Soda Bottles Used As Heat-Shrink For Wood Joinery

Nobody is likely to confuse it with the beautiful joinery that makes fine furniture so desirable. But as a practical technique, using plastic bottles as heat-shrink tubing for composite joints is pretty nifty, and the pieces produced are not without their charm.

Undertaken as an art project to show people what can be done with recycled materials, [Micaella Pedros]’ project isn’t a hack per se. She started with bottles collected around London and experimented with ways to use them in furniture. The plastic used in soda and water bottles, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), turns out to shrink quite a bit when heated. Rings cut from bottles act much like large pieces of heat-shrink tubing, but with more longitudinal shrinkage and much more rigidity. That makes for a great structural component, and [Micaella] explored several ways to leverage the material to join wood. Notches and ridges help the plastic grip smoother pieces of wood, and of course the correct size bottle needs to be used. But the joints are remarkably strong – witness the classic leaning-back-in-a-chair test in the video.

Its aesthetic value aside, this is a good technique to file away for more practical applications. Of course, there are plenty of ways to recycle soda bottles, including turning them into cordage or even using them as light-pipes to brighten a dark room.

Nitpicker Smartyass says:
We tried that a couple of years ago. Maybe OK for indoor use with artificial lighting – but as soon as you get UV on the “joints”, it’s only short-term fun.

RW ver 0.0.2 says:
Some of that has got to be that PET is UV transparent, the more it lets through, the less is energetically absorbed effecting chemical change.

Other plastics are opaque to it absorb UV and degrade faster.

Biomed says:
If you alternate the colors of the layers you can carve it back down with a dremel and make some pretty impressive sci-fi flowers. Don’t ask me how I know…

This is an old arts and crafts technique I’m glad to see get some new airtime. They become impressive if you have artistic skills such as I lack (Thank you Mom!). So much plastic around now that it is very well worth your time to experiment a bit. Milk jugs, bleach bottles, vinegar bottles, soda bottle…

Generic Human says:
Interesting project, but I’ve had some experience with heating PETE. Yes it contracts but it also becomes VERY brittle.

MvM says:
I used this method to protect my outdoor kitchen, which has wooden legs, from rotting away too soon. I Used a blow torch to shrink the PET bottle. But that is quite a tricky way, it’s very easy to melt a hole in it.



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