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Will It Go In the Bottle?

By: Greg Alvey

Imagine the frustration and wasted effort of spending a lot of time planning and making something to put in a bottle just to find out that it just doesn’t fit in through neck of the bottle.  Many ship and whimsy bottlers could admit to making this mistake, and often more than once.   The usual problem is that the item is too big and won’t go through the opening of the bottle.  Sometimes there just isn’t room for all the pieces.

When constructing a bottle, there are several things you can do to help avoid and eliminate this problem.  One of the first things you can do is to take accurate measurements of the inside dimensions of the bottle.  Some crafters use a folding piece of cardboard which can be inserted in the bottle to use as a gage or measuring tool.  Others measure the bottle on the outside and then subtract the thickness of the glass (both sides).  This can work but you might want to subtract a little more due to distortions, variances, and minor errors in calculations.

Once the dimensions are established, it is wise to make a working platform built to these exact dimensions of the inside of the bottle.  When you make the various pieces to go in the bottle you can place them on the platform and if they all fit, then you know they will also fit inside the bottle.  Make all the items you plan to place in the bottle before you begin placing any of them in the bottle.  It’s a temptation to start putting them in before they are all made but many times you can avoid some real or potential problems by having it all ready first.  Also, you might want to plan a last minute change to the bottle. 

Another recommended step is to take an accurate measurement of the opening of the bottle (inside dimensions) and then drill a hole in a piece of wood the exact size.  I have also found PVC pipe and other items in the correct size.  I keep this “hole” at my workplace and use it to test my pieces.  If the piece goes through this hole then I know it will go in the bottle.   One caution, be aware of the length of the bottle neck.  The piece might go through your hole if it is drilled through a pretty thin piece of wood but still be slightly too large because you do not have any ability to “angle” the object because of the length of the bottle's neck.  Also, some bottles are actually built narrower midway down the length of the neck than they are at the opening, or they may have enough variation in glass thickness that the bottle neck can actually narrow a bit well inside of the opening itself.