Tuesday, June 26, 2012

DIY Bottle Cutting Projects

I've done my very first non-prop bottle cutting projects!  They went really well, all things considered.  Bottle cutting is pretty awesome, I may have a new hobby.  The prop related projects will be forthcoming when I get them tweaked out a bit better.  One of them is giving me fits, I don't think it likes me, but I may have come up with a solution to bludgeon it into compliance.  I ran into wanting to get something completely finished again; seeing all the little bits of uncooperative projects that are still in the works doesn't make you feel like you've gotten anything done.  Progress is great and all, but done things are the proof you haven't just been larking about.

One of the things that seems to be really popular for bottle cutting is glassware.  Everyone makes bottles into glasses, probably because it's really fast to do.  Glasses are also really useful.  I like the idea of having glasses that can go outside or where ever and not having to worry if it's going to get dropped and mess up your dish set.  Along those lines, it occurred to me to make some smallish glasses.  Glassware today is huge and it kinda bothers me.  I remember having breakfast at my grandparents houses and having serving sized glasses.  You know the ones, they only hold 6-8 ounces of liquid.  I'm a tiny person, I don't need a giant glass for anything other than water.  I don't drink a bunch of sweet things either so something that gives me a proper serving would work great.  I'd have just enough in the glass for a taste without going overboard.  Beer bottles were the answer.  They tend to be a bit on the small side and they fit nicely in your hand.  They're also supposed to be more challenging to work with.  Beer bottles tend to be thin, apparently, and they aren't always made of great quality glass which makes them hard to cut without breaking them.  

It just so happened that there were a number of Woodchuck bottles just sitting around waiting to be played with.  Woodchuck is a hard cider drink that I really like.  It tastes nothing like beer, which is good since I loathe beer, but it's beer-like so I don't have to feel like a wine snob all the time.  Anyway, the bottles are a bit on the short and squat side, not like Red-Stripe short and squat but shorter and squatter than beers like Corona and Miller, and they're a really pretty shade of green.  I also had 4 of them, not a perfect number for glasses but enough.

I'm going to jump ahead a bit for a second and say right now that I love Woodchuck bottles and plan to make a bunch more stuff with them.  I'm telling you that now so I can rant about the one thing that drove me out of my mind.  I don't know how they stick labels to Woodchuck bottles but it's really freaking effective.  Soaking wasn't enough.  Scrubbing wasn't enough.  Goo Gone wasn't enough.  I was working on those stupid bottles for what seemed like forever to get the labels off.  Stupid labels.  It must have taken me close to 2 or 3 hours, if you count soaking time, to get 4 bottles cleaned up.  Re-freaking-diculous.  It was especially annoying because I know what happens to anything with a paper label if you stick it in a cooler full of ice and let it sit for a few hours.  Paper, paper, everywhere and not a labeled bottle in sight.  The next batch of bottles I worked with wound up soaking for several days which was reasonably effective at getting the labels to come off easily.  I also discovered that the problem is not the glue, it's the paper. 

I wouldn't have bothered with any of that had the Woodchuck bottles been horrible to cut, but they weren't.  They cut like a dream.  I'm not sure if they worked so well because I knew in advance to be careful with beer bottles or just what but they cut beautifully.  I did have one bottle get a hairline crack on the section I wanted to use, precluding it from being a juice glass, but I saved it to try some gluing techniques on.  From the sound of things, only 1 in 4 bottles breaking is doing really well for beer bottles so that made me happy.  A closer inspection of the cross-section showed why the bottles were so easy to work with.  Whatever method is used to make those bottles keeps the glass really even.  There were no sections that were thicker or thinner.  I don't have calipers so I can't measure it to be 100% sure, but a scrutinizing visual inspection indicated that the glass was all one thickness.  It was also thicker than I had expected which had to help.  From previous cutting experiences it seems that thickness and evenness make a big difference in how well the bottle will cut.  The only other glass that I've had crack was a matched pair of wine bottles and they were neither thick nor even.  They broke spectacularly.  There was no telling which direction the crack was going to go, even after it started forming.

