How to Make Stained Glass Doors for Cabinets

You can transform your plain cabinet doors by using colourful glass panels to create your very own set of stained glass doors. These will instantly brighten up not only your cabinet, but also the room in which it sits. Cabinets can become worn and tired-looking over time so you may be considering stained glass doors as a means of bringing your furniture back to life.

You will need:

  • Safety glasses
  • Utility knife
  • Glass
  • Glass cutters
  • Screwdriver
  • Router
  • Lead shears
  • Runners
  • Grozers
  • Rubber cement
  • Power sander
  • Lead came
  • Flux
  • Mask
  • Lead came
  • Mallet
  • Lead nippers
  • Soldering iron
  • Plastic putty knife
  • Whiting
  • Solder
  • Point driver
  • Flux brush

Step One - Preparation

Soldering and lead work release dangerous toxic fumes so make sure your work area is well ventilated and separate from children. Ensure you wear gloves, a mask and safety glasses to protect yourself from any fumes and debris throughout this project. Refrain from eating or touching your mouth or eyes until you have thoroughly washed your hands. Make sure the lids are safely on any containers when not in use and that any sharp and hot implements are kept at a safe distance. 

Step Two - Remove Doors

Take off your cabinet doors to study their construction, as you will soon need to make an opening for the new glass panelling. Measure the width and length of the door panel area using a tape measure and note down the numbers with a pencil. This will ensure accurate measurements for your new glass panel.

Use your router and cut an opening into the back of the panel groove, be careful not to damage the frame and scrape off any glue using a utility knife. Gently clean the area.

 Step Three - Choose and Cut out your Design

Draw out the measurements taken from the panel onto a piece of paper; this will be your design area. Choose your stained glass design and remember to make allowances in the design area for the lead came that will be framing your design. Make a copy of this design onto another piece of paper and cut out using your lead shears; these scissors work by cutting out the gap required for the lead. Next glue the pieces onto your glass with a small amount of rubber cement. Your first design copy should be kept on your work board for later use.

Cut out your pattern pieces with your glass cutters, then press the edges of the cut glass into your power grinder to smoothen your edges. Lay your pieces onto the uncut design on the work board to ensure they fit.

Step Four - Add the Lead Came

Place your lead came on the edge of your glass to measure the length of came you will need. You should start from a corner and work upwards, marking your measurement with a scratch. Make sure the channel of your came face upwards and cut your pieces along the marks using lead nippers.

Use the rubber side of the mallet and gently tap the glass into the channel of the lead came; repeat with all design pieces and make sure they fit securely. All four outside edges of your panel will need to be wrapped in zinc came; tap the glass pieces securely into the zinc channel. Lightly brush flux onto each came joint using a flux brush.

Step Five - Solder and Putty

Switch on your soldering iron and once hot collect a small amount of solder onto the iron tip, quickly tap the soldering iron up and down onto all the joints. Sandwich the panel between two sturdy surfaces and gently turn over, repeat the soldering process on the other side of the panel.

Work your putty with a putty knife into the crevices of the lead came, sprinkle on whiting and continue to work in. Before it dries, brush away any excess putty and whiting from the glass and came; a pencil tip can remove putty in the corners and seams.

 Step Six - Finish

Wash the glass panel with soapy water and leave flat to dry for several days. Once dry, apply a small silicone bead and mount the glass panel into the lip on the cabinet door; use your point driver to drive two points in the top and bottom, as this will make your new glass panel secure.