While a glass grinder is not the most essential tool in stained glass work, they significantly affect shaping stained glass and improving the overall look of your project. They may not be the most important tool for beginners; however, if you are a professional or in the process of sticking with the craft, you should get a good glass grinder. When you decide to get one of these tools for yourself, you will discover that there are unlimited options available. Below we will review some of the best stained glass grinders, so you can find it easier to make a good selection.
Comparison Table of Glass Grinder
Top 5 Glass Grinder for Stained Glass
1. Gryphon Gryphette Glass Grinder
Gryphon has produced some impressive models of glass grinders, and this Gryphette Glass Grinder is just one of many. While it has a somewhat compact design, it is a sturdy and powerful machine. What we found most impressive is that, given its functionality, it is a relatively affordable device. It features a 0.67 amp motor, with a maximum speed of 3000 RPM. The 7” x 7” platform is on the small side, but we didn’t expect much more from a grinder this compact.
It has a standard 5/16” shaft that can fit all standard grinding bits, but only a ¾” bit is included in the package. Weighing a mere 6 pounds, it is one of the best lightweight grinders you can get, especially if you are a beginner. Given the impressive features, we love the fact that the Gryphon Gryphette Glass Grinder is affordable. If what you need is a budget option glass grinder, you should definitely check this one out.
2. Glastar SuperStar II Grinder
If you are a beginner with little or no experience in stained glass craft, this is one of the best machines to start grinding with. The 8” x 9” work surface is not the most generous, but it is certainly more than sufficient for beginner and hobbyist tasks. It features a decent 1/12 HP motor that is decent enough. However, what we love most about the most is that it does not make much noise. For additional guidance when grinding, you get a roller-type adjustable straight edge guide.
Quite interestingly, it features a built-in drawer so that you can store your important accessories onboard the grinder. A ¾” and ¼” bit is included in the package. Additionally, you get several other significant accessories like the coolant drain and the flexible rubber splash guard. It is a reasonably durable grinder, and a 5 year warranty is included to convince you of that.
3. Gryphon Convertible Professional Stained Glass Grinder
The Gryphon Convertible Professional Stained Glass Grinder is another of our best glass grinders for stained glass list. The machine features a unique surface that is designed to bend at an angle, if the user pleases, for improved grinding comfort. The flexibility of the work surface provides more comfort to the back and the neck as you work. With an RPM that reaches 3000 and a torque of 67 ounces per inch, it offers a more than decent performance. What’s better? It features a protective glass feature that protects your eyes as you grind.
The package comes with two grinding bits: a 1” bit and a ¼” bit. However, it can accept several other bits as well. For cooling, it features a built-in electric pump that provides constant lubrication and cooling to the bit. The cooling feature ensures longevity for the bits. The only area we feel the unit can be improved is the overall durability, as the frame is predominantly plastic. However, the plastic construction makes for a lightweight machine.
4. Inland Craft WizlingCG Glass Grinder
The commonest first reaction to the Inland Craft WizlingCG Glass Grinder is one of curiosity, thanks to its unconventional yet aesthetically pleasing design. It is particularly suited for beginners and hobbyists, as it is a mid-range machine that is relatively affordable. While it comes with a ¾” diamond grinding bit, it is designed to fit different grinding bits, depending on what task you have at hand. The 115 V motor and 16 ounces per inch torque are decent enough for a mid-range glass grinder.
5. Glastar All Star G8 Grinder
The Glastar All Star G8 Grinder is a premium machine that comes with highly impressive features and a very solid build. It features a work surface that measures 11” x 13”: about 20% larger than most grinding machines. The 1/9 HP motor is reasonably powerful and is one of the fastest you can get, with an RPM rating of 3560. The 42 ounces per inch torque is also quite commendable. The functionality of the device apart, it comes with an aesthetically pleasing design.
Furthermore, you get Glastar’s exclusive built-in drawer to store your various accessories, so they don’t get lost. Safety features are essential things to consider on glass grinders. Thankfully, it features a glass shield to protect your face as you work. Interestingly, the shield is scratch-resistant so that it does not deteriorate over time and affect your vision. It also features a very efficient cooling system that consists of a built-in water pump to bring down the heat generated from friction.
Overall Best - Glastar All Star G8 Grinder
The Glastar All Star G8 Grinder is our best glass grinder for stained glass work. It is a perfect machine with all the right features for smooth grinding. It has a work surface of 11” x 13”, which is wide enough, even for professionals. However, what we love the most is the high speed, as you can get up to 3560 RPM from the motor. Additionally, it comes with onboard storage space, an effective cooling system, and a scratch-resistant scratch shield to protect your face.
Features and Factors to Consider When Buying a Glass Grinder for Stained Glass
As there are grinders of various prices, functionality, and quality, you should pay attention to some critical things before making a final selection. Here are some of the essential features and factors to consider when buying a stained glass grinder:
As they come in varying sizes, you should check the size of a grinder in relation to your workspace before you make a choice. More than the whole size of the machine, it is also critical that you check the dimension of the table/working area.
