Monday, July 30, 2012

Kitchen cabinet replacements - Soldered and patina applied

Well, these three kitchen cabinet panels are well into the home stretch now!  As of the last posting, each one has been soldered and framed, and copper patina has been applied.

The photo below shows me applying liquid flux from the jar cap onto the liquid flux which is always applied prior to soldering. When using flux, its best to pour a small quantity into the cap and use that, rather than dip the brush into the jar.  The same holds true for the patina. At this time in the process, I tack-solder each panel.  I use 60/40 tin/lead solder which melts at 370 degrees.  Safety first, I always wear a protective breathing mask when soldering.  Look for a mask which is specifically suited to abate lead and flux fumes.  (One of mine can be seen in one of the photos below).
Below can be seen the small areas which have been tack-soldered to assure that the glass pieces stay exactly in place when the jig is removed.

Here are 2 of the 3 panels after they've been tack soldered.  Notice that I've removed the jigs on each and carefully pulled out the pattern from below.  The Homasote work surface is better suited than the paper to absorbing the chemicals that are applied at this stage of the process.
After each of the three panels was soldered, front and back, my husband Eric takes over by measuring and installing a thin channel, or metal frame, to each panel.  Since these panels will be securely set inside kitchen cabinet doors, there may be no need to add that reinforcement, but we prefer to do so.  It will add to the life of the panels and make them more stable overall.  Well worth the time!

Here's Eric cutting and installing the framing ..

And here's what each panel looks like when he's done.  Each frame is pressed against the panel with push pins to keep them in place.  Then I go in and solder the corners as well as the lead lines, in order to securely attach the frame, front and back, to each panel. 

Here's a soldering point connecting a lead line to the metal channel frame:
And here are all three panels, soldered front and back, and framed.  (Notice my breathing mask in the upper right).
Next, I bring each panel to the sink for a thorough cleaning.  Its important to remove all of the liquid flux, which is very caustic, hence the rubber gloves.  The cleaning also serves to remove any Sharpie markings which may still be on the glass, as well as small beads of solder.  Using powered cleanser and an old dish brush, each panel gets gently washed under fresh running water.
After each panel is completely dry, I applied copper patina as shown.  This also gets rinsed off in the sink, but without cleanser or brushing.
The only remaining steps are to wax each one, front and back, and then install them in the cabinets!  Stay tuned for the "big reveal" of the completed cabinet panels.

To see more of my work, please visit my website .. or find me on FaceBook .. Thanks!

And for more kitchen cabinet ideas, I recommend this site ..

Friday, July 27, 2012

Kitchen cabinet replacements - Foiled

The next step is now complete, applying copper foil to the edges of each piece of glass in each of the three panels.  Copper foil comes in rolls, is self-adhesive, and is available in several sizes from 5/32" up to 1/4".  The most common size is 7/32" which is popular for nearly all glass, and that is what I've used for this project.  The copper foil is applied after each piece of glass inside the "fence" or "jig" has been grounded and properly fitted. (Click on any photo to enlarge).

The adhesive side of the copper foil (the side that touches the glass) comes in three different colors: copper, black and silver.  When foiling clear or semi-transparent glass, use the inside color which will correspond to the patina that will be applied after soldering.  My customer prefers that the patina is copper (nice choice), so you'll notice that I've used copper-color foil for the entire piece.  Note that the color of the patina does not matter for opalescent (non-see-through) glass, but with clearer pieces, the foil may show through.  The proper color foil gives a more polished look and is not distracting to the eye.

There should be a small amount of "play" between pieces, but not too much.  You'll recall earlier how the pattern pieces were cut with special scissors which allowed for a small area in between each pattern piece.  This is the reason why, to give room for that thin foil without making the pieces too tight against each other. If there is too much pressure between the pieces, they can crack.

Here is the process of applying the foil .. Unroll it carefully, separate it from the adhesive backing, and using some degree of dexterity, stick it in the center of the edge of the glass, as shown below:

After the piece is securely wrapped along the edge, fold the foil onto each side of the glass, pressing firmly with thumb and forefinger as shown below:

Then press on all surfaces again using a plastic wand or "fid" ..
After each piece of glass has been properly foiled, place it back onto the pattern, as shown in the top photo.

The copper patina is a great choice for this warm color palette of amber and clear glass.  Here are some closer-up photos showing the colors and textures of these panels.  They're going to look beautiful in the new kitchen!

The next step is to solder the fronts and backs of each panel and then applying the patina, etc.  Stay tuned ..

To see more of my work, please visit my website .. or find me on FaceBook .. Thanks!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Kitchen cabinet replacements - All glass cut

The glass for all three cabinet panels has been cut.  Here are the panels as of this morning .. (Click on photo to enlarge).
Notice the metal "fences" which have been push-pinned around each piece.  These are called "jigs" and they assure that the pieces do not slide out of place.  The jigs will not be removed until each panel is tack-soldered. 

The panels are now ready for the application of copper foiling around the edges of each piece.  The next post will feature this process.

To see more of my work, please visit my website .. or find me on FaceBook .. Thanks!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Kitchen cabinet replacements - Glass cutting

The cabinet panels are coming along nicely.  The glass is nearly all cut.  In the meantime, I'm posting this quick update on the process of hand-cutting the glass.

Use the manila folder pattern to trace the design on the glass, using a Sharpie pen, black for lighter glass, silver for darker glass.  If the glass is textured, as is the Glue Chip glass shown here, turn the glass over to the smooth side and turn the pattern face down as well.  You won't be able to score glass on the side which has texture.

