Although beautiful, working with stained glass is a challenge for almost any artist or craftsman.
Since glass is brittle and breaks easily, you will need a delicate hand.
Fortunately, some tools such as a glass grinder can make your work a little easier.
In today’s article, we will go over the best stained glass grinders and how to find a suitable one for you.
Do I Need A Grinder To Work With Stained Glass?
If you are just starting out it is not absolutely necessary to buy a glass grinder. Although they do play an important role in the stained glass kits of many more advanced glassworkers.
You don’t have to grind every single piece of glass before you combine them all into a pattern.
Some online glass art classes for beginners will suggest starting out by using pre-cut glass.
However, for more complex projects you will probably have to cut and grind your own pieces.
To make sure you are using the grinder effectively, you don’t want to grind every single piece. Rather use the grinder only to make small modifications such that the pieces will fit well together.
Why Do So Many People Buy A Glass Grinder?
If you don’t absolutely need a grinder to get started, then why would you buy one anyways?
It turns out that there are plenty of good reasons why both experienced artists and beginners like to use a grinder. For example, before fusing two pieces of glass together with a microwave kiln.
Even if you work very accurately while cutting the glass, you will inevitably have to reshape and smooth out some of the edges of your glass.
If you skip this step your final result will look as if it’s about to fall apart any second.
— Lou Ann Weeks (@i_c_mosaics) 3 juni 2015
Although you can do smooth out the edges by hand, it is a lot of manual work and is arguably the most boring and tedious part of working with glass.
Using a grinder for stained glass will save you a lot of time and keep working with glass fun.
Additionally, grinding glass manual is a lot more work than you might think. Especially if you are working on some big designs.
If you smooth every piece by hand, you might end up with some sore arms the next day.
How To Use A Glass Grinder?
If you want to see how a Glastar grinder works in action, you can check out the video below.
The video explains the importance of using a grinder to smooth out pieces of glass to create a good fit and how to use a grinder effectively.
Finding The Best Stained Glass Grinder – Criteria To Consider
With all the different models you could possibly buy, it’s no wonder that so many beginners ask us which grinder is the best.
It’s of course important to know what exactly you are looking for. If you only plan on working with glass a few times a year, then maybe a cheap glass grinder will do.
On the other hand, if you are aiming to work professionally and sell your glass art, then buying a high-quality stained glass grinder that can handle high work volume would be better.
Here are some general things to keep in mind when buying a grinder.
- Rotations Per Minute (RPM): the RPM indicates how fast the grinder is spinning and normally ranges from 2,800 to 3,600. A grinder that rotates faster is able to move excess material out of the way faster, which results in a better workflow.
- Torque: the torque represents the power of a glass grinder and is normally measured in ounces per inch. A grinder that has at least a torque of 20 ounces per inch is good enough for most projects.
- Surface Size: although the rotating part of the grinder itself is small, you will need an area called the “table” to support your glass while grinding. You want a table that is bigger than the glass pieces you are working with. Fortunately, some grinders can change between differently sized tables.
- Accessories: most grinders will come with some extras that are not necessary but nice to have. Cheap models normally do not come with any accessories but you can always purchase them afterward. Some common items are extra bits, face shield, foot pedal, multiple tables, etc.
- Cost: if you buy a good grinder for glass art right from the start it will probably last a lifetime. However, if you want to dip your toe in the water first, starting with a cheaper model might be better. The average grinder price can be as cheap as $100 all the way up to $500. If money is an issue, you can always try to look for a used stained glass grinder or a stained glass grinder for sale.
Our Recommended Glass Grinder
Even with all these criteria in mind, it can be difficult to find a good glass grinder for beginners.
We have gone over the stained glass grinders reviews for you and distilled everything into two recommendations.
Glastar Glass Grinder – SuperStar II
This grinder by Glastar is one of the most popular models amongst beginners and experienced hobbyists alike.
This grinder has an RPM of 3,450 and a torque of 19 ounces per inch. The torque is a little lower than ideal, but it still operates fine with most types of glass.
With an 8 x 9 inch work surface and weight of 7.2 pounds, it is easy to move around and store after usage.
It also comes with some nice features that normally only high-end models have such as a drain for cooling, built-in drawer for easy storage, splashguard and two grinder bits.
The Glastar SuperStar II is on our opinion the best stained glass grinder to start out with. It comes at an affordable price and is great to learn the tricks of the trade with.
- RPM: 3,450
- Torque: 19 ounce-inch
- Surface Area: 8” x 9”
- Warranty: 5 years
Gryphon Glass Grinder – Gryphette
The Gryphette grinder is one of the cheapest glass grinders you will find that still have decent performance.
Some people use it as a grinder for mosaics, or to even the edges after cutting wine bottles.
It has a surface area of 6.75 x 6.75 inch, so you can easily store it away between projects. Although it doesn’t come with many accessories, you do have the option of buying them and upgrading your grinder.
If you are short on money, the Gryphon Gryphette is a cheap stained glass grinder that you can’t miss out on.
- RPM: 3,000
- Torque: N/A
- Surface Area: 6.75” x 6.75”
- Warranty: 5 years