[one_full last=”yes” spacing=”yes” center_content=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” hover_type=”none” link=”” border_position=”all” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”” padding=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”” animation_speed=”0.1″ animation_offset=”” class=”” id=””][fusion_text]This is my second article in a series on making crafts with glass bottles. If you haven’t read it already, check out my first article about cleaning and removing the labels from wine bottles. Once you’ve got a clean bottle to work with, you’re ready for the Kinkajou bottle cutter.
Why Cut Bottles?
There are tons of projects you can make out of bottles. You can make wine bottle lamps, drinking cups, planters, automatic plant feeders, decorations… you get the idea. Some people call it “upcycling.” I call it “making slightly better shit out of other shit.” Language aside: if you enjoy making useful things from landfill fodder, then wine bottles will provide you with endless entertainment and free material.
But all of the projects I mentioned require you to cut wine bottles. So how do you make a cut around a circular piece of glass? A quick search turns up about 50 different methods of bottle cutting. I can promise you that I’ve most of them numerous times, and that none of the methods you’ll find are anywhere near as easy or as safe as the one successful take the author posted to YouTube.
Enter the Kinkajou Bottle Cutter.
What is the Kinkajou Bottle Cutter?
The Kinkajou Bottle Cutter is a special-use tool that does one thing very well: it cuts round bottles. It essentially works the same way as a pipe cutter: the tool clamps around the bottle and rotates around it. In the case of the Kinkajou, it actually doesn’t cut the bottle completely: it scores the glass which is then separated by applying extreme temperatures to the score line.
Bottle cutting is hard and error-prone. Or at least it was until the Kinkajou Bottle Cutter came along. I’m going to teach you how to use the Kinkajou, along with a couple of secrets I discovered along the way to get a perfect cut, every time.
How to Cut Bottles with the Kinkajou Bottle Cutter
Cutting bottles with the Kinkajou is pretty simple, but you’ll need a few things to get started.
- Wine Bottles, Beer Bottles, etc.
- The Kinkajou itself
- Rubber Bands (included with the Kinkajou)
- Abrasives for Smoothing the Cut (diamond files that come in the Kinkajou kit, or wet/dry sandpaper)
- Eye Protection
- A pot for boiling water
- A coffee pot or other container to pour boiling water
- Spacer blocks (blocks of equally sized scrap wood)
Clean the Bottles
Your bottles need to be free of debris inside and out before you start cutting. Debris, such as bottle labels or dried up wine can make cuts go off center, or make the glass break jagged instead of straight along the scored line. For a quick and easy way to make your bottles spotless and ready for cutting, check out my previous post about how to clean wine bottles.
Start Boiling Water
Towards the end of the instructions, you’ll need boiling water. Start heating the water now so it’s ready when you need it.
Reset the Kinkajou
The Kinkajou Bottle Cutter looks more complicated than it is. Start by “resetting” the Kinkajou. The device has a threaded rod on each side. Spin the nuts all the way to the bottom of the threaded rods so the Kinkajou is open as far as it can open. Then make sure the cams on top of the threaded rods are in the open position. Make sure the cam that lowers the cutting wheel is raised as well.
Setup the Spacer Blocks
Spacer blocks are the special sauce that I used to get a perfect cut every time I used my Kinkajou. First decide where you want to cut the bottle. Then acquire a couple of scrap pieces of wood that you can use to raise the Kinkajou to that height. The important part is that you need the same height on either side of the bottle, so plywood is an excellent material for making your spacers, because it’s very uniform thickness.
Setup your spacers on either side of the bottle. The projects I’ve made recently required cutting off the very bottom of the bottle, so a 3/4″ plywood spacer on either side worked perfectly. Now lower the Kinkajou around the bottle and rest it on the spacers.
Tighten the Kinkajou Bottle Cutter
Tighten the nuts on the two threaded rods evenly. That is, give them roughly the same number of spins so that the tool is equally tight on either side. Tightening one side more than the other can result in an uneven cut and jagged break. Tighten the nuts until you can’t easily pull the bottle out of the Kinkajou, but it still spins within the tool easily. Now, rotate the cams at the top of the threaded rods to fully engage the Kinkajou. At this point you should not be able to pull the bottle out, but it should still turn easily. If not, adjust the nuts until the tool has a satisfactory grip.
Finally, making sure that the tool is firmly against the spacer blocks, turn the cam to engage the cutter.
Score the Bottle
At this point I do things a little bit differently than the Kinkajou’s official instructions. Use one hand to hold the Kinkajou firmly down against the spacer blocks. Use your other hand to turn the bottle inside the tool. You’ll have to listen to the tool to know when you’re finished. When the cutter has made a full rotation you’ll hear a “click” when it returns to the beginning of the cut. Stop rotating with you hear this.
Making a second score around the bottle is unnecessary, can cause a bad break, and puts unnecessary wear-and-tear on the blade.
Apply Hot and Cold Water to the Score Mark
To separate the glass, we’ll apply successive treatments of boiling and cold water.
First, wrap the two rubber bands that come with the Kinkajou around the bottle at levels just above and just below the cut. The rubber bands help limit the effects of the extreme temperatures we’re about to apply.
Transfer the boiling water to a coffee pot or other receptable that can easily pour it without burning you. Hold your bottle over the sink and drizzle the boiling water on the score line as you slowing rotate the bottle. After you’ve heated the bottle for about 20 seconds, stop pouring, and run cold water from the link over the score line. The score line should become visibly lighter, which is an indication that it’s close to breaking.
If it doesn’t break on the first round, that’s OK! Sometimes it takes two, three, or even four applications of hot and cold water. But eventually your glass will break.
Sanding the Glass
After the two sides separate, you’ll need to sand the glass down so it’s safe to handle. I shelled out the extra cash for the Kinkajou kit, which comes with two diamond files in addition to several grits of wet/dry sandpaper. The diamond files make quick work of knocking down the sharp edges.
Whether you use the wet/dry sandpaper, diamond files, or both, don’t rush through the step. Make sure you round over both the inside and outside edges, and test them yourself to make sure you’re not passing on a dangerous edge to someone else!
Some Parting Words of Advice
I’ve got a lot of bottles and I’ve learned a lot along the way. And I’m going to repeat myself so you can avoid the frustration that might just make you give up on bottle cutting completely.
- Using clean bottles is a must. Clean the bottles inside and out before you cut them. Make sure the labels and adhesive are off, or at least nowhere year where you plan to cut the bottle.
- Use spacer blocks. The spacer blocks essentially force the tool to make the entire cut in the same horizontal plane. If you don’t use them, the tool can swerve during the cut. At best you’ll have more sanding to do later, and at worst so jagged you can’t sand it flat.
- Batch out your work. That is, plan ahead and do one thing at a time, so you’re not wasting time moving around materials and setting up tools. Setting up and adjusting the Kinkajou is the most time-consuming step, so cutting all like-sized bottles at once will save you tons of time in the long-run.