While using a glass cutter is the simplest and most efficient way of cutting glass, it’s not the only way. There are other ways to cut glass, and even though the results might not be as smooth or clean as you’d like, you can use these methods when you’re in a bind and don’t have a cutter.
There are many ways to cut glass without a glass cutter. You can use heat and ice, a drill, a string or dental floss, a piece of wire, scissors, or a piece of metal like a knife. You can also use other things like an angel grinder, a diamond scribe, pliers, or a saw.
Let’s take a look at how you can cut class without using a glass cutter and the supplies you’ll need. We’ll also discuss if it’s dangerous to cut glass with tools other than a glass cutter and how you can stay safe.
Can You Cut Glass Without a Glass Cutter?
It is possible to cut glass using other methods if you don’t have a glass cutter. Most of these involve everyday household items you’ll likely have lying around. Let’s take a look at these methods:
Heat & Ice
You need a heat-resistant towel or mat and an ice cube for this method.
- Apply the ice cube to one end of the glass you want to cut while applying heat to the other.
- To apply heat, you can either hold it over a stove or use a propane torch for around 15 seconds.
- After 15 seconds, switch between the cold and hot surfaces and keep doing so until you can crack through the glass surface in a couple of lines.
Don’t worry if you don’t get this method in the first go; you’ll need to practice a bit to get the hang of it. Just make sure you don’t apply too much pressure on the glass.
DIY enthusiasts who don’t have a glass cutter often use a drill to cut the glass surface. An electric drill or a rotary tool (if you’re comfortable using it) is great for this purpose.
Here, too, note that you need to apply constant pressure, but you shouldn’t exert too much force on it. Otherwise, your glass might end up shattering.
String or Dental Floss
Another standard tool used to break glass is a string or dental floss. A string not only cuts through glass very easily, but it’s also readily available, disposable, and cheap. When using a string to cut glass, make sure to have a bucket of water that is big enough to submerge the piece of glass down to your elbow present at hand.
- Now tie your string around the part of the glass where you want to cut. Make sure the string is tight—a loose string won’t work.
- Once you’ve tied the string, light it up on fire.
- Hold the piece of glass and dip it into the water.
- With the piece of glass submerged in water, use a firm stick to hit it right below the point you want to cut. This has two benefits:
- One, the blows underwater will not be as hard, and the water will dampen the vibrations.
- And two, the glass will break along the string when you strike it.
Cutting glass with wire is another easy method and requires using water, too. However, the difference is that you don’t need a bucket in this case. Instead, you need a tray big enough for the glass to be placed flat and submerged to roughly three inches deep.
- Start with a dry and clean piece of glass.
- Using a sharp tool like a carbide scribe, score the line you’re going to cut. Also, ensure that the wire you’re using is a little longer than the cut you’re going to make, with the ends tied into loops.
- Now, place wood through the two loops you made and tighten them to use as handles.
- Then, heat the wire until it becomes red-hot.
- Once it’s ready, put the wire along the cut and immediately submerge the glass in water. The combination of hot and cold will break the glass along the line you made.
Another easy way to cut glass without a glass cutter is to use scissors. For this method, again, you’ll need a big tray filled with enough water to fully submerge the glass and for your hands to use the scissors underwater.
- Start by making a line that you want to cut.
- Fully submerge the glass and then use scissors to cut along the line.
Glass submerged in water is as easy to cut as a thick sheet of paper. Of course, you won’t get a perfectly sharp line at the end, but you can clean that up with a whetstone or blowtorch until it’s exactly how you want it.
Piece of Metal
- Place your piece of glass on a smooth, flat surface and put a slightly sharper piece of metal, like a knife, on top of it with the blade away from you.
- Hold the ends of the knife (or another piece of metal) firmly and pull it across the glass edge very slowly to make a deep cut.
- Then use tissue paper or a soft cloth to remove dust particles from the glass.
- Now, run a little bit of cold water on top of the cut; you don’t want to make it very wet in one go, but you want to let the water go inside and loosen up the shards of glass stuck inside and remove them.
- Once that’s done, clean the glass once more using tissue paper or soft glass.
In addition to the methods above, you can cut glass with other things like a coat hanger, a diamond scribe, an angle grinder featuring a diamond blade, a wire cutter, a wet saw, a chisel and hammer, pliers, tile nippers, a steel file, and a hacksaw blade.
Is it Dangerous to Cut Glass Without a Glass Cutter?
Generally, it’s safe to cut glass with tools other than a glass cutter, provided that you take the proper safety measures. However, this also depends on how you’ll cut it.
Some methods, like using a string or heat-resistant towel and ice cubes, aren’t dangerous, but other methods that involve power tools like angle grinders are slightly risky.
Similarly, some methods can be dangerous if they’re done incorrectly. For instance, it is easy to cut glass using a sharp knife, especially since glass is brittle. But you need to have a steady hand and hold the blade perpendicular to your piece of glass when cutting.
Otherwise, you risk breaking the glass and injuring yourself in the process.
What Supplies Will You Need?
The supplies you need will depend on how you plan on cutting the glass. For instance, if you’re planning to use a string, then all you need is a string, a bucket of water, a lighter to light the string on fire, and a firm stick to hit the glass.
Meanwhile, suppose you decide to use a carbide or diamond scribe. In that case, the other tools you’ll need are sheets of newspaper, a glass cleaner, a microfiber cloth, a metal ruler, a permanent marker, glass-cutting oil, a dowel, and sandpaper.
How to Stay Safe
It’s very easy to injure yourself when working with glass. This is why you must take the proper safety precautions and use protective eyewear and a pair of gloves.
Since you’ll be using a cutting tool and dealing with sharp edges, it’s better if you wear thick leather glass to protect your hands from accidental cuts.
Meanwhile, protective glasses will keep the glass dust out of your eye. And if you’re going to be using a lighter or a propane torch (depending on the method you choose), make sure you’re extra careful.