Introduction: Hanging Upcycled Wine Bottle Planter Shelves

Picture of Hanging Upcycled Wine Bottle Planter Shelves

The objective of this project is to make a planter out of wine bottles that can be suspended from a ceiling or elevated structure. The original motivation for the project was to provide a source of fresh herbs in the kitchen that would not occupy valuable counter space, but we discovered that the combination of flowers and translucent wine bottles placed in front of a window results in a particularly pleasing effect.

Step 1: Prepare Sketches and Scale Drawings

Picture of Prepare Sketches and Scale Drawings

The first step is to develop a plan with sufficient detail to acquire materials and begin fabrication. In this vein, a brainstorming session is used to develop rough sketches of the hanging wine bottle planter concept and to establish the overall proportions of the finished product. The brainstorming session is also used to weigh the complexity of possible fabrication techniques versus the aesthetics that they will produce.

After having converged on a design concept, the location where the planter will be installed is measured and wine bottle dimensions are obtained. These measurements are subsequently used to prepare a scale drawing of the hanging planter for visualization and to finalize the dimensions of the shelves. The final dimensions of the upper and lower shelves are 21 7/8 x 4 x 1 1/2 and 21 7/8 x 4 x 3/4 inches, respectively.

Next, the details of the planter design are worked-out by preparing drawings of individual parts. For example, the 1 1/2" thick upper shelves are fabricated by gluing together two 3/4" thick boards whereas the lower shelves are fabricated from 3/4" stock. The front and sides of the upper shelves are faced with a 1/2" thick board. The facing provides a place to display a decorative carving and it covers the longitudinal glue joint and end-grain. Similarly, the lower shelves are also faced to provide symmetry, but only on the sides to cover the end-grain. The facing is attached to the shelves by tongue and groove joints. In addition, 550 paracord is selected for the suspension gear. With the detailed part drawings complete, a list of materials is compiled and a trip to a local home improvement store is made.

Step 2: Cut Wine Bottles

Picture of Cut Wine Bottles

Cutting wine bottles is the most challenging step of this project. After some extensive research on bottle cutting techniques, we elected to make circumferential scores and to propagate the surface defect by alternately streaming hot and cold water over them. Dan Rojas explains this method very well and we eventually achieved comparable results on a consistent basis. That is, several iterations with different bottles, score depths, water temperatures, and hot-cold water cycle variations are necessary to find a combination that yields an acceptable cut with a given bottle class.

Our detailed cutting procedure follows:

1. Prepare a bottle scoring jig consisting of one 6" bench vise, one 3.5" bench vise, two 1/2" socket extensions, one glass cutter, and a homemade plywood steady rest. The jig setup resembles a lathe where the 6" vise is a live center and the 3.5" vise is a tool post. Similarly, a firm hand grip on the bottle base is the chuck that turns the bottle one revolution. Coincidentally, the taper at the base of the 1/2" socket extension fits the mouths of most bottles quite well.

2. Acquire a wide variety of wine bottles to make practice cuts. It is hard to appreciate the tremendous variability in wine bottles until one attempts to make something out of them. Specifically, we have found that the wall thickness of a particular bottle can vary substantially. We have also found that some bottles cut easily while others seem to always shatter no matter how the technique is adjusted. Consequently one must find a combination of bottle (label) that cuts well, looks good, and is available in sufficient quantity to complete the project. This step may require dumpster-diving.

3. Prepare bottles for cutting. Bottle labels must be removed prior to cutting. In general, this is accomplished by soaking the label in mineral spirits to dissolve the adhesive and subsequently scraping the gooey mess off with a razor scraper. Unfortunately, we have also found great variability in label application technology. Consequently some labels come off easily while others require significantly greater effort. Once all labels have been removed, the bottle is cleaned with dish soap and hot water to remove any residue.

4. Mark the cut location on the bottle. This is accomplished by placing the bottle into the cutting jig, using a tape measure to locate the cut location, and marking the location with a permanent marker. Of note, one must use a measurement datum parallel to the bottle mouth to ensure that the measurement is accurate and consistent. This is important because a relatively small variability in the lengths of the cut bottles could compromise the aesthetics of the hanging planter. Alternatively, one could employ a gauge block to ensure that this distance is consistently applied to each bottle.

