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sanding/smoothing glass edges Expand / Collapse
Posted 2/8/2011 12:52:15 AM
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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

grateful novice

Post #7618
Posted 2/9/2011 9:19:31 AM
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Take a look at the Dremel Dill Press and Shaper/router table. Both will hold the rotary tool stationery so you can bring your glass item to the tool with two hands. To be consistent you might make a jig of some type to hold your item in one position while polishing. Although I don't do glass work, over the years, I've made copies of some related posts. You might also try the search feature above and see if you get any other ideas. good luck!

Glass: I do stained glass, but I have a couple of very interesting bottles and would like to cut the tops off them. I've contacted Customer Service and they don't suggest the diamond cutoff as the heat will dull the blades, and I can't use water to cool the blade as I do with the diamond grinder for the stained glass. ANSWER: The Moto-Tool or Spiral-Saw will not "cut" glass like wood. However, with a green silicon carbide stone or diamond-sanding bit, you could smooth/grind/shape the edges and engrave the surface. Note: replacement window/door glass usually has to be tempered. It is typically against code to use ordinary glass (like single strength). Another: I want to know if it is possible to grind the edges of glass that has been freshly cut to make it a smooth edge. By using the silicon carbide bits? I understand that most of the time you need a "glass grinder" because of the wetness needed, is there a way to do it with a Dremel tool? I did this once, about 10 years ago (had to replace the colored glass in a leaded window). I put the glass on a piece of window putty to elevate it and placed this in a pan of kerosene. Did the grinding, in a drill press, with an aluminum oxide bit, at the lowest speed. Messy but did the job. Another from a Demonstrator: Yes, it is not written as the recommended method in some manuals, but the Dremel Tool on high speed with the Tile Cutting Kit #566 will work on Mason Jars. The Carbide Cutting Bit will be used to drill the pilot hole and open the hole up larger. DO NOT allow the blade to get RED HOT ... it is now DULL. It also works great on carving the Red Clay Pots, Glazed Pottery, etc.
Another: I have used the tungsten carbide bits 9903 or 9910 or diamond coated bits to make nice 1/8" holes in the bottom of mason jars. You must go slowly to avoid over-heating. Drill a little and wait a couple of seconds and then drill a little more. Any time that I have tried to do the job with a diamond point, I have ruined the bit.
Another: For glass drilling the wet sponge placed under the plate or whatever the glass object shape is helps to make the drilling go faster and less breakage to the glass.

Glass etching: This is so easy, most folks won't believe it. I use any Dremel tool, MiniMite to 365 with flex shaft to do it. Assuming, I am going to etch a water glass, I tape the design inside the glass and use it to guide the outlines and special details. I generally use the #84922 silicon carbide bit that is furnished with all the Dremel kits to do the outlines and most of the later shading. Once I have the outline, I remove the pattern and can work on the detailing. As I said, the #84922 bit is used for finalizing the design and the shading. If I need to add specific fine detailing (e.g. feathers, etc.) to the design I used the #7105 diamond point. Get a cheap glass item, put a pattern inside, and you will find how easy and fun glass etching is with the Dremel. Another ANSWER: Believe it or not, I feel that the tungsten carbide bits are more aggressive on glass than the diamond bits. Experiment with both and you will probably find uses for both, I know that I did. Draw on the glass with a "magic marker" and then remove the drawing with a bit. I prefer to find some artwork and copy it and then tape it on the underside of the glass and then trace it with a bit. Practice a bit and you will like the results. Another: check out the window etching http://www.systemcooling.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=85 Another: I also etch glass with the Dremel. I have done tabletops using stencils and Dremel’s. I buy a sheet of glass from Lowe’s in what ever size I want then scan a coloring book page reverse the picture & print. Tape it to the back of your glass piece and use it as a pattern. when your done flip the glass over so your picture will be right side up.
Another: When I demonstrate glass etching, I use the 83322 silicone carbide stone for most of the work. This works fine and is a bit that is in most of the current kits. I can show them how etching is as easy as tracing with a pencil. I use the 7144 and 7103 diamond bits for very fine detail around and within the etched portions. I have actually started several folks into the etching hobby this way.
Post #7621
Posted 2/11/2011 11:13:36 PM
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Thank you so much for taking the time to reply. It's amazing how far my research has come even since my post here the other day. I know there is one dremel accessory, the sanding/grinding guide (A576), that might be useful for uniform grinding of edges as well. I'll definitely take a look at your suggestions.

