Wheeled nippers (cutters) are great for cutting glass tiles, small pieces of stained glass, gems, millefiori, mirror and smalti. While they are quite easy to use, this 'How to Mosaic' will give you some valuable tips and techniques to get the most of our your nippers.
Always wear safety goggles when cutting with wheeled nippers.
How do They Work
The fixed wheels do not score the tiles or glass, rather they create pressure which causes the glass to fracture in a controlled manner. The wheels do not join together like scissors, nor can they cut your skin.
How to Hold Your Nippers
Hold them in your dominant hand. For right handed people, hold the nippers in your right hand and face the wheels to the left. Visa versa for left handed people.
Many people use their spare hand to cup the piece of glass or tile, to prevent the pieces from flying away. Rather than doing this use your spare hand to steady the piece while the press is applied, this will result in a more controlled cut. To prevent the pieces from flying away, cut your tiles in an ice cream container or plastic bag. Also point the nippers downwards towards the work surface, this will help stop pieces flying off into the air.
If you lean your nippers to one side when cutting you will get a curved cut.
This is a right handed grip for wheeled nippers. Notice that the nippers are held towards the bottom of the arms. This creates leverage which makes it easier to cut.
This grip of the nippers is incorrect as they are being held too high up.
What Materials Can I Use Them On
Use them to cut glass tiles, stained glass, mirror, millefiori, glass gems or smalti. They can also cut soft ceramic tiles but this will dull the wheels quicker. Never use these nippers to cut porcelain or hard ceramics.
If you are working with tiles that have ridges, turn the tiles over so you can see the ridges to determine the best place to cut.
Care Of Your Nippers
Wheeled nippers and hard surfaces don't mix! Be careful not to drop your wheeled nippers on the floor as it can knock the wheels out of alignment, which can't be fixed.
Over time and with use your wheels can loosen. It you find that your cuts aren't as good as they should be, it's probably time to tighten your wheels.
When you first get your nippers, mark the wheels where they come together. As you rotate your wheels continue to mark the wheels, with this technique you will get the maximum life out of your nippers.