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OT: Is there a fast way to remove glazed window panes while preserving the glass?

Garwood

Diamond
Joined
Oct 10, 2009
Location
Oregon
I have six 120 year old rolled steel casement windows about 5ft x 5ft. They have some fantastic 5/16" thick wire reinforced patterned glass I want to reuse, but I need to restore/modify the frames. I thought the crumbly old glazing would give up easily, but it's a 20 minute fight to get each pane out scraping with a razor knife and small hammer/chisel then gently tapping a block of wood against the glass to break it free. I've got about 140 more panes to go and hoping there's a better way.
 
We had a 120 year old house that had quite a bit of the original glue chip security glass that I had to take out in rebuilding the wood sash. It was a tedious job that required a long time to remove the old putty. I wish that I had a simple answer for you, but old glazing putty just takes a lot of time and effort to remove. Keep at it.
 
I'm with Phil...when I did that chore on old Redwood double hung oldies I softened the putty with a heat gun.

Stuart
 
If you don't want to wait another few decades for some of the putty to fail a heat gun will do the trick, or has for me in the past.

I've used oscillating tools near glass in the past, but some care needs to be taken, I'd try heat first.
 
Steam, as from a modified carpet steamer, is what a window restoration friend uses. And copper sheets laid on the glass keep the glass from cracking.

Aluminum might work, too.
 
That is one job I hate. I had to replace the glazing on some windows in my house last years that were maybe fifty years old. The compound was very hard and I was afraid I would break the glass if I went at it with a chisel. I ended up chucking a 3/8" 2 flute end mill in my portable drill and just let it ride along the glass while pushing it into the window frame. It didn't break the glass and the old putty came right out.
 
I know you are asking about removal of putty, but the next step is application of new putty. I did that job a while ago and got a pretty good system down. What I did was fairly standard except for a couple of key points which I found very helpful—-bolded below.


1)clean out loose putty
2wipe a thin coat of linseed on glass (often mentioned in how-tos) and window frame. This improves adhesion greatly
2a)knead putty ball for 1 min to soften and warm it
3)press in a little extra putty into the corner between glass and wood...can be put in pretty roughly (puttying the corners first is not usually mentioned in how-tos)
4)(my learned secret) use a small chip brush to brush a trace of linseed onto rough putty as it will allow putty knife to smoothly glide over the bead rather than tear
5)simply press knife firmly while advancing down joint line
6)lift away excess—-done

Denis
 
Let me offer this up as an idea…trying to think out of the box here a bit.

Since the frames are metal is there a possibility to use a set up similar to that to thaw frozen pipes in walls?

Just a little “Juice” through the frame puts heat under the putty first.
 
Let me offer this up as an idea…trying to think out of the box here a bit.

Since the frames are metal is there a possibility to use a set up similar to that to thaw frozen pipes in walls?

Just a little “Juice” through the frame puts heat under the putty first.

I was thinking the same thing, electrical conduction heating.
 
Rereading the original post leads me to believe that using your current method, 20 minutes per window isn't too shabby. Your problem is the large number of windows you need to do. I think the heat gun route wouldn't be any faster, maybe even slower.

20 minutes for a 5X5 window seems speedy to me!

Stuart
 
Rereading the original post leads me to believe that using your current method, 20 minutes per window isn't too shabby. Your problem is the large number of windows you need to do. I think the heat gun route wouldn't be any faster, maybe even slower.

20 minutes for a 5X5 window seems speedy to me!

Stuart

20 minutes per pane of glass. There's a lot of panes!

Thanks for the tips, I will give the heat a try.
 
Depending on the age of the glazing putty something as simple as vinegar may work to help soften the putty a bit. That was what a fellow I know of used while restoring an old farmhouse. He had 200-year old “wavy” glass panes with likely 125-year old glazing. Was tremendously concerned with breaking any of the irreplaceable panes, but set the glass in five gallon buckets with primarily vinegar and a bit of water. Most of the remaining putty fell off into the buckets and whatever remained came off at the sight of a razor blade.






Be safe and stay healthy



Jeremy
 
When I purchased my shop building many years ago, the steel framed casement windows with 12" x 16" panes were mostly broken glass covered with plywood on the outside. This meant I had miles of old putty to remove in order to refurb these windows. I tried the chisel and heat gun stuff, but I found the best as quickest method was a used and abused 3/8" 2 flute carbide end mill chucked up in an electric drill. It chewed the old putty out quicker than any other method I tried. Since I was removing the glass as well, I did not care if I hit the glass, but it would be easy to put a disk over the end mill to control depth. HSS end mills work also, but don't last as long as they are banging into the steel frame.
Luckily we had huge skylights that we salvaged 3' x 6' panels of wire glass out of that got recycled for the casement windows. Buying new wire glass would have cost a small fortune.
 








 
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