Yes, I sell grinders, but I would recommend buying one for some very good reasons. Here are 5:
1. A grinder saves time
The few seconds it takes to grind the edge of each piece of glass in your sun catcher or panel will take a lot less time than using a hand-held stone to file the edges. If you set it up with a foot switch, it will be instant on and off, too, so it’s only running when you need it to.
2. A grinder produces better looking glass work
We use a Wizling CG glass grinder to smooth and shape the edges of almost all of our glass pieces. This produces a nicely defined piece which fits the pieces next to it almost perfectly. For many years my husband, Jim, used breaker-groziers to “smooth” the edges of his glass pieces. The finished work was nice because he cuts well, but the week he got his first grinder, he was amazed at how much better his work looked.
3. A grinder makes for better copper foil adhesion
Grinding the edges of your glass smooths the sharp edges and provides a nice clean surface which makes the copper foil adhere better. (Note: After grinding, be sure to clean each piece carefully. Dust created by the grinder will prevent the foil from sticking to the edge.)
4. A grinder can often “save” damaged pieces and make them useable
If you happen to break a piece when you cut, you can often shape it with the grinder and cut a companion piece to fill the space in your pattern. Saving glass means saving money, and who wouldn’t want to do that? Which leads to my final reason…
5. A grinder saves you money
Grinding allows you to alter the shape of your glass and make it fit properly. You will waste less glass because of inaccurate cuts or chipping from breakers, etc. All your glass pieces, not just damaged ones, will fit better and look more professional.
It’s important to have a grinder made for glass work
Now that you know a grinder is a good investment, you may be looking for ways to save money on buying one. Over the years we have heard a lot of folks say they have a machine for grinding some other substance (metal, pottery, etc.) at home, and they plan to use that for glass work. Not a good idea! Glass is a unique substance, and it needs to be water cooled as you grind.
The water doesn’t just cool glass, though. Grinding glass produces very fine particulates, which can get into your lungs and produce the same disease as asbestos: mesothelioma. The water mixes with these airborne particles and helps them settle down before they can hurt you. For the same reason you should use a face plate on your grinder.
As with all stained glass tools, buy the best you can afford right at the start and you will get years of good service with very few headaches. Be sure replacement parts are easily available at the store, too.
You can also check local glass store to see if they have grinders available to use in-store or if they have used grinders available at a reduced price. Be sure to consider these options if you are on a budget.
Finally, most retail glass stores will let you try out a grinder before you decide to buy. Check it out and see if you aren’t impressed with the results.