (there is an arrow showing where it is). I added it to give a better avenue for the re-strip going through there. I used two colors to show the reinforcement, as one color made it impossible to see the path each piece of restrip took.

It's up to you whether you want to do both lead and foil, or just lead. With the very small/narrow faced lead came available in Australia, there is no reason why you couldn't do the entire window in lead, but that all depends on your experience and how confident you'd be doing it. We used 3.1mm lead for many of our birds and flowers. One word of caution, be sure the channel of you narrow lead is wide enough to accept the re-strip.

When the window is done, we'd love to see it on the photo albumn page of this web site.

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by Matt

Hi Sue,

I'm doing large panels aprrox 1 metre by 600mm (approx 3ft x 2ft). I was taught to use vertical or horizontal reinforce lead straight through the panel, which in turn I learned from other people that I have created hinges, weak lines were the panel will tend to bow on.

I see a lot of this type of reinforcement from established craftsmen so it gets confusing, would appreciate your thought on that one...

Another question, I've also learned the method of using restrip through out sections of the panel as you displayed in an example for another person..would this be suitable for the larger type panels I mention? and is the restrip your using copper foil strip? That's all they have at my local supplier?

And finally are you against using cement putty..

Thanks so much for your time..


Hi Matt,

Hinge Joints
Yes, you have hinge joints. That panel would have been much stronger without those vertical lines going through it. We have made many windows that large, and larger, using copper re-strip for reinforcement and one or more horizontal re-bars across the back at installation. The rebars must attach into the window frame in order to give the panel the support it needs.

Any straight vertical or horizontal line the goes from one edge of the panel to the other is considered a hinge joint and should be avoided if at all possible. Even if you use reinforced lead, the window can still fold at those joints. There are ways to get around it by weaving the lead lines, but the technique is too involved (and needs pictures) to include here. It will be included in my eBook, "How To Reinforce a Stained Glass Panel", that will be coming out late summer (USA summer!).

Copper Restrip
When you use copper restrip, it must go from one edge of the window to the opposite edge. It is pliable enough to be able to bend it around curves and corners in order to keep it going in one continuous piece.

We always try to put it in a horizontal direction, but it can go vertically as well. Matter of fact, you can run it in both directions on larger panels. Where one piece crosses over another, cut one of them and make sure the ends touch the piece going in the other direction. That way they will join together when soldered. In most designs, it will be impossible to run restrip absolutely straight up and down or across. It will wander along, perhaps diagonally at points, but still stay in one piece from one edge to the other.

As for putty...NO I do not approve of cement putty! Putty should not contain cement or plaster of paris. Plaster absorbs moisture (moisture is the number 1 killer of building materials). Cement is so strong it attaches itself to the glass making restoration very hard. Putty only needs to be made with boiled and raw linseed oil and whiting. You can add a powdered black coloring to make the putty black. You can see my Putty Recipe here.

The purpose of the putty is to add strength and to waterproof windows. This type of putty will firm up, be slow to dry, cushion the glass while holding it firmly, last for years, be somewhat flexible and yet at the same time allows for repairs without having to do more damage to the window in taking it apart for the repair.

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Window Reinforcement

by Judy
(Orrville, AL)

Where to reinforce

Where to reinforce

I am installing a stained glass window on the inside of a entrance door (leaving the existing double pane glass on the outside). Do I need to reinforce this window and if so, where? Also, should I install the glass with the front side to the inside or toward the outside which will be toward the existing double pane glass? The window is 22 inches wide and 36 inches high.

I have really enjoyed your website. It is very informative.


Yes, your window need reinforcement. If you move the lead lines to where I have black lines (making the 3 pieces in that row more evenly spaced) It will help to give the window more strength. Copper re-strip needs to run from edge to edge of any panel it's used in. (I just tried to view the picture and it doesn't show). If it isn't there when you get this answer, please let me know and I'll try another approach).

As for which direction you install the window, that's totally up to you. Typically, the front side faces in towards the room, but if you have textured glass you might want to turn it around so the texture faces inward. Again, it's your choice.

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Bluging and sagging diamond leaded windows

by Janet
(Waterville, Maine)

I recently saw 18 windows (not large) that are leaded in a diamond pattern. They have bulged in a concave and convex pattern. It is so consistent that the owner is convinced they were made this way. Do you think that is possible?


I have never seen leaded panels made to bulge and sag. That happens because they are not reinforced when they're constructed. Diamond patterns are extremely vulnerable to bulging and sagging.

Are the windows near a door that is used frequently? Opening and closing the door will cause the windows to "oil can". When you squeeze an oil can, the sides go in and out. The same thing happens to stained glass that is in or near a door. Also, slamming a door really does damage to the stained glass panel in or near the door.

In my opinion, the windows need to be repaired and reinforced before the glass starts falling out, and so bulging and sagging doesn't happen again.

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To use Re enforced lead or can i just use lead

by Andrea

sorry it is upside down

sorry it is upside down

Hi Sue
We have an outdoor conservatory and I am making six cathedral shaped windows 5'x 3'for it. The window design is a panel of 3 that has a vine with leaves up one side then across the middle and down the other side of the set. So I will be repeating it twice. This design is over laid on the back ground of approximately 4" squares. I have done the small leaf pieces in foil but want to use as much lead came as possible as it is more cost effective. However I am kind of at a loss as to know whether just the lead came is enough. I would like to avoid using rebar if I could. We are installing clear glass in front of the stain glass but the structure is open on one side so it will be exposed to some weather conditions. We are not opposed to caulking the panel to the clear glass if that offers strength as well.
Any suggestions you have would be of a great help as I have been searching the net for days and have not found a direct answer. Thank you in advance for your help and I have found great info from your web site.


I would use copper restrip on every other horizontal line and the first and third vertical lines. The restrip sits on edge against the heart of the lead. Run it straight through on the horizontal lines and cut it at the joints on the vertical lines. It will give your panels plenty of strength.

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