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More Cool Tools for Mosaic Artists: Grinders

I have always loved working with glass so coming from a stained glass background has been an advantage for me in my mosaic art. A lot of the tools I use in Mosaics I can also used in Stained Glass. I want to share with you a tool that I think is a "Must Have" for mosaic artists who need to achieve a smooth edge to their tesserae. I'm talking about a grinder. It is a tool I use on a regular basis and is so easy and fast.

First, safety always needs to be your top priority, so always wear some kind of eye protection. You never know when that small little piece will fly up in your face while you are grinding, so always wear glasses.

Two important things I want to mention:

First, Grinders come with diamond grinder bits that have different grits for working on diverse ranges of tesserae. You can grind glass, stained glass, ceramic tile, porcelain, stone, slate, limestone, marble, and granite. You just need to order the right grinding heads that work best for the materials that you will be using. I generally stick with 2 diamond bits: one that has a grits of 100-120 which works really well for smoothing and shaping and the other is 170 grit which is best for stained glass and glass tile tesserae I generally use. 

NippinSquares are a great addition to your tesserae and are easy to smooth with a grinder. Use a 170 grit bit for stained glass to prevent chipping.

The other important thing is that grinders have cooling systems that applies water to the grinding head for cooling and lubrication. Never grind your tesserae without water in the reservoir as you will wear out your bit really fast and it will kick up dust from your tiles; using water controls all that dust. So fill up your reservoir and I recommend purchasing a bottle of grinder coolant and add a capful right into your water in the reservoir whenever you change out your water. The coolant provides a smoother grind and extends the life of your grinder's diamond heads.

Now for the fun part.

Once you have cut out a piece of tesserae, there will be sharp edges so always be careful when handling it and, again, wear your glasses. If you want you can buy some inexpensive gloves to wear while grinding.

Place your fingers on top of the tesserae, hold it firmly and press gently against the bit. Move the tesserae back and forth – never hold your piece in one place, unless you are specifically wanting to remove a significant amount in one area. So, moving it back and forth will give you smooth lines and removes any sharp edges. A Grinder's Mate and/or a Grinder Cookie are two helpful tools that will hold really tiny pieces of glass that you need to grind smooth. You can get them from a variety of online stores selling grinder accessories.

After you have the desired smoothness, wipe off with a dry clean cloth. You're ready to use your piece in your mosaic! So simple and easy and you'll be glad you have a grinder.


  • If you can’t tell what bit you have, I’d recommend getting a 100/120 grit bit for harder materials like ceramics, and use 170 grit bit for stained glass for less chipping results.

    Lou Ann Weeks
  • Love this advice! I bought a used one- how do I tell what type bit I am using? Thanks!

    Becki Whittington
  • I read further and you answered my question!

  • I have the Gryphon Gryphetter – I use the bit it came with; and don’t have box to tell which it is. I use it for dishware. What would you recommend?
    Many thanks, MJ

  • Your email today mentioned grinder mate and cookies. There was no link for further info. How do I choose? Do you sell them or do I go to Amazon?

    Kay Gervasi Sommers

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