5. Cut the score. Carefully but firmly turn the bottle against the steel glass cutting tool. The objective is to make one complete revolution without any axial variation in the score position. In other words, the score should be a circle instead of a helix. The latter will produce anything from a jagged cut surface to a shattered bottle, depending on the severity of the axial variation. The score depth should only be a few thousandths of an inch. The bottle is subsequently removed from the jig and a few drops of WD-40 are applied to the cutting wheel to remove glass chips and to prepare it for the next bottle.

6. Separate the two pieces of the bottle defined by the score. This part of the procedure will delight or disappoint and it is impossible to know beforehand. We have found the most success by first pouring a thin stream of hot water (e.g., from a tea kettle) over the score while rotating the bottle at a deliberate rate. Next, the score is immediately placed under a stream of cold tap water and the bottle is rotated briskly. Once the bottle feels cool, a second very brief application of hot water will separate the two pieces. Simple enough?

Maybe not. The objective is to use thermal expansion to locally expand and shrink the glass in the vicinity of the score. If done properly, the surface defect produced by the score will initiate a circumferential crack that propagates radially inward until the inner diameter of the wall is reached. We have found that initiating the crack is the key to making this work. Specifically, this crack must be initiated more or less simultaneously over the entire bottle circumference. This is why rotation and the flow rates of the water streams are essential ingredients. One can see the crack grow while rotating the bottle under the cold water stream. If the crack fails to propagate over some portion of the bottle because the heating and cooling was uneven, a jagged cut will be the best result that one can expect. Moreover, the crack cannot be re-initiated where it failed to propagate. An attempt to do so with heating and cooling cycles will only cause the bottle to shatter. Similarly, one should avoid heating large areas of the bottle or pouring the hot water over one spot for a long duration because the thermal expansion will be too great.

On a safety note, the separation process occasionally generates extremely fine glass shards. Consequently the expended heating and cooling water should be collected in a container and disposed in a safe manner to avoid contaminating food preparation areas. Additionally, any food preparation equipment that is employed in the process must be thoroughly cleaned before contacting food. One should also consider wearing leather gloves while cutting or handling the cut bottle parts to avoid punctures and lacerations.

7. Round the cut edges of the bottle. This is accomplished by sanding the edges with 350 or 400 grit silicon carbide sandpaper. The glass industry uses silicon carbide media to sand glass. We have found that ordinary garnet sandpaper (e.g., 200 grit) produces poor results. We have also found that aluminum oxide, e.g., grinding wheels, also produces poor results.

8. Put the set of completed wine bottle parts in a location where they will be safe from virtually every calamity conceivable so that this step does not need to be repeated.

References:

Dan Rojas GREENPOWERSCIENCE.COM

Step 3: Fabricate Shelf Carcases

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The object of this step is to fabricate the basic shelf parts from lumber. The detailed procedure is:

1. Acquire 1x6 and 1x4 cabinet-grade pine lumber.

2. Cross-cut the 1x4 lumber to make four boards 20 7/8" long. Half of these boards will be glued together to form the top shelves.

3. Lay-out groove locations for splines. Splines approximately 1/4" wide and 2" long are used to facilitate the alignment of the boards during the glue-up. The splines should be located where they will not be disturbed by future machining operations. This is accomplished by using a ruler, pencil, and compass to mark the longitudinal centers of the boards and to draw the approximate contours of the counter-bored holes that will hold the bottles. The ends of the 2" spline grooves are marked on the centers of the boards and well away from the bottle holes.

4. Cut spline grooves. A plunge router fitted with a 1/4" up-cut spiral bit is used to cut the spline grooves. Before cutting, the work is clamped to a surface and the depth of cut is set to 1/4". Additionally, excess lumber is clamped to the work surface to provide positive stops for the router travel.

5. Cut splines. A table saw is used to cut four splines 1/2" wide and 1 7/8" long from 1/4" plywood stock.

6. Glue the top shelf carcase components. Select a pair of upper-shelf boards. Spread wood glue over one surface of each board and the spline grooves with an inexpensive paint brush---the brush can be cleaned with water and re-used. Insert the splines into the grooves and spread glue on the exposed parts of the splines. Place the two glue surfaces together while making sure that the splines fit into the grooves. Place several clamps on the assembly and tighten aggressively. Also, carefully scrape away globs of glue squeeze-out but do not wipe or smear them because the dried glue will be difficult to remove and it will prevent stain absorption. Set the assembly aside and allow it to dry overnight. Repeat the procedure with the second set of upper-shelf components.

