2005 - Leaded Glass Door

We completed the kitchen project in 1999, and the final project had to wait until November of 2005. This long delay was not intentional but a matter of waiting until the time was right (read, I have never before made a leaded glass door). Being between projects I jumped into this little project on Saturday morning, and by Sunday evening had the finished product you see above.

I started the project by carefully laying out a work template that would hold all the pieces together in the exact size needed to fit the doorframe that I built in 1999. By the way this doorframe has been installed on the corner cabinet since I built it and I had no desire to build a new frame so the window had to fit exactly. Then I cut the metal pieces to fit the pattern we had selected. We had purchased 4 – beveled glass corners that were 3” square, the remainder of the glass will be single strength window glass. Since I have never fabricated a leaded glass door I wanted to make sure that the glass I picked up at the glass shop would be exactly the right size, so I used 1/8” hardboard cut to size to make sure everything fit.

For those as unfamiliar with this sort of project as I was before starting here is a quick explanation of the pieces used. I selected zinc came (came refers to the metal strips) instead of lead since the catalog I used as a reference mentioned that glass panels of this height would need the rigidity of the zinc to prevent damage to the panel from flexing. The picture on the lower left represents the cross section of the “rounded H” came that divides the class panels. The picture on the right is the cross section of the border came. The pieces came in 6-foot lengths and I cut them to length with a hacksaw and the motorized miter box.

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Instead of frustrating myself trying to cut the glass to size I picked up the pieces at the hardware store’s glass department. I did need to grind a couple pieces down a bit with the belt sander so that the entire assembly would still fit within the framework that I constructed. With all the glass assembled in the came I began the process of soldering the joints. I had purchased a 100-watt soldering iron and the proper solder for the project. I had also purchased the recommended flux and used this to prepare each joint. I started by soldering the front side and learned very quickly that this was not like soldering wire or plumbing fittings.

The primary difference between this kind of soldering and the other is that you do not heat the metal first and then use the hot metal to melt the solder. The zinc does not melt as easily as solder but too much heat does deform it quickly. So I laid the solder between the tip of the iron and the came and when it had melted pulled the tip across it to leave a bubble of molten solder on the came. This produced a fast and attractive joint and it didn’t take long to finish the front side. I turned it over and repeated the soldering process on the backside.

When I had completed the backside I turned the panel over again and completed the work on the corners. I had to cut the came and flatten it across the bottom piece and solder the flap down. This provided extra strength at the corners and finished them off squarely. I let the panel set overnight and on Sunday grouted the came and glass with a medium gray grout. This added rigidity to the entire panel and provided it with a finished appearance.