Glazing Lites


Woodworkers build projects every day that require the installation of lites, divided or single-pane. Some then travel to hardware stores to have pieces cut to fit. And while you may take exacting measurements, the store clerk probably isn’t going to adhere to the same preciseness. That could result in cracked panels, or another trip to the store and time wasted. Plus, there are a myriad of glass options to influence the overall appearance of your project. It’s time. Learn the tips to make glazing lites simple.

(Fig. 1) It’s clear that the inexpensive glass cutter (right) leaves a score line that’s course. It, however, is enough of a score to allow the pane to snap where you want.

The great thing about cutting, fitting and glazing lites on your own is that the cost of tools needed is small. In fact, most of these tools are already in your shop. The one item you may need to buy is a glass cutter. The cost of which could be as low as $6.00. Ouch. Of course, you can spend more. Better cutters cost upward of $20 to $40. The primary difference being an oil reservoir, which is not necessary if you want to replace your cutter more often. Another difference you’ll find is that the better the glass cutter, the cleaner the cut (Fig. 1). Is that significant? Not really, especially if you’re planning to cut and fit only a couple of windows or panes.

Putty in Your Hands, Not

Cutting glass is not glazing lites, so there’s more to learn if you want the process to be smooth. What do you use to glaze your lites? If you answer glazing compound, we think there’s a better choice. We prefer Durham’s Rock Hard. For us, Durham’s presents a finished look that better replicates old glazing you’d find in antique pieces. Plus, there’s a simple technique that allows you to tint your Durham’s if you want a closer match to the exterior color of your furniture. Trying to tint the linseed oil stuff is a challenge.

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7 thoughts on “Glazing Lites

  1. Chuck. When you mixed the “universal” color in to the rockhard, was that an analine dye or what compound or dye base was it? Not oil was it? You said it was in your second finishing video, but this is the lazy was to find out.

    I thought this was a great video. I used restoration glass but never thought to use rockhard as a glazing putty.


    1. Bob,

      Universal colors or powder pigments are not dyes. They go by several names, but they are very finely ground pigments that dissolve in nearly anything, hence the name “Universal colors.” I’ve always gotten mine at Olde Mill Cabinet Shop in York, PA. They’re listed under Earth Pigments and are sometimes call Fresco Colors. Here’s a link

      But that’s as far as I’m willing to go. You’ll actually have to order them yourself. 😉

      1. Haha, I deserve that pun! Thanks and I did miss that detail when I watched those earlier videos. I use rockhard and tried testing it to color it with analine dye but with minimal results so this may be the answer.


        1. Bob,

          You you did start out by taking the “lazy way to find out.”

          Glen mentioned in the Glazing video that aniline dye doesn’t work very well with Rock Hard Putty, and I concur. The best way to color it is to use the powder pigments. If you add a significantly smaller amount of burnt umber to the mix, it does make the putty a good bit lighter in color. And as a repeated word of warning, don’t add more than 1/3 pigment to the mix or it becomes a sauce instead of creamy peanut butter.

  2. OK, no comment but I did order two colors of universal dye from Oldemill based on your helpful info. So I have an upcoming need for making sure some Rock Hard putty matches the water based dye I’ll use so this is very timely.

    Does this work to color already hardened Rock Hard? These are very minor gaps I filled in some sash joints. I suppose if not, I can capture the universal colors between a coat of shellac.

    Thanks again,


    1. Bob,

      The powder pigments alone won’t color dried Rock Hard putty, but you can mix them with the shellac to create an opaque paint.

      1. Thank you and may be exactly what I need since it’s just very fine lines.


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