Adventures in Bottle Cutting

September 20, 2011

I can’t recall where or when I saw a bottle cutting kit, but I spied it somewhere a few months ago and thought it was completely cool.  Around the same time, I saw a set of tumblers in a local shop made from the bottoms of wine bottles and thought they were a great way to repurpose old bottles into drinking glasses.

DIYer that I am, I determined bottle cutting was definitely on my ‘learn to do this’ list ASAP.  The kit I bought (seen below) ended up on a shelf in my office shortly after it arrived months ago, but last weekend as I was cleaning and sorting I noticed it again, and decided to give it a try. I spent a fall morning experimenting with the kit with mixed results, but in the end arrived at two decent cut glass vases made from a wine bottle and a champagne bottle. 

Take a peek:

diy cut glass wine bottles cg

 

Here’s the kit I used to cut my bottles and turn them into vases:

bottle cutting kit

 

I must caution you, in my limited experience, this kit was a hit and a miss.  The miss may be attributed to my lack of skills in this craft, but I did not end up with perfect edges.  Read on!

The kit comes with a scoring tool, instructions, and other supplies. Quite frankly, the value is in the green scoring tool alone.

kit supplies

 

The method isn’t very complicated.  First, you start with a glass bottle. Wine bottles are plentiful around here so I used one I had recently emptied *hiccup* cause I’m really good at that.

align bottle

 

You align your bottle, then with a steady hand etch a single line all around with the scoring tool. 

etched glass bottle

 

Then you add fire.  Men, did you hear that?  Etch glass, add fire.  Right up your alley!

flame around etch

 

Next, you cool with ice cubes and wait for the break. The basic science is this: the score line directs the cut and the quick change in temperature causes the break.  It may take a few repetitions (heat then ice, heat then ice) but eventually the glass breaks.  With my first bottle, I ended up with a lot of soot and an slightly uneven break. 

Exhibit A:

too much soot, less than perfect cut

 

Did that imperfection stop me from making it into a vase?  Heck no. 

Of course you’re wondering about sharp edges, that was my biggest fear too.  It’s true, the edges of my bottle were sharp but not like shards, more of a clean edge.  I polished them up with the strip in the kit and that seemed to even them out just fine.  Next I taped it off with painter’s tape and thin stickers and gave it a coat of gold spray paint to create some stripes. 

polishing cloth gold stripes

Final result – a pretty decent vase for stems or blooms. 

cut glass wine bottle vases cg

 

Feeling bold with my second try I went with a thicker champagne bottle (seen above).  With patience and a few repetitions of the heat then ice technique, this bottle top came off with a cleaner cut. You an actually see the bottle begin to crack when you apply the ice. For me, this experiment was a like a throwback to science class . . .

after ice see cracks

 

I ended up with a much cleaner cut but this one also had slight imperfections.

clean cut on champagne bottle

 

As cool as this kit is, I have two bones to pick.  First, it’s just a little pricey at $45, but I suppose if you’re planning to make a bunch it might be worth it.  There are other ways to score a bottle I’ve read about online, one is a tile saw, the other is a Dremel, so if you have one of those, investigate those options. 

Second, I do have to disagree with the ‘creative craft for the entire family’ notion . . .

for the entire family

 

Those are tiny shards of glass that came off my etched bottle, see?  Perhaps I scored too deep, but those make this project off limits to any youngster if you ask me.

mini shards of glass

 

Here’s a final precautionary note: as with any DIY project working with glass and fire, use goggles, wear gloves, and have an extinguisher handy.  There are plenty of crazy videos about glass bottle cutting out there – just go look on You Tube. I found this one to be the most helpful source for tricks for getting a successful straight even cut.

I’ll definitely use the kit again, hopefully with smoother edges in the future. Meanwhile, I’ve got vases that turned out pretty nice even if the tops aren’t 100% perfect. 

diy glass bottle cutting cg

Oh, and if anyone wants to know about those outrageously cool stems in the wine bottle vase, they are a pumpkin tree plant. Teeny tiny little pumpkins on a stem just make my day – I picked them up a few days ago at my local Trader Joes, awesome right?

