If you work with stained glass, you know what I’m talking about. It seems like every room in the house and every table, dresser, bed, and desk has sheets of glass sitting on it collecting dust. Stained glass clutters every open space everywhere. One day, my wife had enough. She said firmly, “Please clean up all this glass, I can’t stand it anymore.” I responded, “Yes, dear.” I thought about how I could store my glass without piling the sheets on top of each other, creating a stack two feet high. That wouldn’t be good for the glass, especially those at the bottom of the pile, and it would be terribly inconvenient every time I needed a piece near the bottom. Ideally, stained glass should be stored on its side, not piled on top of each other. I didn’t want to spend a thousand bucks to buy a fancy rack system, and I don’t have the proper tools to build one myself. So, what is a broke (i.e., no money) mosaic and stained glass artist to do when the wife says clean it up or throw it away?
I sat imagining the rack system at the local hobby store where I buy a lot of my stained glass. It’s a beautiful thing. Nice, neat shelves with the proper spacing to fit 12-inch by 12-inch sheets of glass, and dividers every two or three inches so the glass can rest on its edges lightly leaning to the side. It truly is a thing of beauty. Where can I get something like that without spending a fortune? It suddenly hit me. I dreamed up the perfect solution.
I went to my favorite home improvement store to see what kinds of ready-made cabinets are available. I immediately saw the perfect piece. It’s a slim five-shelf cabinet, about 10 inches wide and about four feet high. The key is that it has adjustable shelves. Two of those cabinets would give me plenty of room to store all my glass and provide lots of room to expand my stock. The problem was that the piece is 10 inches wide. I need each section to be about half that width to fit only a few pieces of glass and allow them to lean at a small angle. How can I divide each 10-inch section into halves? Again, it immediately hit me.
I remembered using thin pieces of metal for one of my many hair-brained house projects. Each piece is about 12 inches long, 2 inches wide, and less than 1/8-inch thick so it easily bends with a little elbow grease. Another good thing is that the metal pieces already had pre-drilled holes at each end. I think the metal pieces are actually used in construction as a type of mending plate, but that didn’t stop me from using them for my latest crazy idea. I figured I could attach two of these metal pieces to the bottom of each shelf to hang down, creating a divider upon which the glass could lean. Perfect! I bought two cabinets and a bunch of the metal strips.
I quickly assembled the first cabinet. I used only two of the five adjustable shelves because I needed at least 13 inches between shelves. With the bottom fixed shelf, these two adjustable shelves gave me a total of three shelves. Remember, the key to this crazy idea is that the shelves must be adjustable. To adjust the shelves on this cabinet, little holes are drilled into the side pieces of the cabinet into which little metal dowels are inserted. Four dowels are inserted for each shelf at the right height, and then the shelf rests loosely on the four dowels.
For each shelf, I used two pieces of metal as a center divider, one piece toward the front and one piece toward the back. I bent one end of the metal piece two inches from the end, creating a 90-degree L-shape. The short 2-inch side is attached with two small screws to the bottom of each shelf so the longer 10-inch side hangs down, thereby creating the divider. The metal pieces are thick enough to hold the glass without bending when the glass leans on the dividers, but thin enough to easily bend to make the L-shape.
Each shelf section now has two of these metal pieces hanging down in alignment as a divider, creating two 5-inch-wide sections on each shelf. I assembled the second cabinet and installed the metal pieces the same way as the first cabinet. The two cabinets rest side-by-side in my studio and neatly hold all my stained glass. There’s enough room to store my glass not only by color, but also by texture. All my glass is in one organized place now. The rest of the house is glass-free, and the wife is very happy. By the way, did I mention that I created this perfect glass storage system for less than $100? Amazing what a little ingenuity can do.