Introduction: Convex Glass Tile From Bottles

Step 1: Jig? Yes Please!

There are really good bottle cutting jigs out there, but I loath to purchase, store, and ultimately yard-sale a specialized tool.  So here is the simple, flexible, and repeatable setup I use to cut glass cylinders:

Step 2: Cut the Long Cuts

Time to cut along the infinite planes of the cylinder!
Remember that the glass must be fully supported under the glass-cutter.  This is where you would get in trouble with any remnant of the bottle's shoulder, as it will create a gap, a ruined bit of glass, and a debilitating wound.
Perhaps a firm-but-slightly-yielding material would fix this?  Or a setup akin to an English Wheel? 
Score the glass, than tap along the line.  The first cut won't visually separate but you will hear when it gives up the ghost.  Mark your next line, score, tap, the tile will fall off, et cetera.

Step 3: Finish

Figure out the style of tiles you want.  I think they look pretty cool left long, but to make shorter tiles (and to trim tiles for installation) rock them along a curved surface to score the convex side (this is for consistency sake; the cut will look different depending on which side you score).
Wash the tiles of the cutting oil with soap and water.  For consistency and to hide the thinset I painted the backs of the tiles with spray paint.  Experiment with colors and densities.  I used pretty cheap spray paint so I probably used more coatings than you might need.
So go procure some bottles and please post pictures of what you make!

Comments

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Pilgrim55 (author)2016-10-28

So I cut glass as well, and wondering what your thoughts on melting the glass just enough to get the curve out? I collect Dr Pepper and make small drinking glasses but always have the tops left over. So, I cut out the logos and don't really know what to do with them? They are really curved. And if you put them in a Kiln the color of the logos fades to white.

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realmccormick (author)2015-03-26

I always wondered if a "raku" kiln got hot enough to slump the glass. The makeshift way of making a raku kiln is to do it in a metal trash can. You could put the glass you wanted to slump onto bricks and layer them about 1/3 of the way in the trash can somehow. Don't know if it would work, I was just thinking...I think most glass needs about 1200F before it starts slumping. Just thinking...

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jtobako (author)realmccormick2015-07-09

Slumping isn't the problem, annealing the glass so it doesn't shatter when it cools is. Trying to get the glass to stay on the brick would be a second problem, the amount that the brick and glass shrink with the temperature drop is more extreme and would cause shattering-think exploding glass-unless you got extremely lucky.

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realmccormick (author)2015-03-26

I think too much, about these wonderful recycled materials, but I also thought that a glass bottle with cut off top and bottom, then down each of 2 sides, and you would have a glass tile like the terra-cotta roof tiles from Mexico, but lighter. You could tile an outside small building with these, and it would keep in any heat from the sun for a greenhouse, etc. You could glue them inplace with marine silicone glue, couldn't you?

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vincent7520 (author)2010-12-09

I'll save this idea !…
I also saw a transparent wall made from the bottom of wine bottle … this was pretty interesting, especially because the owner used green, yellow and blue bottles …
(blue wine bottles are very rare these days : they used to sell white wine in Paris 50 years ago or before …

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There's always Tynant Spring water that has a very pretty deep blue bottle, and of course the new blue Budweiser Platinum beer bottles are nice, but small. There used to be a Blue Nunn German White Wine that had a nice blue wine bottle shape. Some Pinnacle Vodka bottles are made of an appealing light blue glass, and you can scrape off the plastic films off most bottles with a razor blade, just be careful!

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Transquesta (author)vincent75202010-12-09

Several variants of reisling comes in blue bottles--most of which would be usable for this purpose. :-)

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arkrite (author)2011-01-27

Brilliant instructable and also everyones ideas about different effects. The waste is what I really want to comment on. The bottle bottoms can be laid within a square frame and epoxed together to for an old English cottage style window, like something out of Hansel and Gretal.
Has any one any ideas for the tops??

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asdterror (author)arkrite2011-01-27

I've thought it'd be pretty cool to wire a TON of them as a kind of chandelier-- one small bulb or LED with a short lead into a single junction. Like a flower.
Some people have talked about modifying this method-- post pics!

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realmccormick (author)asdterror2015-03-26

That sounds nice! Even the cylindrical shape would mimic a candle. Wonder what a few of these necks would look like if they were threaded over solar lights in the garden, or even electric ones on a patio. It's not as if the heat will do anything to the glass. You'd have to do some designing, but it opens up a world of possibilities!

