How to putty stained glass

Written by heather lindsay
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Putty is used on leaded glass windows to keep air and water out and to help reinforce the window and protect the glass. It is the last step in the process of building a leaded glass window. There are recipes for making your own putty, or you can buy specially made stained glass putty.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Putty
  • Putty knife
  • Whiting
  • Newspaper
  • Dust mask
  • Rubber or nitrile gloves
  • Fid or putty knife
  • Nylon brush
  • Natural bristle brush
  • Pointed wooden dowel or nail
  • Stained glass finishing compound or carnauba wax
  • Paper towel
  • Cotton swabs

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  1. 1

    Lay the stained glass piece on newspaper and check it for any missed solder joints.

  2. 2

    Pick up the putty in your fingers (wear gloves to help keep your hands clean), knead it until it is soft and pliable, and push it gently under the lead came that surrounds each piece of glass. You can also use a putty knife or the stained glass tool known as a "fid," but using your fingers provides less chance of pushing too hard and possibly breaking the glass. Apply putty under all the edges of the lead came.

  3. 3

    Use the nylon bristle brush to brush the putty more firmly under the lead came and start cleaning the putty off the glass and lead.

  4. 4

    Put on your dust mask and sprinkle whiting all over the glass.

  5. 5

    Using the nylon bristle brush, scrub the whiting into the putty on the panel using a circular motion. Take care not to brush the putty out from under the lead came. This process should also clean all the putty off the lead. Make sure all putty is brushed off the lead before it dries.

  6. 6

    Run the pointed wooden dowel or nail along the edge of all the came to pick off any excess putty. Clean off the nylon bristle brush and use this with a flathead screwdriver or the flat side of the plastic fid to clean the little pieces of putty off the stained glass.

  7. 7

    Let dry for 24 hours and repeat this process on the other side of the stained glass.

  8. 8

    Once both sides have dried for at least 24 hours, use the dowel or nail to pick and clean excess putty one last time.

  9. 9

    Scrub the stained glass piece with the natural bristle brush until it shines.

  10. 10

    If needed, clean the entire piece with paper towel and finishing compound or carnauba wax.

Tips and warnings

  • Making your own putty is less expensive than purchasing the pre-made kind, but you should have experience creating the right texture and consistency before you attempt this.
  • Do not use putty that has plaster of Paris or cement in it, as this will harden too much without providing appropriate cushioning for the glass.

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