Make Polymer Clay Shape Cutters From Recycled Plastic Bottles

Three bottles to be recycled into cutters
Three bottles to be recycled into cutters

More Fun With Trash

If you’ve ever tried to cut a shape out of polymer clay, or any other soft medium that’s similar, you’ll know it’s not easy to make it symmetrical by hand.

There are all kinds of cutters for sale at craft stores, but why not combine helping to save your little corner of the planet with saving some dollars in your pocket?

Travel size, sample size, and even regular size bottles can be used to create free, easy-to-make and easily replaceable craft cutters. There are always more where they came from.

Choosing the Bottles

The cutters you see in this post came from:

A discarded “nip” bottle that originally stored some cinnamon flavored whiskey. (I’d never heard of that, but evidently it’s the latest craze for underage and just-coming-of-age drinkers, according to my niece).

A recently emptied travel size conditioner bottle

A full size shampoo bottle

I chose them for their size and shape, obviously, but also kept the thinness of the wall of the bottle in mind. The sharper the edge of the cutter, the easier it should be to keep the edge of the clay clean. That way, there’s hopefully less cleanup of the finished piece.

Since I was planning to make shapes for earrings, I stuck to bottles with smaller diameters (or whatever you call the “diameter” of an oval – math whizzes, please don’t judge). These four bottles alone gave me a circle, some ovals and a rounded rectangle. Not bad.

Making the Cutters

Three bottles - shape view
Three bottles – shape view

The bottles can be cut to size in a number of ways.

When I made these, it was winter and I was feeling too lazy to look for something in the garage, so I cut them with a hacksaw I had in the basement.

The bandsaw in the garage, seemed like it would be quick, but also pretty risky. The bottles are all rounded and small. Holding them safely and walking away with a full set of fingers would’ve taken some serious workarounds. It wouldn’t be that quick after all. So laziness had its efficiency and “safety first” advantages.

You could also cut them with some kind of hot wire, knife or scissors. The hacksaw gave me a better chance of cutting a straight line and having to spend less time adjusting the edge later.

Multiple cutters from one shampoo bottle
Multiple cutters from one shampoo bottle

Since the shampoo bottle tapered from narrow to wide and back again, I was able to get several cutters of varying sizes from it.

An unexpected bonus from using the bottles that still have necks attached is that they make useful handles when you’re using the cutter.

Finishing the Cutters

To make the shapes usable, all you need to do now is to sand the cutting edges. I just ran a piece of fairly fine sandpaper (100 grit) around the rim a few times and it smoothed the rough edges from the hacksaw blade.

That’s it. It took somewhere between 15 minutes and 1/2 hour to make all seven.

Using the Cutters

When you cut a shape, it’s easier if you give the cutter a quick dip in some cornstarch to help it release the clay more easily. That goes for other cutters, as well.

An advantage to making these from a bottle is that they have two open ends. In case the clay decides to hang onto the cutter, all you need to do is give it a gentle poke from the other end.