The Dale Maley Family Web Site


Stained Glass Decorative Clock

I am always searching the Internet for unusual things to make from stained glass. I found an unusual stained glass clock design from a company in Latvia, and built one of can see it here.  I also found a stained glass airplane with a built-in kaleidoscope, which I built and you can see here.

I then found a very decorative stained glass small clock design.........

A stained glass artisan, Ken Jorgensen, designs, builds, and sells stained glass clocks.  His web site is here.  He sells this clock design for $250.

This clock is extremely decorative, and has many different design elements in it.

I have never used most of these items in a stained glass project this should be an interesting challenge for me!!

I decided to buy enough parts to make 2 of these clocks.........I will probably give them away as gifts to family members.

Parts Sourcing

Lead Came Selection

Because this is a relatively small stained glass panel, I tried to pick out some smaller lead came for the border U-shaped came and the H-shaped came..........

Brass Base

This design utilizes a small brass base, which holds the stained glass panel in place.  The whole assembly can fit on a window ledge, to display the stained glass panel in the sunlight.  It is a small base, about 6.5x3x0.75.  I searched the Internet, but could not find a source to buy these bases I decided to try to make my own base from brass sheeting.

I had some 0.025 inch brass pieces at home in inventory, but this is too thick to easily bend.  I decided to buy a sheet of brass from McMaster-Carr that is 0.012 inches thick..

When I received this sheet and flexed it in my hands, it feels like it should be thin enough to bend. I made a Sketchup drawing of the base.......

My idea was to take a piece of pine, and use the router table to put in the edge profile I wanted...........then bend the brass to fit the profile.

When I got to my woodworking shop, I was a little surprised that I did not have a wider selection of router bits, for this type of edge.  I found one that I thought would work ok.  I sawed a piece of 1x4 pine to 12 inches long.........because my brass sheet is 12 inches wide.  I then routed the profile on 1 edge.  My Sketchup drawing showed 5/8" height........but I decided to go with standard 3/4" height for a 1x4 piece of wood.

Bending 90 degree edge

I have had good luck bending brass, when held between 2 pieces of pine in my vise........on previous projects.  I decided to cut the brass sheet blank to a size of 2.5 by 12........and make the 1st bend of 1 inch.  This 1 inch folds inside the finished stand.  I used 2 pieces of scrap pine in my vise........and used my hand......and a wooden mallet to easily achieve the 90 degree bend.

Bending the molding edge profile

On my 1st attempt, I used a small ball peen hammer to try to bend the brass to fit the wood edge profile.  This sort of worked, but left way too many dent marks in the brass.

I decided to try using a 1/4" diameter steel rod.  I held the 90 degree bent brass piece in the vise, wrapped around the wood edge profile.  I pushed the steel rod at 45 degrees to the molding edge, and smacked the steel rod with the small ball peen hammer.  This worked very well, and did not leave excessive hammer dent marks.

The photo below shows the hammer beaten piece on the LH side, and the 2nd attempt using the 1/4" steel rod on the RH side. I decided the steel rod method was good enough.....and made enough pieces for the 1st brass base.

To get the top of the moulding horizontal, I used my old pair of sheet metal bending pliers........

How to cut the 45 degree corner chamfers on the brass moulding

I marked the top of the moulding at 45 degrees using a felt marking pen...........and an angled steel metal protractor.  I put the moulding in the vise, then cut the angle using my Dremel with the larger fiber reinforced whee.  This worked, but it is hard to make a perfect cut.

I decided to try wrapping the brass moulding on the 1x4 wood piece with the routed edge..........and cut the 45 degree angle using the miter saw.  It worked !!

You definitely want to be wearing safety glasses using the miter saw, in case a piece of small brass comes at your face or eyes!!

On the short end pieces, I still used the Dremel to cut the 2nd angle, because I think this piece is too short to safely saw on the miter saw.

Soldering the 4 sides of the Base

To hold the pieces in their proper location at 90 degrees, I used my old stained glass board.......with the aluminum angles and thumb tacks.  I also used some deep C-clamps to also hold pieces in position.

