SO MANY PLIERS!
When customers are new to stained glass, it can be overwhelming figuring out which tools to buy. As if choosing a soldering iron wasn’t complicated enough, something that seems as simple as pliers ought to be easy, right? Maybe not! There are several tools that are used for breaking glass along a score.
We suggest beginners start with a combo breaker/grozer. It is like two pliers in one. You can use the pliers to break the glass on the score line. Position the edge of the plier parallel to the score line with the curved jaw on the bottom. Holding the glass on the other side of the score with your hand, snap up/pull the piece apart. (Use a pair of grozing pliers on each side to break narrow pieces.) Once you’ve cut a piece, small bits that stuck to the score can be “chewed” off with the tips of the pliers. Just nibble those little bits right off to reduce the amount of grinding in your future.
Then we suggest a runner. The jaws of a runner are slightly curved to create a fulcrum. There is a line on the tip of plier that you’ll lay over the score line. Some runners have an adjustable screw to control pressure; the screw should be on the top side of the pliers (screw points up so you don’t screw up!) Squeeze gently to start; you’ll feel the score “running” away from you along the cut.
The rubber tips eventually get torn up by the sharp glass and it really does make a difference in the pliers’ performance. Get reasonably priced replacements here.
There are other variations of running pliers that run the gamut of cost and function.
The Silberschnitt pictured on the right is a high-end plier designed to be very exact and can break up to 5mm of glass. They can help with inner curves and small glass strips.
Some people really like a plain breaker.
These pliers have a smooth jaw for snapping the glass apart. They often have a wider jaw than a grozer.
What are your go-to tools for breaking glass along a score? Which tool did you wish you had as a beginner?