Stained glass work is not the easiest craft, but it becomes significantly more challenging when you don't have the right tools. One of the essential tools for any glass project is a glass cutter that can achieve high precision levels. As these tools are not only used for stained glass work, getting the best glass cutter for stained glass can be tasking. We hope to help you make the right choice, that is why we have selected and reviewed some of the best cutting tools you can get on the market.
Comparison Table of Glass Cutter
Top 5 Glass Cutter for Stained Glass
1. IMT Pencil Style Oil Feed Glass Cutter
The IMT Pencil Style Oil Feed Glass Cutter is a heavy-duty tool, perfect for amateurs and professionals alike. The highlights of the tool are the heavy-duty construction and attention to comfort. It features an industrial-grade frosted iron head, with a wheel made from strong tungsten carbide for improved durability. As it is a versatile tool, it can be used for several other cutting purposes, in addition to stained glass cutting. For comfortable handling, it comes with a pencil design.
The cutter has an approximate cutting life of 20,000 meters, which is about 30X the cutting life of typical cutters. As it is an oil-fed cutter, it features a special oil feed system that automatically dispenses oil and keeps the wheel perpetually lubricated. The package comes with two cutter heads: one for cutting 2 - 6 mm thicknesses, and the other for cutting 6 - 12 mm glass thicknesses. After scoring, you can always make use of the ball-end handle for snapping the glass. If what you need is the best glass cutter for thick glass, take a look at this IMT cutter.
2. IMT Pistol Grip Oil Feed Glass Cutter
If you prefer a pistol-grip tool to a pencil-style cutter, the IMT Pistol Grip Oil Feed Glass Cutter is arguably the best glass cutter you can get. Like the other IMT pencil-style cutter, it features heavy-duty construction, with an industrial-grade frosted iron head and a durable tungsten carbide wheel. It also has a cutting life of over 20,000 meters. However, what makes this tool stand out is the unique pistol-grip that reduces hand fatigue and makes it possible to score stained glass with less effort.
It does feature a refined oil feeding system that automatically keeps the wheel lubricated while you cut. In addition to being rated as the best glass cutting tool for stained glass projects, it is also the perfect tool to score mirrors, tiles, and more. Furthermore, it comes with replaceable cutter heads, with one for cutting 2 - 6mm glass thicknesses, and the other for 6 - 12mm thicknesses. Interestingly, the cutting head can rotate 360 degrees.
3. Toyo Custom-Grip Glass Cutter
The Toyo Custom-Grip Supercutter comes with all the right features for professional stained glass work. However, that is not to say that beginners cannot use it. The tool's highlight is the four-position saddle feature that allows an adjustment of the tool, such that it can fit different hand sizes. We advise that you always use oil with cutting tools, but one thing we find interesting about this tool is that the sophisticated oil-fed system can be used with or without oil.
However, use only a few drops of oil at a time to prevent leaking. Furthermore, it comes with a patented cutting wheel that significantly improves axle lubrication and lowers rolling friction, such that the user can achieve cleaner glass scores. The overall construction makes it a very durable tool, and according to the makers, it outlasts typical cutters up to 25 times.
4. Strip and Circle Glass Cutter
If what you need is a specialized glass cutter to cut borders, circles, diamonds, and other unique designs, the Glastar Strip and Circle Glass Cutter is one of the best tools you can get. In stained glass work, strip and circle cuts are fairly common; more so if you are not a beginner/amateur. So, you cannot do without a tool like this. In the turret, there are six high-quality cutting wheels. When one wheel becomes dull, all you have to do is rotate the turret to the next position. What's better? Replacement turrets are available.
Also, the cutter features a 3 point base that is one of the most stable. It remains stable, even on rough textured workpieces. As a beginner, you will not need this as much as a professional will. The circle cutter is designed to cut circles that range from 3" to 25" in diameter, while the calibrated T-bar can cut strips ranging from ½" to 12" wide.
5. Toyo Acrylic Comfort Grip Glass Cutter
This is another glass cutter from Toyo that is guaranteed to give you an improved stained glass work experience. It is mainly designed for stained glass cutting and is a reasonably priced tool. The tool's basic and lightweight construction makes it one of the best options for beginners to use. It features a TC No.1 Pattern head with a tapered barrel with contoured finger channels designed to fit all hand sizes.
Overall Best - IMT Pistol Grip Oil Feed Glass Cutter
Features and Factors to Consider When Buying a Glass Cutter for Stained Glass
Glass cutters vary in style, design, and functionality. So, you should consider some specifications before making a final selection. Here are some of the features and factors to consider if you hope to make an informed glass cutter choice.
There are three types of grips to choose from when it comes to glass cutters.
Pistol Grip: It is arguably the most comfortable grip to handle, and it allows the application of pressure with the palm. However, it is not the best option for tasks that require high precision.
