shows by example how easily you can eliminate stress, become more independent, raise your children in a safer environment (while spending more time with them, instilling values not based on the mighty dollar) and avoid the traps of commercialism. Because we live and sail simply, we have been wandering for 11 years with no intention of stopping. This is not a trip for us; it is our life, and I hope to share our success with stories of laughter and tears, as well as how-to tips and DIY projects for preparing, sailing and making a boat a home, so that others can join us.

Cutting Glass

February 15, 2016

In the spirit of our saving pyramid, we try to find ways to make what we need rather than buying it. Dave has been fermenting vegetables for over a year. While researching different recipes and troubleshooting tips, he decided that a shot glass would be the best way to keep the vegetables under the brine so that they do not rot. Since we don't drink and I no longer bartend, finding a shot glass was not going to happen. Rather than buying one, we looked for other solutions.

We are huge proponents of glass onboard. I'm not sure whether that or our composting toilet starts the most heated discussions among cruisers we let in on our secret. Because we like the cleanliness and airtightness of glass, we keep nearly every glass jar that comes aboard, regardless of its original contents. So when Dave went looking for a shot glass substitute, he headed to the galley lockers and had his choice of glass jars. He found a jar that had come aboard as a vessel for olives, but has since housed dozens of different goodies. The jar was the right diameter to fit into the wide-mouthed Ball jar that he pickles vegetables in, but it was too tall. He was stumped for all of three minutes before he said, "You know, I've seen this trick on the Internet, I just don't believe it works as well as they say. But let's try it." Five minutes to gather the tools, two minutes to perform the magic, and in less time than it would have taken us to row to shore to buy what he wanted, he had the perfect cylinder of glass to hold down his fermenting vegetables. It really is that easy. To prove it, the second time he did it, I filmed it.


any glass jar that you want cut along a straight line
a rotating surface (we used a fan)
some heat-proof surface to keep from burning your rotating surface when the glass gets hot
a sticky substance to keep the pieces together (we used modeling clay that he has for his jewelry)
a sharp scoring tool (Dave used his scratch-all.)
a torch (He has a small jewelry torch that worked well.)


Score the glass at the level you want to cut it. A short (maybe half-inch) score is sufficient.
Assemble the pieces flat: rotating surface, heat-proof surface, and glass held together by sticky stuff.
Verify that the glass spins level (Our clay had to be smooshed around to get the glass level) and freely. You should be able to spin the rotating surface easily without getting your arm in the way of the flame.
Light the torch and place it so the flame barely touches the glass at the level of the score mark.
Spin the rotating surface quickly to keep from overheating the glass.
In less than a minute you will hear a "snap." Your glass has broken.
Sand the edges with a stone for a few minute, checking for sharp spots.

Sand away sharp spots

The first time we tried this the top of the glass jumped up off the bottom part. We simply picked it up (USE A HOT PAD!). The second time, we heard the snap but the two pieces were still slightly attached. Once Dave picked them up, however, they fell apart easily.

This technique is nothing short of amazing to me. But once again, like many of my posts, it's not really about cutting glass. You may never have the need or tools necessary to perform this little bit of magic. That's not my point. The reason for this and similar posts is to convince you that you CAN. Whatever it is, you can. With a little research, a few simple tools, and the right attitude, you can. To quote one of my favorite people, "Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right." What bit of magic have you performed lately?

We are often asked how we get internet on our travels. MONDAY we'll share our state-side solution to wifi everywhere we roam.


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