Oregon has a number of wonderful microbrewery beers for sale in the supermarkets, some with very cool designs on them. These designs are printed on, or etched into the glass rather than simply having a sticker, and I thought this property could be exploited to display how great the bottles are.
So, this instructable (my first ever) is about cutting and drilling glass bottles, wiring a fluorescent bulb into them and sealing them back up again to have a standalone light. 
There are circular LED coasters designed for lighting up a bottle- but I really wanted to turn these into something a bit more solid and incorporated than simply sticking some bulky plasticky thing with LEDs onto the base. 

Glass cutters can be found quite cheaply online, as can ceramic drill bits - there are no other specialist items needed for this  

Note: despite what some tutorials say, glass cutting in this fashion will work with almost all glass bottles - however, glass cutting can be very tricky at first.
As will be explained later, practice on some unimportant bottles is definitely a good idea if you don't want to ruin that cool bottle you might have in mind for this!  

            (cutting the bottle)

Glass bottle(s) 
Glass cutter 
Ceramic/tile drill bits 
Cordless power drill 
Kettle (you will need some boiling water)
Bucket (or large saucepan etc)
          (wiring the light)
Dual core wire
Switch (optional)
Standard florescent bayonet fitting bulb
Bllu tac  
Soldering iron
Wire stripper 
Sharp knife 
Standard superglue 

Step 1: Preparation

There are so many different methods people claim to be the best way to cut glass. Having never done it before, I trawled through online tutorials when i first got the idea for these lights. 
Finally, I found this tutorial which I think is by far the best - and the method i used in the end for all the bottles. I recommend watching it. 


so, we are 1) Scoring the glass 2 )carefully treating that score line with hot and then cold water to create a split - cutting is a poor term for this process - at no point are we really cutting any glass 

Note: Before cutting glass a few things should be considered - the thickness and shape of the glass is very important. Wine bottles are usually the perfect thickness for this method (and definitely the best to practice on).  When pouring boiling water over the score line - the split tends to follow that line, which is what your aiming for. Beer bottles are significantly thinner than wine bottles, and like bottles that aren't perfectly cylindrical, this can result in the split you create moving away from the score line, and this is the issue that results in at best an uneven cut, and worst case a shattered bottle (see picture of my first failure). 
The secret to overcoming this is being slow and careful when using the hot water, as well as making a totally even line, all of which will be mentioned in detail again. 

