How To Replace Leaded Window Glass

Posted on: 27 March 2016

Leaded windows feature colored or clear glass pieces joined by lead strips that attach to the frame with lead made of copper foil. If you have a leaded glass window, expect them to get broken because of their delicate nature. However, you don't have to replace the whole window. Here are some tips to replace broken glass in a leaded window.

Prepare to Work

For this project, you need:

  • safety glasses
  • work gloves
  • felt-tip marker
  • pattern paper
  • pattern shears
  • pliers
  • clear packing tape
  • wood blocks
  • lead cutter
  • glass cutter and glass cutter oil
  • soldering iron
  • copper foil
  • fid (wooden cone-shaped tool)
  • flux and flux brush
  • replacement glass

If there is broken glass, sweep glass bits, pull remaining pieces out with pliers, and discard them. Place clear tape over broken pieces to secure the glass and to help make a template. Cut around the lead trim with the lead cutter, place one hand on the end of the lead, and then use pliers to pull the lead off the glass.

Carefully place the glass on the flat work surface, and insert wood blocks around the perimeter. If there is copper foil, melt it with the soldering gun on low heat to avoid damaging intact copper foil or lead came. Don't hold the soldering iron in one place as you work.

Cut the Pattern

Place the pattern paper on the wood blocks below the hole in the window so it contacts the glass, and tape it to secure it. Trace around the glass with a marker, then use the pattern shears to cut out the pattern from the paper; adjusting the pattern to fit.

Lay the cut pattern on the replacement glass, and trace it with the marker. Position the glass cutter between the middle finger and index finger holding firmly against the joint, and the thumb and index finger to hold the cutter bottom.

Cut the pattern smoothing edges with a glass grinder or smoothing stone; dipping the cutter in glass cutter oil in between cuts. Break the score line with the ball of the glass cutter.

Install the New Glass

Hold the replacement glass up to the hole in the original window to check for fit. To replace damaged copper foil in the original window, cut foil strips and install them with a fid. Slide the glass in place under the foil or lead came, and place a wood block under it for support.

Apply flux to the joints on the repair area, then solder the lead ends where it meets with the existing lead. Solder the back of the glass, and allow the window to cool.

Your leaded glass window will look as good as new. Replacing leaded glass requires patience. If you don't trust your skill, or you want to upgrade your window, hire a window replacement service.

To learn more about new window installation, contact a company like Morgan Exteriors Inc.