7. Remove dried glue from upper shelf assemblies. Remove the clamps from the upper self assemblies. Mount the parts in a workbench vise and use a carbide scraper to remove dried glue.

8. Plane the long edges of the upper shelf assemblies. Mount an upper shelf assembly in a workbench vise. Use a No. 5 (Jack) plane to trim the long edges of parts until they are flush. The No. 5 plane is followed by a No. 7 (Jointer) to ensure that the long edge is 90 degrees to the faces and parallel to the workbench. This step is repeated with the other edges to eliminate any overlap. Lastly, the two upper shelf parts are placed on a flat surface and held together to indicate any differences in their height. These differences are eliminated by additional plane work. The parts should be planed until they are exactly the same. Also, the end-grain edges are planed flat with a block plane. Of note, the No. 5 plane can be also used on the edges.

9. Cut lower shelf components. Cross-cut the 1x6 lumber to make two boards 21 7/8" long. The cut boards are subsequently ripped to 4" wide on a table saw.

Step 4: Prepare Shelf Edge Facing

Picture of Prepare Shelf Edge Facing

The objective of this step is to machine grooves into the sides of the shelves and to fabricate the components of the trim. The detailed procedure is:

1. Cut mitered notches into the sides of the lower shelves. To avoid applying trim to the front face of the lower shelves, a notch 1/2" deep with a 45 degree miter is cut into sides. The miter is cut on the table saw with a tenoning jig. The cross-cut from the rear edge of the shelf to the mitered cut is also made on the table saw.

2. Cut 3/8" grooves into the sides and front edges of the upper shelves. Mount a 3/8" thick stacked dado on the table saw and set a depth of 1/4" The grooves in the front edges are made with a rip cut. This is accomplished by positioning the rip fence so that the dado is centered on the part. A feather board may be mounted to the table to prevent kick-back and to ensure that the part is in contact with the rip fence. The side grooves are cut with a tenoning jig. One needs to position the jig carefully to ensure that the front and side grooves are aligned.

3. Cut 1/4" grooves into the edges of the lower shelves. The decision to not face the front edges of the lower shelves made this step somewhat complicated. Specifically, the grooves must be cut with a router instead of a table saw to ensure that the mitered joints are not damaged. A makeshift jig for holding the lower shelves vertically is fashioned out of a bench vise, extra lumber, and clamps. Once the part is positioned in the jig, a 1/4" straight bit is mounted in the router and the router guide is adjusted such that the bit is centered on the part. The router depth of cut is subsequently adjusted to achieve a groove depth of 1/4" and the cut is made. One should note that a lateral stop is not needed because the groove should extend slightly into the mitered joint. This is done to position the curved end of the groove in the miter so that a square tongue in the facing will fit without modification.

4. Cut facing stock. For the upper shelves, cross-cut a 1x6 to make a board about 30" long. This board is subsequently ripped into strips slightly wider than 1 1/2". The objective is to make two front face pieces 21 7/8" long and have enough facing material left to cover the edges. Similarly, the lower shelf facing pieces are made by cutting a piece of lumber into a strip slightly wider than 3/4". The length should be greater than 16" to ensure that sufficient material is available.

5. Cut tongues in the facing stock. This is accomplished by making four rip cuts in each part on the table saw. The facing for the top shelves should have tongues 1/4" high and 3/8" wide. The bottom shelf facing require tongues 1/4" high and 1/4" wide.

6. Cut the facing stock to fit the edges of the shelves. This is accomplished by cutting the stock at 45 and 90 degrees. Basically, the shelf parts are measured and the facing stock is cut to fit. The front facing parts of the upper shelves are cut first because they are the most important from an aesthetic point of view; the remaining parts are cut such that they fit the front pieces. The lower shelf facing parts are cut to fit the miter joints.

7. Trim the tongues and grooves of the facing and shelf parts until they fit perfectly. Although the parts may be machined very well, there are inevitably small defects that prevent the parts from fitting together "just right." Consequently sets of parts are set aside and the defects are trimmed away with planes and chisels until they fit together perfectly. Unfortunately, the parts are no longer interchangeable and they should be marked with a pencil accordingly. The result is four sets of parts that are ready to be glued together.