Bottom Cutting and Other Learnings: <br>I ran a lot of trials on a lot of bottles and thought I would share some findings. If you are cutting the bottle closer to the top half, then the Hot &amp; Cold water method of breaking is reliable and consistently does a great job. If you are cutting close to the bottom of the bottle, you need to take a different approach. <br>Structural tension near the bottom is very high and I discovered that the thickness of the glass is not uniform but can vary very significantly from one side of the bottle to the other. The Hot &amp; Cold water method generates a vertical crack in the glass about 60% - 80% of the time and occasionally results in a shattered bottle. The only reliable method I found was to use a small Butane torch with a very fine pencil type flame. I used both a Bernzomatic and a Tech Tool torch and both worked fine. I did not have a single cracked or shattered bottle. I also tried a regular Propane torch with a pencil tip but the flame was much broader and way hotter and every bottle I tried cracked or shattered badly. <br>The setup was pretty easy. I dusted off my ancient Dual turntable and set it to 33 RPM. For a jig to hold the bottle, I cut a 7&quot; square piece off a 2x8 pcs of lumber. In the center I drilled a 1 &amp; 1/8th&quot; whole using one of those flat wood drills. (Don't drill all the way thru the board - leave about 1/8 &quot; to stop the bottle from going through. But do drill a 3/16&quot; hole through in the center to allow hot air and any moisture in the bottle to escape. The 1 1/8th hole will in intentionally about 1/16 &quot; too large and the bottle will wobble a bit. But I lined the wall of the hole with a small pc of Velcro. Now when you insert the bottle it compresses the velcro and makes a perfectly snug fit - easy to insert and remove the bottle. <br>The pencil flame is held on the score line generating heat which is uniform, controlled, and restricted to a very narrow band of glass. After about 30 secs the glass fractures along the score line giving you a perfect of near perfect break. This worked on any bottle I tried including the Heiniken green glass which seemed to be the thinnest and most fragile. <br>I found some wonderful bottles at the official beer outlet. They are from Mill Street Brewery. No labels, the bottles are painted back and front with Embossed logos and lots of text done in raised glass letters. <br>I decided to use a Red colored Compact Florescent, the spiral type. They come in a bunch of colors. I soldered directly to the light's base but there was extra room in the bottle to use one of those socket adapters with the screw connectors available for $2 at you local hardware store. <br>After wiring, I filled the bottom section of the bottle with GEII Silicone Sealant and just set the bulb right in it. Then applied silicone sealant to one the cut bottle edges to glue the bottle back together again. Of course I used a standard rubber grommet to protect the power cord from being chafed by the glass. <br>I have attached some photos below. <br>Cheers, Murray <br>
Try this cutting link <br>http://vimeo.com/68566171
Of all of the methods of breaking beer bottles, I find the burning twine/cord is by far the worst one. It's got the least ability to restrict the heat to a narrow defined band. Most beer bottles are very thin and they will break with a much smaller difference between hot and cold temperatures as long as the heat is confined to the closely to the score line. I tried another methode where you place two 1/4' diameter rubber bands, one on each side of the score line, and pour boiling water on the score line in between. Then dunk the bottle in a bucket of ice water. It does an excellent job leaving a straight clean break. <br>Cheers. Murray
Thanks for your input Murray, <br> <br>Do you have a tip for scoring straight without a jig? <br>It'll cost me at least three times the price of a jig to have it sent over here.. :( <br>Or maybe I should just wake my lazy brain and make my own jig? :D
I tried a few different ways to do it without a jig but found it impossible. If you are going to build one I would recommend you try to copy the design used in this video. It looks fairly straight forward using straight cuts of wood and a standard glass cutting wheel available at all hardware stores. <br>http://learnglassblowing.com/_Vid_Files/493CFB.wmv <br>If you plan to purchase one, be careful because some of them are not well designed making it impossible to cut a bottle close to the bottom. <br>Cheers, Murray
Thanks for the tip, Murray!<br><br>Cheers from Bali,<br>Heru
its beautiful! well done mate - really nice!
Brown bottles make lovely lights but I decided to try some variants. This first one uses a UV black light in a blue bottle. Technically I guess you might call it a Platinum Blue-Black Bud Light Light. Well, I guess the photo says it all. <br>Cheers, Murray <br>
seriously cool - definitely trying that one out when i get some spare time
Cool idea. I'd cut closer to the bottle's bottom to eliminate a lit-up scar where you glue the pieces back together. Not as stable, maybe, but nicer effect, probably. <br> <br>Also, I use the same bottle jig (Ephram's, right?) and the torch/ice cube method. It works amazingly well, but I also use a lazy susan to evenly heat the score line. <br> <br>For those asking, yes, you should only score once, and LIGHTLY. It's not intuitive, but if you press really hard on your glass cutter, it will tend to make a more jagged cut, or worse, break away from the score line. I was a picture framer for years, and this is true of any piece of glass, but for in-the-round scoring, I've found it's even more important. The thicker the bottle, the more heat you need to dump into it to get the contrast between hot and cold, too. <br> <br>Of course, the other way to make a bottle lamp is to cut the bottoms off and thread a cord through the neck, attach a lamp socket, and then screw in a bulb that fits. Hang it overhead. In this case, you need to dress the cut edge, to make sure you don't have a cut hand in short order... <br> <br>Cheers! <br>-Nathan
