Window Piece Replacement

by Bob
(Milwaukee, WI)

How to you replace a broken piece of glass in a leaded window??? Is there any special technique for undoing the putty within the came channel?? It seems easy enough to take the broken pieces out but how do you get the new piece back in??


Hi Bob,

If you can get the window out, remove it and work on it on a flat surface.

The way we do most repairs is to find the most direct path to the broken piece, then cut through each solder joint leading to it (both front and back). Once the solder joints are cut, you can pull the panel apart just enough to remove the broken glass and insert the new glass.

We usually use a small screw driver to dig out the old putty. If it's rock solid and won't budge, put some ammonia on it and let it set for an hour or so. The ammonia should loosen it up enough to allow you to get it out.

Once the new piece is in place, push the panel back together. Tap the edges of the panel using a straight piece of timber and a hammer, to get the joints tight. Resolder the joints, putty, and the repair is done. Remember to measure the panel before you pull it apart, so you get it back to the same size when you're done with the repair. Also, it's easiest to work on a work surface with 2 framing boards, like you use when you construct a panel. It helps to secure the panel when you're pushing and pulling on it.

If you can't get the panel out, you can cut the lead came, around the broken piece, diagonally in each corner, on the back side of the panel. Fold the lead back, remove the glass and putty, replace the glass and fold the lead back in place.

It sounds easier in theory than it really is. Sometimes the lead won't fold back, sometimes it breaks off or gets twisted. If any of those situations take place, you can peel the lead off altogether, on the back side. Next, you can either foil the new glass and run a solder bead on the back of the panel, or, peel the face off one side of a new piece of lead, cut it to fit and solder it in place.

Soldering in an upright position is not easy, but it can be done. I don't have any tips on the best way to do it, other than to cover the lead below the area you're working on so the solder won't drip down on it.

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Repair Broken Glass in Lead Panel

by Sheila
(Burr Ridge IL)

Hi I am in the process of constructing a leaded glass panel. I was just about to glaze the project when a piece of the glass cracked. It is a leaded panel, already soldered completely but not glazed. The broken piece of glass is close to the top I have the frame, a small piece of border glass, a bevel and then the broken piece. Can you offer any advice on replaceing the broken piece and getting it all back together again. Any help will be greatly appreciated.

Hi Sheila,

Please email me a picture of the panel. You can email me at Contact Me

Repairing it, with no glazing, is pretty simple, but I need the picture to be able to tell you exactly how to do it.

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Broken Window with Lead Frame

A central panel in a multi paneled window got broken. Who can fix such things? Can a novice such as myself do it? The glass seems normal although it is thinner than regular window glass. The house is several hundred years old but these windows were probably put in the early 19th century. Its a simple 5 by 8 panel.

We've repaired many windows of that age and I'm well aware of the problems that can arise.

Look in your yellow pages for a stained glass shop in your area. That's where you will find the professionals that can repair you window. It is not something a novice can do.

If the window is 100 years old, the glass will most likely need to be replaced with restoration glass. That is glass made specifically to replicate the glass in old windows. The lead might need to be replaced as well. Quite often the leads begins to break apart when you are trying to remove the hard putty in the channel of the lead. Like I said, leave it to a professional.

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Repairing bent / pinched lead came

by Erin Lounsbury
(Spring Lake, Michigan)

I have a lot of older came that I have stored away and would like to use now. Although I have several H & U shaped came pieces 6' or more, they are crimped and bent in some places. They haven't been stretched yet and wasn't sure if stretching would help or would it make them worse. Should I straighten the channels first by hand? Would I be wasting my time trying to fix the came?

I have seen many questions about how to use lead came but couldn't find other issues that answered the above questions, so my apologies if I am making you repeat.


I'd stretch first, then rum a fid down the channels to straighten them up. You might find that you'll have to cut out the damaged bits, but some of the lead should still be useable.

If the lead is oxidized, run a piece of bronze wool down both faces to remove the oxidation. Bronze wool works much better than steel wool. Ace Hardware usually carries it or can order it for you.

