This section is from the book "Cyclopedia Of Architecture, Carpentry, And Building", by James C. et al. Also available from Amazon: Cyclopedia Of Architecture, Carpentry And Building.
House painters are usually expected to understand the art of setting window-glass; it is not difficult to learn. Glass is classified as sheet or cylinder glass and plate glass. Sheet glass is made, at the glass works, by blowing a quantity of glass, first, into a hollow globe; then, by more blowing and manipulation, this is stretched out into a hollow cylinder perhaps a foot in diameter and five feet long; this cylinder (whence the name "cylinder glass") is cut open, and, after reheating, is flattened out into a sheet, whence the name "sheet glass;" after annealing, it is cut up into convenient sizes. It is made of two thicknesses - single thick, which is about one-sixteenth of an inch; and double thick, one-eighth of an inch; but it does not run perfectly uniform. All sheet glass contains streaks, bubbles, and specks of dirt, and is more or less irregular or wavy in its surface; and in respect to this it is graded as first, second, and third quality; in American glass these grades are usually marked "AA," "A," and "B;" and anything poorer than "B" is called stock sheets. Foreign glass is not thus marked, each maker having his own arbitrary marks. Single-thick glass is used for sizes not greater than about 28 by 34 inches; doublethick, up to 40 by 60. For larger sizes, plate glass only is used; but of course, either plate or double-thick can be used for small sizes, if desired.
Plate glass is cast in plates; the liquid glass is poured out on an iron table, about 15 feet wide and 25 feet long and smoothed down to a uniform thickness of half or five-eighths of an inch by passing a roller over it, like rolling pie-crust; after this it is ground down with sand, emery, and polishing powder to a quarter or five-sixteenths of an inch in thickness. It is therefore much more costly than sheet glass, but is also more perfect.
Crystal is a very thin plate glass, about one-eighth of an inch thick, and is used where ordinary plate is too heavy, as in movable sash. It is the finest of all window glass. There re two grades of plate glass, known as glazing (for windows) and silvering (for mirrors), the latter being the best. In the first place, the sash is prepared for the glass.
It must receive a priming coat; if it is to be painted, it is primed with white lead and boiled linseed oil, the mixture having very little or no turpentine added; if it is to be varnished, it is primed with boiled oil alone. If it is not primed, the putty will not stick; the wood will draw the oil out of the putty and leave it crumbly. Next, the glass is fitted to the sash. It is cut either with a glass-cutter's diamond or with a wheel cutter, the latter being a little sharp-edged steel wheel set in a handle. If well made, the wheels may be bought separate and are replaceable. The wheel cutters are generally used on sheet glass; but plate glass is cut only with a diamond, which makes a deeper cut.
The wheels are kept wet with kerosene; the workman has a little bottle or cup of kerosene on the bench, and dips the wheel in it.
The glass being cut to the right size, a layer of putty is spread, with the putty-knife, along the recess in the sash where the glass is to rest. This is called bedding the glass, and should always be done. It is not uncommonly omitted with pine sash; but it absolutely must be done with all hardwood sash, metal or metal-lined sash, and for all plate and crystal glass; and it ought to be done in all cases. Then the glass is gently pressed into place, after which it is fastened with glaziers' points, which are triangular bits of metal. No. 2 points are used on single-thick, and No. 1, which are larger, are used on double-thick glass; they are put in 9 to 12 inches apart. They are driven, not with a hammer, but with the thin side of a two-inch chisel, the flat side of which lies on the glass, the edge of the chisel away from the surface so as to avoid scratching it. The chisel is also useful for adjusting the position of the pane; if it is smaller than the sash, it is so placed that when the sash is in its natural upright position the pane of glass will rest with its lower edge bearing on the wood. The points are commonly of zinc, which bends easily; and when the pane is properly placed, if there is on one side a space between it and the wood, the chisel is held over this crack, and with its edge an indentation or crimp is made in the little triangular zinc point which has already been driven; this crimp prevents the glass from sliding back against the wood. This is the reason zinc is used for the points; it will bend. Steel points are sometimes used for plate glass, because of their greater strength, the glass being heavy. To drive through the sheet metal of metal-covered sash, steel slugs are used; these are about 1/20 inch thick, about 7/8 inch long, and 7/16 inch wide at the wide end, triangular, and sharp-pointed.
There is a machine for driving points, but it is not much used except on small glass set in soft-wood sash.
The glass being properly secured by points, it is ready for puttying. To do this, the professionals set the sash up in a nearly vertical position on an easel; the glass is puttied on the right-hand side and across the bottom; then the sash is turned the other edge up, and the operation is repeated. This finishes the work.
The most important things about glazing are to use a sufficient number of points and to use good putty. Ordinary (pure) putty is made of whiting, which is pulverized chalk, mixed with enough linseed oil to give it the consistence of stiff dough. The workman can make it from these materials with his hands; everyone can make his own putty. As a matter of fact, however, the putty of commerce is made by machinery; and also, as a matter of fact, it is in general abominably adulterated. It would seem as though whiting and linseed oil were materials cheap enough; and in reality putty can be sold for about three cents a pound, or sixty dollars a ton; and a dollar's worth will putty all the glass in an ordinary house. Pure putty, however, is almost impossible to get. Marble dust is substituted for whiting, and a mixture of rosin and mineral oil for the oil, and the cost reduced about half. It is the use of this miserable stuff which causes ninetenths of the troubles with windows. If the glazier cannot be sure of his putty otherwise, he should make it himself.
The best putty for glazing is a mixture of pure whiting putty with one-tenth white lead putty. This makes it set a little more quickly, and it becomes harder. Pure white lead putty gets too hard; it is too difficult to remove it in case of breakage or glass.
If' the glass has not been bedded in putty, it is customary to go around the indoors side of the glass, and crowd some putty into the crack between it and the sash. This is called backing the glass. Large plates of plate glass are not puttied, but are held in place with strips of moulding nailed on the sash, in which case the crack between the glass and the moulding is backed with putty.