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arkrite (author)asdterror2011-01-28

Lol..Brilliant. Can you aimagine a bottle room. Windows, lights and walls. Using clear, painted clear, browns and greens and maybe and with a certain amount of difficulty, embossed bottles!!
I still got a ton of work to do on my Land Rover and to rebuild a Lowrider, so I will so enjoy doing thid sort of stuff when I've finished. Thanks for a super Instructable.

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Scott1975 (author)2013-01-06

If you used a polyurethane expanding foam, Like maybe a six or eight pound mix, after the bottom and top of the bottle have been removed. That should give it enough support and fit snugly enough. If you fashioned a handle with wood it would give better leverage and could be reused on the same sized bottles.

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asdterror (author)Scott19752014-01-05

That's brilliant!
Has anyone tried this?

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goldenshuttle (author)2013-12-07

Very beautiful indeed;
but I have one question: If you calculate the man-hour labor worth against buying new tiles from hardware shop which one becomes feasible ?

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asdterror (author)goldenshuttle2014-01-05

The eternal question!
The bottle-glass-tile gives you a pleasing undulation. Notice that I used a Jameson Whiskey bottle in this demonstration, which features raised writing: even more eyeball titillation. I wonder if one could preserve sections of a label of one's favorite wine or beer?
One bottle, disassembled and coated in the course of a good movie, could be used in harmony with a sheet of purchased glass tile. Play and pay as much as you care to.

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TJBrooks (author)2013-01-06

We recently acquired a wet tile saw and want to use it to cut glass wine/liquor/beer bottles into uniform tiles for a kitchen backsplash. It came with a 10" continuous rim diamond blade. It cuts tile very well. Our results of cutting bottles are as follows:
1) thin walled wine bottle chipped/fractured
2) medium walled wine bottle cut fairly well until last 3/8" which cracked and left jagged protrusion
3) thick walled champaign bottle cut through very well with only minor roughness
4) pre-scoring by rotating the bottle before pushing it through the blade might have helped but there were too many other variables to state a definite result. Rapidity of the it seemed to make little difference in the result of any of the above cuts.

We viewed a few you tube videos online before attempting this experiment. Since our results were disappointing we are seeking your guidance.
1) are there special blades you would recommend for bottles?
2) are there any tricks of the trade for cutting stops from bottles for backsplash tiles? The thick champagne bottle was the only one we successfully cut strips from.
3) what material would you recommend we make a bean bag out of to support the bottle necks to eliminate movement throughout the cut?

Our goal is to have multi-colored 1"x2" tiles.

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Mindmapper1 (author)2012-09-19

when i was taught to cut glass many years ago i was told that the idea of the oil was to keep the score line open. as far as i understand things glass is technically liquid and the oil works like putting oil on a stick and running it through a puddle the oil will top the water molecules joining back together. anyway whatever the oli does it works!
keeping the cutter in oil when not in use is also a good idea.

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shuja.shaher (author)2012-01-13

great!!!!!!!!!!!!
once you make a bottle to a tile world of options open up
I am not good at glass work
but I am rearing to go

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lemonie (author)2010-01-10

Where do you use the oil? You mention washing it off, but I don't see where it comes in.

L

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RadBear (author)lemonie2010-01-10

You would use it to lubricate the cutting wheel of the glass cutter.

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lemonie (author)RadBear2010-01-10

A very small drop. Glass-cutters break-up the surface by localised pressure, I guess an oiled surface would retain the glass-dust?

L

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RadBear (author)lemonie2010-01-11

I typically roll the cutter blade through a small puddle of oil ( a couple of drops) to coat it lightly. I'm sure it retains the dust but my understanding is that the oil keeps the blade from getting snagged in the score mark it has just made so you can score the glass in one continuos motion. If you score glass multiple times it doesn't break cleanly.

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lemonie (author)RadBear2010-01-12

Oh yes, one cut only.

L

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bricabracwizard (author)lemonie2011-03-15

The oil also keeps the blade edge sharp for longer

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DreMMoore (author)2011-02-20

I cannot wait to try this out! I have collected various blue and green liquor and wine bottles to make a kitchen back splash in my house. When I have time to get it started I will post my pics. Which leads me to a question: Has anyone tried using thinset or some kind of mortar to attach these tiles to a wall? I'm wondering how well they adhere since there is come curve to the glass.

