When it comes to stained glass supplies, stained glass grinders are certainly among the most popular pieces of equipment. And while, they aren’t necessarily essential for all art glass hobbyists, but they can be an invaluable tool - especially if you do more than a few pieces of stained glass artwork a year.
What makes stained glass grinders such an integral part of stained glass supplies? The use of a glass grinder eliminates the tedium of shaping rough cut glass pieces by hand with a stone, making your projects less time-consuming and allowing you to concentrate on the more creative aspects of creating stained glass art.
There are a number of important factors to consider when choosing a stained glass grinder - including your budget, how much use you’ll get from it, and whether you’ll use the grinder for professional or hobby use. There are a wide range of glass grinders on the market - from small units that are perfect for a home workshop to fully tricked out grinders that would be at home in an industrial factory grinding lenses for commercial use. In most cases, serious hobbyists choose a mid-range glass grinder that they can grow into, rather than a small grinder they’ll outgrow in just a few projects. While smaller stained glass grinders are certainly appropriate for most projects undertaken by hobbyists, a larger grinder will have a more powerful motor, a larger work surface, an eye shield, and a larger grinding bit; all to make the work easier and faster. Luckily, stained glass grinders tend to hold their value, so if you choose a smaller unit and decide to trade up, there’s a good chance you can recoup your investment by selling it on the used market, allowing you to put the money toward a better quality or larger stained glass grinder.
Consider investing in one of the top names in glass grinders, which include Glastar, Gryphon, Inland, and Diamond Tech. These well-known manufacturers supply industrial units, factories, and professional workshops; and their experience shows in the smaller hobby-size glass grinders they make. Most of them include little perks and extras, such as a face shield or a foot switch, larger work surfaces, sponge-free cooling systems, and even multiple bits in different sizes.
If you’ve decided to add a glass grinder to your stained glass supplies, here are the three most important factors to consider to help you choose from among the many products on the market:
1. Torque: represents the amount of resistance the bit gives against the glass. If you don’t have enough torque, you’ll find it difficult to do any aggressive grinding with your glass pieces; substantial pressure against the bit will slow it down or stop it entirely. Look for a beginner’s machine with a torque range between 21 and 29 oz.-in.
2. RPM: is the number of revolutions per minute for the grinder's shaft. The higher the RPM, the smoother and better the ground edge. Your best bet is to look for a machine with RPM listed in the high end of 2,850 and 3,600.
3. Surface Size: is the square footage of work space you have on the glass grinder. If your work surface is too small, you won’t be able to work with larger pieces of stained glass. Some higher end glass grinders include a smaller "second story" work surface that makes it easier to do detail work on smaller pieces.
Note: All prices in US Dollars