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Are you looking for some inside information on Stained Glass? Here’s an up-to-date report from Stained Glass experts who should know.

The lead came method of stained glass construction gives an appearance of uniform lines and an antique look. The lead channel is wrapped around the glass and then joined at the “seams” or joints by a bead of solder.

Lead came, used for joining pieces of stained glass, comes in one channel, called “U came,” or two channel, “H came,” strips about six feet long. “U” lead strips are used to frame the outside edges of stained glass, especially on small suncatchers or ornaments with only two or three glass pieces. In larger stained glass projects, the “H” lead strips are used to join two pieces of glass together, placed inside the grooves.

Stretching the lead strips before fitting it around the stained glass makes the lead more rigid and stronger. Some lead is pre-stretched, but might have acquired some kinks or bends in packaging, so you may want to stretch it a little to get the kinks out. Do not over-stretch as it will narrow the grooves in the channel, making it too narrow to fit around the stained glass. Lead that is stretched too much will break.

The lead is soft enough that after fitting it on the stained glass and making sure that you have good connections, you can easily cut it with lead nippers, a lead knife or even scissors. Be careful to make sure the joints you have cut butt so that it will be strong throughout the stained glass piece. Filling gaps between the joints takes a lot of solder and makes the joints look sloppy and unprofessional.

Your stained glass work will be laid on a pine board, beginning at two strips of wood nailed at right angles to each other. These wood strips will act as a support for your project. Your alternating pieces of lead and stained glass will be temporarily held in place by horseshoe nails as you progress across your stained glass pattern.

I trust that what you’ve read so far has been informative. The following section should go a long way toward clearing up any uncertainty that may remain.

Each piece of stained glass and the lead strip around it has to fit within the pattern lines before you move on to the next piece. If one piece is too large and crosses over the pattern line, then every other piece will be off and your entire stained glass piece will be off.

Before you begin soldering the lead joints on your stained glass project, you should practice on some scrap pieces of lead first. Lead melts so you want to check your soldering iron’s temperature on the lead scraps first. If it is too hot, a rheostat can lower the temperature enough to prevent unwanted melting of the lead. A 40 watt soldering iron is hot enough.

Before you solder the lead joints, prepare the metal with flux, then move your soldering iron tip quickly over the lead, creating a pool of the 60/40 solder. The pool of lead should smoothly flow over the seams and lie flat. It is not necessary to raise a big ball of solder at the joints.

Solder all joints on both sides of your stained glass panel. Clean the flux away with warm, soapy water. Reinforce the stained glass panel by forcing a glazing compound or putty into the lead channels. Clean away all excess putty with whiting or sawdust, and then a soft cloth.

Another method of joining stained glass, created by Louis C. Tiffany, is the copper foil method of stained glass construction. The glass crafter can choose which method he/she prefers based on each individual stained glass project. Both methods of stained glass construction generally work equally well.

The day will come when you can use something you read about here to have a beneficial impact. Then you’ll be glad you took the time to learn more about Stained Glass.

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