Step 5: Carve Decorative Design and Complete Facing

Picture of Carve Decorative Design and Complete Facing

The objective of this step is to carve a decorative design that will appear on the front sides of the upper shelves.

The detailed procedure is:

1. Create a decorative pattern for the front sides. This step requires an artistic eye and some trial carvings in scrap wood.

2. Draw a 1:1 scale pattern for the decoration on a strip of paper. This is a crucial step because it determines the size and layout of the decorative design. Consequently one needs to use high-precision measuring instruments (e.g., steel rulers) and proceed very carefully. Additionally, engineering style graph paper may be helpful. First, the decorative design is scaled-up to fit the shelf face. Next, the design or components are laid-out to produce the most pleasing effect. The design is then drawn on the on the strip of paper with a pencil. Next, the strip pattern is placed on the shelf to verify that the intended aesthetic has been achieved. Finally, the pattern is traced with a marker to approximate the thickness of the carving tool.

3. Transfer the pattern to the wood facing parts. This is accomplished by aligning the pattern on the part and inserting a piece of carbon paper between the pattern and wood. The pattern is subsequently traced with a stylus (e.g. a dull pencil). After verifying that the transfer was successful, the carbon paper is translated to the next portion of the pattern. Of note, carbon paper continues to be available at major office supply store chains, even though most general department stores have dropped it.

4. Carve the decorative pattern. This is accomplished with a hand-held rotary cutter fitted with an 1/8" ball-end cutter and an adjustable-depth fixed base. The carving is made by tracing the pattern free-hand with the rotary tool. The fixed base is an important accessory because it maintains a consistent depth and provides a firm grip surface for the tool. Nonetheless, the carving procedure requires a steady hand. After carving, the decorative pattern is "cleaned-up" with small rasp file.

5. Glue the facing parts to the shelf edges. Starting with one upper shelf and a complete set of facing parts, the front face is glued together first. The side parts are subsequently glued-on and aligned with the front face. The entire assembly is next clamped tightly beginning with the front face. The glued-up assembly is set aside and allowed to dry overnight. The procedure is repeated for the other shelves, with the exception that the lower shelves are only faced at the ends.

One should note that gluing the facing to the edges after cutting the decorative pattern is a risk-mitigation strategy. That is, it is easier to make a new facing part than a whole shelf should a catastrophic carving error be made; fortunately this contingency was unnecessary.

6. Plane glued-up shelf assemblies. Remove the glued-up shelves from the clamps. Remove excess glue with a carbide scraper. Clamp a shelf in a workbench vise and plane the facing with a No. 5 plane until it is flush with the shelf surfaces. The end-grain edges of the facing are also planed flush with the rear edge of the shelf. Additionally, a cabinet scraper to smooth the surfaces of the shelf assemblies.

Step 6: Drill Counter-bored Holes for Wine Bottles and Suspension Cords

Picture of Drill Counter-bored Holes for Wine Bottles and Suspension Cords

The object of this step is to drill holes in the shelves to hold the cut wine bottles and to suspend the shelves. The detailed procedure is:

1. Mark hole locations. This is a crucial step because the upper and lower shelf holes must be co-axial to preserve symmetry and to ensure that the shelves hang correctly. Consequently all measurements and marks must be accurate to the greatest extent possible. Begin by placing the completed shelves, part drawings, try square, high-precision steel rules, and a fine pencil on a large work surface. A center datum is used to prevent any hole misalignment due to minor differences in the lengths and widths of the completed shelves. Begin by drawing center lines along the length and width of each each shelf. Use a try square to ensure that the center-lines are perpendicular to the edges of the shelves. Once the center-lines are drawn, butt the edges of the shelves together lengthwise to ensure that the center-lines are aligned and repeat edgewise. Double-check measurements and re-draw center-lines if necessary. Next, the intersection of the two center-lines locates the center bottle holes on the upper shelves and the center recess locations on the bottom shelves. The locations for the left and right bottle holes are 5 1/2" to the left and right of the center bottle; the bottle-end recesses on the lower shelves are similarly located. The longitudinal centers of the paracord holes are located an additional 4 1/2" away or 10" from the shelf center-line. The paracord hole centers are located 1" above and below the longitudinal center of the shelf. Finally, butt the marked shelves together and verify that the hole locations are align shelf-to-shelf; remark if necessary.