Pencil Grip: This requires an application of pressure with the wrist and fingers, somewhat like on a pencil. Glass cutters with pencil grips are best for precision cutting.
Custom Grip: This closely resembles the pencil grip but features an additional saddle that allows the user to apply more pressure from the finger. People with weak hands or joint issues will find it more comfortable.
You should also consider cutting wheel material as it will affect durability and cutting lifespan. A couple of typical materials are used, but tungsten wheels retain heat better than all, and they last longer.
Cutters that come with fluid-dispensing systems are the best. Not all cutters feature oil dispensing mechanisms, but the heat buildup from friction requires cooling down. A cutter that perpetually dispenses lubricating keeps the cutting wheel cool as you use the tool.
Price is an essential factor to consider when buying any tool. Thankfully, glass cutters are relatively affordable. However, the more sophisticated the tool is, the more expensive it becomes. Whatever your budget is, you will get a good cutter that will serve you well.
Read More: Best Soldering Iron for Stained Glass
What Is a Glass Cutter?
A glass cutter is not necessarily a tool that saws through glass pieces. It is used to make grooves/marks across the glass, at the point where the glass is to be divided. In turn, this action makes the glass weak at that point and able to break at the addition of extra force. If you're planning to go into any form of glasswork, as a hobby or professionally, a glass cutter is one of the various essential tools you need.
How to Maintain a Glass Cutter
Like any other tool, glass cutters require some regular maintenance to remain functional and in good condition. Thankfully, glass maintenance is straightforward. Oiling is arguably the most important thing to do regularly when you own a glass cutter. After each use, keep the tool stored in lubricant; fill a container up to the level where the lubricant covers the wheel. The lubricant will reduce the likelihood of oxidation and keep the tool always ready to cut glass.
You should also store glass cutters in upright positions so that the cotton wick that runs from the oil chamber to the cutter's head can continually get oil supply. Not all glass cutters come with oil reservoirs, but if yours does, ensure you keep the reservoir filled with oil. Furthermore, you need to be careful when using the tool.
Avoid ramming the cutter's wheel over the edge of the glass as that can dull the wheel. Additionally, you should occasionally examine the space between the wheel and the head of the tool. What you want to get rid of are the tiny pieces of glass that may get stuck there. Push the small glass pieces out with a pin or needle.
It is only regular that the wheel gets dull after extended use. When you notice that the tool starts to require more force when scoring glass, it may indicate a dull wheel. Buy a replacement wheel as soon as you notice that.
What Kind of Oil Do You Use to Cut Glass?
Stained glass work requires some precision when cutting, and if you achieve straight cuts, you need a cutting fluid to lubricate, cool, and reduce friction. While skill is an essential factor in stained glass work, any project's outcome is directly affected by the quality of tools and supplies used. Here are some cutting oils you can use to keep the surface edge clean and your cutting straight.
Formulated Glass Cutting Oil
Today, the demand for cutting oils has informed the manufacture of custom formulated cutting oils. They are the best option to use with glass cutters as they have the right viscosity for glass cutting.
Kerosene has been used as a cutting lubricant in glass cutters for a long time, as it is readily available. One of the exciting properties of kerosene is that it evaporates well, so when used as cutting oil, it cleans up well and provides decent lubrications. However, it is a very thin oil that some may find too light. Also, kerosene has a somewhat unpleasant smell.
Light Machine Oil
Heavy oils are not the best lubricating options for glass cutters. That being said, you can use any light machine oil when cutting glass. The downside to machine oils is that they are typically viscous and may affect the impact of a cutter on the workpiece.
This is another light oil that can be used, but only when necessary. Vegetable oil has some of the right properties for cutting oil, but is not specifically formulated for the purpose. It should only be used when there is no other option available.
Frequently Asked Questions
What else can I use a glass cutter for?
It is always best to go for versatile tools that can be used for a variety of tasks. In addition to stained glass projects, glass cutters can also be used to cut diamond and ceramic.
How do you cut thick glass?
Stained glass or not, you will have to work with different glass thicknesses. Some glass cutters feature replaceable cutter heads, so that you can always work on thicker glasses. You should consider this before buying any cutter.
Can Tempered Glass Be Cut with a Glass Cutter?
Tempering is a strengthening technique to make glass more resistant to breakage. It is typically the last step in glass fabrication, after cutting and shaping. So, tempered glass cannot be cut, even with a glass cutter, as it will only break into fragments.
We hope you found this review interesting and informative. Amateur or professional, these are some of the best glass cutters that can offer improved stained glass work experience. They all feature self-lubricating systems that reduce friction as you use cut and make the tool last longer. Also, it is critical that you consider some criteria before you make a final selection. We have discussed a few of those factors.