A lot of folks think that you can’t cut laminated glass, but the fact is that you can even if you’re not a professional glazier. Unlike cutting tempered glass with a little practice laminated glass can indeed be cut to whatever size you want.
Learning how to cut laminated glass is definitely a doable project for any DIYer, but it does require a bit more skill than cutting annealed glass.
In this post and video, I’ll show you exactly how I do it and also give you a couple pro tips and alternate option in case you are nervous about setting your glass on fire. Fire?! That’s right, keep reading and you’ll find out more!
What is Laminated Glass?
Laminated glass is made when you take two pieces of glass, usually annealed glass (which is just standard single-paned glass), and glue them together with a thin piece of plastic between them.
This laminate process is done to create a safety glass that even when broken the pieces don’t fall apart and injury you. It also provides excellent security because, even though the glass may be broken, the plastic glues everything together and creates a lot of work to actually gain entry through a door or window.
Thicker glass and more layers of plastic can make the glass more and more secure. Eventually, you get glass strong enough for impact-rated windows and doors, bulletproof glass, and even bomb-proof glass that can withstand major damage without failing.
For our purposes we will be talking about simple single laminated glass but the same principle of cutting laminated glass applies to most thickness you may encounter.
How To Cut Laminated Glass
Cutting laminated glass needs a few simple tools plus a few bonus ones to make the job a little more fun. Once you’ve got your tools together I’ll walk you through it step by step.
Step #1 Clean Glass
Make sure you have clean glass that is free of any residue or even dust. It makes scoring the glass much easier and keeps your blade from dulling allowing for a good clean cut.
Step #2 Score the First Side
Since you’re dealing with laminated glass there are two pieces of glass that need to be scored. Cutting glass isn’t like cutting wood. It’s more like cutting drywall. You score the surface and then break it at the score.
Measure the glass size you want and score the glass along the line. You can mark it with a sharpie, use a straight edge, or eyeball it depending on your skill level, but make sure you score a nice straight line on the first side.
Step #3 Score the Second Side
Once you have your first side scored, flip the glass over and very carefully use your glass cutter to trace the line that you scored onto the second side of the glass. You need to have a steady hand and keep the two lines right on top of each other.
Step #4 Snap the Scores
Once you’ve got both sides scored you’re ready to snap the scores. For single paned glass you’d snap the score and pop you’d magically have two pieces of glass but everything with laminated glass is double.
Slide the glass so the scored line is just over the edge of your work table and with a little tap of effort downward attempt to break the score line. It won’t move much at all but you should hear a little “pop.”
Then flip the glass over and do the same thing on the other side. This time you will get a bit more movement when the score breaks at the line. Set the glass back on the table and get ready for the fun.
Step #5 Set it on Fire
You heard me right! We are going to melt that inner layer of plastic that is holding the glass together and the best way to do that is with fire.
I’ll preface this section for the people in the shallow end of the gene pool who want to sue me because they burned themselves. I do not recommend you try this at home or around anything flammable. I recommend that if you ever use fire you have a fire extinguisher, gloves, and a professional firefighter present to hold you close and tell you everything is gonna be ok. You have been warned. Now I’ll tell you what I do and you can decide if you are as crazy as me.
I put a little denatured alcohol in a spray bottle and spritz the score line on one side then very carefully grab my lighter and set the glass ablaze. While the fire is burning, I slowly bend the glass at the score and let the flames melt the plastic layer as I slowly work both pieces free of each other. If it doesn’t work at first I sometimes try a second round of fire which never fails.
Step #5 Cut the Plastic (Optional)
Fire too intimidating for you? No problem. You can grab a razor knife after both score lines have been broken and slowly work through the plastic that way as well. It takes longer and will dull the blade quickly since you are cutting through the edges of broken glass but it can get the job done.
It’s always nice to have a back up and this is definitely a much tamer option than the flaming glass trick above.
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I love old houses, working with my hands, and teaching others the excitment of doing it yourself! Everything is teachable if you only give it the chance.