yeah that was exactly the idea i had also and what i tried first - cutting at the base, however i just could never get a nice cut for a number of reasons. 1) at their base bottles like this thicken up as they mould into that curve that eventually forms the bottom - and although of course the score line is above this, for some reason this effects the way the heat from the water stresses the score line and i tend to get shattering glass 2) the jig i have cant cut that far down the bottle, so i have to do it by eye
Cutting at the bottom works great. The trick is to be sure to get a straight and perfect score - one that goes all around the bottle with no gaps in the line. The glass structural tension is greater at the bottom of the bottle and as the tension releases if you do not have a continuous line a crack will often propagate off the line in a random direction. Even when that happened to me the bottle did not shatter or break. <br>I scored the bottles approx 3/4&quot; from the bottom which was just at or really close to the abrasion circle caused by the factory bottle handlers. In the linked image you can see there is another handler ring near the top which I need to polish off. https://www.instructables.com/files/deriv/FQH/Q2W1/HFBKEKAW/FQHQ2W1HFBKEKAW.SQUARE.jpg <br> <br>Cheers, Murray
wow. great result!
Yep, that would certainly make sense... Either way, nice lamps.
Great ible! <br>Well presented, and nice bottles you have around there.. <br> <br>I've been wanting to cut bottles for a while but haven't come round to it.. <br> <br>i was wondering if you tried the small torch methode too? <br>not the absurdly big blow torch like the guy in your link shows, but a small pen torch like this one: <br>https://www.instructables.com/id/Easiest-way-to-cleanly-cut-bottles <br> <br>I wanted to try the spinning string method since i dont have a lathe.. <br>and in this method, it's said that just a nick is enough, this is what interest me (no need for extra tool/vise to make a straight score all around). <br>And somehow i feel that by not scoring all around, the crack will run a straighter, smoother line.. <br> <br>anyway, i wanted to know what you think about this method.. :) <br>Thanks again!
You need to score the line all the way around and preferably without any gaps in it. This is essential to get a clean separation. When the glass begins to crack it will follow the path of least resistance which is the score line. However as soon as it runs out of score line the energy is dissipated in a random totally fashion causing the glass to crack wherever the crystal structure will give out. <br>Check out this great video (link below) by a life long glass expert. It involves rotating the scored bottle on a turntable / record player while holding a propane torch with a PENCIL POINT FLAME. The heat is focused precisely on the score line and is applied evenly and uniformly thereby almost guaranteeing that the break will be clean if you have a clean score line. I am gluing a bottle holding jig for my old turntable and hope to try it out tomorrow after the glue is set. <br>Whatever you do, don't use a regular torch tip that swirls a large wide flame as that will result in a widely heated area and guarantees a fracture bottle and uneven cut. <br>http://learnglassblowing.com/_Vid_Files/493CFB.wmv <br>Cheers, Murray
very nice! i think i have a pen torch knocking around somewhere - i might give this a go and get back to you. i'd be interested to try anything that makes a cleaner cut. <br>I think it depends somewhat on the glass - this method might not work so well with thicker glass but thats just my guess. If i hadn't seen it in the video i wouldn't have believed it would work with just a little nick like that- i wonder how he figured it out? <br> <br>wish i had a lathe......
I found some beer bottles laying around and gave it a shot.. <br>it turns out to be very good at my first attempt..<br>it was a very straight cut.<br><br>I got excited and tried a few other bottles (ketchup, syrup, mineral water), but couldn't repeat the success of the first attempt. I dont know if it's the glass thickness, or bottle shapes (non-cylindrical), or my nick..<br>It seems that the nick should be very straight (horizontal when bottle stands), otherwise the crack will propagate in the initiated direction and wont meet at the other side, resulting in a jagged crack that connects the two sides.. <br>I'm not sure if my thoughts comes out right in writing.. :p
yeah all makes sense mate - as i think i mentioned in the instructable i think there are just endless variables to this and no method will work definitively for all bottles - i would have guessed that the nick method would solely work on totally cyclindrical bottles but who knows...
Okay, how about using the two methodes, score the glass with the cutter and then use the string with alcohol, it should work for a straight cut. good luck ( just a though, most glass for bottles is poor quality glass so try to pick the ones without deformities or internal bubbles.)