Anyone else ever had any adventures in bottle cutting?  What were your results?

 

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64 Responses to “Adventures in Bottle Cutting”

  1. Yes, actually, I have a glass cutting kit, too! I think I first used one many years ago at my Grandmother’s place then I spied one a number of years ago at the local thrift store. My bottles stand upright when they are scored so it is a little different than yours. The important thing, if I remember correctly, is to score it slowly and only once! I think it doesn’t work as nicely if you go around a number of times. I have a number of old glass 7-Up bottles that I am waiting to turn into hanging candles lantern for our outside patio at our next house. I saw them in a crafty inspiration book and they were gorgeous!

  2. Tracie says:

    Hey Kate! I too have been experimenting with cutting wine bottles…Been using my dremel tool. I haven’t perfected it quite yet…but when I do I will be sure to pass it along. I wanted to share with you a link to something I want to send you. I make these…and they are a perfect way to reuse a wine bottle. Can you email me your address? PS…I signed up for Haven…cannot wait to chat in person :)
    Tracie
    http://www.etsy.com/listing/59183962/set-of-12-wine-bottle-oil-lamp-kit-torch

  3. Kattie says:

    I bought a glass cutting kit earlier this year, but never used fire. I used this tutorial http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFXngPx3w3M (The guy in the tutorial is…interesting) It uses hot and cold water to stress the glass. It works pretty well! It’s still hard to get a perfect edge (I was trying to make glasses) but if you’re going to use them for decoration the water method should work pretty well. I learned it was best not to score to deep, and to really take your time with the water. It was important not to let the water touch the whole bottle, just to try and get it only on the score line. It was tedious and I gave up on the glasses, haha. But it’ll probably be great for some different vases!

  4. Rachel says:

    Very cute…and very fall-ish!

  5. Carly says:

    I cut over 200 of these for my wedding centerpieces with the same kit. Using the candle and ice takes FOREVER so we needed something quicker. We discovered that if you score the bottle with the kit and then put the bottle in a pot of boiling water (for 20 seconds-ish, depending on how hot the water gets and how thick the glass is) and then run it under a stream of cold water, it is much quicker and easier. With the thicker glass we sometimes had to come back to the hot water for a few seconds, but that usually did. Most of the time this resulted in a perfect separation of the two pieces. There is something so satisfying about that perfect separation of the two pieces!

    Also, sometimes the glass is cheap and nothing you can do will make the cut come out perfect. Same thing with some of the thicker glass.

  6. Carly says:

    Oh, and there is no soot using the water instead of the candle!

  7. This is so awesome!! I must find one of these kits…

  8. Andi T. says:

    I love this! I went to a yard sale this weekend, and a lady cut off the bottom of the bottle and used the top with a candle under it for decoration on her porch. I loved it! I may have to get one of these and try this, too. Then I could use the whole bottle up :)

  9. cemile says:

    That something I always wanted but ı leave in Turkey.Never saw any bottle cutter kid.How can ı get one? Thank you sharing .Sincerly

  10. Jessica says:

    Wow, that is really cool. I never knew you could do that. I would be scared to do it of course fearing I would cut myself (if it could happen, it happens to me, lol.). Thanks for sharing this cool project. I like how they bottles came out.

  11. Melanie says:

    lol Fun for the whole family does seem to be pushing it. I suspect those slivers you got from cutting the bottle may also have something to do with different types of glass. I used to do stained glass with my mom when I was younger and some kinds of glass were just really prone to slivering and turning everything into a danger zone. You did end up with a couple of cute vases. :)

  12. I remember John from Young House Love having a go at it too, last year. His results where mixed too.
    But heck, raw edges or not, anything that will give you an excuse to empty a wine bottle is a winning project in my book.
    Really cool pumpkin stems there!

