How to Cut Curves in Glass

Written by robert gray
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How to Cut Curves in Glass
Cut glass curves with a simple glass cutter. (glass 14 image by chrisharvey from

To be accurate: You don't cut class, you scribe glass. The distinction implies a special process. Anytime you scribe glass, whether it's straight lines or curved ones, you have to engage your eyes, sense of touch and most importantly your ears. Your ears are important because you have to listen to the sound of the glass cutting wheel on a standard hand-held glass cutter or the tip of a diamond hand-held cutter as it scribes the surface of the glass. The sound of the scribing should be crisp and continuous with no stops or breaks in the sound from the time you start until you finish.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Sheet of glass
  • Marker
  • Pencil
  • Large drawing pad
  • Rotating wheel glass cutter
  • Diamond tip glass cutter
  • Safety glasses
  • Metal straight edge
  • Flat nose pliers

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  1. 1

    Draw the curve with a marker on the piece of glass to be cut, or draw the curve on a large drawing pad and lay the sheet of clear glass over it.

  2. 2

    Decide whether to pull the glass cutter along the line or to push it away along the line. Practice first on a scrap piece of sheet glass to get a feel for which one works best. A hand-held glass cutter is held as close to perpendicular to the surface of the glass as possible. It is either held like a pencil or between the thumb and the middle finger with the index finger resting in the top vertical shaft of the glass cutter. Finally, either type of glass cutter can be gripped in the hand like a small pen light. If using the pen light grip, the glass cutter will be held closer to a 45 degree angle to the surface of the glass.

  3. 3

    Set the edge of the miniature rolling blade of a standard hand-held glass cutter on the marker line or above the pencil line on the drawing pad. If using a diamond cutter then place the tip at the same location on the glass as the miniature rolling blade.

  4. 4

    Pull or push the glass cutter. Don't apply too much downward pressure or too little. Once movement has started, don't stop. Listen for the continuous, crisp scribing of the surface of the glass. Cut all the way to the end of the curved line making sure the glass cutter is pulled right off the edge of the glass to finish off the scribed line.

  5. 5

    Flip the glass cutter around and use the end of it to tap along the scribed line from underneath the glass. Push the glass to the edge of the work table so the scribed line is just beyond the edge of the table top. Start tapping at one end of the line. While tapping, a noticeable crack will appear along the scribed line from above. Make sure that crack appears along the scribed line from start to finish.

  6. 6

    To break the glass along the curved line, pivot the sheet of glass carefully on the table top so the scribe is perpendicular to the front edge of the table top. Grip the edge of the glass on either side of the line. Place each thumb on top of the glass with both index fingers curled in, with the bottom of the glass resting on the side of each index finger. Simultaneously pull the two pieces of glass apart. If they don't separate, lift up the edge of the glass slightly using the same grip and simultaneously snap the glass apart by rotating both wrists outward in one, synchronised swift movement.

  7. 7

    For scribed, curved lines over 6-inches long, scribe additional straight lines using a metal straight edge with the glass cutter wheel or diamond tip butted up against it. Make a series of straight line scribes from the curved line to the edge of the sheet of glass. Place them every 2 to 3 inches along the curved line. Tap from underneath along the portion of the curved line and then an adjoining straight line to break the glass along the curved lines incrementally.

  8. 8

    Make a series of curved scribes when needing to cut a deep inside curve. Scribe a shallow convex line. Grip the glass with pliers and snap the glass along the scribe. Repeat as many times as necessary, increasing the depth of the curve until the exact convex curve is achieved.

Tips and warnings

  • Dip the rotating wheel of a standard glass cutter in motor oil before making your scribe. This acts as lubrication and the wheel will cut more smoothly.
  • Diamond tip glass cutters last far longer then the standard rotating wheel glass cutters. However, they are more expensive.
  • When cutting glass with a glass cutter work on a perfectly flat surface.
  • When cutting glass and breaking it, a fine glass powder can be emitted into the air. It's minimal, but don't breath it.
  • Glass can cut; be careful at all times.
  • The rotating wheels on a standard glass cutter wear out fairly fast. Examine the wheel before every cut. Look for chips or irregularities in the edge. If you see some, throw the glass cutter away. If you don't, you could ruin a whole sheet of glass.

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