Why did I start to try cutting bottles as a hobby? Some time last year, a lady rang the glass/sealed unit factory where I work on the recommendation of another customer. She wanted to know how to cut the bottoms off wine bottles cleanly, having failed miserably to do so. If anyone would know, we would apparently….but I didn’t. We have expertise in flat glass cutting, fully automated and by hand, and also have a handheld water-cooled circular cutter, but none of those processes particularly help when it comes to bottles. The cylindrical, often irregular shape presents a unique problem in guiding the cutting wheel, knowing the glass score would have to be very good, dead straight and consistent in pressure to enable a clean edge break. I was kind of stumped. The lady had come across bottle cutters, but wasn’t managing to get a clean break and thought there must be some sort of special ‘knack’ she didn’t know about. It sounded an interesting idea, but I wasn’t able to help further and suggested the internet as most hobbies have enthusiastic dedicated sites or forums to help and inform.
A few months later, I’d been quietly having the odd practise at cutting flat glass when a simple order for a small piece of 4mm or 3mm horticultural came in, after many years just punching the numbers, processing the production admin and learning the technical specs in the office. I’m often involved in the workshop roles, lifting, sorting etc, so am not glass-phobic, but have always avoiding cutting the glass itself, imagining it being a bit of a technique and no place for a ‘cack-hander’ like myself. After some practise, it was interesting to pick up the right sound and feel of a clean cut as you perform it, and to begin to understand why a cut ran off when you hadn’t quite ran the wheel consistently, or had let your straight edge slip. I began to think about that bottle issue that stuck in the back of the mind. How difficult could it be if this flat glass is picked up reasonably when you concentrate and try? I took my own advice, and headed for the web to read about cutting bottles….