Large tables may get in the way of you achieving precision if you typically work on small glass pieces. Likewise, a small working surface is not the best option if you work with large pieces. However, some machines come with various table sizes that are interchangeable for different glass sizes.
It is also essential that you consider the speed of the motor that powers the machine, rated in rotations per minute (RPM). Typically, high-speed machines are better than slow ones as they produce smoother edges. A typical grinder will have an RPM between 2800 - 3600 RPM.
However, there are some simple projects, and small glass pieces require a low speed, so you should also consider the type of project you plan to do with the machine.
This is another factor that is quite related to speed. Torque is the amount of power or level of intensity with which the grinder bit spins. Regardless of the speed, grinder motors tend to slow down when they experience load. It is important that a machine maintains it’s speed if you hope to get the best results.
Torque is measured in ounces per inch. Just like you would do when choosing a suitable speed, you should consider your level of workmanship to choose the right level of torque. Advanced stained glass professionals can go with a high torque of 30 and above, while we advise beginners to choose a torque of 20 or below. With time hobbyists and beginners can safely graduate to a higher torque level of 21 - 29 as skills improve.
The grinding process involves friction that can cause significant heat. For that reason, it is necessary that any reliable grinder features a functional cooling system. There are a couple of different cooling methods used, but the commonest involves the use of a container that holds water or any other cooling liquid. The coolant is transferred to the head via a sponge. In some machines, a special pump replaces the pump to get the oil to the head. Whatever the mechanism, ensure that any machine you choose has a functional cooling system.
Certain precautions need to be taken in stained glass work to prevent accidents and injuries. In addition to the safety gear you should put on, some grinders come with additional safety features, and you should definitely check them out before buying any grinder. A lot of people tend to overlook them, but you should consider safety features like a dust collection system, face shields, and efficient fuses.
As stained glass grinders are powered by motors, they do produce some noise. Nevertheless, some motors are noisier than others. Usually, heavy-duty grinders are noisier than the low-end machines, but some low-quality motors make much noise, even at low speed. With these grinders, you can’t necessarily avoid noise. What you can do is choose quieter motors and use protective gear for your ears.
Tips for Grinding Small Stained Glass Pieces Accurately
Grinding glass can be a pretty hard thing to figure out, but if you hope to get the right results when grinding glass, precision is paramount. Your fingers will not do the best job of keeping small pieces of glass stable on the grinder, and they will only get in the way of the bit.
One of the things you can try is a Grinder Cookie. It comes in a round shape, and it holds small pieces of glass in place. With a grinder cookie, less breakage will occur, and you get to grind more accurately. As small as it is, it has so much use in stained glasswork.
Another important tool you can use to grind small pieces of stained glass more accurately is a Grinders Mate. It is a tool that comes with a jaw for gripping small pieces of stained glass. The only issue we noticed with a Grinders Mate is that the glass piece has to be slightly lifted from the work surface.
Regardless of the aid you use when trying to grind accurately, your fingers should be adequately protected at all times. You can simply tape adhesive tape over the top of your fingers to keep them safe. Better still, you can improvise with regular rubber thimbles.
Safety Precautions for Grinding Stained Glass Pieces
Working with stained glass can be quite hazardous, especially when you don’t pay attention to certain safety precautions. Below are some important precautions to take note of:
- Protect your fingers by taping over them, wearing protective thimbles, or by holding the glass with a suitable accessory.
- A respirator is also important to protect your lungs from glass dust inhalation. However, if you can’t get a respirator, you can make do with any decent face mask.
- Occasionally clean up the dust produced from grinding with a wet fabric. They will become airborne soon after if they are not cleaned up soon enough.
- Safety glasses are a must when grinding glass. Today, most grinders feature eyeshield protection. But even with that, you have to wear safety glasses for improved protection.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do all glass grinders have sponge?
No, not all grinders come with a sponge feature. A sponge is essentially part of the cooling system in grinders. As cooling is essential because of the heat generated when grinding, a coolant has to be delivered to the bit by some means. A sponge serves to transfer coolants to the bit. However, some grinders feature pumps for coolant-transfer in place of sponges.
What do I do if the glass keeps getting chipped?
Constant chipping of the workpiece can be evidence of a worn-out machine. However, if the machine is in good condition, you may be using the wrong bit. Change to bit one with a finer grit and test to see if your glass still gets chipped.
Can I shape stained glass without a grinder?
A grinder is not one of the most essential machines in stained glass work, and it is possible to shape glass without one. There are other manual tools that could also be used for shaping glass. However, using a grinder is faster, and it produces the best results.
These are some of the best stained glass grinders you will get on the market today. They have the right combination of features to improve your stained glass work experience significantly. We really hope you found this review interesting and informative. If you are a beginner in the stained glass craft, we have discussed some important things you need to know. Also, we explained some of the important features and factors to consider when choosing a grinder for stained glass work.