Introduction: Sugru Water Bottle Hack
This fix utilizes Sugru to fix my daughter's favorite water bottle before she was forced to retire it from use.
Having "adjusted" the bottom of my daughter's stainless steel water bottle a number of times, I decided it was time to apply a more permanent solution. This was especially true when I could no longer adjust the bottle (using percussive maintenance) to be level. Remember the Weebles? Well, this one would always fall down.
I discovered the wonders of Sugru shortly after it was first released and thought this would be an excellent opportunity to play with it while making an item destined for the trash bin usable for (quite) a while longer.
1. Water bottle
2. Blue painter's tape
3. 1 - 20g package of Sugru color of choice
1. Dish soap
2. Wax paper (but quickly discarded for...)
3. Plastic cutting board
5. Coffee mug (or some other suitable container to hold the finished project)
Step 1: Prepping the Water Bottle
The first thing you will want to do is wash and thoroughly dry the bottle. Use a degreasing soap (I used dish soap) in order to remove any residual grease and oil.
Once the bottle is dry, you will need to decide how far up the side you will want the Sugru to rise. We opted for a fairly shallow rise of about 1/2". The bottle was then carefully wrapped about 6 times to provide a thick layer of tape on which to build the Sugru thickness guide. The Sugru will be applied up against the tape. Cut the tape with scissors to make sure there is a clean straight edge.
If I Did It Again, I would wrap a similar layer towards the top so that when the bottle is rolled on the mat, it would provide a more level and even rolling height.
Step 2: Applying Base Sugru
Taking the entire 20g packet, and not knowing exactly the best way to approach the task, I rolled the Sugru into a ball while simultaneously warming it up a bit in the process.
We placed the ball on the wax paper and then pressed the bottle down on top of the ball. When we discovered that the wax paper would not play nicely with the Sugru (the Sugru stuck to the wax paper), we abandoned trying to make a flat disk with the bottle and went for the direct "Smush" procedure.
You can see my daughter working (or smushing) the Sugru across the bottom and around the edge of the bottle. This is only a pre-smush as we will use a rolling technique in a moment to spread a uniform layer of Sugru around the entire surface.
Step 3: Rollin', Rollin', Rollin'...(and Smoothing)
In this step, it is best to take your time rolling the bottle firmly and consistently. This part took about 10 minutes before we felt like the Sugru was well and evenly applied.
My daughter started rolling the bottle on it's side. This was about the time I realized that a second ring of tape of the same thickness would have been good to apply towards the top...I didn't do that. I don't know that it would have made much of a difference, we just worked at keeping the bottle mostly level.
We repeated the following steps 3 or 4 times:
1. Roll the bottle on its sideto ensure even thickness around the bottom edge
2. Roll the bottle at about a 45° angle - rounding (or chamfering) the edge so that it would ease around the corner
3. Push the bottle down flat on the bottom - this will incorporate the excess bulge back into the base
A couple of follow up notes:
First, when you do the third step, there will be a little seam that will appear where the excess smushes into the bottom Ultimately, my daughter used her finger after the last smush to blend the seam into the bottom and then re-press it into the bottom.
Second, the Sugru may stain the plastic surface you are working on. The spot in the second picture left a very slight blue hue upon project completion. I cleaned it up with soap and water and placed the mat back in service. Technically Sugru is not certified "Food Safe" (yet), but I believe the stain is more color residue than anything else
Lastly, it was only after the Sugru had cured that I thought about embedding a textured surface into the bottom. Once the bottom had been leveled, one could gently press the surface into some sandpaper, jar opener, cooling rack, etc. Although I haven't done it yet, I have thought about touching the bottom with my sander and some 80 grit paper.
Step 4: Unwrapping the Tape
At this point, my young protégé unwrapped the tape from the bottom before the Sugru had cured. She carefully peeled it away, making sure that the Sugru on the bottom separated cleanly from that which was on the tape. Once the first round was unwrapped, it continue to come off cleanly and easily.
Step 5: Post Unwrap Touch-Up
Once the tape was completely removed, my daughter used her finger to gently smooth the "top" edge of the Sugru where it met the side of the bottle. Not much touch-up was done overall, but there were a few lines that appeared from each layer that was removed that needed to be blended into the base.
Step 6: Curing
The Sugru now needed to cure for at least 24 hours. Because of the thickness of the bottom layer (approximately 3/16" overall in new height) we let it cure for about 36 hours. Note the handy-dandy Scooby Doo mug used to hold the bottle in an upright position.
Step 7: 2+ Month Post Script Follow-Up
So how has it held up? Very well. It has surpassed my expectations. I was slightly curious at how well the Sugru would adhere to the painted surface of the bottle. To date, it is still quite firmly attached as you can see in the photo below.
My daughter has had many comments and compliments about her modified bottle, and I think that several folks have gone on to look at Sugru and the wonderful things you can do with it. This fix has allowed her to continue using her favorite water bottle after it's longevity was being questioned by myself.
I have some ideas on how to apply a patterned grip on my bottle, but I'll have to buy a different color - blue just doesn't work for me.
Stay well and keep on improving the things in your life that annoy you.
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