Once I got the 4 sides soldered up, I decided to cut a rectangular piece of brass...........and solder it under the top of the sides.........versus on top.  I cut some small wood blocks which fit under the base, and force the rectangular piece to mate well against the top pieces.  I think it will look better with the rectangular piece below versus above the sides.

Once I got the base piece soldered up, the following was done......

1. Used small ball peen hammer to bend over any edges on the 45 degree angles that did  not properly mate.....and re-solder

2. Took base to stationary belt sander and removed and sharp edges

3. Use Dremel with 1/2" drum sander to sand other areas

4. Tinned........or applied thin layer of solder to the entire top of the base with the soldering iron

5. Applied chemical patina.....which turns the solder black

6. Base is completed

I was really pleased with the finish base.  The top surface is not perfectly smooth, but this gives it an "antique" look I think.  Most of the center area will not show after the stained glass panel is soldered into place. I had enough brass sheet to make 3 of the little bases....

Glass Beads

I want glass, not plastic beads.  Since the bead goes onto a piece of copper wire that will be soldered, I want glass beads because the plastic will melt.  I searched Hobby Lobby in Bloomington and only found plastic beads.  I went to the Hobby Lobby in Champaign, and I think I found real glass beads.  I had to ask the nice check-out ladies about the glass versus plastic issue.......and they confirmed I was buying the glass ones.

How to Add Weight to the Brass Base

One could melt lead shot, and fill up the base..........but this is not easy to do.  I searched on Youtube, and found that a guy used vinyl Quikrete cement to fill a lamp base. I am going to try this out on this project, after I get the brass pieces soldered up. I found and bought a small plastic pail at Lowes in Bloomington on Nov 6, 2017

The Journey Begins

I used my smaller stained glass board for this project.

The first thing I noticed was the bottom 2 corner pieces have sharp 90 degree angles.............which required a glass band saw........which I don't have.  I elected to modify the design and eliminate the 90 degree corners.

On both the border and inside H-shape lead came pieces, I put 1 end in the vise..........clamped down on the other end with Vise-grips........and stretched the lead came pieces.  I don't own the fancy tools to stretch the lead came.

I started to build the panel from the LH bottom corner, and work to the right, then upwards.

I have only done 1 lead project in my life......and this project mixes the lead and copper foil should be an interesting learning experience when I solder up the panel with both types of construction!

1st Design Change While Building

The original design has dead sharp 90 degree corners on the bottom 2 pieces. A special stained glass saw is required to produce these, and I don't own this type of saw.  So, I modified the design to eliminate the 90 degree internal corners.  I also slightly modified the the pieces around where the 2 small glass beads will later be installed.

75% Built on 1st Clock

I kept working my way upwards towards the top of the clock.  I had to use a dental pick, to help me insert the small pieces of glass into the groove of the H-shaped lead pieces.

Flat Toothpicks

I broke flat toothpicks into short pieces, then used them to space up the center glass pieces from the work board. The lead channel holds the pieces up a certain distance, but once you get away from the lead channel..........and you only have copper foiled need to elevate the glass so it is not sloping dramatically.  The toothpicks worked fine.

4 Glass Pieces around the small Clock

On this little 2 inch diameter clock, the insert hole is 1-7/8".........or just a little smaller than the clock OD. To try to make sure the hole size is correct, I made a 3/16" Luan plywood wood disc exactly 1-7/8" OD, to build the glass around.  This method worked ok, but the slip fit was too loose when I was done!!

I guess I will have to add layers of copper foil on the ID of the hole, until I get a good snap fit?

Ready for Patina

I think the next steps in construction will be:

1. Add copper foil on the ID of the hole until the clock fits right.

2. Apply patina to the clock

3. Solder brass banding piece (somehow don't get solder on the front)

4. Solder 4 brass corners around clock (somehow don't get solder on the front)

5. Solder 2 finials (wrap non-soldered part in tape to protect from flux and solder

6. Solder panel to base

7. Solder 1/4" copper tubing to base and panel

Installing the brass

The trick is to solder it to the glass, but do not get any solder on the front brass decorative face.  I wiped my iron on a dry clean cloth before I pressed it on the brass to apply heat. This worked all but 1 time, when a little drop of solder got on one of the angled faces around the clock.....darn!!  Had to use another piece.

