Smashing Glass: How to grip your skateboard deck with coke bottles

I’ve always loved Coca-cola. Ever since I was a kid, the shiny red, black, and chrome machines filled me joy and anticipation for the bubbly cold flavor that was about to fill my face. I have a few collectable bottles, some t-shirts, christmas ornaments, toys, and even an old wooden wagon made from a Coke bottle crate. I just like Coca-cola stuff.

Then one day I heard about people smashing bottles to make grippy surfaces for various things. That moment I knew I didn’t have a choice. I had to grip my boards with smashed coke bottle glass. Basically the only thing that could make the Scarlet series of decks more metal than it already is would be to cover the top in broken bottles.

First, I had to build a smasher. I saw a guy on youtube smashing things in a metal tube, so I figured that would be the best solution. I kept hearing about this surplus shop in my area that I wanted to check out anyway, so one day I loaded up my older kids in the car and we went out there. Turns out they also had scrap metal, so we grabbed a steel tube and a steel plate,then found a long and heavy steel rod. My then 12 month old was getting squirmy, so after walking around a bit we paid and left with the iron.

A few days later I made the smasher using the steel tube and a cinderblock. After taping the floor with that magical 3M blue tape, I simply set a cinderblock over the tape, set the tube in it upright and centered in one of the cinderblock’s holes, then filled in around it with cement. When it dried, I got what you see below.

Its important to only smash in the tube when the tube is placed over the steel plate. If you set that tube on concrete and fill it with broken bottles and start smashing, you will destroy the concrete. Keep it over the steel plate and you’ll be golden.

Grab a piece of poster board and lay it down next to the plate. Place one of your bottles on its side on the poster board and cover it with a folded towel. Using a small hammer, pop the coke bottle into shards by striking it sharply about the waist line. It should only take one or two strikes once you do a few and see how they pop. The towel will keep the glass from flying everywhere, which means there is now glass in the towel. Carefully lift the towel and shake the glass onto the poster board, then fold the towel over and set it aside.

With gloved hands, pick the chunks of glass out of the pile and drop them down the tube. Use a wide paint brush or other small sweeping utensil to pile up the remainder and put that in the tube as well. When the pile is too small to use gloves, pick up the ends of the poster board to form a funnel and pour the remaining glass into the tube. Now the fun begins.

You should be wearing a mask for this next part. You don’t want to breath in glass dust, it could do Bad Things once it gets in your lungs. You should also wear safety glasses so that any chunks flying out of the tube won’t blind you or leave you with an awkward stare. Once you have a mask and glasses on, grab your gloves and place that heavy steel rod into the tube. Use it to smash the glass by repeatedly lifting the rod and thrusting it downward into the tube of shards.

After about 10 or 15 minutes of smashing, tilt the tube over slowly to reveal the pile of crushed glass. Use your brush to sweep the whole pile onto the poster board, then stand the tube upright again. There will still be plenty of chunks in the pile, so use your gloves and pick out the chunks and put them back in the tube. You will also notice a little bit of rust in the grit. Don’t worry, that won’t survive the sifting process. Once the chunks are picked out, grab your larger screened strainer and start putting the finer grit into it one pinch at a time. Gently sift the finer grit and dust out of the chunks and into a small container. Place the larger chunks back into the tube. When the pile gets small again and you have sifted out all of the dust and grit, pick up the ends of the poster board and funnel the rest of the pile back into the tube, then place the poster board back next to the steel plate. Repeat this process until your small container is full of dust and grit.

Grab another small container and also another strainer, this time with a finer screen. Over a garbage can or other large bucket type waste bin, pour the dust and grit into the fine screened strainer and let the finer dust sift out. What’s left is a slightly larger grit, and this is what you want to keep. Small amounts at a time, sift all of the dust out of the dust and grit and place the grit into the second container.

 
sifting out the dust from the coke bottle smashings. we only want the good grit.
 
a nice little pile of coke bottle grit

If you did this with two coke bottles, you should have plenty of grit by now. It should be enough for multiple decks depending on the desired grit density. I prefer a lower density that allows the board to show through.

 
coke bottle grit in my hand. its a lot like sand.

Now all you need is a deck to grip and some brush on urethane. I’m using spar urethane by Minwax. ITs designed for outdoor furniture and offers UV protection. It’s pretty tough stuff. Tape up your board using any patern or border style you want. This is totally optional, of course. You could grip the entire top surface and even the edges if you wanted, but I like a nice border. Here’s my Scarlet electric skateboard deck that i recently stiffened up with some fiberglass along the bottom channel. I’ve got it stained, logo’d, and ready to grip.


Scarlet with logo ready for coke bottle grip

After taping the board (or not taping the board), spread on a layer of urethane thick enough to stay wet, but not too thick. We want to sprinkle the grit into the urethan while its still wet, but we don’t want the urethane to be thick enough to flow all over the place or puddle in the concave curves. Scarlet has a w-concave, so this was a particular concern for me. Regular concave decks would likely pool in the middle, but mine wanted to pool down the sides.

Once you have a nice layer of wet urethane in place, sprinkle the grit onto the board from a decent height so that it falls randomly and evenly over the surface. Of course this as well is entirely up to you. You could sprinkle in a pattern and get artsy with it. When you have all the grit on there that you want, go ahead and remove your tape while the urethane is still wet.

 
Removing tape from freshly bottle gripped Scarlet

Let it dry for a few hours until its stiff but still tacky, then brush or dab on a final layer of urethane to lock in the grit permanently. Obviously you want to be mindful of the untaped areas and dab carefully along the edges to keep the urethane from running into the clean spots.

Once this is dry, you can add another layer of topcoat to the un-urethaned areas for a nice sheen using a quality clear in a spray can. Here’s a shot of the finished product:

 
scarlet with fresh coke bottle grip

I like clean borders and sharp edges, and these didn’t disappoint me.

 
scarlet with fresh coke bottle grip (angle shot)

And finally, Coke bottle grip on a Black Metal Edition Scarlet because the only thing that could possibly make this deck more metal than it already is would be covering the top of it with chunks of glass shattered by a guy with long hair and an iron stick.

 
Black Metal Scarlet with coke bottle glass grip

Happy smashing!