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Tips for Safe Handling and Cutting of Glass in Your Projects

Working with glass to install fixtures and fittings requires a high regard for safety. Whether you are a professional or a keen DIYer, it’s paramount that you use the right tools and techniques for cutting and handling glass. The mishandling of glass can result in serious injuries, including cuts and lacerations, punctures, and strains or crush injuries. 

Here are some essential safety tips when working with glass.

Handling and transporting glass

Always carry glass vertically to your side using both hands to grip the edge. Never lift it above your head or tuck it under your arm, or drag it. Large or heavy pieces of glass should be moved with two or more people, or via a glass dolly. Use the correct lifting technique with knees slightly bent to avoid strain injuries. 

Always be aware of keeping the glass out of the direct line of your body when handling it to minimise the risk of cuts, should you trip or fall. If you do drop or encounter falling glass, do not attempt to save it, but move well out of the way. Always inspect the glass before lifting it for signs of breaks, fractures, or weak points. 

Gather the right tools for the job

To cut glass, you will need a glass cutter, cutting oil to help the cutter wheel roll smoothly, a metal ruler or a T square, and running and breaking pliers. It pays to invest in good quality tools that will be easier to work with and bring the most precise results. You’ll also need personal protective equipment including safety glasses, gloves, and an apron. 

Prepare your workspace 

Ensure that you have sufficient workspace, and that it is well-lit and clear of clutter and trip hazards. Keep children and pets out of the way if you are working at home. Your cutting surface should be level and free of dust and debris, because these can damage the quality and accuracy of the cut. 

Measure accurately

Accurate measuring is crucial to avoid waste and get the best results. Mark up the glass with a straight edge ruler and a felt tip pen, but not a permanent marker. Double and triple check your measurements before cutting to prevent costly and time consuming errors. 

Cutting techniques

Before cutting, you need to score the glass with a glass cutter to make a clean break. Keep the cutter wheel at right angles to the glass and angle the handle slightly back towards your body. Apply even firm pressure to the surface and move your whole body in one continuous smooth motion, not just your hand or arm, when you score the line. 

Ideally, there should be an equal distance of glass on either side of the line. If you are not satisfied with the score, do not go over it again as this could make matters worse and damage the cutter. Instead, turn the glass over, remeasure and mark up the glass, and repeat the process. 

To break the glass, apply firm but gentle pressure on either side of the glass with twisting wrist movements. Smooth the edges of the break with sandpaper or a sharpening stone. 

Practice makes perfect

If you have never cut glass before, practice on a small spare piece first, in case of breakages. It will help you to be more confident and precise when cutting the pieces for the main project. 

Taking the time and effort to use the correct tools and techniques will not only mean that you are mitigating against the risk of serious injuries, but also reducing potential waste and ensuring that your work is carried out accurately and to a high standard. 

Bear in mind that some types of glass, such as tempered, toughened, or laminated glass, cannot be easily cut. This glass has been specially designed to make it extra strong and shatter resistant, and cutting it could significantly reduce its effectiveness or even cause it to crumble into small pieces. It’s best to buy ready-cut pieces of this type of glass. 

Finally, if the worst should happen, make sure that you have a first aid kit to hand that is well stocked with dressings, bandages and elastoplast, and that you have emergency contact numbers pre-programmed into your phone.

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