Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Adjusting Cut Runners

There are a number of types of cut running pliers.  These photos show some of them. 

The apparently most popular is this:


It is frequently difficult to find replacements for the plastic cushions that come with a new pair of cut runners.  People resort to a number of means to provide a substitute.  Some wrap electrical tape around the jaws, others use fabric bandages (Elastoplast/band aids).  I have even used the liquid plastic that is designed for coating tool handles.

However, if you adjust the cut runners appropriately, you can use them to run your scores even without cushions.  The purpose of these cushions is only to compensate for too much pressure in running the score.

Use without covers

You can run the score without cushions by using the adjustment screw on the top jaw of the tool. Yes, it does tell you which is the top jaw without having to check the end of the runners, but it has a more important use.  It is not just a pretty cool way to tell which is up. 

Its purpose is to adjust the width of the opening so that it provides the appropriate amount of bending force no matter how much pressure you exert at the handles.  If you are running scores in three-millimetre glass, set the jaws to that width by turning the screw until the jaws are that width apart.

Place the jaws at right angles to the score, aligning the mark on the top jaw with the score line and squeeze the pliers.  As you squeeze, the curved jaws provide enough bending force to run the score without over stressing the glass.  It is the adjustment screw that limits the over-stressing of the glass during the running of the score. Yes, you may not be able to run the whole length of the score this way, but you can repeat from the other end and that is usually enough to complete the running of the score.

You can continue to use cushions of various sorts with this adjustment for thickness, but I found that these were not necessary when the runners were properly adjusted.  In fact, I found that soft cushioning made more difficulties than using them with the bare metal.  I discovered this during the period of using the liquid plastic coating as used for tool handles.  I dipped the jaws multiple times to give a cushioning effect and it worked fine.  The cut runners continued to work even after the tool handle coating had worn off.  It was then that I realised I could control the running pressure more directly than by having a cushion between the glass and the jaws.

Setting the spacing

An easy way to set the correct opening of the jaws is to test against the glass you are about to score and break.  Place one side of the jaws against the edge of the glass. Slide that corner just a few millimetres over the glass.  Turn the set screw on the top of the jaws anticlockwise until they are fitting the glass snugly.  Back off a half turn (clockwise) so the jaws move easily along the edge.  This is now set to run the score on this glass. 

Open the jaws and place the centre mark in line with the score.  Close them gently and you can observe the arc of the jaws above the score line. Squeeze the handles and the score will run along the line away from the cut runners.  As you have adjusted the opening, no matter how hard you squeeze the cut runners, you cannot add more pressure.  This means you avoid crushing the glass.

The principles

The curve of the jaws is designed to provide the bending force required to run the score.  The radius of the curve has been designed to provide the correct bending pressure for differing sizes of glass.  The most common ones are useful for glass up to, but not including, 6mm glass.  The screw adjustment provides compensation for differing thicknesses of glass.  Setting the width of the gap to match the thickness of the glass prevents the application of too much pressure.

Thicker glass

For thicker glass you need cut runners with wider jaws.  These usually are fitted with three points to apply the breaking pressure - one under the score and one each side of the score on the top.  Again, these are adjusted to be just less than snug to the glass before applying the pressure.

One example of  cut runners for thick glass.  There are a variety of others.