Transforming a used wine bottle into a new and useful vessel such as a drinking glass, vase or votive holder is a simple project that takes only minutes. Accurate bottle cutting requires a special tool that uses a carbide blade, mounted on a wheel, to score a thin line around the bottle. When the scored bottle is heated then suddenly cooled, the weakened scored area fractures. This form of recycling eliminates the expensive process of melting and reforming the glass to make new glass items.
Things You'll Need
- Bottle-cutting tool
- Wet/dry sandpaper
Clean the bottle thouroughly with soap and hot water. Grit or debris on the outside of the bottle may cause the glass cutting wheel to skip, resulting in an uneven cut. Remove any stick-on labels before cutting. Most labels can be removed by soaking the bottle in hot water. Stubborn residual label adhesive may have to be scubbed off with steel wool.
Place the wine bottle into the base or saddle of the bottle-cutting tool. Position the cutting wheel on the bottle, where you wish to make the cut. Tighten the cutting wheel in place against the bottle. Holding the bottle firmly against the base of the cutting tool, rotate the bottle 360 degrees. The cutting tool will score a shallow line around the bottle. Do not let the end of the scoring line overlap the beginning.
Turn on the cold water in the sink so there is a thin stream of water. Hold the scored wine bottle horizontally. Place the bottle over a lit candle so the flame warms the area of the cutting line. Rotate the bottle slowly to heat the scored line. The heat causes the glass in the bottle to slightly expand.
Place the heated bottle under the cold-water stream so the water is running over the scored line. Rotate the bottle. Cooling the bottle will cause sudden contraction and breakage of the glass. If the entire scored line does not break on the first attempt, reheat the bottle then replace it in the stream of cold water. Repeat until the bottle has a clean cut around its entire circumference.
Spread a washcloth on a flat surface. Lay the sandpaper on the washcloth, rough-side up. Place the cut edge of the bottle on the sandpaper. Press firmly on the bottom of the bottle and rotate for about 30 seconds. Check to see that all rough glass bits have been removed. Continue sanding the mouth of the glass until it is smooth.
Tips & Warnings
- Bottle-cutting tools are available at many local and online hobby stores. Look for a bottle cutter that easily adjusts to accommodate different bottle sizes. Some styles of bottle cutters hold the bottles vertically instead of horizontally. With practice, either type of cutter will make accurate clean cuts.
- Some bottle-cutting kits include a tapping tool that helps separate the pieces of glass after the bottle has been scored.
- If edges of the cut glass look sharp, do not touch them -- sand them smooth first, then wipe with a paper towel to remove glass bits.
- Wear eye protection when working with glass to avoid injury.
- Carefully shake the sandpaper and washcloth into a trash can, as fine glass particles may cause injury.
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images
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