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Using a CNC Router to Create Masks for Sandblasting Stained Glass

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Monogram Sun-Catcher (2015)

Why I chose to develop this method

There are other methods to etch stained glass, but these did not seem the best way for me.

  1. Traditionally it is done using an adhesive mask which you adhere to the glass then cut out your pattern in the mask with a knife and then sandblast. For me this had several issues.
    • There is a fair amount of time required to cut out the mask.
      • This may be fine for one-off work but did not seem seem like a good way for repetitive work (I made about 20 versions of a basic design).
    • The mask did not appear to be reusable.
      • My design had a fair amount of repetition and I wanted to reuse the masks multiple times.
  2. I have seen methods using a spring loaded cutter or grinder in a CNC machine.
    • My CNC has no provisions for cooling.
    • I was worried about possible damage to my CNC from the glass dust.
  3. I tried various speeds and feeds with wood bits
    • I had limited success
    • I claim there was residual stress left in the glass
    • I was worried about possible damage to my CNC from the glass dust.

An overview of the process

  1. Design the pattern
  2. Use a CNC to cut the mask out of foam sheet
  3. Glue foam mask to the glass
  4. Sandblast the glass
  5. Remove the foam mask for reuse

Details of the process

1. Design the pattern

2. Use a CNC to cut the mask out of foam sheet

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Foam Sheet
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Stencil Cut Cut Stencil Excess Removed
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Stencil Closeup

3.Glue foam mask to the glass

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Monogram Stencil Glued to Glass

4.Sandblast the glass

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Monogram Sandblasted


5.Remove the foam mask for reuse

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Border Stencil Ready for Re-use