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Page 2 of 4 - How to make "Birds on Branches" in Stained Glass

Click on the steps below to advance to the desired topic (there are 5 steps on each page):

To Page 1
Steps 1 - 5 Beginning with Step 1 "Lets get started!"

You are on Page 2 - Steps 6 - 10
Step 6 - Compressing the foil to the glass
Step 7 - Using push-pins to hold the glass in place while flux is applied . . .
Step 8 - Tinning the outside edges with Canfield 60/40 solder
Step 9 - Edge beading with solder
Step 10 - Edge beading with solder . . . the better way

To Page 3
Steps 11 - 15 Beginning with Step 11 "Tips on edge/perimeter beading"

To Page 4
Steps 16 - 20 Beginning with Step 16 "My set-up for applying the patina"


Step 6 - Compressing the Foil to the Glass


After all My glass has been foiled hand tight (often with three different size foils, 3/16, 13/64, and 7/32, depending upon the thickness of the glass) I spread the foiled glass pieces out on my work board. I do not burnish the edges down, that takes too long. Instead I take a small roller to go over the pieces front and back compressing the foil to the glass. It only takes a minute to do this method of burnishing. 

This photo shows the glass pieces on the right have been rolled, the pieces on the left soon will be rolled.  

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Step 7 - Using push-pins to hold the glass in place while flux is applied . . .

When working on a larger project I use push-pins to hold the glass in place while flux is applied and tack soldering. 

In the example above, if you are using the branch as a guide do not connect any of the glass pieces to the branch at this time. You still have to do all the edge beading and finish soldering of the bird and leaves.


If you have a gentle touch working with your soldering iron you may want to try brushing some flux on your solder wire. Then nip off about a 1/16 of an inch of solder onto your irons tip and place it on intersecting foiled glass pieces. By putting a little flux on your solder wire the foil pieces will bond just enough to hold the pieces together. With practice you may be able to avoid the step of using push-pins to hold your project in place while you apply the flux and tack solder.

After all the little solder drops are placed I then take the flux brush to flux all the joints without worrying about dislodging the pieces from the pattern. I then flatten all the solder drops for a more secure weld.

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Step 8 - Tinning the outside edges with Canfield 60/40 solder

The next step is to tin the outside edges with Canfield 60/40 solder, do the front and back. For the tinning I use 60/40 because it is a little more liquid in the melted state. For the perimeter beading I use Canfield 50/50. The reason for the 50/50 is because it is not as liquid when melted, it will be less likely to drip on my hand while I hold the Bluebird upright to do the perimeter beading. In theory the tinned 60/40 edges will help the 50/50 flow over the edge of the glass while you hold it upright, creating a nice rounded bead around the perimeter of the bird.

I always use a paper towel to insulate my hand from the high possibility that solder may drip on me. Holding the Bluebird upright you can see that the front and the back edges have been tinned. Re-flux the entire perimeter in preparation for edge beading.

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Step 9 - Edge beading with solder

In this picture I have started to place one drop of solder at a time onto the outside edge, the perimeter of the Bluebird. I have nipped off a little less than 1/8 of solder and carried it on the tip of my iron to the bird, placing it right after the previous drop. The distance I am carrying the solder from the solder spool to the bird varies six to 10 inches. You can get the edge beading job done this way, but there is a better way.

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Step 10 - Edge beading with solder . . . the better way

The better way - edge beading - this is the most important part of this tutorial.   

In the above photo I am seated on a stool looking down at my work, carrying solder droplets a considerable distance before placing the droplets on the birds head. In this photo I am very comfortable in my sons old office chair. What you can not see well from this photo is that my shoulder is at the exact same height as my work table, I am seated very low in relation to my work table. If you decide to give this soldering position a try wear an apron, or a have a towel on you lap. Sooner of later a drop of solder will want its freedom. There are several HUGE advantages to this soldering position. 

First, notice the distance between the solder wire I am nipping off with my soldering iron, to the birds head. I am only carrying the hot solder droplets about an inch before placing them on the birds head. This short solder carry allows each solder drop I deposit on the birds head to melt into the previous drop, making for a very smooth bead. Working this close from solder wire to the birds head leaves little time for the edge bead to fully cool, resulting in a real nice smooth, high, and rounded solder perimeter. 

Second, when I sit this low, any fumes from the solder and flux are not drifting into my face while edge beading, they will get their chance later when I return to do the finished flat soldering. 

Third, If I need some entertainment with the TV on, I donít have to look up, The TV is already in my field of vision. 

Let me explain my work area, this is how I set up to do the edge beading:
The large board partially off the edge of the table is sheetrock. Sheetrock, or wallboard it is perfectly flat and easy to cut to size. On the front left side of the work-board is a small wood block that has been screwed into the work-board from underneath. A 3/16 hole has been drilled through the wood block for the 50/50 solder to feed through. Feeding the solder wire through the wood block stabilizes the solder wire when nipping off tiny amounts of solder for edge beading. You must have experienced a roll of solder continually tipping over when you try to nip of small bits of solder from an almost depleted roll, the wood block solves that problem. With my pliers I pull through five or six inches at a time, always refluxing the newly drawn out length of solder. 

Notice the corner of the work-board near the wood block has been removed, this made it a little easier when repositioning the board for my most efficient soldering position. 

Hint: If you decide to use sheetrock for your projects wrap the edges with masking tape. The masking tape contains the chalky dust that is part of sheetrock.
Hint: Apply several Coates of clear polyurethane to your sheetrock work-boards, they can last for years if protected. 

The soldering iron control is mounted just below table top within easy reach.  

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