View Full Version : Using glass in projects

02-14-2002, 06:42 AM
I have an opportunity to make display cases for an antique mall. I need to make the cases look like antiques. I thinks I can handle the woodworking but I need to use the right type of glass for the top, front and sides.

I suspect I need to use plate glass or tempered glass. Is that right? Does anyone know the tradeoffs of each product, and relative costs?

I plan on putting sliding doors on the back for both the display area and a storage area below. What's a good type of lock to use?

I've been surfing the Net looking for a source for glass in Northern Virginia but I haven't found one yet.

02-14-2002, 08:50 PM

There are federal standards for glass in doors, near walkways and for overhead construction. I am looking for a glass supplier for some doors and IF I find a good source, I will let you know.

Ron Brown - wdyasq@yahoo.com (mailto:wdyasq@yahoo.com)

If Stupidity got us into this mess,
then why can't it get us out? - Will Rogers

02-17-2002, 12:02 AM
the plate glass you referred to is called float glass or annealed. you drop it and you end up with those sharp pieces.this is why they are not used in doorways etc. tempered glass is annealed glass that has gone thru an oven and cooled with a blast of air. when this glass drops it breaks into corn kernel like pieces, structurally it is about 6 times stronger than annealed. it also has the edges sanded prior to being tempered. this means you or a customer are less likely to cut themselves on the edge of the glass. your local glass shops will not manufacture tempered glass but they can be a source for the annealed glass. They also probably deal with the glass distributors who do have tempering ovens. There are several different thicknesses. the standards for your application would be 1/8, 3/16, and 1/4 as refered to as 3mm, 5mm, and 6mm.
Here's some quick and dirty prices that i know the local glass shop will not match, but it gives you a comparison to see who is offering what and at what mark-up. It's also for clear glass - no tints, reflective coatings etc.
1/8 3/16 1/4
annealed .33/sf .48 .56

tempered 1.35 1.44 1.50

the industry standard is to charge by the even inch. 22-1/8 X 23-1/8 is calculated as 24 X 24 which gives you 4 square feet.they also charge a 3 sf minimum

on the tempered glass. if you do not require a logo as proof that it is tempered/safety glass then ordered it "without logo". tempered glass also is not perfectly flat as the tempering process can cause minor bowing and/or waviness. lok at store fronts and the reflections and you can sometimes spot this.

a source from richmond is afgd glass 800-283-2341. they deliver all over virginia, maryland and penna. i don't know if they sell to individuals.

typical leadtime is 1 week or less to get tempered glass. the annealed glass can be cut right on the spot.

i hope this helps you. if you need more info my e-mail is as6788@aol.com (mailto:as6788@aol.com)

02-20-2002, 07:06 AM

Thanks, that's exactly the advice I was looking for.

I gather from what you said that I should use tempered glass (if only for safety's sake) and that I have to order the exact size I want (i.e., I can't cut it myself).

02-20-2002, 06:09 PM
Let me check in on this.

You can not cut tempered glass. If you try it turns into those little not as sharp pieces that were discussed earlier.

What you do is get the type of glass that can be tempered and then after cutting, designing and decorating it send it off for tempering. Actually (last time I did it) not all that expensive. Probably the biggest problem is that sometimes glass will break during the tempering process.

When I needed to do this a local glass company was able to help me. I had about ten square feet of glass and it took about a week to get tempered.

02-20-2002, 10:55 PM
yes you would place the order for the exact sized glass you would want. any ground and polished edges, bevelled cuts, and etc to the glass would be part of the order and done prior to the tempering of the glass. any painting, gilding, and etc would be done afterwards so that the oven temperatures would not destroy or damage them. when you place the order they are agreeing to provide the finished piece. if they break it in manufacturing it is their problem. your price has some of that cost/risk built into it. they do this day in and day out so the amount of breakage is minimal unless the glass manufacturer supplied them with a bad batch of glass. if this were the case it is readily appearant and the glass is quickly replaced to them. tempering houses have to periodically submit samples to outside sources for testing to insure the product meets code. that little logo you see on the glass identifies who did it and other data as well as standing out for you or i to see and recognize that it is not regular glass.

if the glass is on a display case i would forego the logo unless some government rules require it. for the cost difference i would use tempered but without the logo - just for the piece of mind that if a kid ran into it you took the extra care to minimize harm.if your tight on budget you could layout the options to your customer and have the tempered and it benefits laid out as well as the additional cost. then it is the customers decision and you didn't lose the job because someone underbid you with annealed instead of tempered.

