How to Reinforce A Large Copper Foil Stained Glass Panel

Large stained glass windows must be reinforced with solid metal ribs.
Large stained glass windows must be reinforced with solid metal ribs. (Image: Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Stained glass panels that are larger than 3 square feet should be reinforced. The individual pieces of stained glass are held together by soft copper and lead solder joints. Consequently, the weight of larger panels can cause the panels to flex and ultimately fail. Two popular methods are used to reinforce larger stain glass panels - adding reinforcing bars into the design, or adding strong line over the top of the existing design.

Things You'll Need

  • Stained glass window
  • Lead acid solder
  • Soldering iron
  • Strong Line brand wire (usually copper)
  • Small wire cutters
  • Masking tape
  • Zinc H-Channel
  • Zinc C-Channel
  • Stained glass window plan
  • Pieces of cut stained glass
  • Copper foil
  • Lead acid solder
  • Soldering iron

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Strong Line Reinforcement

Lay the stain glass window on a flat surface. If the frame around the window is thick enough that the window glass is not resting on the same surface, use books, magazines, plywood, or similar items to place support directly under the glass area of the window.

Cut strips of Strong Line brand reinforcement that completely span the window, both vertically and horizontally. Pick the seams between pieces of glass that are the straightest line between the sides, or top and bottom of the window pane. Strong Line bends slightly so it can follow some curved paths. If the line must be cut, make sure the ends of the individual pieces overlap each other by approximately 1/2 inch.

Tape the Strong Line in place with pieces of masking tape. Apply the tape crosswise over the Strong Line to tack it in place as you solder the metal rib to the window in the next step.

Solder the Strong Line ribs into place along the entire path. Fuse the Strong Line to the seam between the pieces of glass. Remove the tape as the line is soldered.

Allow the solder to cool, and then mount the window.

Reinforcing Bar, or Rebar

Layout the pattern for the stained glass window as normal. Stained glass windows are typically cut from paper first, and then the pattern is fit together like a jigsaw puzzle before the glass is cut.

Cut pieces of Zinc C-Channel to create a perimeter frame around the window.

Look for seams in the window that are straight lines and that pass all the way through the window in both directions. Adapt the pattern as necessary to create the needed straight lines.

Cut pieces of zinc H-channel metal, which serve as reinforcement bars, or rebar ribs that stretch through the stained glass window from one side of the window to the other. Plan the ribs so that they cross the longest dimension of the window, dividing the window into areas which are each less than 3 square feet.

Craft the window as normal, inserting the zinc ribs into the design to give strength to the window. Solder the C-channel around the perimeter, and solder the H-channel into the window. The resulting window will have the strength of the unbending zinc added to the overall design.


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