Solder Stained Glass

You can use a soldering iron for artistic purposes, and you aren’t limited to soldering bits of metal together. Did you know you can use your soldering iron to connect pieces of stained glass in order to create a mosaic? You will coat each piece of glass with foil, which you will melt together with the heat from your soldering station or iron.

While you once needed to be warned about potential hazards resulting from the lead in traditional solder, these days you can avoid the issue altogether by using lead-free solder. You don’t need nearly as much heat to solder stained glass as you would if you were joining pieces of galvanized metal, which is to say that soldering irons for working with stained glass are more affordable. Keep in mind that a hundred-Watt soldering iron is ideal for working with stained glass.

Begin by wrapping foil around the edges of all your pieces of stained glass — it’s best to have the project planned out before beginning, especially if you’re new to soldering — and ensure the foil goes around the edges completely. After you’ve finished wrapping a piece of glass, remove the excess foil with a pair of shears.

Next you will arrange your pieces of stained glass in the desired design. All foiled edges must be pressed into the surrounding pieces. Put on a face mask, goggles, and heat-resistant gloves for your protection.

The next step is to cover the foil lines in a light, even layer of flux. Go ahead and plug in your soldering iron and give it a few minutes to warm up. Unroll some solder and hold it in your off hand.

Now you will touch the heated soldering iron tip to one of the lines of foil. Lightly touch the end of the soldering iron to the solder and remove it quickly. This will melt a small drop of solder onto the stained glass’ edge (you’ll develop a feel for this as you go; practice on scrap material first if you’re concerned about making mistakes). Repeat this process for all the joints of your arrangement. You’re aiming for a drop of solder every two inches.

Use your soldering iron to spread the drops of solder in a flat, even coat over all of the foil. If the solder spreads too thin, simply add more drops of solder. After you’re done, unplug the soldering iron and let is cool in a soldering iron holder or a safe surface far from any potential hazards. Give your stained-glass mosaic plenty of time to cool before attempting to move it.

Nick Jakubowski


George Leger has a Masters in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University, worked in private industry pioneering surface-mount technology and in government research labs for twenty years, published several papers on surface-mount technology, co-authored papers published in national symposiums on accelerator technology, was past president of SMTA and an adjunct professor at the community college level, holds a patent, and is a certified microchip design partner, serving as a consultant to many companies developing electronic circuits.

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