To be perfectly honest, stained glass grinders are not an essential piece of equipment for all stained glass artists.
Lead, for example, is more forgiving of rough shapes, and simple grozer/breaker pliers may be enough to chip away and shape the edges of the glass.
If you use the copper foil method, however, you will find a stained glass grinder to be an indispensable tool for shaping and creating smooth pattern pieces quickly – without leaving burrs or sharp edges that could show through or pierce your copper foil.
Stained glass grinders are simple in design and while they do all look pretty similar, some grinders, do have features that make them much easier to work with, as well as more efficient than others.
Before we take a look at the best ones out there, you should know that just like tile saws, lapidary saws, and cabbing machines, etc they do all require water to operate. This is to cool the glass and protect and cool the grinding bit, as well as prevent glass dust from becoming airborne.
So to get started, we’ll take a look at the most popular stained glass grinders on the market and take you through what exactly makes the best stand out from the rest.
Reviews of Our Top Picks for the Best Stained Glass Grinders
|Best All-round Stained Glass Grinder||Gryphon Convertible Professional Stained Glass Grinder|
|Runner Up for the Best Stained Glass Grinder||Glastar All Star G8 Grinder|
|Best Budget Stained Glass Ginder||Gryphon Studio Stained Glass Grinder|
|Best Mini Stained Glass Grinder||Gryphon Gryphette Diamond Glass Grinder|
Click below to jump to each topic in this guide.
- Best All-round Stained Glass Grinder
- Runner Up for the Best Stained Glass Grinder
- Best Budget Stained Glass Ginder
- Best Mini Stained Glass Grinder
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Other Stained Glass Grinders We’ve Reviewed
- Accessories and Essential Equipment
Best All-Round Stained Glass Grinder: Gryphon Convertible Professional Stained Glass Grinder
Our Top Pick – Best Overall
The Gryphon Convertible is our well-deserved top pick not least because it has a simple but ingenious two-position design so that you can work either in the flat position or at a comfortable 30 ° angle – ideal for those who feel more comfortable working while sitting down.
This can be achieved simply by rotating the base 180 degrees.
But what truly sets it apart from more basic models, however, is its highly efficient water cooling system whereby, regardless of the angle you work at, a hose drips a constant supply of water directly over the grinding bit to keep it cool.
This eliminates the need for the wet sponge method of cooling the grinding bit that the majority of power grinders use.
The Gryphon Convertible does give you the option to use a sponge if you wish, and when used, it’s held in position against the grinding bit via the winged brackets behind the bit.
So what’s the deal?
While grinders that use sponges work perfectly well and many glass artists are happy using this method, this is no longer necessary with a grinder that has a built-in water pump, and to be frank, it just makes life so much easier than having to deal with a sponge that so easily clogs up with sludge (glass dust) reducing the life of your bit.
The sponge method also requires you to make sure the sponge is kept consistently wet, or in the case of cheaper basic stained glass grinders, (which we don’t recommend even for beginners,) physically hold the sponge against the grinder bit while holding your pattern piece in your other hand.
After all, for any skill level – but especially if you are new to the craft – the last thing you want is to be wrestling with a wet sponge when you need to concentrate on smoothing and shaping your pattern pieces.
The grinder has a 0.67 amp DC motor capable of 3000 rpm and it delivers 67 oz. per inch torque. That is slightly less RPM than the All Star’s 3,560 RPM’s that we’ll be will be looking at next, but it has an impressively higher torque – thanks to its 1/5 HP DC motor.
Simply put, it’s a powerful stained glass grinder – capable of heavy and prolonged use and even with denser glass or larger pattern pieces, you will get a smooth, clean edge every time.
Other features we love about this power grinder are the large 13.5″ by 10.5″ platform for working with larger pattern pieces and the included addition of a second-story platform.
This comes in handy when working on small scale projects when a second (smaller) grinding bit is installed above the primary grinding bit.
The second story platform takes seconds to install. It clips onto the lower platform when required and the water hose can easily be adjusted accordingly.
The Convertible comes with two diamond bits. One 1″ grinding bit for general use and one 1/4″ grinding bit for finer detailed work, – the grinder is also compatible with other bit sizes too.
What We Like:
- Unique Adjustable Angle | Not everyone feels comfortable (or is able) to work standing up so having the option to adjust the angle of the grinder so that you can work sitting down is a great feature – and clearly shows the grinder was designed with thought for the user.
- Two Grinder Bits Included | It’s worth pointing out that cheaper models only come with one grinding bit.
- Highly Efficient Water Cooling System | It has a built-in water pump that drips a constant supply of water directly over the grinding bit to keep it cool. This is a feature that cheaper and more basic models don’t have.
