Exploring this Job
Hobbies that require manual dexterity, using a variety of hand tools, and attention to detail offer good experience. Working with stained glass, making decorative objects such as windowpanes, lampshades, and ornaments, is an excellent hobby for the prospective glazier.
For a more direct look at this career, you may be able to get a part-time or summer job as a helper at a construction site or in a glass shop. If this cannot be arranged, it may be possible to talk with someone employed in a glass shop or as a glazier in construction work to get an insider's view of the field.
Learn the terminology that is used in the glass installation and repair industry. The Corning Museum of Glass offers a useful glossary at https://www.cmog.org/sites/default/files/collections/B4/B4473AD3-13F8-46F6-8746-922EB10F20C5.pdf.
Glaziers install different kinds of glass in different places. They put insulating glass where it is desirable to keep heat or sound on one side and laminated glass in doors and windows where safety is a concern. They install large structural glass panels on building exteriors to create walls that admit natural light. They install mirrors, storefronts, automobile windows, and sunroom additions to homes. Glaziers may also occasionally work with plastics, granite, marble, steel, and aluminum.
In most of these applications, the glass is precut to size in a shop or factory and comes to the work site mounted in a frame. Because glass is heavy and easily breakable, glaziers may need to use a hoist or a crane to move larger pieces into position. The glass is held with suction cups and gently guided into place.
When it is in place, glaziers often put the glass on a bed of putty or another kind of cement inside a metal or wooden frame and secure the glass with metal clips, metal or wooden molding, bolts, or other devices. They may put a rubber gasket around the outside edges to clamp the glass in place and make a moisture-proof seal. In windows, glaziers may pack a putty-like glazing compound into the joints at the edges of the glass in the molding that surrounds the open space. They trim off the excess compound with a glazing knife for a neat appearance.
Sometimes glaziers must manually cut glass to size at a work site. They put uncut glass on a rack or cutting table and measure and mark the cutting line. They use a cutting tool such as a small, sharp wheel of hard metal, which cuts the glass when rolled firmly over the surface. After making a cut, they break off the excess by hand or with a notched tool.
In some situations, glaziers cut and fasten together pieces of metal. When installing storefront windows, for example, they cut the drain moldings and face moldings that fit around the opening. They screw the drain molding into position and place plate glass into position against the metal. Then they bolt the face molding around the edges and attach metal corner pieces. When installing glass doors, they fit hinges and bolt on handles, locks, and other hardware.
Some workers in glazing occupations specialize in other kinds of glass installations. Among these workers are aircraft safety glass installers, who cut and install laminated safety glass in airplane windows and windshields; auto glass installers, who replace pitted or broken windows and windshields in motor vehicles; refrigerator glaziers, who install the plate glass windows in refrigerator display cases and walk-in coolers; and glass installers, who work in planing mills where they fit glass into newly manufactured millwork products, such as doors, window sashes, china cabinets, and office partitions.