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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