Learn to use running pliers following these step by step instructions

Running pliers come in many different brands and types. Some are plastic and some metal. My preference is metal, with plastic or rubber coated jaws. Over the last 28 years, I've only had two pair of them, both metal. They hold up well and last almost forever if taken care of.

How To Set the Opening of the Jaws

Good metal pliers have a screw on top. This screw is for setting the jaw opening to the proper width, so that the pliers do their job, but don't crush the glass. There are two ways to set the screw. Both ways will get you exactly the same setting.

Method number one:
Loosen the screw until the jaws just slip over the glass while you are holding the handles closed. The jaws need to be touching the glass snugly, but should slip on and off without having to open the handles. Now take the pliers off the glass and tighten the screw one full turn.

Method number two:
Open the jaws and place the pliers on the glass. Tighten the screw until the end of it touches the other handle. You will have to hold the pliers up, so you can see the end of the screw, while doing this. Take the pliers off the glass and tighten the screw 1/4 turn.

With both of these methods, once the screw is set, it should be okay for most glass, unless the glass is extremely thick or extremely thin. In other words, you won't need to set the screw every time you use your running pliers.

Here is a 7 minute video showing how to use your running pliers:

To play the video, click on the white triangle.

How to Use Your Running Pliers

Your pliers should always be used with the screw facing up towards the ceiling.

There should be a black line in the center of the top jaw, on the end that touches the glass. If there isn't a line, draw one!

placement of running pliers on the glass Place the pliers on the glass with about 1/3 to 1/2 of the jaw covering the glass. The line on the jaw should always line up with the score.

glass separated Now squeeze the handles gently until you hear a click. If it is a short score, the glass should separate right away, but if it doesn't, squeeze again until the score runs and the glass separates.

If it is a long score, after squeezing and hearing a click, go to the other end of the glass, and repeat the gentle squeeze until you hear the click. Go back to the first end and squeeze once again. At this point, the score should separate. Occasionally you'll have to repeat this process a couple of times, but usually the glass will separate easily with your first or second squeeze.

Just remember to squeeze gently. Don't "manhandle" the running pliers.

These Pliers Are For More Than
Straight Lines

Don't limit your pliers to just the straight lines. They work amazingly well for almost every score you could possibly make. Here is an example of running the score on a deep semi circle.

squeeze and click on both ends of the score Gently squeeze the running pliers on each end of the score, and listen for the click.
You may have to do this several times. Make sure the score is completely run.

wiggle and separate Once the score is completely run, hold the glass just like I described for Running the Score With Your Hands.
Wiggle the semi circle and the piece surrounding it until they separate.

large semi circle and thin semi circle Here is a very thin semi circle that I cut out of the glass that surrounded the large semi circle. I have used this method to make a rainbow, by cutting each narrow arc out of a different color glass.

running a narrow strip
To split a narrow piece of glass in half, just make sure the pliers are centered, so that equal amounts (of the pliers) hang over each sides.

probably will not work If part of the jaw is on the glass and the other part is hanging over the edge, you will only have a small chance of the narrow strip coming off in one piece. The rule is, both sides of the jaw are either all the way on the glass, or both sides are hanging over equally (as illustrated in the picture above).

taking out a complex curve Here is a fairly complex curve that was taken out with running pliers. This pieces needed to be run from both ends in order to get the run to go around the deepest curve.

Practice with your running pliers. They will run small pieces, large pieces, curves, straight lines and just about everything in between. Use some cheap glass, or better yet, double strength window glass. Try various cuts, see what happens when you do this or that. Get comfortable using your pliers. I'm sure you will find that they make cutting glass a lot easier.

If you have questions or comments about running pliers, please feel free to Contact me

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This page last updated on March 5, 2016

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