Friday, February 3, 2012

{DIY} How to (successfully) cut glass bottles

As a wine drinker, I have accumulated quite a collection of empty wine bottles, thinking I wanted to "upcycle" them and give glass cutting a try. Well, after many unsuccessful tries, I have FINALLY found the (almost) magic formula.

I first tried the option where you use a cotton string soaked in acetone and set on fire. Major fail. Not one bottle crack. Moving on to the next option: buying a glass cutter and following instructions. Another major fail. I wasted about 5 bottles following their instructions (I tried 2 different types of cutters, one bought at Michael's, and one ordered on Amazon, called G2 bottle cutter). The bottles did crack, but in all the wrong places. After a lot of trial and error, I will share with you the "secret" to successfully cutting your old wine bottles in half.



 STEP 1: Using your cutter, score your bottle in one smooth continuous line (try to avoid stopping and going if you can). Do NOT push too hard on the glass, the score needs to be very thin and not too deep. Make sure the cut is always done at a 90 degree angle.


Your score should look like this (see the line in the center of the photo. As you can see, it is very thin, and that is all you need to break the glass).













STEP 2: Prepare a pot of VERY COLD water (with ice) and one with water which you will bring to a constant simmer.


Light up a candle. Take your bottle and slowly place the score line over the flame, going all the way around.

Dip the bottle into the ice cold water for about 5 second. Go back to the candle flame and go over the score with the flame again. Then dip the bottle in the ice cold water. Do this about 4 times (going back and forth between the flame and the ice cold water).











After you have used the flame to weaken the score line (about 4 times), you will now place the bottle in the simmering hot water for 5 seconds, then the ice cold water for 5 seconds. Keep doing that until the bottles breaks at the score line.
















As you can see, the bottom half stayed in the cold water, giving us a clean, smooth line.  Use tongs to take the glass out if it breaks in your simmering hot water. The last step will be to sand down the line to make sure you take the sharpness away from the bottle.

(note: the glass on this photo broke in the cold water, I removed all of the ice after the water got cold enough so you could see the break, but you can just leave the ice in the water for the duration of the process)



What I have learned through trial and error:

  • Your score line needs to be constant and very thin and not too deep.
  • NEVER go backwards when scoring. If you miss a spot, go back over that spot, and spot ONLY.
  • Stop scoring as soon as you have gone all the way around and hit your starting point. NEVER go back over a score (your bottle will break in all the wrong places if you do).
  • Some bottles are easier to cut than others, depending on the thickness and type of glass. 
  • Most instructions tell you to use lubricating oil on the cutting wheel, I just used some Pam spray and it worked perfectly.
  • Be sure to tighten all screws on your glass cutter as they will tend to loosen up as you use it, which will cause uneven lines.
  • Patience is key. Do not rush any step of the process.
Next time, I will show you what I have done with those bottles, but in the meanwhile, happy glass cutting!

20 comments:

  1. Wow! I had no idea there were so many steps involved!

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    1. Yes, indeed! It is fairly involved and can be tricky, worth the trouble when it does go your way :)

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  2. Steph - Great tutorial! I'm curious how long the process tends to take? Bummer that the string method didn't work well, that's what I was hoping to do to recreate this look: http://www.soyveycandles.com/about.html // Your blog is looking great, btw! ;)

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    1. HI Sarah, each bottle takes about 10 minutes...don't bother with the string method. Even if you did manage to get any cut, it would be extremely uneven and jagged. This is by far the best method for a clean, smooth cut! I just posted about recycling wine bottles to make candles, did you check it out? http://www.wineandcork.blogspot.com/2012/03/diy-recycled-wine-bottle-candles.html Can't wait to see your final results with your soy candles! :)

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  3. Thanks for the great tutorial! I;ve tried a couple bottles, and it's not working to well for me. . .user error, I'm sure! When going from the cold water to the candle, I'm having a hard time keeping the candle lit. Any suggestions?

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    1. Hi there! I can see why your flame might die when you place the bottle over it, I would wipe the score line lightly right before placing it over the flame. You can also use a lighter ( the kind to light up trills is a good option), but your fingers might get tired :/ Be sure yo use a large enough candle and flame and wipe off the excess water. Hope that helps! :)

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  4. At the beginning, you said you tried out 2 different types of cutters. Which one worked the best? Did you get much success out of the one pictured (looks like the G2 one on Amazon)?

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    1. HI Matt, yes, I did use the G2, and it worked well for me but you have to make sure your score is clean and that you don't go back over the same score as that will make your bottle crack.

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    2. Perfect, thanks for the tips!

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  5. I have tried cutting the wine bottles with a diamond grit tile saw. I was not able to get a clean cut......
    I want to try your method and see if I have better luck.
    What do you use for sanding/smoothing down the cut edge?

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    1. Hi Britt, thanks you for your comment :) I hope you have better luck with my method (it does take a little bit longer, but it works!). To smooth the edges down, I used coarse sand paper first, then a finer one (#80 and #150 worked well for me). Good luck!

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  6. Hi there
    I am using the G2 and for some reason my bottles are coming out jagged and the ones that come out smooth have cracks going down the sides.. Any tips? I am doing it exactly like the instructions

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    1. HI Brandy, thank you for your comment. Glass cutting can indeed be quite tricky and some bottles will seem to have a mind of their own lol. It all starts with the scoring. It is probably the most important and hardest part of the process. It has to be CLEAN, NOT too deep, and consistent. If your line is not clean, your chances of getting a clean cut are slim. It takes practice and I learned to control the score after several failed attempt. Once you have made a clean score, be sure that your water is ice cold, and that you go over the line with the candle enough times (too much will be better than not enough in this case). Don't give up and keep at it, you will get better with practice! :)

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  7. What do you use to smooth the glass once it's cut? Thanks. Sue

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    1. Hi Sue, thanks for your question. I used a large grain sheet of sand paper at first, then went down in size progressively to take away all the sharpness of the edges. If you have an electric sander then that would probably get the job done faster and just as well if not better.

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  8. Hi, Thank-you for the tutorial. Would this work on any smooth glass bottle/jar (say a pasta sauce jar or juice bottle)? I was thinking of using those for practice while trying to perfect the technique?

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    1. I don't see why you can't use any type of bottle or jar. It might be a bit more difficult with a wider type of container because your score will be longer which means you will have to control the line for a bit longer. But I am sure that with a bit of practice it should no problem at all. I also have used wine bottles that friends gave to me ( since they would have thrown they away anyway) to practice. You may know people who can give you theirs as well...? Happy glass cutting! :)

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  9. Hi, I'm really wanting to try this out, I think they are just beautiful, but, I'm scared that the bottle is going to burst, will it or does it...like going from cool to hot and so on? Thank you! :)

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    1. Hi Shannon, I have never had a bottle burst, do give it a try but I recommend using a spare bottle first to get a feel for the steps first. It will work, of that I am sure! I have now cut at least 30 bottles using this technique. :)

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  10. Hi, I write from Italy.
    I’m a fan of ships in bottles to give away to friends. I managed to make some successfully using the G2.
    My problem is to cut thick bottles over 3 mm. The breaking line does not follow the line of cut.
    I tried running your method carefully but once passed the spark plug line, putting the bottle in hot water it breaks not along the line of cut.
    I'm desperate I have many beautiful bottles to use and many ideas to put in for giving gifts but I'm not able to open them.
    I use a gas adjustable lighter instead of the spark plug and it has always worked.
    Thanks a lot.

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