Luca Bottle Cutter review

I saw this cutter on indiegogo, and it looked interesting, so I backed it, and the first model came some months later. It certainly was a good looking piece of kit, but what was most interesting to look forward to was the hand-held aspect of it, which going by the pretty decent videos seemed to allow the user to cut curved lines as well as straight. Luca The initial package was an cardboard box, with the kit to assemble inside, giving it an air of a craft industry tool.  The plywood kit was of a good quality, with laser-machined parts for accuracy. Instructions were basic, but assembly was fairly straight forward after viewing all the videos on the net. The first thing I did was throw away the micro screwdriver supplied, which was a total waste of space. The strength required to screw the bolts into the machined ply was quite high, and needed a better screwdriver. It immediately became apparent that, though aesthetically pleasing, the plywood would not be up to long-term use. Parts once assembled were going to have to stay together, as you are screwing into bare wood. It will not stand too many assembly and disassembly cycles, and frustratingly, the box is too small to fit the fully assembled kit back into it.

The parts Luca assembledthat are design to adjust the position of the cutter are large thumb turning screws, but these two are screwing into bare wood slots, so will suffer from the same problem as the other screws. It will soon start wearing out and losing grip, and unfortunately the assembly needs to be put together tightly and strongly as there is a quite a lot of flex in the body when you are pushing a bottle down onto it, or against it in the vertical position. In operation, the cut itself was instinctively Luca wheelquite light and good, and initial accuracy and cut alignment was fairly reasonable, not leaving too much work to do in finishing. The big plus of this cutter, which is best demonstrated by viewing the videos online , is the cutting of curves on the bottles. This is not quite so easy in practise, but it does work in a fashion, and with practise will improve. It certainly gives another option instead of trying to hand cut with a traditional hand-held glass cutter. Luca4

 The biggest problem with this cutter though is the flex in the main body when using to perform standard straight bottle cuts, which, though it performs in basically the same way as the classic Ephrems Bottle cutter, is much too flexible compared to the metal bodied alternative cutter. I still got a good, clean cut from it, just from having a lot of experience cutting bottles, but I’m not sure it would be particularly good for a novice. Combining that, with the inevitable wear and tear on the screws and slots, then on balance, it’s significantly flawed, which is a shame, as it’s great looking, and has an unusual and stand-alone option that other bottle cutters don’t have.

UPDATE:  I see now on the main site , that a new version of the main body design is supplied, which has been substantially changed and looks much more solid, and likely somewhat addresses my issues including flexing and wear and tear by adding a thumb-turning disc to reduce the pressure at screw points. This could very much improve my opinion on the cutter’s weak points, though I can only judge the new model from the video, it’s certainly looks a step in the right direction from my initial review. Until I get a revised model, the review summary below is on the original design, which is now sold out.

Pros: Reasonably priced, ability to cut curves, clean score line, great videos.

Cons: Too flexible in use, longer term wear and tear issues, limited bottle size capability.


Kinkajou cutter lands

‘Breaking’ news! The newly designed and manufactured Kinkajou bottle cutter I ordered back in in the summer landed today. Well, when I say landed today, importdutywhat actually landed was a card through the door from the Post Office claiming a release charge for VAT and an £8 fee! Nice! So off I went down and paid the £12.91 ransom required to release the package. I don’t mind the VAT, but the fee is irritating. I wonder how often this occurs for relatively simple private purchases of such small value? It’s quite a chunk proportionately. At least I knew what it was for and worthwhile, unlike a number of people I know who’ve recently had similar cards to pay £1 handling fee + underpaid postage for what then turned out to be marketing junk-mail or late Christmas cards! Now that really would be annoying!  Oh well, ‘Que Sera Sera’ as they say in Czechoslovakia.

 For what was, at the time, a prototype product in a relatively niche market, that’s been quite an impressive achievement to collect enough pledge orders, kinkajoutweak the design through to final full production and ship worldwide in around half a year. The end-user packaging is certainly very professional and gives an initial impression of a modern and purposeful tool for the up-cycling community. It’s a weighty product, colourful and well presented. I’ve been impressed with the standard and professional way the Kinkajou has been brought to market throughout the whole process from pledge gathering on to the end sale using the website, videos, emails and blog marketing. Very well done to Pat and those at NKJ design for an interesting idea that’s grown, materializied and made it out there. I’ll be doing a personal opinion review on the cutter and adding it to my other ones soon when I’ve had a chance to use it. Certainly looks and feels good so far.

Kinkajou cutter

After a morning or sorting out a whole load of bottles that I was just not getting towards doing, I had a bit of a browse on the net, and came across an article and link to a prototype cutter called the Kinkajou bottle cutter :

Interesting to see a new design being put up for backing to hopefully lead to production. It looks promising, though I’m left with a couple of points of wonder over the design. The first is just how accurate and level you can keep any twisting method, so that the score meets up perfectly. This will depend on how the device is designed. I wonder how you make sure it keeps a good line around the circumference of the bottle, without maybe slipping up or down. It could be clamped of course, but that’s a bit more than the toolless kitchen design principle. Though not clearly shown in full use, the results do show fairly clean and level cuts, so it’s certainly more hopeful than some I’ve tried. The second nagging doubt I wonder is how useful the adjustment feature to solve problem of non-symetrical and uneven bottles is going to be. Skipping can be a problem with any device , and in use you’ve certainly got both hands busy, by the nature of it’s handheld use, to try and keep contstant and even pressure on the wheel contact. It will be curious to see how this one evolves. I’ll be keeping an eye on progress, have made a pledge, and wish the inventor well with his project. hopefully it’s one which will come to fruition, and will be tested in the future. Good luck Patrick! The more varied choice and styles on the market the better.

