Sunday, February 21, 2010

Stripping . . . for Fun and Profit

OK, so that title is a little misleading.  Maybe I'll get some new readers that way when they are Goggling the subject.  Anyway, a lot of the fused glass I am making requires a lot of glass strips to be cut out of sheet glass.   

This is for pieces such as "Orange Bowl" shown here and even the murinne pattern bars I've recently started making.  The problem is that a piece may require hundreds of strips of glass, all the same width.  In this case, these are half-inch wide strips.  These are then stacked together on their edges to make the layup for fusing into a single blank.  Cutting that many strips is a real PITA (pain in the you know what).  Cutting them all the same size, within maybe 1/32" is even more of a PITA.  

I've got a ghetto set up where I use a very good strip/circle cutting tool but it is limited to cutting one piece at a time and therefore way too slow.  The accuracy is OK, but not really what I need.  I've seen some commercial strip cutting tools that are many hundreds of $.  That isn't in the cards, and after seeing them I've always felt I could build it myself.  I just didn't have the whole thing worked out in my head of how I could do it with stuff I could get at the big box stores such as Lowes or Home Depot, or even order from Graingers.  

That is when I happened upon a post on the Warm Glass site advertising plans for a strip cutter that can be made with the source of parts being Lowes.  And they only wanted $10 for the plans.  The claim was that it would cost about $50 to build.  The bonus was a link to a YouTube video showing the strip cutter in action.  Perfect.  Off to PayPal I went and after purchase, got a secure link to download the PDF of the plans.  All I can say is I'm impressed with the quality of the plans, the clear pictures, and most importantly and exact parts list with part numbers for the pieces I'd need.  

Hi Ho, its off to Lowes I go.  I spent $41 on parts.  I had the rod already, which was a very nice piece of stainless steel, which probably cost $10 with shipping.  Finally, I needed a bed/table for the thing.  I had some old plywood which seemed too rough.  I had a nice sheet of plexiglass that was the right size, but didn't think it would take the abuse.  I usually have MDF around, which would have worked, but nothing in the right size.  So one more trip to Lowes and I got a sheet of particle board covered in melamine for $30.  That is for a 4' x 8' size, and I only used about 32" square, so less than 1/3 of the piece - that's the final $10.  The glass cutting head is the key to all of this, and a replacement Toyo cutter head (one of the best) is $20 with shipping.  So in reality, this thing is closer to $80, but you might get by with a little cheaper if you had some of the things on hand.  

I can easily cut full sheets of glass using this, and I saved about $300 by doing it myself.  Here is the finished product:

And now for the closeup:

If you want/need on of these things, buy the plans and do it yourself.

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