Minus the one bottle mishap, and minus the time it took to clean the bottles, I had 3 cute little juice glasses in a very short amount of time.  They needed maybe 5 minutes of edge polishing, each, and they were good to go.  Of course, they didn't stay juice glasses for very long after I discovered how nice they look with candles in them!  Woodchuck bottles rock.

4 bottles was nothing like enough cutting for the day, so I grabbed a pasta sauce jar that I had finished off.  It was a good sized, nicely shaped jar that I had been looking forward to playing with.  It was time for me to play with glue.

I whacked the top off the pasta sauce jar, grabbed the top and bottom pieces of the Woodchuck bottle with the crack, and pulled out the glue.  I had two types, because I wasn't sure how well which glues would work.  Finding a glue was challenging because I wanted something that wouldn't make people sick if it had to contact food/drink.  I narrowed it down to two, LocTite Glass Glue and WeldBond.  Weldbond says right on it that it's non-toxic, the LocTite does not.  Me being me, I went online and found the MSDS information for the LocTite which indicated that it should be nice and safe.  MSDS stands for Material Safety Data Sheet, for those of you not in the science world.  They tell you all kinds of stuff about chemicals and compounds.  The MSDS for the LocTite didn't say it was food safe, MSDS sheets don't like to say things are safe they seem to like to tell you more about the horrible things that the substance can do, but it did say that the glue is basically inert after it dries which means it should be food safe.  It also says that LocTite is "impossible to swallow" which I found intriguing.  Like I said before, the MSDS tends to tell you the bad things so for it to say that the compound cannot be swallowed in liquid form is freaking impressive. It seems that moisture accelerates the solidifying process enough that if you squirt the glue in your mouth it bonds almost instantly and becomes solid, effectively preventing it from being swallowed.  Then all you have to do is work on peeling it off and not swallowing the glue chunks.

Just to have an nice little experiment I used the LocTite on the sauce jar and the WeldBond on the Woodchuck bottle.  I glued the bottle/jar mouth to the bottom of the corresponding piece and let them sit.  Both packages said that they do best after at least an hour of cure time so I left them overnight and left decorating them for the next day.

Upon inspection the next day, both pieces were securely glued.  Normal handling wasn't a problem.  So I dug out some glass stones, the kind that people put in vases, and tried to make some neat patterns with them.  Then I started hitting snags.  No matter what I tried with the WeldBond, I just could not get the pieces to stick and stay.  I spent a good chunk of time trying to make it work and then finally gave up and tried the other piece and the LocTite.  Let me tell you, it was an entirely different ballgame.  The LocTite worked GREAT!  Now I'm going to have to figure out how to design pretty decorations.  This go didn't end badly but I feel like I can do better.

Review of LocTite Glass Glue

Pros:  This stuff dries really fast but not so fast that you can't get things positioned.  It was really easy to work with; you only have to put glue on one of the glass surfaces and then press and hold for a few seconds before it's set enough to move on.

Cons:  The bottle is tiny.  It's about the size of a normal superglue squeeze bottle. It's also really hard to get uneven surfaces to bond.  I had endless trouble with the little feet on the candle holder because I didn't grind the edge down.  2 of the 4 feet stayed just fine, the other 2 popped off frequently until I replaced them and adjusted the new feet so that they fit the cut edge better.

Review of WeldBond

Pros:  WeldBond is really easy to use and seems to do a good job gluing flat things together.  It worked really well to put a stem on the Woodchuck bottle and the bond has been very sturdy.

Cons:  I was decidedly unimpressed with using WeldBond to glue things flat pieces to a curve.  They just would not stay put and nothing that I tried would make it work.  I'm thinking this glue is better for repairs than decorating.

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