How to Cut Glass
While many glass cuts can be made at the hardware store or a local glass shop, some repair projects and crafts require custom cuts, multiple cuts, or cuts on the fly that aren't easily cut ahead of time. Learning to cut glass yourself can make these situations much easier and much more cost-effective. From prepping your work surface to readying your glass piece to cutting the glass, we've laid out the steps necessary to cut glass for your DIY and home repair projects.
Before You Begin
Set yourself up for success by reading your work area before getting started. You'll want a large, flat work table. Lay something soft on top of your work surface to prevent damage to both the glass and the table surface, such as thick cardboard, carpet, a towel, or a moving blanket.
For most people's glass-cutting needs, a basic glass-cutting tool kit has everything you need. In this, you'll find a grease pencil or marker, glass cutting oil, and a glass cutter. You may have to buy specialty cutters for thicker glass or specific types of cuts, so take time to learn the tools and make sure you're buying the appropriate glass-cutting tools for your needs. Additionally, some glass cutters feature swappable heads for different cutting needs.
As everyone knows, glass is prone to shattering, leaving both small and large shards that are incredibly sharp. The large shards are sharp and dangerous, but the tiny shards are the ones you really need to be careful with. While cutting glass, always wear tight-fitting eye protection to keep tiny glass shards from flying into your eye. Wear thick work gloves whenever possible and a long-sleeve shirt. Refrain from rubbing your face until you've removed your gloves and carefully and thoroughly cleaned your hands. Keep children, pets, and anyone that's not actively helping to cut the glass out of the area to prevent injuries.
What You'll Need
Equipment / Tools
- Glass cutting kit
- Ruler or yard stick
- Scrap wood board
- Glass running pliers (optional)
- Lint-free cloth
- Large, flat work surface
- Soft material to cover work surface
- Glass cleaner
How to Cut Glass Sheets
With the right tools, cutting thin glass sheets is easy and can be done by simply scoring and snapping the sheet. Follow the steps below to cut thin glass sheets safely and effectively.
Clean the Glass
Thoroughly clean the glass piece with glass cleaner and a clean, lint-free cloth. Focus on the area in which you plan to make the cut to ensure the path for scoring is totally free of debris. Let dry.
Measure and Mark the Glass
Use a straight-edge ruler to measure and mark your glass for scoring. Mark the line with a grease pencil.
Oil the Glass
Place a thin line of glass cutting oil directly on the mark.
Score the Line
Using your ruler as a guide—place the glass cutter at the beginning of the line on the edge of the glass and slowly and steadily pull it toward yourself to score the line, applying equal pressure for the entire cut. Think in terms of gentle but firm pressure. Use one steady motion across the entire piece rather than several short cuts.
Break the Glass
Slide a scrap piece of wood beneath the glass and place it against the score line, positioned on the side of the glass you plan to keep. With one hand, apply firm but gentle pressure on the side you plan to keep. With the other hand, press down on the discard side to snap it off.
Clean the Area
After you're finished cutting glass, thoroughly clean the area and vacuum all surfaces to ensure no glass shards remain. Shards can be microscopic and virtually invisible, so take care to ensure every surface is cleaned.
How to Cut Thick Glass
In most cases, you can cut thick glass just as you cut thin glass, by scoring and breaking it. However, you may need to upgrade your glass cutter to a diamond or carbide tip cutter. For some, a glass cutter with a custom grip may aid in providing leverage for deeper scores in thick glass. A wet saw can also be used to make precise cuts on thick material, such as glass tiles.
Can you cut curves in glass?
Yes. Cutting curves in glass sheets is as simple as scoring the lines and breaking them, just like with straight cuts. However, because you can't utilize a straightedge, controlling the cutter can be more difficult at first. A glass cutter with a swivel head can aid in cutting curves.
How do you clean up imperfect glass cuts?
To clean up the edges of cut glass, a pair of glass nippers is helpful. This tool essentially chews off any rough edges. Always position the edges of the glass into a bucket or container to decrease the chance of glass shards flying around.
What type of oil do you need for cutting glass?
Nearly any type of cutting oil, even kerosene, will work for cutting glass, but glass cutting oil is the standard oil used by most professionals, as it offers a smooth, clean cut and protects the glass cutting wheel.