Learn How To Do Edge Beading

Edge beading is just one of several ways you can finish the edge of a copper foiled stained glass project. Here are some of the ways you can finish the edge:

  • Beading the edge with solder

  • Lead or zinc around the outside

  • In a wood frame (then you only need to tin the edges)

  • Wire around the edge with solder beaded up over it.

  • Twisted wire
  • twisted wire

  • Ball chain
  • Ball Chain

  • Fancy brass filigree U channel
  • filigree U channel

Go here to learn about these other ways to finish and edge.

Edge Beading On A Copper Foiled,
Stained Glass Project

Every edge of stained glass has three surfaces...the front surface of the edge, the back surface of the edge, and the outside edge which you see when you hold the panel vertical/perpendicular to your work surface. You are going to put solder on all 3 surfaces of the edge...front, back and outside edge.

iron tip facing edge from inside of panel

Start by fluxing the front surface of the edge. Hold your iron so the tip faces the outside and your hand and the rest of the iron are over the glass. If you hold the iron from the outside facing in, most of the solder will run off due to the heat of the iron pulling the solder down.

placing solder on the front edge

Go along and place solder on the front surface. Turn the panel over and do the same on the back surface of the edge. Some solder will run over the edge, from both sides. Don't worry about it, and don't worry about making the front and back surfaces perfectly smooth. When you are finished, all three surfaces will be smooth and round.

The final step is to turn the panel so the edge is facing up (vertical to your work surface). I usually use Wedgies to hold my projects in position while I bead the outside edge. Wedgies are wonderful little wedges made specifically for stained glass work. They hold your panels, lampshades, suncatchers, just about anything in position for soldering.

If the panel is round or oval, you will be constantly moving it to keep the spot you are working on absolutely parallel to your work surface. To do this, you will have to hold the panel in one hand while soldering with the other hand. If you tip it too far forward or backward, even just a little, the solder will run in the direction the panel is tipped rather than staying in place and forming a bead.

If you are going to hold the panel in your hand while you work on the outside edge, be sure to wear long sleeves and protective gloves. I have found the Ove Glove tm to be ideal for holding the glass while soldering it. Alternatively,you can hold the panel with a towel that is draped over your hand and arm. Either way will prevent burns from hot solder drips.

beading outside edge

Flux the outside edge, then, using a touch and lift motion, go along the edge with your soldering iron. There is usually enough solder that has run over from the front and back so you won't have to add any more. If there isn't enough, add it wherever it's needed. Work along the edge slowly.

Please note: For this picture, I didn't edge bead the entire panel. I only did a small section to demonstrate how it is done. I will be putting a wire around the edge of this panel. Instructions on how to add wire will follow.

edge beading done

The solder on all 3 surfaces will round up and give you a nice finished bead.

Wipe the panel off with a paper towel and check it, one more time, for problems. If you're happy with it, it's time for the final step.

The next step in this tutorial is Cleaning, Patina and Polishing

Here are More Ways To Finish The Edges Includes how to add wire to the edges.

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This page was last updated on March 24, 2016

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