-Where to find empty bottles
-Tools and Materials
-Preparing and Drilling your bottles
-Where to sell them.
Finding empty can be a little tricky. It's easy if you have a few laying around or have family or friends who are drinkers.You can also utilize local sources like Craigslist or Freecycle. But if your looking to make a lot of bottles you'll need a bigger source. Bars can be your best friends BUT TAKE HEED!
In Pennsylvania it is against Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board regulations for bar owners to give you their bottles. Most will not give you the time of the day if you approach them wrong because they know it means a HEFTY fine. I'm sure other states have similar laws so it wouldn't hurt to find out first.The solution ? Make friends first. Sit down and have a beer, or a soda if you don't drink. Then they are usually ready to let you in on a little secret. Its illegal for them to hand them to you or to let you walk out with them. However, after they've set them out in the recycle bins ,usually just outside the back door, they are yours for the taking! No digging through the trash. Most are packed neatly in the original cardboard boxes that the distributor delivered them in.Please make sure you have permission from someone at the bar first.You don't want to get in trouble over empty wine bottles.
Explain to the owner or employee that you would like to make Christmas or holiday crafts and are in need of empty bottles.
We usually go very early on a Monday to ensure we get plenty of bottles in one trip.The weekends are when most bars do the bulk of their business and we usually fill the trunk after just two stops.
-When you are given permission, try to make it as painless as possible for establishment when you are gathering your bottles.By this I mean , don't come during Happy Hour looking for bottles.Instead, hit the recycle bins early in the morning before the bar opens or just after they set bottles out from the night before.This way, you wont ruin a good thing. If done right you will have a solid supply and most likely will never had any troubles.
-Do not break bottles or rifle through their garbage ripping bags, This is one sure way to get cut off. I wouldn't utilize a bar that doesn't recycle their glass anyways.The labels will probably be ruined anyways and you don't have to, most bars recycle.Just find another.
-We have found it good practice to give a nice lamp to the bars that allow you to take their bottles just to say thanks.They are usually very grateful and can't believe you've turned their trash into something so kool!Some of the establishments we gave back to even went on to display the lamps behind their bar.This led to sales we never expected to get! That's the power of word of mouth.
TOOLS AND MATERIALS
This list is pretty minimal as it doesn't take much which is why these things are such a money maker!
You will need:
-An empty Bottle of course!
-Hand drill or drill press-Variable speed is best.
- 1/2" glass/tile bit ( it looks like a spade.I get mine at Ace Hardware for $11.99 )
-3 in 1 oil ( available at Ace and Walmart for around $2.99)
-Plumbers putty ( $1.49 at Ace or Walmart)
(Picture coming soon in case you dont know what it is)
-1 can of Frost Glass Spray ( Walmart $4.99)
-A string of 20 count colored or clear Christmas or craft light that plug in to the wall ( Dollar tree -$1 per )
-Old rags or t-shirt ripped into rags to wipe the oil off. ( free)
-Dust Mask ( $1.29 almost anywhere)
-Safety Glasses - Free if you already have some, otherwise the dollar tree, walmart, dollar store etc usually all have them for under $2.00.
-A few small Pieces of scrap wood. ( you don't need much, its used to make a Jig to hold the bottle still while drilling)
So for a start up cost of $25 , assuming you have access to a power drill, you are in business! Even better, your first two bottles sold will put you above the break even point!
PREPARING AND DRILLING YOUR BOTTLES
I'm going to tell you what works best for me.This process has evolved with lots of trial and error and I have come to a happy place where I get the best results.That is what I will show you here
Before we get started here are a few General do's and Dont's that will save you time effort and money.Because time IS money.So is burnt drill bitsand unplanned trips to the emergency room.
-Where you safety glasses
-Build a Jig
Its very hard to holda spinning bit on a rolling bottle!
-Take your time, dont rush drilling -
It takes twice as long to break a bottle and then drill another to replace it
-Empty Residual Liqours prior to drilling.
We dont want 100 proof Liquors Igniting inside the bottle as the drill bit creates heat.
-Keep you drill bit oiled.
I cannot stress how important this is.This to me, is the single most important aspect of the drilling process.If your bit starts to heat up , youll lose it, and your bottle.Last year, i went through 4 bits at $12 each.This year, only One. Keep those drill bits Oiled! Its cheaper than bits.
-Lastly Use a variable speed drill.
Youll know if you have variable speed if when pulling the trigger a little barely moves the drill, and pulling it harder makes it go faster. You want to go slow! Let the bit do the work, you should not be pressing down into the bottle.
-Rush the drilling process.
It takes time. You will gain a feel for it and it will get easier with patience. It takesme about 3 minutes to drill a bottle depending upon the thickness of the glass.Not all bottles are the same.Some, like Grey Goose, have VERY THICK glass and take a little more time, but they are extremly sturdy and resist fractures.Other bottles such as Ice 101 will EXPLODE if you even look at it the wrong way.These differences will come very fast to you as you progress.For the record, I have never been injured drilling a bottle.Knock on wood.
-Lick your fingers
Plumbers putty is sticky and Poison! Please read the container warning.
Lets Get started!Inspect the bottle for defects and make sure the label is intact.No one will want to buy it if the label is wet, wrinkled, or peeling off.
Remove the cap and dump out any residual alcohol. I leave the cap off during the drilling and I keep a container around just to dump the alcohol and used oil in.
Place a rag or hand towel in the jig to keep from marring the bottles label and then place the bottle in your jig label down. You want to drill it in the back of the bottle so the cord comes out from behind and the lights illuminate around the product label.
Take out enough plumbers putty to knead a small dam around the place where we will drill.This will contain the oil, aid the bit in its cutting, and keep it cool.
Fill the damn about half full of 3 in 1 oil and place keep the bottle near by as you will need it when the bit breaks into the bottle.You will see the oil from your dam start to spill inside and you'll have to compensate by adding oil to the drill bit shaft, a little at a time to keep the bit cool.
Go slow and steady keeping the bit moving downward at its own pace.
Don't be alarmed if you hear a crack .It doesn't necessarily mean you broke the bottle.Hopefully it just means you broke through the glaze, this is normal and drilling should move faster from this point.
Continue drilling until the widest part of the spade bit sinks below the inside wall of the bottle.THEN STOP YOUR DRILL , and slowly extract your drill bit.Sometimes your hole may be a little off round and you may have to turn the bit this way or that to get it out but if you try to pull it out while the drill is still on you taker a bigger risk of breaking the bottle.
Use a rag to remove the plumbers putty and wipe the access oil off of the bottle AND THE PUTTY. The putty, unless you break your bottle, is good for an all day drilling session.