2. Drill counter-bored holes in the upper shelves for the cut bottles. First, find one or two thin pieces of scrap wood narrower than the shelf. Place the scrap wood on the ways of the drill press vise. Next, find two thin pieces of scrap wood that can be placed between the jaws of the vise and the edges of the shelf. Place the shelf in the vise and tighten while making sure that the lower part of the shelf is in contact with the scrap wood. Next, mount a 1 1/2" forstner bit in the drill press and align a bottle hole center with the bit. Drill through the shelf. One should note that the scrap wood is used to minimize tear-out on the bottom surface. Next, replace the 1 1/2" bit with a 2" forstner bit. Counter-bore the hole to a depth of 7/8". Select another bottle hole location and repeat the procedure until all six holes are cut. One should note that these hole diameters and counter-bore depth are optimal for the bottle variety selected. These dimensions are best found by experimenting with scrap wood and a set of forstner bits.

3. Drill counter-bored holes for paracord suspension system. The shelves are suspended by green 550 paracord and they are held in position by overhand knots in the paracord. To maintain a clean look for the shelves, the knots are hidden in counter-bores on the undersides of the shelves. One should note that the most accurate way to drill these holes would be to use one setup and drill from the bottom of the shelf like the procedure in step 2. Unfortunately, this will result in some tear-out on the top of the shelf--which would be unacceptable. To eliminate this tear-out, the through-holes are drilled from the top and the counter-bores are drilled from the bottom. First, chuck a 5/32" drill bit in the drill press. Next, mount a shelf in the drill press vise in a similar fashion to step 2, but make sure that the top of the shelf is facing up. Align the work to the bit and drill through the shelf. Select another paracord hole and repeat the procedure until all 16 holes are drilled. Next, mount a shelf in the drill press vise with the bottom facing up. Align an existing paracord hole with the 5/32" drill bit. The position of the work should be adjusted until the drill bit can be slid vertically in the hole. Replace the 5/32" drill bit with a 1/2" forstner bit. Drill the counter-bore to a depth of 3/8". Replace the 1/2" forstner bit with a 5/32" drill bit. Select another paracord hole and repeat the procedure until all 16 counter-bores are cut.

4. Clean-up the edges of the holes and counter bores with a chisel if necessary.

5. Verify the fit of the bottles in the counter-bored holes by temporarily assembling the upper shelves.

Step 7: Cut Recesses in Lower Shelves for Bottle Ends

Picture of Cut Recesses in Lower Shelves for Bottle Ends

The object of this step is to cut recesses in the lower shelves to secure the bottle ends. The recesses are cut with a router and template. The detailed procedure is:

1. Determine the diameter for the recesses. First, measure each bottle end in two places with a dial calipers. This exercise reveals that the bottles are not round. Our bottle measurements typically differ by 0.030 to 0.040." Next the bottle measurement data is used to choose a recess diameter that will fit all of the bottle ends. In our case, this dimension is 3 1/4" and it is verified by drawing a circle a piece of paper with a compass and placing the bottle ends over the circle.

2. Determine the diameter for the router template. First, choose a router bit and base-mounted guide sleeve. The radius of the router template depends on the radii of the router guide and tool. To find the template radius, first subtract the bit radius from the desired recess radius to find the radius of the tool (router) axis. Next, add the radius of the guide sleeve to the tool axis radius to give the template radius. Write these measurements on a piece of paper and draw a schematic to ensure that it is done correctly. In our case, the diameters of the tool, sleeve, and template are 3/8", 5/8", and 3 1/2", respectively.

3. Prepare recess cutting jig stock and mark the router template hole. First, find a piece of scrap for the backing plate---in our case the bottle cutting steady rest---and cut a piece of stock for the router template. Next, locate the center of the template stock and mark the horizontal and vertical center-lines. Finally, use a compass to draw the template circle centered about the stock.

4. Mark symmetric locations for four 1/4" hold-down bolts. The cutting jig is designed to sandwich the lower shelf between the template and a backing plate, which in turn, is clamped to a workbench. Consequently the hold-down bolts must be located in such a way that the lower shelf can fit between them. Additionally, a center-datum method should be used to account for differences in the dimensions of the template stock and backing plate. Once the hold-down bolts holes are marked on the template stock, the procedure is repeated for the backing plate.