Sorry fabulouswailer I didn't even notice the link you posted. Perfect....
Thanks, <br> <br>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yHWYjMlYH50
i never got the bottle to crack as clean as seen in this video, but even in this video, the crack wasn't completely straight. i think that by using a glass cutter, you tell the bottle where to crack.
Maybe use a string soaked with alcohol then wrap it around the bottle where you need to cut it at and burn the string that is a very easy way to cut a bottle in half. Good instructable I plan on making a few of these.
as i stated above, that doesn't work for most people, as the guy in the linked video states. i've tried the string method 6 times &amp; the bottles never cracked in a straight line.
Do you rotate the bottle as you pour the boiling water?
yes, but slowly. You can actually see the light change in the score line - indicating where to move the water next/ if you need to go over another area again. Having said this I wouldn't get <em>too</em> hung up on how much you rotate- as the water from the kettle will pour all over the place, so you cant really be too accurate about it.
What if the water was in a pan and you lowered the bottle into it and rotated it by the neck?
then the bottle might stress elsewhere &amp; crack. but i'm not sure, as i haven't tried that method.
A tip. To cut bottles Just wrap 5 or 6 turns of cotton string arround the bottle, wet with metholated spirit or alcohol, set alight and when the flame is gone inmers in cold water, the bottle should separate were string was set. For this experiment please wear gloves and safety glases. It works for me just fine. Good luck!!
except that doesn't work for most people, as the guy in the linked video states. i've tried the string method 6 times &amp; the bottles never cracked in a straight line.
Thanks for the ible and the video link. Some years ago I purchased a bottle scoring jig. The torch method, the burning string method, and the freeze and hammer method always left me with a nasty jagged and uneven cut. But today I tried the hot &amp; cold water technique and it is fantastic. I got an absolutely straight and smooth cut on my very 1st try. It's hard to believe that water that waters with a temperature difference of about 80 deg C can have that great an impact. <br>I have a couple of suggestions. <br>- 100% Silicone Sealant / Caulking (like GE II) can be sued to attach the bulb to the base of the bottle. There's an awful lot of it in a standard caulking tube, it is a great insulator for the wires / contacts, withstands about 600 Degree temperatures, and will buffer the bulb from vibrations and knock-overs. <br>- The same silicone sealant can be used to glue the bottle back together. Applied properly silicone will provide a strong bond and if you ever need to re-open the bottle you can sheer the bond with a sharp knife, remove the old silicone and re-glue the bottle again. <br>- At the Home Depot I purchased for $1.50 a pack of circular rubber grommets. Drill a 3/8&quot; hole in the glass and just pop them in. Wire running thru a hard edge hole in glass is a real electrical hazard and a grommet should absolutely be used in every project like this. <br>Cheers, Murray
Nice idea, I've used silicon on mirrors before, but of course yes it would work on all glass I suppose. Impressive that it can withstand those temperatures. <br>After the numerous safety comments, I have bought some grommets and will un-wire the plugs, and try and push them in before re-wiring the plugs.
Absolutely gorgeous. <br>Congrats on making the ible newsletter. <br> <br>Definitely know what im getting up to in the near future! =D
Thank you!
The idea is good and the method posted for breaking the glass along a scored line looks good. However, there are a few of safety concerns I have. <br> <br>1) You should really use a grommet to guard the cable where it enters the bottle-unless you have ground out both the inside and outside edges of the glass hole. Otherwise you run the risk of the glass cutting into the insulation on the wires and leaving them exposed. <br> <br>2) You could do with putting a layer of epoxy or hot glue over the soldered connections before using blu tack or epoxy putty - if the lamp is knocked or pulled off a shelf, the live wire would be easily exposed. You could also use a bulb socket. <br> <br>3) On some of these fluourescent lamps, the ballast circuit inside is soldered to the bayonet connectors on the bottom. By soldering to these, you could be weakening or disconnecting the interior solder joints. It's worth dismantling one of the bulbs you plan on using to confirm whether there is any extra mechanical support for the bayonet-&gt;ballast joints.
Your absolutely right on all of those things. In hindsight another thing I should have done is ensure against the possibility of the solder drying out when hot, and the wire pulling out that way also. I could have also knotted the wire before the hole to prevent any inadvertant tugging resulting in exposed wires. I had never heard of that about fluorescent lamps having a ballast circuit - quick google search has told me otherwise! If I ever make another ill check first.
They tell me new glass is easier to cut than old glass, and only score once, but who knows.
Love this! Thanks! One thing i'm not a fan of is seeing the bulb, I probably would frost the inside with some sort of heat safe opaque coating, it would add a nice glow as well.

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