  13. Kiki Ottosen says:

    wow a bottle cutter! I didn’t know such thing existed.

  14. Suze says:

    So cool!
    The kit looks like a garage sale find my mom would buy for me, glad it helped you make these awesome vases!

    Susanborland.blogspot.com

  15. Scribbler says:

    I have something for scoring tile that looks much like that gizmo — wonder if that would work? I like the end result, but it does sound like kind of a pain for $45.

  16. Sarah says:

    No way, those cutie little pumpkin guys are at Trader Joes… must. get. some. today!

  17. Ashley says:

    I have seen a similar tutorial online but instead of using fire and ice to make the break, they simply poured boiling water over the bottle and the change in temp caused the glass to pop apart. That scoring tool looks very nifty, though! I’ve also seen people polish the edge with a Dremel tool. Maybe that would make it a bit smoother.

  18. Very Cool! Had no idea!

  19. Jen says:

    found a GREAT (low to no cost) DIY for cutting bottles at http://jaimelyn11.blogspot.com/2011/07/cutting-glass.html. I can’t wait to try it!

  20. Amanda says:

    I like to take a special bottle of wine (after it is empty) and cut the top off and turn it into a candle by filling it with wax. They are so beautiful.

  21. Hmm.. maybe i’ll have to try this technique. I tried the string dipped in lighter fluid, and then lit on fire attempt, which failed… ever single time.

  22. Mindy says:

    they look good! and those are real pumpkins?! how cool! I want to go to TJ and get some now!

  23. Lux says:

    I so need this, but how about cutting a 2 1/4 (or is it 2 1/2 hole) to make your own DIY glass pendant?

  24. Virginia Mom says:

    My older sister received a kit like this in the early 1970s. I remember how dangerous the thing looked in her teenage hands. No idea what ever became of it. Funny how these things come and go.

    Ah well, one more excuse to stock the “cellar” (a.k.a. the garage fridge) with pretty blue bottles of Luna di Luna. Hope that kit comes with hangover remedies . . .

  25. Jules says:

    I think they look really good! I can’t believe it’s fall already. When I saw your pumpkin plant I immediately thought of Trader Joe’s! I can’t wait to get some of my own.

  26. It sure seems like there is no diy project out there that you will not try. this is so cool. and “I had recently emptied *hiccup* cause I’m really good at that” – hahahahaha!

  27. Never, ever tried that! Those tiny pumpkins are so adorable! Man, wish I lived near a Trader Joe’s!

  28. KC says:

    You can do the same thing with cotton string, acetone nail polish, fire and cold water.

    tutorial posted: http://jaimelyn11.blogspot.com/2011/07/cutting-glass.html

  29. Sarah says:

    I’ve never tried this with bottles, but when cutting glass for stained glass art projects you can run the score before separating the glass pieces with pliers to help get a cleaner cut. In stained glass, after making the score with the glass cutters, you tap along the score gently with the end of the glass cutter (they usually have a weighted end for just this purpose). Again, I have no idea if this would help in getting a cleaner cut in bottle cutting but just thought I would mention it!

  30. statia says:

    I was excited when I saw you post this, because I have some mason jars I want to turn into lighting, but even more excited that a dremel will work (and probably better), because my husband has every type of dremel attachment and is really good with the dremel. So, YAY.

  31. Nicole says:

    They look great, but it sounds complicated! Think I’ll stick with sewing;)

  32. Very cool! I love that it is “for the entire family!” lol
    My husband makes stained glass…perhaps we need to try this!
    ~Kelly

  33. deezie says:

    Hi there
    Love everything you always do!!!
    I have tried this before and failed. My Aunt gave me a small tile cutter last year for Christmas and the first thing I tried was cutting a bottle in half.
    Perfection is all I can say. Sliced that bottle with the cleanest edge. I make all sorts of things now with the tile cutter. Try it, you will love the results
    I saw those little pumpkins at Trader Joes the other day I didn’t know they were real!
    deezie

  34. Becky says:

    I was coming here to post the same link Jen & KC above left you! I haven’t tried it yet, but am totally going to.