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Old Window Repair with Zinc Came

by Deborah

I have an old beveled window that I was asked to repair. I'm currently in the process of replacing the broken bevels with new custom ones. The issue I'm having is getting the solder to stick. I cleaned and brushed the area real well before trying. After some research, I believe I'm working with zinc came and not lead. I have only worked with zinc framing and have never had problems getting the solder to stick. Can you advise what type of flux and solder I should use. Need help as soon as possible.


This will work for either lead or zinc:

Brush the came with a brass wire brush at each point where you will be soldering. Use a paste flux. I like Nokorode flux which is available from most hardware stores and stained glass shops. Either 50/50 or 60/40 solder will be fine.

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Replacing lead came in old windows

by Faye

We are restoring our historic Carnegie library that has several original beveled glass windows with lead caming. Our glass artist told us that the windows needed to be re-leaded. Does lead become brittle with time? Does leading need to be replaced after a hundred years or so? We are in a very cold climate and you can spot places where pieces of the leading are missing.


Yes, the lead needs to be replaced. You're lucky that the windows lasted 100 years. Lead gets weak over the years, from the pressure of the glass, which makes it break in places and start to fall out.

Listen to the stained glass artist and allow him/her to replace the lead before the windows become so damaged that glass will have to be replaced too.

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Warped stained glass window

by John
(New York)

The front windows of my house are made of wood frames with stained glass. The design of the glass is diamond shape multi-color glass that is held together by lead. The rectangular shaped glass has warped and bent over the years due to seasonal weather (I live in New York). The wood frame of the window itself has rotted and needs replacement. I will be removing the windows and replacing the wood frame. Is there a way to straighten the glass before framing it?if I put the glass on a flat wood surface, could I use a soldering flame to heat the lead and flatten the glass frame?


A window made with diamonds needs reinforcement with either copper restrip or steel rods to prevent buckling. The lead in your windows has stretched due to no or poor reinforcement, allowing the putty to crumble and the glass to buckle and I would imagine some glass is starting to fall out. The only way to repair them is to have a stained glass professional do it for you. The windows will need to be taken apart and put back together with new lead as well as plenty of reinforcement.

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Repairing and Replacing Old Lead in Stained Glass Windows

I have been given two semi circle stained glass windows, the lead is old as the windows themselves are.
I'm concerned these do have dangerous lead content in them. How can I safely replace the old lead?

Thank you,


Hi Sophie,

Lead is lead, old or new. However, the old lead may have started to flake, so wear a dust mask and gloves to remove it. In addition, wear the same gear when removing the old putty. There could be dust flying around when you remove it. Vacuum often to keep the dust under control and don't do the job where dust would be near children or get into food. Common sense is the main factor here.

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Sag in the width of the window

by Rebecca
(Lewisburg KY )

Hi Sue, Please help.
We are working on a window 43" wide and 63" tall. We tried using 1/16 by 3/16 flat bar to reinforce the window.After soldering it to 4 places along the width of the window and framing it we are still having problems with a sag in the middle of the window when lifted. What rebar should we have used for this large window size. Anything other suggestions for large windows would be great.

Hi Rebecca,

I handed your question over to my huband to answer since he's the reinforcement and installation expert.

Here's what he has to say:

What a LARGE window to be working with in one piece!!!

Has the putty been allowed to dry before installing this window?

Or, is the panel 'copper foiled'?
If it is foiled, well after about 30 years of installing window, I certainly wouldn't relish the installation job!!

First of all the flat bar you are using is way way to small!! It should be at least 3/16 thick by 3/8 inch wide or maybe 3/16 by 1/2 inch.

These bars need to be sitting "on edge" to the window and sticking out from either end far enough to be secured to the window frame.
Note: By "sitting on edge", he means they shouldn't be laying flat on the window. There's no strength when they lay flat. To help you visualize it, think of a piece of H came. The edge would be a leg of the H, and the rest of the H (rebar) would be sticking straight out from the window.

IF the bar is galvanized, it will solder okay to the window.

