Effective Ways to Remove Tabs from Precut Glass Shapes

Effective Ways to Remove Tabs from Precut Glass Shapes

We all love precut glass shapes (in COE 90 and COE 96), but sometimes we get annoyed with the little tabs that come on the edge. What are these annoying little finger bleeders? Where did they come from? More importantly, how do I get rid of them? Read below to get answers to all these questions.


What are Waterjet Cutting Tabs?

When cutting with a waterjet you may have a spot that protrudes on the edge of your precut glass piece. This is called a tab or a micro-tab. The tab holds the glass in place on the cutting bed while it is cut. If a tab breaks while the glass is being cut, the pressure from the water is so great, it will push the glass off the table and into the used abrasive storage below where it is usually unreachable.   

A glass precut maple leaf with the tab shown by an arrow

How to Remove Tabs from a Waterjet Cut Piece of Glass

There are 4 proven methods for removing the tabs that come on your waterjet precut pieces. 

Nipper Pliers

Nipper or Mosaic pliers are used for nipping off pieces of glass. Glass and Mosiac artists use nippers to chop or cut up pieces of glass into smaller pieces.  They can come in very handy for getting rid of tabs on precut pieces. To take the tab off with these pliers you line up the round cutting heads and clip the tab off. This way of tab removal is not ideal as it can cause the glass to be cut at a spot that can break the entire precut if not careful. I only suggest this way if you have experience using nippers and the piece has very little cry factor involved. 

Nipper Pliers

Nipping Pliers (Nippers)

Grozier Pliers

Most glass artists have a pair of grozier pliers in their tool belt. These are pliers specifically designed to break glass in a controlled manner. In order to break the tab off the precut piece, the grozier pliers are used to grab the tab and then the user should just squeeze, breaking the tab off. This will usually get rid of the tab completely, although it may not be a perfect edge once gone.

Grozier Pliers

Grozier Pliers

Diamond Grit Grinding Pads

Diamond pads are my favorite way to get rid of waterjet cutting tabs. Diamond pads come with many grits of diamonds on the back used for grinding glass away. I recently purchased a new set of 5 pads from Covington Engineering at the Glass Craft and Bead Expo 2023. These came with Grits (from coarsest to finest) of 60, 120, 200, 400 and 800. These pads should be used with water at all times. To remove the tabs, I dip the precut in water and rub the tab along the grit of the 60 or 120 grit in a back and forth motion, until the tab is gone. I then work my way up in grit numbers until I reach 400 to help smooth the glass at the exposed point. 

Diamond Grit Glass Grinding Pad

Sanding pads
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Glass Grinder

A glass grinder is another piece of machinery that many glass artists possess. Grinding glass is the bane of many of our days but it has its place. It can be a messy job, and one that is also very hard on the fingers and especially the users fingernails. A soft touch of the precut tab to the revolving grinding bit will get rid of the tab in a quick instant. The downfall of this is if you do not have a steady hand, you may grind a little too much off the piece and end up with an indent in the glass. 

The top of a glass grinder




While many feel the little tabs are an inconvenience, in the end, they allow for the cutting of the beautiful glass shapes we love. Our store, Fuse Muse Fused Glass, has over 250 Precut glass shapes that are useable in fused glass, stained glass and mosaics. 





A biography of the Author of this article, Lisa Martin




Fuse Muse Fused Glass participates in affiliate programs which may pay a small commission if a purchase is made after using an affiliate link, at no cost to the reader. As an Amazon affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
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