  35. SUPER cool!! I was curious if you had thought of making a cool modern pendant light with the tops of the wine bottles? I saw one recently on Pinterest i think and you just run the cord of a pendant kit from the bottom to the top and screw in the bulb. It looks SUPER pretty and funky and you could…ahem…have a very good excuse to empty a few more bottles! :) Great job!

  36. Heather Alvarez says:

    I agree with Kelsey – I’d love to see what kind of funky pendant light or chandelier you could make!

  37. They make a bottle cutting kit? Who knew?!! Oh dear, I think I must have one.

    LOVE the gold stripes you added to your vase.

    Camille

  38. Are you kidding?! My kids would have a glorious afternoon playing with those fun glass shards. It sounds like the perfect weekend family activity to me. ;) I think you were wise to keep the kids away. Shards or not, your striped vase is pretty cool. Love the little pumpkins. :)

  39. Kate, this project reminded me of another that I recently saw . . . a couple used upside down wine bottles as a trim around their garden. it was pretty cool and unusual, but the beautiful green colors of the glass were a great compliment to the landscape.

    -Amanda

  40. Peggy says:

    This is a blast from the past. All us baby boomers remember the glass cutting trend in the 70s and recently my husband and I went to a restaurant that used glasses cut from wine bottles for water. They were wonderful and I want to make some – we surely have enough empty wine bottles to do it! The waiter said that to smooth out the edges the cut edge needs to be torched somehow. It’s on my “to do” list.

  41. Lori says:

    Hi, I haven’t read all 40some comments, but just in case this wasn’t mentioned, this girl “cut” her bottles w/out a blade. Found it on Pinterest, but haven’t tried it. http://jaimelyn11.blogspot.com/2011/07/cutting-glass.html

  42. taunya says:

    My friend cuts bottle all the time using nail polish remover and twine. there is a million youtube videos how to do it.

  43. Hi! I am the one that posted awhile back on my blog about a technique to cut glass without anything aside from cotton yarn, acetone based nail polish, fire and cold water. (I was just super excited that I didn’t have to buy anything to do it). It worked great….my first time…. I don’t know if you are interested in checking it out here is the blog post:
    http://jaimelyn11.blogspot.com/2011/07/cutting-glass.html

    :o) I LOVE being able to up-cycle everything—and glass bottles are no exception! I love your version!

    Jaime from Crafty Scrappy Happy

  44. CentsationalGirl says:

    Hey Jaime, a couple of people sent me your link, thanks so much, I love it, what a cool technique !
    xo
    Kate

  45. Jane Little says:

    I saw that kit or one like it at the Crafters Convention in LA this winter. I really looked at it seriously. The price ultimately turned me off. Great investment if you were going to do a bunch of centerpieces for a wedding or something. Just not for me at this time. I do love your gold stripes!

  46. Sherry says:

    You did well for a beginner. I’ve never heard of a bottle cutter, but I think it’s neat!

  47. Hillary says:

    My family and I lived in San Pancho, Mexico for a while and there is an organization there called EntreAmigos who up-cycles everything they can find and sells it in order to raise money for educational opportunities (library, computer lab, sports classes, art classes, English classes, etc.) for local kids. One of their most popular up-cycles is bottles into candles, glasses, vases…anything they can think of. The artists there use a special saw blade on an ordinary table saw to do the cutting. Here’s a link with more info — unfortunately not enough photos of the amazing glasswork. http://www.entreamigos.org.mx/projects/the-gallery-store/

    They also used broken glass from bottles as aggregate in the concrete when building their new building — it was in the floor and countertops and SO amazingly pretty. They used all different colors of glass and buffed out the sharp edges. Beautiful.