IF it is steel, it is next to IMPOSSIBLE to get it to solder to the window to be, AND TO REMAIN, SECURELY attached to the window. It may at first appear to be okay but be assured, over time, it won't be!!

If it is steel it MUST be attached using wire soldered to the lead, at solder joints, and then twisted / secured to the rebar.

We have found that a window of this size is much much easier to work with if it is built in 2 or 3 sections and fitted together like a "tongue and groove" joint using U came on the bottom of the top panel and H came on the top of the next panel. Make sure the H channel is wide enough to accept the U came.

I hope this information will help you.

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Restoring stain glass leaded came

by brian

How do you remove stain glass safely from antique lead came windows and replacing it with a new lead came section. Can you age the lead came to blend in with existing aged lead came?


You should really replace all of the lead rather than some of it. If some has broken, chances are that the rest of the lead will do the same within a few years. The window will look much better with all new lead rather than some new and some old. You will not be able to match the color of the existing aged lead so that it looks right.

First of all, make a rubbing of the entire window. You do that by placing a sheet of paper over the window then rub over the lead lines with a the handle of your lead knife. Number the pieces, then number the glass pieces to match the numbers on the paper. Now you have a cartoon of the window so you can put it back together.

Carefully cut the lead so you can remover the glass. Pull out all of the glass and clean it. Use new lead to rebuild the window. There is restoration lead available that should match the old lead in shape and size.

Reassemble the window, apply putty, then darken the lead with a natural bristle brush.

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Warped Leaded Stained Glass Panel

Although I design and create using stained glass, I mostly work with copper foil, I'm asking for help on this one. I purchased a beautiful old copper foil panel for my wife 4 years ago and it's was immediately hung in a window which gets long periods of direct sun during the afternoon hours. It's not framed I guess because the border is wavy. In any case it warped. I would like to attempt to repair it but how. Does it need to be completely taken apart and re-foiled, or is there a secret to flatening it. And once it's flattened how do I prevent this from happening again.

John from Havertown, PA


There is no way to flatten it that wouldn't cause some of the glass to break.

However, I'm confused. Is the panel lead or copper foil. You said Lead in the title, but siad Copper Foil in the description. Let me know which it is, so I can give you the correct information.

You can answer by making a new submission or, you can use the comments section below.

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Repairing Chipped Bevel Before Cementing the Panel

Hi... Ugh!! I am making a sidelight and just finished the whole leading process and soldering it too. I noticed a chip in the 4x4 gluechip bevel that's right in the middle of the sidelight!! I haven't cemented this yet... any help would be appreciated! Also, is there any way to keep the lead more silver than the darker color it gets after the cementing?


Unfortunately, chips aren't repairable. A quick, but not professional, fix would be to use a dab of etching creme on the chip. It might disguise it enough to look like part of the glue chip. I can't guarantee the quality of the appearance, but it just might do the job.

Being the perfectionist that I am, I would replace the bevel. A repair should be pretty easy if you haven't puttied the panel yet.

Find the straightest path to the bevel and cut through those solder joints with a very sharp lead knife, on both sides of the panel. You should be able to pull the panel apart enough to remove and replace the bevel.

Once the new bevel is in place, push the panel back together. Tap the perimeter lead by placing a piece of wood against the lead and tapping the wood with a hammer until the joints are back where they belong with no visible spaces.

Measure the panel to make sure it's back to the correct size, and square. Then solder the joints that you cut. It really doesn't take very long to do (well, it probably will the first time you try it!).

Keeping the lead more silver is not something I have ever tried to accomplish. I like dark/black lead to outline the glass. However, i spent some time in my studio this afternoon trying different ways to get the lead silver again.

I tried rubbing it with bronze wool...the result was a dulling of the lead. No shine at all.

Next I tried Armorall...there was no discernable difference at all.

Finally I tried Mother's Carnauba Cleaner Wax. It gave the lead a beautiful, very shiney, pewter look. Mother's is what I use on my copper foil projects.

If you use black putty, you can brush the lead with a natural bristle brush, after you putty. The natural bristle brush (Tampico is one brand) will turn the lead black and shiney.