those sanded/seamed edges are not because the place is nice but rather it minimizes the chance of breakage to the glass going thru the tempering oven.

perhaps you have already heard of them but outwater plastics has a catalog and i believe a web site and has hardware for display cases, glass doors and etc

i don't know your exact application. when ready to order you might want to ask the supplier what types he may have supplied to his other customers doing cabinets. if you have the glass topped counter and its long and wide you might even want to increase the thickness of the glass.jewelry stores, kmart and the like have glass display cases and might give you an idea as to the thicknesses used.
let me know if you have any other questions. you have my e-mail address.

02-20-2002, 11:31 PM
One other point to consider is that while tempered glass is 5-6 times stronger than non-tempered, it is much more likely to shatter due to a seemingly light blow to its edge (a blow which would simple chip regular glass). For this reason my supplier does not recommend tempered glass for table tops or other applications where the edges will be exposed or vulnerable.
I do have an excellent wholesale supplier here in Atlanta; they regularly crate and ship glass all over the east coast. If you need the info, drop me an e-mail.

02-21-2002, 12:40 AM
Have you considered applying a plastic film shield to the outside of normal glass for the safety aspect? I personally have no experience of this, but the process seems viable.

These shielding films are mostly used here for blocking out excess sunlight. If the cabinets have internal lighting, then the "plastic-coated" glass should be okay in principle.

02-21-2002, 07:24 AM
There are Federal Regulations on the use of glass in areas where it may cause injury if broken. They actually state distances from a walkway and the type material to use.

Failure to follow these regulations would be an invitation to litigation.

Ron Brown - wdyasq@yahoo.com (mailto:wdyasq@yahoo.com)

If Stupidity got us into this mess,
then why can't it get us out? - Will Rogers

02-21-2002, 07:32 AM

Do you have a reference for the federal regulations?


The web site for Outwater Plastics is www.outwater.com.


I don't plan to light the cabinets. I'm thinking of using a top that's beveled on all sides so the edge is level with the frame.

Budget is not a big issue. The folks who make display cabinets have MUCH higher prices than mine.

I'll be making two types of display cabinets, one about 40" high, and one about 72" high.

02-21-2002, 08:58 AM
Ron C, plastic may be too "cheap" for your application, but I thought it may be worth investigating for other guys who read this forum. When guys are on a very low budget and tempted to use plain glass, a plastic skin may just be affordable - to ease the conscience

02-21-2002, 02:10 PM
The Building Codes (UBC, SBCCI, BOCA) address this issue. As an example, there is an exemption for assemblies using leaded, faceted or carved glass in hazardous locations when used for decorative purposes, UBC Sec 2406.4., SBCCI Sec. 2703.2, Single family Dwelling Code Sec. 308.

As with any exemptions in the National Codes, Local Codes often have overriding addendems to National Codes. I would find out what Code is used in your area and how your local building department addresses this issue. If you live in a small community the local building official loves to have someone to talk to. It's a little harder in large communities, these guys are usually too important to talk to you, but its their job. You should be able to get all of your concerns addressed with a phone call or better a visit to your local building official. If you are in a large coty, call first.

02-22-2002, 06:41 AM
I contacted the appropriate department in the two counties where I will be delivering the display cases.

A representatvie from both counties said display cases are considered furniture and so are not covered by the building code.

I guess I need to find those federal regulations. Can anyone help with that? I'll try some of the .gov sites I know about.

02-22-2002, 08:27 AM

The egg may be on my face. I found this:


I had no idea there were 'exemptions' for safety. I once built a door where a second 'carpenter' put plate glass in a door I built. I DO know having your name as a 'defendant' in a law suit costs more than a piece of glass.

Personally, I would not build a glass case to be used in a commercial location without using safety or tempered glass. But, it is not my decision. I would be sure and have the CLIENT specify the type of glass installed. It won't repair any damage done by the breaking glass but might help in court.

Ron Brown - wdyasq@yahoo.com (mailto:wdyasq@yahoo.com)

If Stupidity got us into this mess,
then why can't it get us out? - Will Rogers

02-22-2002, 08:34 AM
Ron B,

I agree. Using labeled safety glass is the 'safe' way to go. Using the ballpark costs given above, the cost of the glass is a small part of the total cost.