Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Stained Glass Safety

I have been working with glass since 1995. I frequently cut and burn myself even after 18 years. In the beginning I didn't wear safety glasses when I cut or ground glass. I was in my twenties and invincible. Luckily the glass gods saw to it that I did not blind myself. Now that I am going on 40 things have changed. I no longer use that terrible flux that burns the inside of my nose, I made sure I wear latex gloves when I solder and I always wear glasses of some kind whether I am cutting glass or just soldering. Being older and being a starving artist without health insurance has made me a hypochondriac, always looking into the future to predict and or avoid my next injury.

Here are some stained glass safety basics :

FluxUse a flux that is smokeless. Try to avoid as much fumes as possible. Non-toxic flux does not work. I have tried it. If you want to ruin a piece then try it. For flux to work properly it will have to be somewhat bad for you and contains
zinc chloride. I use Flux - Classic 100 Gel Smokeless. It still smokes a little but not as much as other brands. I would like to try this flux but I'm afraid it will be too much like the safe flux I mentioned before.
If anyone finds a good flux that is non-toxic please let me know.

I always wash my face and hands after soldering. I also put some water up each nostril and rinse. You can wear a surgical or dust mask but it is usually uncomfortable and makes breathing difficult.

Fume ExtractorI love the fume extractors. They pull the fumes away from what you are soldering. In the warmer months I open windows and put the ceiling fan on high. Unfortunately in colder months you cannot open windows so the best thing you can do is at least pull the fumes away from your face.

Grinding Glass

I am going to start wearing a mask when I grind glass. I saw this article today that scares me to death. I know that small particles of glass fly up when I grind glass but I never thought about glass dust. Stay as far away from your grinder as you can, wear glasses and a mask.

Cuts and Burns

If you have worked with stained glass for a long time you know that it is impossible to not cut or burn yourself. Over time your hands will look very worn and tattered. I tell people starting out to expect some injuries.

"Lead soldering usually does not represent an inhalation risk since
controlling temperature of lead below 900 ºF(melting temperature = 621 ºF)
is effective in controlling lead fuming."

Here are some links to purchase tools and other articles that may be helpful.

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