  48. Nancy says:

    I had one of these waaayyy back when they first came out…the 70′s I think..it does take some practice but the results can be cool as you are finding out…try looking in thrift shops or flea markets for the oldies first..$45.00…ouch! Think they were only a few dollars when I got mine..only about that price now if you find one in a thrift shop….you can also make great candle holders… “Wine bottles are plentiful around here so I used one I had recently emptied *hiccup* cause I’m really good at that.” Hilarious!!!!

  49. Very cool idea, I will need to try it out! Thanks

  50. hanna says:

    Hæ, do not CUT TOO DEEP :) a lot of hot and cold water and you get almost a perfect edges :)

  51. Ashley says:

    What a great idea! Have you made anything with the tops of the bottles?

    Thanks for sharing!

  52. Beth says:

    You never cease to amaze me. You do the NEATEST things and the bottle cutting is just another idea in an already long list of ideas that I admire.

    I’m with Marianne@Songbird. Any excuse to empty a wine bottle (not that I don’t already have a plethora of excuses) is perfect in my book!!

  53. For someone who’s not skilled at glass cutting, I’d say you did a fantastic job!

    I’m a glass artist in Santa Rosa (so I’m especially thrilled that you’re “local”!), and have cut bottles on my tile saw. It’s fun to cut rings and fire-polish them in one of my kilns to use them in other projects, like wind chimes.

  54. kristin says:

    im getting ready to do a ton of these for my wedding!!

  55. Michelle says:

    Ahhhh, I just saw where someone had taken a wine “jug” and had cut the bottom off to create a dome. They then used it w/ a round cutting board. A nice way to display or serve, say, cheese. This project sounds right up your alley. ;) Once you have it completed, could you please post the results ? ;) What a great gift idea, right?

  56. Lindy says:

    This took me back over 30 years to when I was first married and my husband and I bought a glass cutting kit. A lot of fun. Thanks for the reminder.

  57. Brenda j says:

    Here’s my age showing….as a teen in the 70s’, I actually remember a version of this glass cutting-kit, coming out as a very cool Christmas gift item. They were advertised as much as the K-Tel records and 8-track tapes, as the coolest new things for Christmas.
    A guy who I thought was “way-cool”, got one and we had a blast making drinking glasses, from “stubby” beer- bottles. The booklet that came with it also showed how to combine different cut bottles to create neato vases etc.
    Now that I’m a grown-up, I’ve taken Stained Glass courses and though I’ve moved past the beer bottle drinking cups, I still think 8-tracks and K-TEL records are groovy!! hahah. My kids have NO idea what any of those things were and think stubby beer bottles looked weird. Sad.

    Cheers Kate,
    Brenda in Ontario

  58. Sara says:

    This is too cool!

  59. Sylvia says:

    Every old is new again. Yep, I too, remember glass cutting kits.

  60. Codi says:

    I’m exited that you’ve tried glass cutting and that this post came out just now – tomorrow we’re trying a different method to get the same result. Saw on Pinterest that if you soak yarn in acetone (nail polish remover), put it around the bottle, light it on fire, and then dunk the whole thing in icy water, you get really clean cuts – we’ll see!! At least we won’t be spending any money on this project if it goes terribly.

  61. Denise says:

    Question for Brenda J, 9-11-11 post about a glass cutting kit from the 70′s. I am trying to do it for Christmas but I remember cutting the bottle then attaching the bottom half to the top half for a goblet effect. Does that ring a bell? How do you connect the glass pieces? Thanks

  62. Alyssa says:

    You can also cut glass using just yarn and nail polish remover.

    http://jaimelyn11.blogspot.com/2011/07/cutting-glass.html

  63. Heather says:

    I found a much easier way to cut my wine bottles…

    First cut a length of yarn that will wrap around the bottle a few times. (I’ve found 2 and a half works well)
    Soak your yarn in nail polish remover
    Wrap the yarn around the bottle where you want the cut
    light the yarn on fire
    let it burn for about 30 seconds then dunk the entire bottle in cold water
    Viola! The glass will break evenly right where the yarn was.

    Easy to do in your kitchen sink and only takes 5 minutes!
    NOT for little ones though!

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