Redoing Old Church Windows

by Terri Palmer
(Rochester NY)

I wonder if it is better to use lead came to redo the window, or use the foil method. I am used to the foil method. The piece is 30"x 32" and was originally in a wooden frame. I had to replace broken glass and it was sagging, the old lead was getting weak.

I would like to hang these pieces in our home. I am not planning on selling them. I guess I want to be sure the method I choose will be sturdy enough to hang inside another window. I plan on using the original frame as it is in great shape.


Hi Terri,

If I were doing it, I would use lead, but that's just my personal opinion.

Copper foil will give you some problems since the glass was cut for lead. Glass cut for lead has a wider gap between each piece. You will find that some pieces won't fit together properly, and the outer edge may end up with a stair step effect.

You may have to recut or replace some pieces to get it to go together. It won't end up being the original size. It will be smaller, but I can't predict by how much. It depends on the number of pieces and the shapes. If it is all geometric, it will go together much easier than if it is a complicated design. It may not fit in the frame, but you can get around that by using a wide lead around the perimeter.

To answer your original question, the window will be strong enough, using copper foil, with the use of some reinforcement. I would recommend using copper restrip, especially along any hinge joints.

If any of the glass is painted, use horse shampoo to clean it. Horse shampoo has a neutral PH and won't harm the paint.

Do a rubbing of the panel before you take it apart. That way you'll have a cartoon to work on. To do a rubbing, place a sheet of paper over the panel and rub over each lead line with a piece of scrap lead. The scrap lead will make a dark line where each lead line is.

I hope this information will be of help to you.

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