Working with glass for artistic purposes can be dangerous. Artists often must break the glass into smaller, more workable pieces before they can begin using it. This holds the risk of small, painful cuts and more serious lacerations. Some artists wear gloves for this reason, though many find them too cumbersome. Several tools exist to sand away these sharp and dangerous edges, making the glass safe to handle. Artists should always wear eye protection and face masks when sanding glass to avoid eye or other serious injury.
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Diamond Glass Sanding Block
Diamond glass sanding blocks are wrapped on the back and four sides with a plastic coating, leaving the abrasive front open for use. This front resembles sandpaper, but is infused with tiny diamond chips to make sanding glass easier. Artists use this block to sand away very sharp corners and edges quickly. You can either secure the block rough-side up in a vice and rasp the glass against it or hold a glass piece in your hand and use the block like sandpaper on a piece of wood.
Wet-Cut Abrasive Cloth
These cloths resemble Scotch pads for cleaning dishes. They are thin and fibrous, making them flexible and perfect for smoothing curves and hard-to-reach corners and columns. Made of aluminum oxide, they come in different grits like sandpaper. Always wet your work before using wet-cut abrasive cloth. The water helps prevent scratches and overheating due to friction. It is best to wear gloves when working with abrasive cloths; flexible cloths stand more chance of ripping or slipping than a thick sanding block.
Wet Belt Sander
Artists use belt sanders for larger projects and pieces. Belt sanders consist of a ribbon of sandpaper looped between two spinning drums. The ribbon spins vertically so the artist need only hold his piece against the moving paper. This allows him to maintain a certain angle, move his piece to create a certain shape or create beveled edges without getting tired. Just like other glass sanding products, the sandpaper in wet belt sanders for glass is made of harder material than wood sandpaper. Always dampen your project or pour a little water over the sandpaper belt before sanding to prevent overheating and scratches.