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Can You Cut Tempered Glass?

Cutting and shaping glass is the first step in the fabrication process. Tempering is the last. As a result, you cannot cut glass after it’s been tempered.
Published February 14, 2017

Can You Cut Tempered Glass?

Tempered glass is commonly used in commercial interiors. In fact, most of the glass you see in a museum, a store, an office, or a restaurant  has been tempered, including almost every store fixture, entrance door, shelf, partition, and table top—just to name a few. However, you won't be able to cut it once the tempering process is complete.

The reason for using this strengthening technique is because tempering decreases the likelihood of glass breaking. More importantly, if by some chance the glass does break, this process ensures that the broken pieces will be relatively small and round, reducing their potential to harm someone nearby. The result is called safety glass. Codes and specifications almost always require safety glass be used, especially in public places.

Therefore, tempered glass is very popular and certainly has its benefits. One of the downsides is that it cannot be cut. Because it is safety glass, it will break into those small harmless round pieces if it is cut after tempering. 

The glass you ordered does not fit. So can you cut tempered glass to fix its size?

A number of mishaps can occur after ordering glass. The shape may not be quite right, or the size could end up being too big for the intended space.

Some issues can be fixed, but others simply cannot, particularly pertaining to size and shape.

The first step of the fabrication process is to cut the glass into the desired shape. The last step is to temper it. Once the glass has been tempered, the size of a glass display case, table top, or any other product cannot be changed. The only exception may be if a piece of tempered glass is only a bit too big—up to a 1/4″. In such a case, we may be able to take off up to an 1/8” per edge.

Nonetheless, this is why it is critical to get the dimensions right beforehand. Otherwise, you will likely have to reorder the glass to match the correct dimensions, which can prolong your interior design project.

Know what to look for in a glass fabricator.

To ensure that the tempered glass you ordered will be the exact shape and size you expect you must measure accurately. To accomplish this task, you should work with a reputable glass fabricator. Choosing a trusted glass fabricator that has specific qualities, including decades of experience, can help decrease the chance of a mistake.  

Learn more about some of the most common tempered glass uses and where you can get custom cut glass.

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