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We are back from Quartz Mountain and the mat cutter has returned to its natural environment here in my shop. One of the things you will notice about this table is it's at a much better working height than the situation we had out at the Quartz Mountain. You can see it's about waist high. I can reach forward and backward without really putting any kind of strain on my back. The one thing I wanted to do since it had been transported, and we'd taken it apart, I got my carpenter square out and double-checked to make sure that the alignment was perfect. So we get exact 90 degrees on our cuts, and that is good.
So we are done with the carpenter square. And what we are going to do with the mat cutter now is use it as a guide for cutting glass. With that in mind, we don't need either of the blades on the cutter itself. So I am just going to slide those out of the way and then we won't need this production stop either. So I am just going to loosen it and remove it and set it aside, and then I'll grab a scrap of matboard to put underneath here to help me see the glass more clearly.
For measuring, we will use the same production stop we used when we were using cutting matboards down the size, and we are going to take this 16x20 piece of glass. We are going to make two cuts in order to make it 12x14 inches. So I am going to make the 12-inch cut first, and I am going to set my guide here at 12 & 3/32 of an inch. The reason we do that is to compensate for the offset of the cutting wheel on the cutter from the guide on the side. And if you look closely here at the cutter, you can see what I'm talking about.
There are a couple of component parts here, it's a pistol grip, so it's easy to hold onto. This section here holds the cutting wheel right at its tip, and if you will notice that moves slightly. When you first apply pressure on the piece of glass you're cutting that little movement releases a drop of oil onto the cutting blade which allows it to make a clean score. This little cap here removes, and you can insert oil in the handle of the cutter. So this is not a real expensive tool, about $20 you can find one at most hobby shops.
What you're doing when you make the cut is, unlike say acrylic where you're making a deep score that the acrylic will crack based on that score, the cutter actually sets up a molecular vibration within the glass. So you make the score and then quickly use what's called running pliers, which are these right here, and the running pliers actually put a slight bit of pressure on each side of that score, and you'll see when we apply the pressure that the glass will crack cleanly along the score mark.
If you score the glass and the phone rings, and you've got to walk away from it, you'll need to flip the glass to the other side and rescore, because that molecular vibration lasts for a short period of time. If you wait too long to make the break after you score, the cutting won't work properly. Another issue for cutting glass cleanly is the glass itself needs to be clean. If you have any kind of dust or surface debris on the glass when you make the score, it can also have a negative affect on that little bit of molecular vibration you're going to create.
So in handling the glass, safety becomes an issue too. Glass comes packaged for the framer. Basically packaged by weight and each individual sheet is called a light. So if you buy smaller sizes of precut glass, you'll get more lights in a box. For example, 11x14 size typically has 47 lights in the box. If you get up the full board size of 32x40. But I remember it's only five lights to a box, but the boxes all weigh about the same.
As far as cutting technique we are going to cut just plain glass right now. We talked earlier about conservation glass, about museum glass, those will be very clearly marked along the edge on which side you're supposed to score them, because of the coding on them there's only one side that you can use your cutter on to get a good cut, but they are very clearly marked. The technique for cutting is identical. You just need to double-check that you're cutting on the right side. So now I am going to open this up. I am going to take the glass and place it in the cutter.
The reason I'm wearing gloves, these edges will sometimes be slightly sharp, they offer a little bit of protection. These are microfiber, you'll see a lot of cotton gloves in frame shops. If you're clumsy, there's nothing wrong with that. I'd recommend getting Kevlar gloves. They will provide you a much greater degree of protection. What I like about these is I have trouble finding gloves that fit my hands are kind of big and these fit real tightly, and I can work with them well and pick up small objects. So we are ready to make our cut now. I am going to take the cutter.
Once again you can see how I am just using this, essentially, as a very stable straight edge, and I am going to press down and then pull the cutter towards me. I will open this back up, take my running pliers. I'll just list this up slightly, and you should be able to see that score fairly clearly, and I am going to line that up with the line in the middle of my pliers and just squeeze, and you can see we get a nice clean break, and I'll set aside the scrap piece that I'm not going to use, and then I keep a towel here at all times, and what I will do is I will wipe down my guide here to remove any residual oil that would have come off the cutter.
Then I will wipe the edge here. There are usually some really fine little bits of glass that stick on that, I will wipe that edge off. Then I'll turn this around, I'll reset my production stop to 14 & 3/32 of an inch. Once again that extra little bit we are putting on there is to make up for the offset of the cutting wheel. I am going to make sure it's carefully aligned, close and here we go, and once again, score, open it up, grab the running pliers, right along the score line, and we get a nice clean break.
Then I have a bin I use here in the studio for scrap glass and sometimes you know what, you'll end up with pieces that are big enough to use, and I did with other frames. A lot of times it's just small bits like this. You have got to be careful. You don't really want to put those in your regular trashcan. The reason being if it's in the regular trashcan, you might put something else and then cut your hand on a piece of scrap. So I keep it in a separate place. These pieces that we had left are really too small for another use. So whenever I have enough of it built up, I take it to the recycling center.
You can see here, we have got our glass cut down to 12x14. I use the production cutter as a straight edge for the cutting, because I have it, because it's real stable. You can accomplish this same thing using a heavy straight edge like we use when demonstrated how to use a handheld mat cutter. Just be sure as you're making your marks, and you're aligning with a straight edge, you allow for that 3/16-inch offset of the cutting wheel from the edge of the guide that holds it. From here we are ready to move on to cutting acrylic.
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