- Second-Story Platform Included | This comes in handy when working on small scale projects – when a second (smaller) grinding bit is installed above the primary grinding bit.
- High-Torque Motor | It won’t slow down under pressure or prolonged use. The grinder has a powerful 1/5 HP DC motor which is capable of 3000 RPM and delivers 67 oz. per inch torque.
Buying Factors to Consider:
While not the cheapest stained glass grinder on the market, it’s excellent value for money (and cheaper) than our runner up. And to be frank, it’s well worth the investment. Grinders are not a piece of equipment that get more complicated to use the higher your skill level.
The better features, most notably the built-in water pump, make these higher-spec power grinders much more user friendly especially for those new to the craft, who just want to concentrate on shaping edges and smoothing out burrs.
And don’t forget you do get 2 (most commonly used) grinder bits included with the kit which adds to the overall value of this option.
The Gryphon has a five-year limited manufacturer’s warranty.
Check the latest price for the Professional Stained Glass Grinder on Amazon.
Runner Up for the Best Stained Glass Grinder: Glastar All Star G8 Grinder
Runner Up for the Best Stained Glass Grinder
The Glastar All Star G8 Grinder has all the features you’d expect from a quality stained glass grinder.
It supplies an impressive running speed of 3,650 RPM and a 42 in-oz maximum torque thanks to its 1/9 HP motor.
So it’s more than capable of holding up to heavy duty grinding and can handle frequent and prolonged use with ease.
It does cost a little more than our top choice which is why it missed our top spot but it’s an exceptionally well-made machine and does have a couple of features along with a higher RPM that may appeal to some stained glass artists.
This model has a built-in accessory drawer to keep everything tidy and in one place. It has an adjustable straight edge guide for precise grinding of straight edge pattern pieces and it also has a flexible rubber splash guard – handy when working with irregular or awkwardly- shaped pattern pieces.
Additionally, it features a large 8″ x 9″ scratch-resistant eye shield (though this isn’t a replacement for your safety glasses).
Like our top pick, it has superior bit cooling by means of a built-in water pump which eliminates the need for a sponge. Though again you can, if you like, use a sponge and there is a built-in holder specifically for the purpose.
The G8 doesn’t skimp on features. It has a large working surface of 11″ x 13″, a second story mini table for small and delicate pattern pieces and it comes with two grinding bits, a 1″ and a 1/4″ bit.
What We Like:
- Built-in Water Pump | It has a highly efficient water cooling system using a built-in water pump to keep the grinding bit cool. Again, this is a feature that cheaper, more basic models don’t have.
- Second-Story Platform Included | This comes in handy when working with small and delicate pattern pieces. A second (smaller) grinding bit can be installed above the primary grinding bit. The mini table can then be quickly and conveniently clipped onto the main platform when you want to use the smaller bit higher up.
Buying Factors to Consider:
This is an excellent choice and we have nothing negative to say about it. It does cost more than our top pick but is a well made sturdy machine. You may just want to consider whether the few extra features mentioned above are worth the extra cost.
The Glastar All Star G8 Grinder comes with a full 5-year warranty
Check the latest price for the Glastar All Star G8 Grinder on Amazon.
Best Budget Stained Glass Ginder: Gryphon Studio Stained Glass Grinder
Best Basic Stained Glass Ginder
The Gryphon Studio is ideal for any skill level but comes with a more affordable – entry-level price tag.
While there’s no water pump with this model, it does have its own gravity fed water cooling tower that meters water directly onto the sponge to keep the grinding bit cool – most grinders rely on the sponge to draw water up for the reservoir below.
This is a much more efficient method. And if you choose to mount a second grinding bit over the first? Both heads will be kept wet – even if the heads are different diameters.
Despite the lower price point, you get the same powerful 1/5 HP DC motor as the Gryphon Convertable which is capable of 3000 RPM and delivers 67 oz. per inch torque.
That means the motor won’t stall as soon as you put more pressure on the bit.
The Studio only comes with one (1″) grinding bit and the platform surface area is a little smaller at 9.75” by 9” but that’s only likely to be a limiting factor if you consistently work with large pattern pieces.
What We Like:
- Affordable Option for a Stained Glass Grinder | There’s quite a big jump up in price to the Gryphon Convertable, making this a great option for beginners or those on a budget.
- High-Torque Motor | Despite the lower price point, you get the same powerful 1/5 HP DC motor as the Gryphon Convertable which is capable of 3000 RPM and delivers 67 oz. per inch torque.
- Gravity-fed Water Cooling Tower | This allows water to drip directly onto the sponge to keep the grinding bit cool.
