It’s been very interesting to watch the Kinkajou bottle cutter emerge from the prototype stage to a very well presented cutter on the market via a successful fundraising and excellent web and blog based campaign. It’s great to finally get a chance to use something different to the long-established designs I’ve already used.
First impressions are that of a well made and very sturdy cutter, which will stand up well to the rigours of bottle cutting. The online guidance videos on how to use it are certainly very good indeed, and will give a novice bottle cutter a good chance for a successful start into bottle cutting, which is one of the drawbacks and off-putting features you frequently read about on forums from people who struggle intially and get downhearted after many failures. As well as some written instructions, the standard pack contains some extra items including some good quality water-capable sandpaper, an wheel-less glass cutter for tapping and nibbling edges, and most interestingly, 3 pairs of differently sized rubber O-rings which is a unique inclusion, and will be looked at later on. It certainly bodes well as a well-thought out and inclusive package for a beginner.
The packaging claims an operating range of 43mm to 102mm, which though in part is slightly less capable than the G2 and Ephrems I use also, is enough to cover most soda, beer and wine sized bottles. As with those cutters, this cutter is design to cut round, straighter bodied bottles. My first test run was on a Fentimans soda bottle, followed then by a regular wine bottle, and after lightly oiling the large cutting wheel and adding a little WD40 to the spring tensioner, I placed the cutter around the bottle. Manipulating the fit is straightforward, clearly demonstrated in the support videos, and the final tension the lever locks helps retain a firm grip on the bottle. The tracking wheels grip the bottle, and the overall balance when locked on is good, which helps give a confident rotation around the bottle, without feeling like it’s going to slip offline too easily. This was one of my initial wonders on the design, but it works well, and I can see it being mostly just human error rather than weak design for cutting scores to wander off. It’s certainly a firmer grip than I expected. The finger grooves around the body help you get a firm hold, in a variety of different positions, and the whole rotating operation is pretty sturdy on a smooth round bottle, which give a good platform for a complete, accurate cut. The spring that loads the cutting wheel in place is a very strong one, built to last, and the lever mechanism locks the wheel down well, but my initial thoughts on my first two cuts are that it does put a slightly heavy amount of pressure on the surface, giving a heavier score than an experienced user of the Ephrem’s and G2 cutters would have hand-touch control over, as you have less rotating control over the pressure applied once cutting has started. I might find this will be easier to fine-tune using the more I use it though, as it will be a compromise between the overall grip the cutter has on the bottle and the tension on the cutting head. Nevertheless, the first cut was accurate, meeting it’s tail nicely, and easy to control in rotation.
The next step was to break the score using the water method which I was glad to see advocated. I’m not a fan at all of the candle and ice , hot oil, acetone or tapping methods. This gave the chance to first use the O-rings supplied. These are an interesting inclusion, and thought I’ve not had any problems with controlling the water pouring previously, I can see the reason behind using them. The three sizes are well selected, and on both bottles, they ensured a tight fit and gave a controlled water-sealing channel to minimise the hot water spread. They worked very well, and the break was easy to control when cold poured. I can see these being a very useful addition to a starter. A very simple and effective method of controlling the hot water flow, and keeping it away from the hand.
Both my first two cuts were fine and flat. The slightly heavy scores left a few minor edge shells which would take a little more hand-work to make safe, but the flatness and accuracy of the cut is impressive enough for a first-time attempt, even allowing for my previous experience at cutting and breaking. I think it’s certainly a cutter that has been designed to be user-friendly, and to be able to give a novice a good chance at getting some early success, which is something the other cutters on the market can lack a little, with the poorer breaking methods encouraged. Starting at $49, it’s not the cheapest on the market, nor the most expensive. The large size replacement cutting wheel also isn’t the cheapest in comparison at $14.99, but has a suggested life of 200+ bottles.The additional items are good quality, and the overall feel is of a well made, solid cutter which offers good value for money and a decent range of capability for anyone wanting to try out the hobby. The overall modern presentation, social media and video tutorials is impressive and a fresh and modern approach to an old hobby, offering something different to the other cutters on the market today.
Pros: Well made, accurate cuts, good value package, excellent tutorials and website.
Cons: slightly heavy scorelines, replacement wheel cost, some bottle size limitations.
Overall Score: 7/10
Upgraded Kinkajou Model: (June 2013)
A while ago, Bottle Cutting Inc announced an upgrade kit for the original Kinkajou cutter, to improve the performance of the cutter, based on some feedback received. This body change is the basis of the on-going models from March 2013. I ordered an upgrade kit to see how the changes worked out, and the package landed this week. The body is essentially the same, with the change being a full width row of four rollers per spindle, as opposed to the original two, as can be seen in the photo. The change over of the body to reuse the original cutter mount and clamp parts was extremely simple, and I ran a few test cuts immediately. The grip the four rollers gave was an improvement over the original, and without even taking too much care to set up too accurately, the first few cuts were accurate, hitting 3 out of 4 exactly. I had a Blue Nun bottle, which I have found difficult to cut in the past due to ripples and unevenness in the body. I set it up carefully, right at the bottom of the bottle, and the result was an accurate meet. That impressed me, so it’s clearly a thought out improvement on the original. Score lines are still on the heavier side, and the cost of the upgrade on top of the original hasn’t made it the best value for money cutter, but the design change has been successful, and improves it’s performance clearly.
Upgrade/newer model – Overall Score : 8/10