5. Cut the router template hole. Begin by drilling a hole in the center of the template stock. Next, place the stock on a scroll saw table and thread the blade through the hole. Proceed to cut the template hole with the scroll saw and cut inside the line. Next, sand the hole to the final radius with a sanding drum mounted to a drill press.

6. Drill counter-bored hold-down bolt holes marked in step 4. One should note that the bolt heads and nuts must be recessed to avoid interfering with the router base motion and to permit the jig can to be clamped to the work bench.

7. Prepare the router and make a test recess. First, install the selected router bit and template sleeve. Next, set the cut depth by adding the width of the template to the depth of the recess. In our case the recess depth is 1/2" and the template thickness is 3/4." Next, cut a piece of stock to the rough dimensions of the a lower shelf to create a test piece. The test piece is subsequently into the jig and clamped by the hold-down bolts. The jig is subsequently secured to the workbench. Next, a recess is cut with the router. Finally, the test piece is removed from the jig and a bottle end is used to confirm a satisfactory fit.

8. Cut bottle end recesses in the lower shelves. Place a lower shelf in the recess cutting jig. Align the center-lines of a recess location to the template hole center-lines. Secure the shelf in the cutting jig with the hold-down bolts and clamp the jig to the workbench. Cut the recess with the router. Remove the shelf from the jig and repeat the procedure until all six recesses are cut.

Step 8: Finish the Shelves

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The objective of this step is to apply a finish to the shelves that will provide some impact protection for the soft pine and a slick surface that will resist dust and water.

The detailed procedure for finishing the shelves is:

1. Sand the shelves with 220-grit garnet sandpaper. One should note that using a cabinet scraper on the shelves results in very smooth surfaces. Consequently sanding is performed to roughen the surfaces to absorb stain rather than correct surface defects.

2. Apply stain. Remove any sawdust with a vacuum and tack cloth. Apply Minwax English Chestnut stain to the shelves and allow to dry overnight.

3. Apply first clear coat. Remove dust with a tack cloth. Apply Minwax semi-gloss polyurethane to the shelves with a brush and allow to dry overnight.

4. Apply second clear coat. Sand the shelves with 350-grit silicon carbide sandpaper. Remove dust with a vacuum. Remove the remaining dust by wiping the shelves with a rag soaked in mineral spirits. Apply Minwax semi-goss polyurethane to the shelves and allow to dry overnight.

5. Apply third clear coat. Sand the shelves with 400-grit silicon carbide sandpaper. Remove dust with a vacuum. Remove the remaining dust by wiping the shelves with a rag soaked in mineral spirits. Apply Minwax semi-goss polyurethane to the shelves and allow to dry overnight.

6. Apply wax. Rub the shelves with fine steel wool. Remove dust with a rag soaked in mineral spirits. Apply Minwax paste finishing wax; the procedure is identical to applying an automotive paste wax.

Step 9: Hang the Shelves

Picture of Hang the Shelves

The objective of this step is to hang the shelves in front of a window. The detailed procedure is:

1. Select and prepare a suitable window. First, a large window is selected to hang the planters side-by-side. Next, the existing curtain rod is removed and replaced with a stout steel model. One should note that special care is taken to ensure that the new rod is hung level and fastened directly to studs.

2. Cut and place paracord suspension cables. The distance from the bottom of the window to the top of the curtain rod is measured. A section of 550 paracord is cut to twice the measurement and placed over the curtain rod. The paracord is cut by locally saturating the sheath with super glue and then severing the cord with a utility knife after it dries. This process is necessary to prevent the sheath and core from unraveling.

3. Place the upper shelves in preliminary locations on the cords. With the assistance of a partner, take an upper shelf and thread a cord through one of the suspension holes. Of note, the super-glued ends facilitate threading the holes. Thread the adjacent hole and tie the ends together so that the shelf will not fall. Repeat the procedure for the opposite side. Use the same procedure to place the second upper shelf on the second set of cords.

4. Set one upper shelf height. First, determine the the desired height of the upper shelves. This location can be marked on the window with a dry-erase marker. Next, untie one end of an upper shelf while a partner holds the shelf. Thread the cord through a #10 stainless steel washer. Move the washer to the desired location for the bottom of the shelf and tie an overhand knot; the washer and knot fit into the counter-bore. Repeat the procedure for the adjacent cord and the opposite side of the shelf. Next, each knot is adjusted by trial and error until the shelf hangs level at the desired height.

