Repairing a Broken Stained Glass Window

If you have some experience in stained glass handi-crafts repairing your old or damaged stained glass window is a project you may consider doing yourself. This article assumes you have at least some experience in this craft. If your window is very valuable, if you do not have any experience in stained glass window making or if you lack confidence in your abilities this is a task you may want to leave to the professionals. Otherwise, the process is very much like creating a new stained glass window and even a little easier in the sense that you do not have to do much if any, glass cutting.

This usually begins to happen in a stained glass window over seventy years old. Lead does not rot or rust, but it does lose its elasticity and become brittle over time. If left unattended it may cause the stained glass pieces to fall out or break as well.

Re-leading the window. This is time-consuming but very worthwhile to restore your stained glass window to its original beauty and integrity. The following steps must be taken:

1. Take a photograph of the window and measure lead cames to help with reconstructing it later.

2. Take the panel out of the window frame and remove the panel framing.

3. Next, you will need to take the entire panel apart using the soldering iron to loosen the solder and gently pry the old cames from the glass pieces.

4. Dispose of old lead in an environmentally friendly way, you should probably take it to a metal recycling facility.

5. Next each piece of glass should be thoroughly cleaned and dried. Lay the pieces in place so as not to become confused later.

6. Reassemble the panel using new lead cames in the same width as the original.

7. Broken stained glass pieces should be traced and matched as closely as possible to a new piece of glass cut with the pattern you create. Another option if you have all the broken pieces and either cannot match the stained glass closely enough or do not want to put new pieces in, is to use thin lead cames to hold the broken pieces together. This option will likely make it obvious that the window has been repaired, so use it with care.

8. New cement should be applied to both sides

9. New reinforcement bars should now be attached.

10. The stained glass panel is now ready to be re-framed and re-hung.

This process should be done when the window is nearing seventy years old. Following the steps above should result in a complete restoration of your stained glass window and it should be as structurally sound as a brand new one.

This will depend on the location of the broken piece. If it is near the outer edge, you may be able to get away with carefully breaking the damaged piece out of the frame and using the soldering iron to loosen the lead cames and then re-soldering the new piece in place as in #7 above. If the broken piece is in a difficult location or if there are several broken pieces, you may want to re-lead the entire window following the above instructions. If there is a small crack, you might consider using a glass repair kit from the automotive shop. These are used to fix small chips and cracks in windshields and if the damage is slight, maybe a suitable way to repair the crack and prevent further damage.

There are a number of other small repairs that you can do yourself such as re-painting areas that have flaked off, but these will need to be removed and re-kilned and you may want to consult with a professional for help with that. Restoring your stained glass window may be a painstaking process, but it is worth it to preserve its original beauty and make it last for future generations.

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