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The Case of the Angular Ailments



Dear Glass Detective,

I’m trying to get tempered glass that has a very sharp angle but is small in size for my house and it seems like it is a hard task. Can it be done using laminated glass instead? The size is 47-inches in length by 7-inches high. The angled side goes down from the top of the seven till the end of the 47.


Rancho Palos Verdes, CA



Dear Sanaa,

Thank you for making contact with the Glass Detective with your question as to whether or not a laminated piece of glass would be a good substitute for a tempered piece of glass that you are having difficulty in finding someone to make for you. Believe it or not, your problem and situation is not rare and I am going to try to explain what I think is causing the problem. Then I have a suggestion or two might be of help.

While you don’t tell me where this piece of glass is going to be used, I am going to assume that it is going someplace that requires a piece of safety glass (door, sidelite, etc.) or in a place where you are concerned about the glass breaking and either making a mess or causing some other type of a problem (tabletop or other type of furniture). I am also going to assume that per your description, the glass you are looking to have made is cut on a diagonal on one side so that it angles all the way down to a tip on one end—a right, 90-degree triangularly angled shape of glass if you will.

If this is accurate, you are probably not going to be able to get this glass tempered unless you go to a company that does chemical tempering. Chemical tempering is achieved by submersing the piece of glass to be tempered into a molten salt bath that contains a concentration of potassium nitrate. The surface of the original piece of glass consists primarily of sodium nitrate. The larger potassium ions exchange places with (push their way in between) the smaller sodium ions and the glass is strengthened by the process. However, If you can find someone to do this one piece for you, it could be quite expensive.

Not all glass fabricators are equal in what they can do and in what they want to do. A lot of glass fabricators do not want to deal with severe patterns and angles in glass. Unless you are going to buy a lot of pieces of glass this size and shape, you will have difficulty getting a glass fabricator interested in working with you. Glass fabrication is difficult enough and small, odd orders are sometimes very difficult to get processed.

I think I understand your dilemma. You see, the “tip” of this glass (in the shape you are looking for) is quite fragile and glass tempering firms will not want to process a piece of glass this small with that tip because the odds of it breaking or falling through the rollers in the tempering oven (the piece is only 7” wide to begin with) are pretty much 100%.

There are “batch temperers” who work with fixtures and small pieces of glass but the 47” length and corner tip I believe will keep them from being of any help to you. You should be able to find one of these providers who will do the piece in laminated glass. They will probably recommend to do it in at least ¼” thickness. You don’t specify whether or not you are looking to have any edgework done on this piece of glass (polishing or beveling, etc.), so this too could be a problem for the laminated glass supplier.

Depending on where this piece of glass is going to be used, maybe you would want to consider a piece of polycarbonate instead. The piece, in size and shape that you described, could be done in polycarbonate. I believe a piece of polycarbonate would perform well and if kept clean, would look very much like a piece of clear glass. Polycarbonate also qualifies as a piece of safety glazing material so if this piece is going into a door, sidelite, furniture, or other opening considered to be a hazardous location, it will satisfy safety glazing code requirements.

I again thank you for contacting the Glass Detective with your problem and I sincerely wish you well with your project.

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Lyle Hill

Lyle Hill has been in the glass and metal industry for more than 40 years. In this time he has managed glass retail, contract glazing, mirror, architectural window, window film, and automotive glass businesses throughout America. He obtained an MBA from IIT with a focus on Technology and Engineering Management. Hill is also a columnist for glass industry trade magazines and often called the “face” of the glass industry. He has also authored books including “The Broken Tomato and Other Business Parables,” which is available through Amazon. Find out more about Lyle on Linkedin.

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