Perhaps someone reading this has a way to get the lead silver again, after it has been puttied. If so, please tell us what you do. Use the comments section below. Thanks!

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Lead Corners that Buckle

by Mickey Engle
(Sarasota, Fl)

I am doing some 3d suncathers with came instead of foil. What do I do to smooth out some small rounded corners that cause the came to buckle outwards?


Cut a small V on both sides of the came where it buckles (you're basically cutting out the buckle). The Vs will probably be smaller than the one in the picture. That one was cut to go around the sharp corner of a bevel.

The edges of the V should slide together so the edges are touching. You will then solder those edges together the same way you'd solder any two joining pieces of lead.

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Oxidized lead came

by kathryn
(long beach ca)

Hi Sue, I am repairing a vintage window and want to remove the heavy oxidation on the lead so I can patina it. How can I do that without hurting the glass or came?

Use very fine steel wool or bronze wool which is my preference. Bronze wool is available at some Ace hardware stores and also places that sell marine supplies.

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Edge of glass on back of project showing

by Donna Willcock
(Kimberley, British Columbia, Canada)

I just finished my first project using lead came. As I assembled it, all the glass edges on the front side were covered by the lead came, so I soldered all the joints. When I turned it over to solder the joints on the back, I have two areas where the came hasn't completely covered the edge of the glass. I don't understand how that happened, and I don't know what to do about it. The edges are right at the edge of the came. Will puttying the project hide the problem?


Slip the blade of your lead knife between the glass and the came and try to slide the glass back in the came...sort of like using a shoe horn in a shoe!

It happened because the the glass wasn't entirely seated in the lead. You might have had the lead sitting ay a slight tilt when you were sliding the glass in place. It's a good idea to slide your lathekin along the empty channel (as opposed to the side that has the glass in it) and push the lead against the glass to make sure it's tight.

No, putty isn't going to make it go away. If all else fails, take the panel apart and fix it. Since you only soldered on one side, taking it apart should be fairly easy.

Find a lead line the runs from one edge to the other edge that goes along the place that needs to be fixed. With a sharp lead knife, cut through the solder joints.

Pull the panel apart and fix the problem. Slide the two parts back together. Place one edge against the framing board on your work surface and place another framing board along the other edge. Gently tap that board with a hammer until the panel is firmly back together. Flux and solder the joints you had cut through.

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Lead came thinned when soldering

by James Roberts
(Green Valley, AZ, USA)

I started on a large project with small pieces for my first serious project in stained glass. The soldering came out fairly well, but there were three short pieces of came that took on too much heat causing them to thin, whither, and lose their straight line and width. I would like to repair those short pieces with new came or simply cut the top off and splice in an upper section of fresh came. The other side is O.K. (not thinned out). How would I best go about this without

If the back side is okay. you can do exactly as you said..."simply cut the top off and splice in an upper section of fresh came".

You will cut the face off the distorted pieces, leaving the heart attached to the other side. Cut the face off a new piece of lead and place it over the heart of the piece you removed. Make sure it is a tight fit. You might want to hold the piece down with some tape while you solder it in place. The tape will prevent it from moving and/or lifting while you are soldering.

Solder quickly so the new lead doesn't melt. It will melt quicker than a whole piece of lead since it is just a thin strip and doesn't have the heart attached for a heat sink. Don't turn the soldering iron on until you are ready to solder. Waiting for it to warm up is safer than having it on while you are doing the repair and having it get too hot. A temp controller won't keep it the same temp while it is not being used. The temp controller will only keep it at a steady temp while the iron is in use.

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Copper Foil on a Leaded Window???

by mike nieman
(redondo beach, ca)

Dads window

Dads window

I have an old lead came window that was my Dads but a few panes are broken. Is there any problem if I replaced them with copper foiled glass instead of using lead came? I have worked with copper foil but don't know much about using lead came.


Answer would be such a shame to detract from the beauty of that window by adding copper foil to it.

If you can't repair it, why don't you take it to a stained glass shop and have them do it for you.

It looks like it will be an easy repair and they would be able to match the glass and lead (if the lead needed to be replaced).

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