Buying Factors to Consider:
To sum up, you’re getting a great little grinder with this option. You’ll have the same amount of power behind this glass grinder as our top choice.
You are compromising on some accessories like the second story platform, an extra grinding bit, table size, and you don’t get a water pump but the essentials are there and it’s a great machine for a low price.
Check the latest price for the Gryphon Studio Stained Glass Grinder on Amazon.
Best Mini Stained Glass Grinder: Gryphon Gryphette Diamond Glass Grinder
Best Mini Stained Glass Grinder
This is the ideal stained glass grinder for those who work on small scale stained glass projects, are limited on space, or for those who would like to have an additional power grinder – perfect if you want to have a second grinder set up with your favorite specialist bit.
For its small size, the Gryphon Gryphette has a powerful 0.67 amp motor delivering 3000 RPM. So you don’t need to worry about a step down in performance.
The 6.75” by 6.75” platform has an integrated space to hold the sponge which keeps the bit cool by drawing water from the reservoir below.
The Gryphette comes with one 3/4″ bit but is also compatible with other sizes too.
What We Like:
- Compact Size | Its size makes it perfect for occasional glass artists, students, or for the classroom. It’s also great for those who want a second machine.
- Powerful Motor | You’d expect a mini grinder to have a much less powerful motor but the Gryphon Gryphette has a powerful 0.67 amp motor delivering 3000 RPM.
Check the latest price for the Gryphon Gryphette Diamond Glass Grinder on Amazon.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do stained glass grinders have a sponge?
Not all stained glass grinders use a wet sponge, however, the grinding bit must be kept wet at all times.
It cools the glass, preserves the lifespan of the grinding bit and prevents harmful silicone glass dust from becoming airborne.
Some grinders have a built-in water pump which will either deliver water directly to the grinding bit or drip water onto the sponge to keep the grinding bit cool.
Do you need a stained glass grinder to shape your pattern pieces.
It is possible to shape your pattern pieces without a stained glass grinder.
Stained glass artists using a lead or zinc channel often use grozer pliers to shape the glass, since the lead or zinc will cover the rough edges.
When working with copper foil, however, you will need smoother edges or the burrs may show through or tear the foil.
Using a stained glass grinder is the quickest way to get perfectly shaped pattern pieces with a clean smooth edge for stained glass or other projects such as mirror mosaics.
What safety precautions do I need to take for grinding stained glass pieces?
You will need to wear safety glasses. Even if your grinder has an eye shield.
When grinding glass it’s advisable to wear a NIOSH N95 rated particulate respirator to prevent glass dust inhalation.
Clean up any glass dust with a wet cloth or sponge to prevent it from becoming airborne.
You will also need to protect your fingers. The glass edges of your pattern pieces are razor sharp.
Are glass grinders messy to use?
The simple answer is yes. The grinding bit tends to spray water (containing the glass dust) onto anything in its immediate vicinity.
For that reason, it’s a good idea to place a screen around your grinder.
Other Stained Glass Grinders We’ve Reviewed:
These are the products that didn’t quite make our top picks, but they’re still pretty good so you might like to take a look:
You get a whopping 6-year warranty with this power grinder. It has a Super Sponge water cooling system.
- 1/4″ and 1″ silver bullet bits included.
- Powerful 1/8 HP, 2300 RPM Motor. Torque: .42 N.m Watts.
- Includes a light.
Accessories and Essential Equipment:
Professional Seven Piece Stained Glass Tool Kit
Great for getting started with stained glass cutting.
It includes everything you need for stained glass, glass fusing, and mosaic glasswork.
- Includes a 50 min instructional video.
- Spring-loaded handles on the Breaking and Grozer Pliers
You will need to add a stained glass coolant to the water:
Stained Glass Coolant
Coolant for grinder water reservoir
You will need to add a stained glass coolant to the water in your grinder’s reservoir.
- Increases coolness.
- Increases the life of the diamond bits.
- Faster cleaner cutting.
Size: 8 Oz. bottle.
Premium Glass Cutting Oil
Premium Glass Cutting Oil
This is not just regular mineral oil, it’s custom-formulated for glass cutting. It prolongs cutter blade/bit/wheel life, makes cleaner cuts.
- Suitable for virtually any glass cutting project.
- A twist top provides maximum ease of use.
Copper Foil Tape
72 Yard Pack with Conductive Adhesive.
- Suitable for indoors or outdoors.
- Two roll pack.
- Its 1/4” width is the perfect amount of overlap for standard stained glass (1/8”).
Stained Glass Sheets
Lastly, if you like some inspiration, hop over to our reading room, we have some good book recommendations.