After my post, I scoured the entire product catalouge and identified a number of products for grinding/sanding/polishing glass, which I could have done to begin with, but it's always nice to get human feedback as well. Especially since there are many products which will work on glass but are not officially "specified" or recommended for glass. 

I called the Dremel cust. svc. line for their advice and was notified that w. the exception of the etching tools, there is nothing for glass applications including grinding and cutting. I know there are at least a few. I told the lady that there are pictures of cut glass bottles on the site, and videos of dremels cutting glass, etc...on the web, and she said you can do what you want, but it's not safe. How are you going to keep the glass cool enough, she said? You can't use water with electric devices, duh. Basically. I felt pretty obtuse. So I guess...you just have to use low speeds and take it slow when using Dremel on glass.

In any event, I'm going to practice w/ some other techniques...hand sanding w/ some carbide, cerium, diamond powders and blocks, etc... and maybe a flat lap, (used, could find maybe affordably), maybe a slow speed rotary tool for inner edges, w/ carbide silicon or diamond bit, and then polish on flat lap or manually. I don't know, something like that. I've been reading about it too much.

The email I rec'd back from Dremel said something totally different than the lady I got on the phone. They had a few recommendations. In any event, the Dremel or other rotary tool will be an afterthought, perhaps a supplemental device at some pt. in the process, but it won't be my main mode of accomplishing this because of the cooling issue and the uniform smoothing issue.

Thanks again, and I'll still check back for feedback.

grateful novice

Post #7634
Posted 10/29/2013 1:40:16 PM
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I know this is an old thread.. But I figured I can add my experience on this subject matter for someone who may be curious in the future.

I am an artist and glass happens to be one of my favorite mediums. I have used a number of different grinding methods to smooth edges for glass: wet belt, table-top grinder, diamond hand laps, and the dremel. If glass is something you want to make more than an occasional hobby, I definitely suggest purchasing a small tabletop grinder. You can buy a decent one online at a number of different sources for about $130. I've seen Gryphons as low as $90 but you get what you pay for. Diamond hand-laps are great if you only have a few edges to clean up, otherwise you are going to be hand-grinding all day. As for using the dremel to grind edges, it does work really well and the 4200 has enough RPM to outdo a tabletop grinder, but it isn't necessary. You need to have a vice, or a station to secure the dremel so you can bring the glass to it with both hands. Dremel has products for this purpose. I just picked up an inexpensive vice at Home Depot and that works fine for me. As for bits, Dremel does a lousy job providing diamond bits for the glass consumer. Unfortunately, I had to buy a set of diamond bits online from a third party and I have purchased 30-bit kits for about $20, with all varying grits, shapes, and sizes all depending on the project. The bit shaft for the Dremel 4200 is 1/8th an inch I believe, and those are easy to find. Now, when cold-working the glass with the dremel stationed to the vice, if you have a variable speed like mine, there is no reason to go past using 20,000rpm but I usually set mine to 15,000. It's important to keep a small dish of water or a wet sponge close by to continually wet the glass in order to prevent the diamond bit from getting too hot and to prolong its life span (you may need to occasionally stop to allow the bit to cool as well). If Dremel ever offered a solution to this problem then I never would've bought a table-top grinder which keeps the bit wet for you. I've ruined a lot of diamond bits by not following my own advice. To polish the glass after grinding there are a number of different bits that Dremel has to get the job done, depending on whether you actually want to "polish" it, or "clean" tarnish off of metal. There is a difference. I myself use a Kiln to fire polish all the edges of my glass after grinding, it's less labor intensive that way. The polishing bits get the job done as well. So, with the right diamond bits, the Dremel is very effective to grind out smooth, even edges. Just remember, station the device, buy the bits 3rd party (there is a 50 piece on Amazon right now for $18, I took a quick peak, it's efficient, I own them), and keep a water source close by to wet the glass. I hope this helps someone.


Glass Artist
Post #9524
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