Bottle Glass Cutting and Polishing.





Introduction: Bottle Glass Cutting and Polishing.

There have been quite few instructables on bottle cutting on instructables lately, some of them quite good. They are more about the bottle cutter than the finishing touches on the bottles so I thought I'd cover that here.

Step 1: The Bottle Cutter.

I used to have a really nice bottle cutter from my grandpa but it has disappeared. So I made new temporary one from stuff I had lying around. Shelf from Ikea named Knoppang, glass cutter, clamp, small wood pieces and a screw. The pictures show the layout.

Step 2: Cutting It.

Start by adjusting the cutter. I put business card between the bottle and the shelf and moved the cutter until it just touched the bottle and tightened it. Then I removed the card and rotated the bottle one full turn while pressing it against the cutter. Do not rotate it more than 1 full turn. Pictures 2 and 3 show the cut, this one was pretty good but slightly too deep.

Step 3: Breaking It.

Break the bottle using the standard method of alternately running cold and hot water over the cut. In picture 2 you can see the reflection on the cut on the right side, this is where it is already broken, in picture 3 the half break is on the left. After that you need to be very careful and not pull on the top like I did while keeping under the water causing the uneven break with a peak standing up from the bottom part. If you get peak like this do not try to break it off. This is a good example of a break that was not perfect but can easily be fixed in the next step.

Step 4: Polishing the Top.

Picture 1 shows plastic card diamond files, They are inexpensive and widely available, I bought a set of 3 for about 10 dollars few years ago from Amazon. The blue one is fine (600 grit) and the yellow is medium (300 grit). I lubricate them with windows cleaner. Using water is fine, the main thing is to keep them wet. I just prefer how they feel with the windows cleaner and the ease of applying it.

Put the medium file on top and push it back and forth while rotating the bottle 5-6 degrees for every stroke. Because of the high peak in the break this bottle needed to be held still with the peak under the middle of the file and extremely light pressure used for the first few dozen strokes. Picture 3 is after about minute sanding. Notice that the "peak" from the unclean break is gone but you still have some dimples in the top. Picture 4 is after about a half a minute more of filing. There are few lines after the file so now it is time to change to the fine file and file for half a minute more.

Step 5: Round the Top Edges.

After the top is flat and even I use 420 grit wet sandpaper wrapped around soft handle to round the top edges. Rounded piece of wood is also good. Hold the sand paper at a shallow angle and clean the edge, both inside and outside. Keep the sandpaper wet.

Picture 3 shows the finished edge.

This is not the only way to finish the edges of the bottles. If I had a clean break I used to use oxyacetylene torch to melt the edges but that is a bit of an art since you need to heat the whole piece of glass so it doesn't get stress fractures. Porcelain oven/furnace is very good.



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    I have done something similar for scoring. I simply cut a 2x4 to the height I want to score, also factoring in the thickness of the glass cutter. Then I clamp the board and glass cutter to my bench. I score the bottle by pressing it gently to the cutter and turning the bottle by hand. I have had great success, even with square and odd shaped bottles. Additional benefits include ease of setup, and not having to store a rig that may not be used very often. Although I admit that I do hang on to the 2x4 pieces.

    I have a Mk wet stone polisher. It hooks onto the hose for continual running water. Great for polishing granite. Do you think it would work on a glass table top?

    1 reply

    Hi SqueaksMom. After Googling Mk wet stone polisher I have to say that I think it would be a bit of an overkill on any glass, tabletop or bottle. Glass is much more fragile than granite. But feel free to try. :)

    Thanks for the tutorial,

    I have a couple of questions:

    1) with this setup, would you go for an angle cut (say, at 45 degree)?

    2) you mentioned using a kiln for finishing the cut, I do have a kiln, would you just 'warm' it enough to get close to the fusing?

    2 replies

    I would not go for an angle cut. First is the difficulty in scoring the glass at an angle that is not constant around the bottle. Breaks in glass like to take the path of least resistance and since wine bottles have uneven wall thickness you have much greater chance of wandering breaks.

    Since glass, unlike porcelain, will melt into a puddle, the temperature in the kiln and timing is critical, the good thing is that the cut edges are sharp so they heat more/faster than the main body of the glass, as soon as they start to melt lower the temperature. Half melted bottle can be cool but glass puddle is usually not unless you are proficient in glass blowing.

    Thanks for the prompt reply ) I'll ask around at our fb pottery community for the kiln schedule which would allow to catch this sweet spot and prevent overheating - you can't really see what's happening inside the kiln until it cools off.

    sweet. Thx for rounding out the other instructables on glass cutting. I feel confident enough to try it now. I have collected a few bottles because I expect to ruin a few. any advice on trying to use square bottles? Is it just about trying to get the score line straight?

    2 replies

    I would gently use a wet tile saw

    I really don't have any advice for square bottles. It is doable but more difficult. You'll not be able to use a jig like this so you'll have to use a ruler to get straight cuts on the flats and cut the corners by hand. If the cut lines are not continuous or in line with each other or you make the cuts too deep it's be much harder to get a good break. Experiment, start by getting a feel for the process using round bottles and then go on to the square ones. Good luck. :)

    thanks! I have several bottles to start practicing on and I can't wait!

    2 replies

    Let me know when you get frustrated doing this and spending a ton of time. Then, I can sell you a specialized bottle cutter I bought for about $100 and was just as frustrated. Too time consuming.

    I did 3 bottles in less than an hour, that included building the jig and taking pictures so I wouldn't say it's "too time consuming". If you get the cut right (do not cut too deep) the rest is easy. As for the price, the whole kit kost me less than 50 USD, including the wine in the bottles. :)

    I'm sorry to hear that. How can I clarify?

    Hmm, this is the unmentioned part of cutting glass bottle, grinding down and polishing. Thank you very much!