On the brass banding at the bottom, on the 2nd one, I should try soldering from the back side, since it is exposed and accessible.

I found out the clock is not 1-7/8" is about 1-13/16"........or a tad smaller than 1-7/8".  I sanded my little disc down, then re-inserted it......and tried to fill the gap with solder......and it worked.

Installing the Glass Beads

I found some small wire in my shop, that would fit through the big and small glass beads.  I tinned the wire in the vise, and also tried to put a small bead of solder, so glass bead would stay in place.  It was very difficult to make the small solder bead!

I bought some 1/4" copped from Ace Hardware, made a wood semi-circle that I clamped in the vise.........and hand bent the copper around the wood form without kinking it.   I tinned the tubing semi-circles before I soldered them to the base and glass pane.

1st Completed Decorative Clock

There wasn't enough good sun light left today, to get a good picture in the sun.  Actually, it looks pretty good without the sunlight!

Sunlight Picture

Now, On to the 2nd Clock

I developed a good process for measuring and cutting the small pieces of lead came.  I mark the cut spot using the lead cutting knife I got in class.  I use the portable battery light to better illuminate the miter saw.........then I cut the lead using the miter saw.  You must wear safety glasses, because occasionally, small bits of lead will fly away from the saw.

On my leaded stained glass project for my class, the lead came was bigger, and the h-shaped came was 1/4" wide. I was able to cut the bigger came with the lead cutting knife, without deforming the came.  I tried to use just the knife on this smaller 3/16" wide came, and I could not do it, because it deformed the came too much. That is why I switched to marking with the knife, and cutting on the electric miter saw.

Fixture to hold 2 top brass finials

I had trouble positioning the 2 top brass finials on the 1st clock, when I went to solder them up.  I decided to build a simple wood fixture to hold everything in its proper place, when I soldered the finials on the 2nd clock.......

I tried applying patina on the soldered area, while the panel was still upside down in the fixture.............this was a bad plan.........because patina seeped under the blue masking tape. On future projects, take off the tape, hold clock in normal orientation........and then apply patina.

Soldering the 4 decorative brass corners around the clock

On the first clock, I tried to build up the solder on the copper foil underneath the brass piece...............wiped all the solder off the iron on a dry cloth...........held the iron on top of the brass piece, and tried to get it hot enough for the solder to stick.  One 1 piece, I still got solder on top of the brass.........and had to throw it away..........and I had trouble getting it to stick.

I finally came up with a process that seems to work 100%, and does not get solder on the brass face.

1. Blue tape the brass piece in place

2. use a small screwdriver to hold the corner down

3. put a little solder on the back side of the iron

4. solder the 2 corners of the brass piece to the copper foil

Here is the 2nd clock. All that is left is to solder on the 5 blue glass beads, then solder it to the stand...........

Glass Bead Installation

I still don't have an easy way to put the little solder bead on the small copper wire, to hold the glass bead in place.  I will have to work on that process when I put the glass beads on the 2nd clock.

So on the bigger beads, I first bent a 2nd piece of wire, a small loop around the main wire...........while holding it in the vise.......and soldered on the loop.  This worked ok on the bigger beads.  It doesn't really work on the smaller beads.  On the smaller ones, I just kept try to kiss the wire with the iron, and add some more solder until I got it.

Making the 2 ends from 1/4" copper tubing

On the 2nd clock, I took a minute and photographed the making of these 2 tubes.  The process is.........

1. Bend the tubing around the wood form, holding the form in the vise.  Bend with hands

2. Cut off the excess from both ends using the Dremel and cutting disc
3. Polish on drum press using 220 grit paper sanding drum

4. Hold in vise, solder or tin the bent piece(s) of tubing

5. Masking tape the piece onto the glass panel, tack solder, then full solder

Make sure you have the ends oriented correctly before you solder tack it.  I messed up on 1 end on the 2nd clock..........and had to un-solder it, reposition it, then re-solder.

Ran Out of Parts for 3rd Clock

I had to order some more parts to finish the 3rd clock, including brass 90 degree brackets, round and rectangular bevels.  I will also need to stop at Hobby Lobby and see if I can find some more big beads.