Glass Cutting: Everything You Need To Know

Person using a tool to cut a large pane of glass

Glass is a flexible, attractive and versatile material that has many uses around your home. From providing insulation with double glazing to helping your spaces feel bigger and brighter using mirrors, and even adding an eye-catching design touch in a glass splashback, glass can be found in a  variety of places around your home.

As a material, people often take it for granted and don’t tend to think too deeply about it. And even if people consider aftercare like how to clean glass or how to replace it, they will rarely think about preparing it. Or how to cut it.

In this blog post, we’ll look at one of the underappreciated aspects of using glass – cutting it. We’ll answer all the most commonly asked questions on the subject, such as what tools you need and what types of glass stand up to cutting – and which don’t. 

We’ll share all the important information you need to know if you’re deciding whether to enlist the help of a professional glass cutting service or to attempt the process yourself, to help you decide which is a more realistic option for you.

How hard is it to cut glass?

The first question most people ask about cutting glass is how hard it is. Unfortunately, the answer is not particularly specific- it really does depend on a number of factors.

With the right cutting tools, the right thickness of glass, and a steady hand, cutting glass is quite a straightforward task. It’s a delicate job but definitely doable by most people.

However, many different factors can increase the difficulty level. The type of glass, its thickness and the size of the glass pane will all make a difference.

The main issue with glass is that you usually only get one attempt. If your glass shatters or breaks or if you chip or scratch the surface, the glass is permanently damaged and often unusable.

We’d advise reading this whole article before you decide whether to try cutting your own glass. If it seems too risky, then enlisting a professional is an obvious alternative with a guaranteed great result.

What is the best tool for cutting glass?

The easiest way to cut glass safely and without breaking it is to use a glass cutter tool. These usually have two or three parts:

  • the cutting wheel which will score a deep cut into the surface of the glass,
  • the handle which you use to move the cutting wheel,
  • sometimes, cutters have an in-built reservoir that adds oil to the surface of the glass to ease the cutting process.

Though this may sound like a simple setup (and it is), glass cutters are the quickest, easiest and most reliable way to cut glass. You can buy them at a range of price points too so they don’t have to be a major investment. We wouldn’t recommend trying to cut glass without one.

What type of glass cannot be cut?

Toughened, tempered and laminated glass are all difficult (if not impossible) to cut. These types of glass are all treated to increase their strength – in fact, they are up to 5 times stronger than untreated or standard glass.

The strengthening process also alters the structure of the glass, which means it breaks differently. For example, treated glass is harder to break because a higher pressure is compressed within it. To cut it, you need to disrupt this distribution and that will shatter the glass completely or weaken it so much it is no longer usable.

For this reason, it is better to have toughened glass or laminated glass cut to meet your exact requirements before it undergoes strengthening. So if you; ‘re ordering treated glass in a bespoke size, make sure to get accurate measurements before you order – and triple-check them too!

If you do desperately need to alter the size, contact a glass-cutting professional rather than attempt it yourself.

Can glass be cut into any shape?

It is possible to get standard glass cut into any shape. This includes shapes with straight edges, such as squares and triangles, and curved shapes such as waves or circles.

In fact, choosing shaped glass can help you add decorative detail to windows, doors and mirrors.

It is a lot easier to cut glass with a straight cut or edge using a guide. Look into cutting tools and guides if you’re planning a more detailed or difficult shape.

And, if you are looking for something particularly intricate or decorative then consider asking a professional glass cutter to cut it for you to ensure a clean cut that doesn’t damage the glass.

Person cutting a thin sheet of glass using a guideWhat thickness of glass can a glass cutter cut?

The easiest glass thickness to cut yourself is around 4mm. Glass thinner than this is more fragile and likely to break easily, while thicker glass will be much harder to score. If you are looking to cut 8mm thick glass (or thicker) you will struggle without the help of an industry-standard glass cutter. Again, it is better to enlist the help of a glazier.

However, any glass thicknesses around 4mm should be possible to do yourself, as long as you have the right tools, follow the right steps and are patient and steady with the process.

Is there a machine to cut glass?

When it comes to glass cutters, most professionals will do it using a specialist glass-cutting machine. This allows them to cut glass accurately without damaging it. These may be fully automatic, running from computer programming, or require some human input. Either way, the machine will make sure that the pressure is always perfect to protect the glass from being broken or scratched.

The ability to completely control pressure means that glass-cutting machines are also able to cut through thicker glass.

These machines use a variety of methods to cut panes of glass including diamond cut, water-cut and laser cut.

While glass machines are incredibly precise, efficient and reliable they are also expensive. They’re certainly not a worthwhile investment for most people.

Can I cut glass at home?

If you’re cutting small or cheap panes of glass it is definitely possible to cut your glass at home. It is best to make sure you have spare glass in case you need more than one attempt, and a good idea to test your skills on scrap glass before you attempt your final job too. With the right tools and a careful hand, you can get a great result with glass cut at home.

However, if you’re looking to cut large, thick or expensive panes of glass it is always best to get your glass cut professionally instead. Here at KLG, we will cut glass to any shape or size at competitive prices, so you don’t have to worry about carrying out a tricky task or wasting any resources.

Contact us today with your exact requirements to find out more about our glass cutting service.


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