Using Grace's Disc Shaper from Graceful Customs

A few examples of discs I've made.

This is a short tutorial on how I use Grace's Disc Shaper, made by Graceful Customs, to create lampwork glass discs. Other lampworkers may use slightly different techniques, but this is what works best for me personally.

I will post some photos of finished glass discs soon, as well as updating the tutorial with additional information. Please feel free to contact me if you have any problems.

Update 11/02/11: I believe I have now fixed the pdf file size for printing.  If you have issues, see the "Printing Notes" section below.  I will also add the "Tips and Troubleshooting" notes at the bottom of this page, as I had to pull that section from the actual pdf in order to get it to save properly.

To purchase Grace's Disc Shaper, or any of Graceful Customs' quality lampworking tools, visit or the GracefulCustoms Etsy shop.

I am not affiliated with the company, other than I really like their tools!

The tutorial came about after I ordered a custom disc shaper, with a slot for 3/16-inch to 1/4-inch mandrels. (Which will probably be available soon as a production tool.) I was letting them know how much I loved it, and they asked me how I used it. I got a little carried away, and this little tutorial was born. The same techniques apply whether you are using the original tool with the smaller mandrel slot, or the larger-slot version.

Many thanks to the kind members of Lampwork Etc., who volunteered to proofread and give me valuable feedback on this tutorial.  I have taken all suggestions into consideration - please don't feel hurt if it appears that I did not use your suggestion.  Some of the suggestions cancel one another out, so I'm seeing what the overwhelming preferences seem to be for ease of use.  Thanks!

Printing Notes
Printing the pdf -- if you have issues with printing, please select "Shrink to Printable Area" next to Page Scaling when your print box pops up -- there was an issue with the sizing, but I think that I've fixed it. Either way, if you select "Shrink to Printable Area", you should be fine. Please feel free to contact me if you have an issue.

Alternately, the two image files below (updated 11/01/11) are clickable, and should be printable...just click on the small image, then "show original", and if necessary, click on that image to make it full size and print it. These don't print quite as well as the pdf, but are here for your convenience if the pdf doesn't work for you.

Tips and Troubleshooting:
It is easier to get a consistent disc and maintain clean holes in the disc if you concentrate on keeping your footprint bead from becoming too hot. If the glass next to the mandrel gets molten and/or you squeeze the disc shaper too aggressively, glass can either take on the impression of the mandrel groove in the tool, squish through the mandrel groove, and/or your bead release will start migrating up the sides of your disc.

Keeping the footprint warm enough not to crack, yet never allowing it to get hot enough start moving again will help you keep neat, clean bead holes. If you are making large discs, getting the center of the disc molten may even cause the hole to sag due to the weight of the disc. At this point, it’s likely that you will have lost the foundation of your disc. If the hole becomes enlarged to a point that it sags away from the mandrel and bead release, that disc is most likely beyond repair. (I speak from experience...)

Using this tool is slightly different that other mashing tools. Making a fat/rounded bead, then attempting to mash it into a vertical disc doesn’t yield the best results, especially if you are making larger diameter discs. Doing this may cause your disc’s holes to be uneven, may leave tool marks on the sides of the disc, bead release may migrate onto the outside of your disc, and the bead release may break or pull completely away from your mandrel.

Varying the focus of your flame and how hot you allow your disc to become will affect the finished product. Less heat as you apply each wrapped layer can create a very cool “tree ring” textural effect. Melting each wrap more thoroughly into the previous layers helps create a more uniform, smooth-sided disc.

If your disc becomes less circular and more elliptical, don’t fret. Funky is fun! Your discs don’t necessarily have to be perfectly round - sometimes I prefer the ones that come out with a personality of their own. As long as you have maintained a good foundation and clean bead hole, a little wackiness in the outer layers can be a fun artistic statement.

If you have a floppy disc (haha!), take the time to align it with the tool before adding more glass. Remove the disc from the flame (remember to keep rotating your mandrel), and gently press it into standing up straight again.