Update (3/7/12):  In an email I’ve received since making a pledge, I’ve had an interesting update to the design which certainly answers the contact doubt I had above. It says the cutter will be spring loaded, which is something I had wondered that could work it better, as it does with the higher end Toyo and Silberschnitt hand held cutters we use at work. This should be great news to help on bumps, seams and irregularities in the bottles. The other is thumb-turn screws, which is a sensible idea to make it more tool-less.

Update (7/7/12): An email has arrived stating that the project has made it to the fully funded level just before the deadline, so will now go ahead. Great news, and a good example of social funding that gains momentum. Looking forward to seeing how it goes.

Armour Bottle & Jar Cutter review

The ‘Armour Bottle & Jar Cutter’ is an large , upright cutting device and, with the exception of a couple of wingnuts and the cutting wheel, made almost entirely of plastic. Despite a number of unfavourable reviews on the internet, I bought this cutter as a second option to try it out for product knowledge, with the intention of doing a review sometime on the blog, and to gain another option for getting under rims and for use on heavily curved bottles.

Armour cutter

The design of the cutter itself looks promising from the photogenic packaging, but on opening up, you soon find out that despite it’s size, it’s quite flimsy and lightweight. The two major parts – a base with a movable guide arm and the main tower – slot together and are joined by a white plastic pin (pictured in photo), which retains tightly but is no where near good enough for regular removal and re-entry a number of times without it getting damaged. You’ve obviously left with the choice of leaving the device intact permanently , and not storing it in it’s box, or replacing the pin with a metal bolt so you can take it apart regularly. The base has an inbuilt bench hook at the front, to try to prevent sliding backwards in use.

Armour cutting head

The cutter head sits on a plastic wedge retainer which then slides onto the tower rail. A plastic slot section is then attached above it to use as a guiderail for the tapper. An additional wedge is available to slot behind the cutting head, enabling the cutter to tilt forward and hit curved and angled glass surfaces at the desired 90 degrees. The wheel head itself contains only a single steel wheel , with no spares supplied in the box. As always, the wheel is lubricated before use.

The setting of the cutting head is quite versatile, with a large vertical range, and also a tilt feature, which lets you get in under teardrop shaped jar rim heads that other cutters cannot hit very well unhindered. The base arm has a curved adjustment groove, to allow you to provide a one-sided fixed stop position to the left, but on most jars and smaller bottles it’s in effect just a flat face so offers no real control over the spinning of a bottle or jar, nor does it help to maintain a good surface contact at all times with the cutting wheel by preventing backward or forward movement of the jar/bottle.backplate slot

To the right of the base is a slot , which captures the arm, allowing for a V-shaped holding stop central to the tower below the cutting head. This works fine in theory, but in reality the small lip just fails to retain the arm under even the slightest pressure and pops off –  It’s really useless! There is no fixing of the arm in this location, unlike the curve rail to the side. Neither position gives any real solidity to the bottle holding position, which is crucial in this design where you are in effect expecting to push the bottle/jar against a fixed cutting wheel, hold it on the base , and rotate the glass. This really just fails. Everything is too flimsy and loose to ensure a stable rotation at the correct pressure to ensure a consistent score line. Despite now being a confident and well practised bottle cutter, several attempts to use this cutter has failed to come up with a consistent score line of any acceptable quality comparable to other cutters, without resorting to a double handed guide-less rotation going backward and forward in multiple steps.

The whole design, in my opinion, is severely compromised by it’s lack of firm control and flimsy construction. It’s a real disappointment, as it looked like it was a natural for teardrop shaped bottles and jars, a couple of which I had kept back for it’s trial. I don’t like to be too negative in outlook, but this device really doesn’t cut the mustard, and would be very off-putting to anyone buying it to try the hobby. It’s off to the loft to gather dust, as I’m honestly reluctant to even pass it on or sell it on eBay. The accompanying book of glass designs is quite good, and worth a read to get some colourful ideas, though there’s little evidence of clean cut edges in there without heavy garnishing of polymer clay and paint – a hint of what’s in store maybe? I’ve only found one video online so far with this device in use, which was actually a promotional sales video for the product, and the ‘expert’ demonstration there was a a poor one also, with a poor finish demonstrated. Why it was put out instead of re-shot, I’m left wondering!  I’d really love to be proven wrong with this cutter, and see some video of it being used very successfully. If you find any, let me know!

Pros: instructional design book is worth a few £s for ideas and information

Cons: flimsy, bad design, lacks any confident control, poor operation, one cutting wheel

Overall Score: 2/10

Ephrem’s bottle cutter kit

Looking at various video clips on youtube, and reading a few sites and reviews, I’ve chosen the Ephrem’s bottle cutter, which is the horizontal type. It certainly appeared to have the most easily controlled and stable action compared to the vertical plastic one and the bottleneck suspended ones. Both hands are free to firmly apply pressure and rotate the bottle easily. The website itself shows the method clearer than I could describe: 

Ephrem's bottle cutter jig

Overall, on first impressions, I’m impressed with the stability and firmness of the base grips, the rotation of the wheels and end stop. This should give the best chance of a clean cutting line.