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smoothing glass edges Expand / Collapse
Posted 2/7/2011 8:20:14 PM
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I took up bottle cutting recently and have mastered the first step, separating the bottle. (And they call that the easy part!)

Now I need to determine the best way to smooth the rough edges and complete the transfomation into functional tumblers, bowls, vases, etc...

I have spent significant time researching the issue online, and have identified 3 main techniques for this purpose: belt sander, torch, and rotary tool. Because of its relative affordability and ease-of-use, the rotary tool seems the best choice for a novice. My main concern is how I am going to ensure a uniform edge, the same height from the base all the way around the opening, with a hand-held device.

Once the edges are smoothed, and I guess somewhat rounded, (right? for a bowl or a tumbler) is there an additional step or tool I should use for "polishing", or is smoothing and polishing basically the same thing?

If my intents were strictly to cut bottles for hobby, I wouldn't be as concerned w/ their aesthetic perfection, but I have marketing aspirations for one of the items which I intend to produce in volume. So if I hope to sell them, the edges need to be sufficiently smooth for their function (people wouldn't hesitate to drink from) as well as professional and clean looking. I can't have a wavy or erratic edge.

As much info on this topic as I have been able to find online, I'm having trouble pinpointing anything definitive. Several areas on this website have been most helpful, specifically a post in Dremel Tips and Tricks titled "Cutting and Grinding Glass" that says that despite a Dremel disclaimer that "there are no accessories for drilling and cutting glass," there are some glass applications including the Diamond Cutting Wheel. (The post is 3 years old, and I think Dremel has since introduced items that are actually specified for glass. ) A reply to the post recommends the silicon carbide grinding stones as well.

But it all makes me wonder what other tools add/ons might work for my purpose, and why, if they work so well on glass, is glass not listed in the descriptions as one of the applications? Why would Dremel omit information regarding a product’s full abilities, versatility or in any other way limit its sales potential?

While affordability is certainly a factor, ease of use and efficiency are my primary concerns. If there is a more affordable product that I can use for the bulk of the sanding, then a more expensive but precise or effective product I can use for the finishing touches or to make it shine, I want to know that too. In fact, I am open to any and all feedback/suggestions/advice/information you care to impart. THANKS!!!!!

grateful novice

Post #7616
Posted 2/19/2011 12:44:00 AM

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I have had success with using time,patience, and silicon carbide stones or diamond bits in my Dremel. Final finishing is best done with a constant moving application of flame to smooth that final beaded edge. Glass working is tricky, because it can be shattered by vibration or thermal shock. Working glass with a stone while holding the work underwater dampens the vibration as well as keeping glass dust out of the air... which is where I use a Flexi-Shaft to do that on glass and stone.
Flame-working glass to prevent thermal shock is a little trickier. There are other sites that offer more info on the techniques of working glass than can be explained here, but I can offer a few tips. I have been able to achieve good results with a propane torch and a circular motion around the rim to keep the flame constantly heating uniformly to prevent thermal shock. Thermal shock occurs when one part is heated to a higher temperature than an adloining part faster than the heat expansion can equalize between the two. Glass can be 900 degrees Fahrenheit and not glow, while only a centimeter or two away it can several hundred degrees cooler or glowing red hot. If thermal shock happens it can be explosive, so always wear eye -protection.
I hope this heads you in the right direction to success with your project. If you have any more questions, I can be reached through my email.

cut to fit, file to match, paint to hide
Post #7668
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