Today’s one-hour project and awesome giveaway is sponsored by my friends at Bottle Cutting, Inc.
Today I’ve got a fun way to re-use your old wine bottles – or any glass bottles! I’m going to show you how to easily cut a bottle, and a simple project you can make using your newly recycled bottles: beeswax candles. There are LOTS of things you can make with cut glass bottles, but this project is one of the great basics. Use your favorite empty bottle to add personal flair to your decor, or a friend’s favorite for a fun gift! I’ve got a full tutorial for you in this post, and be sure to read all the way to the end so that you can enter to WIN one of these fabulous tools for yourself!
See, I’ve tried a few different methods for cutting bottles, and I haven’t been able to accomplish (let alone master) any of them. I had accepted that maybe recycled glass projects just weren’t for me… but then I saw the Kinkajou from Bottle Cutting, Inc. It’s an innovative tool that helps you get a clean cut from round bottles in a range of sizes in just a few minutes. I put it to the test, and guess what? I was able to get a perfect cut on my first try using it. It took me a couple of minutes to do while I’m still getting the hang of it, but it works wonderfully, and the more I practiced, the faster it’s coming along. And I’m getting a lot of practice, because I’m already at work on my next project. ;)
But – one thing at a time. Let me introduce you to my new friend. Here’s what you will need to cut glass bottles with the Kinkajou bottle cutter:
Here’s the science. By alternating heat and cold on a weakened area of glass, it will expand and contract rapidly enough to crack. We know this, especially if we have ever tried to move a dish too quickly from the oven to the refrigerator, or vice versa. So the goal is to control where the crack will take place, and make sure it’s a fabulously even crack, placed exactly where you want it. Cracking it is not that hard. The precision is a lot more difficult – and that’s why the Kinkajou tool is particularly awesome. You use it to create a precise scored line, and then use the separation rings to control exactly where you heat and cool the bottle. The result is that one half of the bottle literally just falls off the other, exactly where you want it.
Score your line. You can use bottles of a variety of sizes, though they do need to be round. Tighten the tool around your bottle, drop the scoring wheel, and twist evenly. (Even twisting is actually a key skill for this technique; if you tilt the bottle while twisting, your lines won’t meet in the same place once the wheel has gone all the way around the bottle.)
Next, place the separation rings on either side of the score line. Boil some water (how much you’ll need depends on several factors, like the thickness of the bottle and how much practice you’ve had, because it is a technique you start getting a feel for with practice). I found that using my coffeemaker to heat my water as I worked was perfect, then I didn’t need to wait long for my next cut. Prep your sink with a towel or other padding so that you don’t end up with broken glass.
Next, you will alternate pouring hot water and cold water (which you can just run from your tap) onto the scored line. The separation rings help you concentrate the water in the right place. After alternating a couple times, your top should just fall away. I had a few cuts when I first started that took a LOT of water, but I found that tended to happen when I switched too quickly between hot and cold, and the bottle didn’t heat enough before I cooled it down.
Finally, use wet or dry sandpaper (or sanding sponges) to sand the edge and remove that sharp edge. I started with a 100-grit paper at first, and finished with a 180-grit. If you’re planning to make drinking glasses, a final sanding with 220-grit paper is a good idea. If you’d like to see the process in action, be sure to check out the videos at the “School of Bottle Cutting” on the Bottle Cutting Inc. website.
So now – you’ve got your candle holder. Depending what type of bottle you’ve chosen, you may want to remove the label, or not. Beer bottles with painted-on labeling can be very cool, but in my case, using these wine bottles with paper labels, it made more sense to remove them. (You can use your sandpaper to get the glue from under the label off.) That means you need to prepare your wick and wax.
You can make this process easy by buying pre-made wicks. Which is an item that’s on my craft list… like never. but the good news is that if you have white cotton string, you can braid your own wick! Just make up a wire base (I used 28-gauge wire and coiled it up, making a wheel-shaped base). I added some 34-gauge wire to my braid to stiffen it, but after doing it, I will tell you, it isn’t necessary. I’m going to show you how to make a 4-part braid for your wick, in case you’ll be braiding your own, but disregard the additional wire. You don’t need it after all. :)
Cut two long strings. The length will depend on the height of your candle. You’ll be tying them to the wire base, so make sure you can double them, and then you will want it to be a good 3-4 inches longer than what you truly need for your candle, so that you can stabilize it while you pour your wax. I’m labeling the strands A-B-C-D below so that you can see where they go as you braid, but a 4-part braid is just the same as a 3-part braid, except that when you pull your right-most cord to the “center”, you’ll be passing it over two strands instead of just one. When you pull from the left, you’ll only pass over one string, same a a regular 3-part braid.
I went an extra step here (depending on where you read) and I dipped my wick in melted wax. This is why the extra wire was redundant, because the wax made it stiff and really easy to work with when pouring my candle. So I’m going to call this step optional, but I would do it this way again. It also allows the wick to burn longer when you first light it, allowing the wax to begin melting.
Now – melting wax isn’t too difficult at all. I bought actual bars of wax a while back, but it comes in pellets, too, and those are a bit easier to work with.
I just cut it into chunks, and placed it in my glass craft cup. (This is also what I use when making lip balm – that’s why it’s on the small side. You can use a larger one as well.) I placed my cup into boiling water – making sure I didn’t get any water into the cup itself. I stirred it while it melted, and as soon as it melts (around 140 degrees or so), I added several drops of essential oils (about 25 drops, and I used an orange oil, though scent is totally up to you), and poured it into my cut bottle. You’ll need a way to secure your wick, and for me, a pair of clothespins worked perfectly. You can tie your wick around a base, like a bamboo skewer or pencil, or I’ve seen people poke it up through masking tape across the top of the candle – find whatever method works for you to keep it stable, and pour your candle.
Allow it to cool, and you can add your finishing touches! I made 2 candles with my 2 cut bottles, and tied a bit of burlap ribbon and hemp around the jar for a rustic look.
If your jar still has a label, then it probably doesn’t require additional decoration, but I thought this was a nice touch for a natural candle made from recycled bottles.
Now – if you’re dying to try this tool out for yourself, I’ve got great news! Bottle Cutting, Inc. is also giving away a Kinkajou cutting tool to a lucky Happy Hour Projects reader! The tool comes with separation rings, a few sheets of sandpaper, and a finishing tool – everything you need to get started, except a few empty bottles!
Bottle Cutting, Inc. also has a $5000 feature project contest going on – if you make a project with the Kinkajou, submit your photos. If you’re chosen as one of the 50 featured projects they will be selecting, you will win $100 cash! Be sure to check out their site for all the details! You can also keep up with what’s new at Bottle Cutting, Inc. including new products and project inspiration but checking them out on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Rafflecopter will walk you through how to get your entries in below. U.S. readers may enter now through August 21, 2014 at 11:59 pm EST. Good luck!