5. Set second upper shelf height. Repeat the procedure used to adjust and level the first shelf, but adjust the height of the second shelf to match the first shelf. Specifically, a level is used to ensure that both shelves are at the same height.

6. Place the lower shelves. The procedure for placing the lower shelves mirrors the upper shelves. Specifically, cords are threaded through the holes and the shelves are placed in a temporary position. This is followed by washers and overhand knots at each corner. The lower shelves are positioned a fixed distance from the upper shelves by adjusting the knot locations. Similarly, the lower shelves are adjusted until both hang level at the same height.

7. Tension the cables overnight. The cut bottles and bottle-ends are placed on the shelves and left overnight to tension the cords.

8. Make final knot adjustments and trim cords. The shelf heights are re-checked and adjusted if necessary. Once satisfied, the knots are saturated with super glue to lock them in position. Lastly, the paracord sheaths immediately below the lower shelf knots are saturated with super glue in preparation for cutting. The cord is severed after the glue dries. Additionally, the cut end of the cords are saturated with super glue to prevent them from unraveling.

Step 10: Add Plants and Enjoy!

Picture of Add Plants and Enjoy!

The final step is to add plants. The procedure is:

1. Remove a cut bottle from the planter.

2. Insert a rock that is slightly larger than the diameter of the bottle neck.

3. Add a few rocks around the central rock to keep potting soil in place.

4. Fill the cut bottle with potting soil and a plant.

5. Place the cut bottle on the shelf and water; the bottle-end will capture the excess water.

6. Replace the furniture and savor the completion of a challenging project.

7. Optional: Enlist the services of a cat to evaluate the retention effectiveness of the lower recesses.

Comments

JonP3Po (author)2015-10-28

One alteration to consider: Maybe adjust the position of the bottle top deeper into the bottle bottom (flush with bottom swell) so excessive water will stop flowing when the water level in the bottom reaches the bottle neck. This will also maintain a prolonged water source in the rocks below the soil. Maintaining the breathability of the soil could be achieved by using expanded clay or a similar material such as perlite to line the sides of the bottle. Sometimes I'm lazy or I need to be out of town, and this would provide surplus water for when I'm not there.

JonP3Po (author)JonP3Po2015-10-29

An easy way to line the sides of the wine bottle with perlite or expanded clay is to cut a sleeve from a plastic bottle with a diameter 1 inch less than the bottle, insert the sleeve into the bottle, and then pour the aeration material around the sleeve up to the top of the intended soil line. Then add the soil and plant into the sleeve. Remove the sleeve, and presto, your plant can breathe.

hansanator (author)JonP3Po2015-11-01

This is a really good idea. I will try it.

JonP3Po (author)2015-10-28

Fantastic job at explaining a great idea! The results look beautiful and this is how I want to grow my cooking herbs! I respect a man who knows how to properly plan and explain said plans! Well done! Thanks for sharing this!

hansanator (author)JonP3Po2015-11-01

Thank you very much for the compliments.

Donut Hohl (author)2015-10-28

"This step may require dumpster diving."
Haha, you're right — you certainly need to test a lot of bottles to find the proper kind when you're going for uniformity, as you've done here! I've also worked with wine bottles, and I agree that it can be hard. But you've done a fantastic job here with both the bottles and the woodwork! It looks beautiful.

hansanator (author)Donut Hohl2015-11-01

Thank you very much for the comment. Dumpster diving was required for this project. We picked one in close proximity to three restaurants with bars. Watch out for broken glass! I'm glad that I didn't have any visitors to my garage during this project because they would have assumed that I was a serious alcoholic.

seamster (author)2015-10-26

Wowsers!

This is a gorgeous shelf idea . . . and your documentation is stellar!

Excellent work all-around. I'm especially impressed with those engraved details. There's so much to love here. Thank you for sharing this! :)

hansanator (author)seamster2015-10-27

Thank you very much.

mobeyplum (author)2015-10-27

Hananator, you put those pansies in their place! Nice job!

Team Z (author)2015-10-27

Very beautiful!

ThomasPartner (author)2015-10-26

looks great!

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