Lead vs Zinc Border Came

Video 25 Title Cover

Should you choose lead or zinc came to frame your copper foil stained glass project? Watch this video to learn about a few varieties of lead and zinc came, and which situations are best for each type of border.

Most lead and zinc came is sold in 6-foot lengths, and is available from your local stained glass supply store.

If you choose to use lead came you will need to stretch it in order to stiffen it for use, because it is so soft. You can do this by getting two pairs of pliers and getting a friend to stretch it with you, or you can purchase a lead came vise (pictured below) which clamps onto your workbench. Put one end of the lead came in the vise and pull on the other end using a pair of pliers. Be careful doing this, as lead is so soft it can break off in the pliers and send you flying across the room!

Zinc came does not need to be stretched.

Lead Came Vise

Lead Came Vise

Stained Glass Soldering Iron Care and Maintenance

One of the challenges of stained glass crafting for beginners is achieving smooth solder lines. Unless you have a clean soldering iron tip, your solder simply will not co-operate to flow smoothly. One of the BIG mistakes I first made was to try and sand down my soldering iron tip with steel wool in order to clean it. Never do this! Instead, take a look at this video for tips on how to correctly care for your soldering iron:

  • Lead or lead-free? Keep them separate!
  • Use a cellulose (not plastic) damp sponge when soldering.
  • Only have the iron on when you are actually using it!
  • Tin the tip frequently, and especially before turning off the iron.
  • Remove the tip occasionally (the size is on the end of the tip if you need to replace it).
  • You can also purchase a “tinning block” (sal-ammoniac) to clean your tip. This is available at most stained glass suppliers.
  • Make sure that you have a sturdy stand to hold your soldering iron in place.
  • For more extensive info, see the Inland Soldering Iron Tip Care and Maintenance webpage.