I use a pistol grip cutter which is oil-filled and readily available on any stained glass site or through eBay.  (The oil in this cutter is green.  There's no need to fill the entire cutter.  A small amount is fine). Press down on the glass at a 90 degree angle.  For straight cuts as shown here, I lean the blade against a ruler to assure that the cut remains straight.  (Ordinarily, I would be holding down the ruler firmly with my left hand, but in this case, I'm holding the camera).

Here are two ways to snap the glass .. First is to use the metal back of the pistol grip cutter and with the glass flat on the work surface, tap repeatedly along the scored line, both front and back.  Use a firm, but loose grip.  Eventually, you'll see the glass begin to separate.  Keep tapping until it separates completely.
Another method is to use "running pliers" (the blue ones shown here).  With the glass laying flat on the work surface, tap along the score line, front and back.  Line up the scored line with the straight line on top of the cutter and apply moderate pressure, remembering that the glass is the boss.  If it won't break right away, go back and tap some more, then try again.  Some glass takes more patience than others.  This Glue Chip is usually very agreeable to cut.

As a general rule, for longer cuts I use the "keep tapping until it breaks" method .. for shorter cuts, I use the running pliers.  Its just a matter of preference.  For more complicated cuts, I use my Omni 2 Plus Diamond Wire Saw.  Its very loud and takes some experience, but is a great bail-out if hand cutting is wasting too much glass.

Once the glass is cut, the sharp edges must be ground with a motorized grinder.  This assures safe handling and also provides a rough surface on which to apply the copper foil later.  (Pardon the condition of my grinder .. It gets a lot of use).  The grinding wheel spins quickly and is adjustable, up and down, to extend its life.  It is kept wet by the sponge (purple one here) which wicks water up from the base of the unit.
Notice that for safety purposes, I wear rubber protectors on my fingers.  They (somewhat) protect a manicure and allow you to grip the glass more securely, especially when its wet.  Staples carries them in different sizes .. Find them here.  After grinding, each piece gets rinsed in the sink, dried, and then placed onto the pattern and trimmed as necessary for a perfect fit.

The next post will show the glass cut for all three panels, and the project will proceed from there.  Stay tuned ...

Visit my website to see more of my work .. or find me on FaceBook ..  Thanks!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Kitchen cabinet panel replacements - Pattern making

My new stained glass commission is for the replacement of three dated cabinet panels for a kitchen that's about to be renovated.  Here they are: (Click on any photo to enlarge).

The first step after speaking with my customer was to arrive at a design which would complement her new kitchen.  During a site visit to view the space, I presented several drawings for her review.  There were three in particular that got a thumbs up.  I then prepared full color computer renditions of the designs, using the color palette we discussed.

Much of the fun of doing custom windows is the collaboration that takes place .. My customer actually came up with her own designs!  She showed them to me on our second visit when we took measurements and made templates of each window.  I then went back to the drawing board (actually, back to my software) and prepared new renditions of the windows, both of which were exactly what she had in mind.  Here they are:

The windows will be constructed using three types of glass: Clear Glue Chip (as seen on the border of the larger windows), pale amber opalescent (as seen in the center of the larger windows and the majority of the smaller window), and medium amber hammered Cathedral glass (used for the diamond shapes).

The glass arrived this week, and I've completed making the patterns.  Here's how that's done .. After preparing the approved designs in my software, I custom size it to within 1/16th of an inch, then print an actual size copy which is used to produce the glass cutting pattern.

Items needed to create the pattern are:  Recycled manila folders, carbon paper, push pins, a Homasote work surface, a good ruler and a ball point pen.  (Homasote is recycled and made in the U.S.A. It is sound proofing board used in the building industry.  It is readily available, and can be cut to size, from any Home Depot or Loew's).

Shown below is the "pattern sandwich" consisting of the actual size design, carbon paper, and the manila folders which have been taped together, edge to edge, a bit larger than the design.  Notice that I randomly add push pins into the Homasote to assure that nothing shifts while I'm tracing the pattern.  I then number each piece and note the color of glass to be used. 

After the design is traced onto the manila folder patterns, they are carefully cut out using special "foil scissors" as shown below.  These double-bladed scissors cut a narrow strip between each piece which becomes very important later in the process when the copper foil is added to the edges of each piece of glass.  (More on this later). After all the pieces have been cut for each pattern, I organize them, by type of glass, into recycled envelopes.  Since the template for each of the larger windows was the same size, I'll be cutting one set of patterns but using it twice.

Shown below is the glass for this project with the gardening gloves I use for handling the glass .. safety first.

And here is my studio space (Click on it to enlarge).  I change the configuration of the space based on the project at hand.  With two stained glass commissions in the works now, I have 3 tables set up.  Behind one of the doors is my craft room where I cut all the glass.  Behind another door is the sink and my electric glass cutter, which I use when needed.  Having tile floors is a big plus!  Shards of glass must be swept up frequently.

Next on the blog will be the glass cutting for the windows.  Stay tuned ...

Visit my website to see more of my work .. Thanks!

Two new stained glass commissions starting up

My cameras have seen more action than my glass cutter during the past several weeks.  (Click here to view my recent photos).  But that will change shortly.  Two new commissions came in recently.  The designs are finalized, glass has been ordered and received for both projects, and pattern-making for the first project has begun.  Stay tuned ...