The Dale C. Maley Family Web Site

Click here to edit subtitle

Wood Ducks Stained Glass

After completing the copper foil and lead method stained glass classes, I signed up for the advanced class.



The original instructions were to pick any copper foil project you want to do for the advanced class.

I initially wanted to make the Latvia clock as my project. The instructor said this was too simple of a project and would not approve it (I went ahead and made the Latvia clock and it is shown here).

On vacation, a couple years ago, I saw some Wood Ducks swimming at the San Antonio zoo.  I thought they were really cool, because you don't see that many colors on an animal in nature very often.  The instructor approved the wood duck project. Another of his requirements was the finished window had to be 22 inches wide.

I went online and found an existing stained glass project of a female and male wood duck.


I put the image of the finished stained glass window into Sketchup, and made a drawing showing all of the pieces required to make the window.

On the Massey Harris tractor project, I found out that small pieces of glass might not show up on the finished window, because the solder joint might completely cover a small piece of glass.

I assumed there must be a software package available to stained glass creators. I went on the Internet and found Glass Eye software. They have a free 30 day trial, and then it costs $150 to buy it. I signed up for the trial, and designed the wood duck window using this software.

I found this software easy to learn to use.  I really like the built in capability to vary the solder joint thickness, and see the impact on small pieces. I made an animated gif file showing the impact of solder thickness on the Massey Harris project......

So I printed out the original finished stained glass window I found on the Internet, plus the design from the Glass Eye software and took it to the instructor for approval.  He accepted the wood ducks as the project, but rejected the oval window design.  He says that any window more than 1 square foot should not be hung, because over time, the hangars will pull out of the solder and the window will crash to the floor.  Anything more than 1 square foot should be mounted in a frame.  He said that maybe if a wire was run around the window and to the top, and used to hang it, maybe it would hold up over time. He also does not like computers and software.  Ironically, he chose the paper print-out I got from the Glass Eye program for me to bring to the first class! the software program, I think the variable is not solder joint thickness, but the width of the copper foil you are using. You can buy the copper foil in various thicknesses.

1st Class

This is the process the instructor has been using for 40 years, and he had us follow it in class:

1. Find 8.5x11 picture of the design you want to make, or design it by hand.

2. Draw the border you want on a piece of heavy paper.

3. Place 8.5x11 picture in a 1968 big machine. He adjusts two knobs and magnifies
    the image to fit your border size, 22 inches in our case.

4. Set on chair and hand draw each glass piece while the noisy old machine is

5. Take hand drawing from machine back to your work table, and review and
    improve the design. Check each piece and make sure you can make it ok.

6. Hand number each piece and color code each piece of glass.
7. Tape tracing paper over your drawing and re-draw each glass piece. This
   becomes the paper you put on your work board when you assemble the pieces.

8. From the thicker paper, Cut out each piece using special scissors that accounts
    for copper foil thickness. You will trace each glass piece and cut it using these

I find this method rather archaic and inefficient since I am computer literate and can draw using computer programs. 

My hand drawn design on thick paper..............

   On tracing paper............

I updated the computer design in Glass Eye........

So far, we have used ordinary thickness paper to cut out for our pattern pieces. If thicker paper is better, one could print on regular paper, then glue the regular paper to thicker paper, and then cut out the pieces.

Foil Width

You can buy copper foil in many different widths.  For our 1st class, we used 1/4" wide foil, which is kind of standard. For smaller pieces, you should use smaller width foil, so not all the glass piece is covered by foil and solder.  I bought 2 widths smaller foil from the instructor and used them on this project.

For clear glass, if you use plain copper foil, when you are done, you can see the copper inside the glass. Another option is to use black faced foil, so you see black when you are done. I bought a roll of 1/4" black faced foil from an online source and used it on the clear glass pieces for the sky in this project.


 Cutting Glass

First you must cut out all 110 pieces of paper patterns from the main sheet using special scissors....

I separated the paper pattern pieces by color code, and made an envelope for each color. For the colors where there were few pieces, I combined them in one envelope.

I ended up with 12 different colors for the 110 pieces..........

Starting to cut the glass pieces........... 

Out of 110 pieces of glass, I only broke about 2 during cutting. One broke because I got aggressive on cutting an inside curve, and did not do it in several steps. A 2% scrap rate is not bad given the geometry of most of the pieces!

The glass for this project came from Kokomo Glass, Hobby Lobby, and the instructor's shop.

I still tend to cut the pieces too big, which requires more grinding time. Maybe eventually I will learn to cut them smaller.  After 40 years of woodworking, it is hard psychologically to cut on the small side versus the larger side:)


I started on the bottom LH corner and worked my way outwards.

I did not keep track of the hours I spent grinding and foiling. It was at least 3 + 3 +8 + 3 = 17 hours!!

I used a small piece of scrap wood as a push stick for grinding the small pieces. It saves a lot of wear and tear on your fingers!

The next step is to solder up both sides at class next week.

Finished Project

The photo above is taken indoors, which doesn't show how it looks in the sun!


 She turned out very nice!

I will probably buy or make an oak frame to mount it in.

Framing the Wood Duck Project

I bought a frame from my stained glass instructor, who has a retired guy that makes frames........for a previous project.  I basically copied his design, and made it larger for my project. This design uses 1 brass screw at each corner to assure the frame stays together, given how heavy the stained glass piece is.  This design also uses a brass screw set into a groove in the top, to attach a chain to hang it.

I made my design in  Google Sketchup..........

The next image shows the groove design with a screw to attach a chain to for hanging. It also shows the brass screw in the corner for strength.......

Finished Frame

The frame design I copied had oak plugs to hide the corner screws.  I chose to leave the brass screw heads exposed on my 4 corners as shown above.

I used an electric wood burning pen to put my name and date on the back of the frame.


And the finish oak framed wood ducks in the western sunlight............

Closing Thoughts on this Project

This is a sturdy oak frame design.  I found an alternate design that just puts grooves in the wood. You drop the stained glass down into the grooves, then attach the top piece with screws in each corner. It also uses brass brackets screwed on each side of the frame to attach the chain to.  I may try the alternate design on a future project since it is simpler to make with less pieces.












Recent Photos

Oops! This site has expired.

If you are the site owner, please renew your premium subscription or contact support.