How To Remove Scratches From Glass

The joy of having a glass collection goes beyond sheer visual admiration. For those who own antique glass, there is also the profoundly meaningful sense of restoring and preserving heirloom pieces for future generations. Each item of antique glass serves as a tangible emblem of an era—a way of life that has long since passed into the annals of history.

Many types of antique glass that are cherished today as art glass (e.g., carnival glass, uranium glass, milk glass) didn’t start out as collector’s items. Instead, these pieces were intended for the common man and woman’s everyday use; wear and tear was therefore part of the job description. Additionally, some types of glass that are popular today (notably carnival and depression glass) were manufactured very inexpensively owing to the economic conditions of their time. This resulted in quality control that was weak at best, making these pieces more prone to scratches, chips, and other damage. If you’re actively collecting these types of glass, you’ll therefore find the following scratch removal techniques useful.
how to remove scratches from glass

How To Remove Scratches From Glass: A Word Of Caution

Scratch removal is a delicate operation. If you’re inexperienced, it’s important to be aware that you may do further damage to your glass owing to the abrasive nature of many scratch removers. As such, any very old or very valuable pieces of glass you own should absolutely be taken to a professional glass restorer, not buffed at home. Furthermore, any piece of glass that has applied enamel, gilding, or coatings should be taken to a professional. If you’re unsure how a piece of glass was made, consult an expert before attempting to restore it.

Professional glass restoration can be costly, so use your own best judgement when deciding whether or not it’s worthwhile to pay to have a piece of glass professionally restored. A flawed, low-value piece is usually best buffed at home using machine polishers and can make an excellent ‘practice piece’ if you’re looking to learn how to remove scratches from glass.

If you have never attempted to buff the scratches out of a piece of glass before, we recommend that you try the methods below on a piece of ‘junk glass’ before working on the piece you wish to restore. This will give you the opportunity to learn how much pressure needs to be applied and how powerful each abrasive is.

Finally, remember to clean your glass before you attempt to buff it. If there are dirt particles on the glass’s surface when you polish it, those particles might cause additional fine scratches. Clean your glass by hand using an undyed, non-abrasive, lint-free cotton cloth, a bit of gentle dish soap, and lukewarm water. Never use a dishwasher to clean antique glass.

How To Remove Scratches From Glass With Light Abrasives

Generally, the ‘go to’ scratch removers for glass are Aluminium Oxide and Diamond paste. Both of these pastes are claimed to be excellent options for removing deep or fine scratches, and when used correctly, they can allegedly restore a ‘like new’ finish to your glass. We do not know and we do not recommend them. We always recommend taking your glass to a professional!

If you have used these, then please let us know in the comments below. Many websites claim to have the right solution for repairing scratches but when we tried on a junk piece of glass we ended up with an area with a deep scratch surrounded by an area which had become misty with the application of an abrasive! This is why we always advise clients to take their art glass to professional glass restorers.

However, here are the instructions we have garnered by reading up on the subject online if you do decide to use an abrasive paste.

Removing Scratches From Glass Using The Paste Method

When choosing a paste, consider the depth of the scratch or scratches you will be removing: A deep scratch will require a coarse paste (10 or 6.5 microns), whereas a light scratch may be removed with a fine paste. Use the finest grade of paste that will suffice to get the job done; this will limit the amount of glass lost during buffing. (Note that if you start with a coarse paste, you will need a fine one later to smooth the finish, so it’s best to purchase a few grades in this instance. A very fine paste, such as a 1 micron paste, is ideal for restoring sheen.)

Aluminium Oxide paste typically comes premixed with water and packaged in a syringe, making it easy to directly apply along scratch lines. Diamond paste, on the other hand, will need to be applied to a piece of leather, a felt bob, or a wooden peg (leather or wood are best when working with a very fine paste as they are less absorbent) and then mounted to a drill. Start polishing with a speed of about 1,500 RPM and increase slowly as needed. While this method is more complex, it also allows for greater control. It’s therefore ideal for very small or delicate pieces of glass, such as glass jewellery.

If your glass has just a few light marks on it and you don’t want to bother with the mess and hassle of paste, you may also use a rubber silicone polisher. Once again, it’s a good idea to invest in a few different grades and sizes of polisher (wheel and knife edge polishers are better for large scratches while cylinder and bullet polishers will allow you to do spot work). Place the polisher on a mandrel attached to a Dremel or similar rotary hand drill. Do not exceed 7,000 – 10,000 RPM when polishing and work very carefully as this method can easily remove a significant amount of material.

As a final note, when polishing glass, remember that it’s better to avoid light ‘household’ abrasives like toothpaste and bicarbonate soda. Not only are these abrasives too light to effect any real change, they may react poorly with your antique glass, dulling its sheen.

Once you’re done polishing your glass, remember to store it carefully: Glass pieces should be packed securely in bubble wrap and foam when they are not being displayed in order to prevent damage from occurring. With proper care and storage, your glass collection will remain radiant for decades to come—a passion to be cherished, shared, and enjoyed with those dear to you.

Please let us know if you have used polishing paste successfully in the comments below. We have also read that Cerium Oxide can make a good polishing paste so please let us know if you have used it successfully too!

How To Remove Scratches From Glass Using SuperGlue Acrylic Nail Glue

While doing our research into ways to remove scratches, we came across some posts that suggested filling the glass scratches with superglue and/or acrylic nail glue. We tried using superglue on a deep scratch and it ran out of the groove and left an uneven mark. We tried again on a flat piece of glass and it worked better but it was very difficult to apply just the right amount of superglue to make it flush with the top of the scratch. It did not work well on any glass that was curved or rounded, so beware!

Good luck, and please let us know how you get on in the comments below. Remember to only try on junk glass and send real art glass to the professionals!

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