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TheMightyBeagle (author)2011-01-26

That's awesome. I had to buy that same glass cutter for another project I was working on. My husband and I are buying our first house now and i've been tossing around kitchen backsplash ideas but i'm a bit of a cheap skate. I love this idea. I might have to try this out. Might take afew cases of beer to get enough tiles for the entire backsplash but I'd take drinking beer and playing in the garage over emptying my wallet any day.

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thickneckarts (author)2010-07-12

I find that my bottles end up with long vertical cracks, from where the bottle was scored, after I heat and cool to separate the 2 parts. This happens more often than not and I have tried just about every "way" to separate the 2 parts with less stress than the previous "way" I tried. Any advice?

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fretted (author)thickneckarts2011-01-06

http://www.greenpowerscience.com/BOTTLECUTTING.php3

Maybe you could get some ideas from this guy he uses water to cut his bottles

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DriX (author)thickneckarts2010-12-30

Try without the cooling. I just heat the scored line with a candle, rotating the bottle as I do that, when I see that it's all cut (you can notice the cut done if you look trough the bottle) I just take the two parts and make a little force to separate them with my hands.
I've used that method and it worked from the first time!

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asdterror (author)thickneckarts2010-07-13

Describe your method, please. Your outcome is unfamiliar to me.... Score once, heat and cool evenly. That should do it. How many bottles have you tried? And have you been using the same tool for each attempt? Try to find a common denominator.....

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coopgrl88 (author)2010-12-22

If you wanted to go a step further, i suppose you could slump the glass to clean it up. Have some kind of metal mold and put the pieces in a kiln, Could make for a different affect. I really do love what you have done, though :)

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jomac_uk (author)2010-12-16

Many years ago, i helped out in a small factory that fitted new gun assemblies to the old fashioned CRT's These tubes were laid face down and near the pin end of the tube neck (like a small bottle) it was scored all the way round the circumference with a glass cutter. Then a home made tool that consisted of a loop of wire, like an upside down letter "U" with the ends connected into a terminal block was used, this wire loop was heated with a low voltage electric current until almost white hot and hooked around the tube neck whilst the neck was slowly rotated until the glass cracked on its own!

I dont see why the same principle cannot be used here?

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ferjanyen (author)2010-12-15

I like this. I cut botles by wraping a few turns if cotton string over the mark, soak the cotton with metholated spirit and ser alight, when hot, after a min or so i dunk the bottle in cold water and it will crack jus on the mark, good luck!!!
(use safety gogles and gloves please)

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paqrat (author)2010-12-15

Oh, forgot to say this before but this is a very, very cool instructable. Good job.

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paqrat (author)2010-12-15

Some months ago I read of a new product called Looking Glass. It is a spray "paint" that puts a mirror finish on glass. On the inside of glass, making it a mirror. Assuming it works as stated wouldn't it look great on these tiles? I have purchased a can of the stuff but I haven't had the chance to try it out yet so cannot say if it works or not.

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camp6ell (author)2010-12-11

i really really like this. do you have any pictures of the tiles installed and grouted?

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Brad I. (author)2010-12-09

What about safety of the finished product? Is there a method to prevent people from getting cut if they touch it?

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halmars (author)Brad I.2010-12-10

Just rub the sharp edges with another piece of (offcut) glass. This will dull the edge quickly at no cost no tools. The bottle neck will provide a handy handle but think safety and wear suitable gloves.

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Beergnome (author)Brad I.2010-12-09

Emory cloth should cut down the feather of the glass. also, a dremel tool with a sanding wheel could do the job

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Transquesta (author)Brad I.2010-12-09

I would imagine you could 'tumble' the glass in a drum, but you'd lose the distinctive transparency. That leaves individual sanding/filing. :-)

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enforcer72 (author)2010-12-09

I remember cutting and shaping test tubes in high school with a propane torch (much to my father's displeasure as the little propane tanks were expensive back then for the amount of gas you got). I had a good amount of luck scoring and even basic glass blowing using them, but had trouble with them if I tried to heat a large section with the torch, the delineation point of heating would cause problems with the temper of the glass I believe. Causing different characteristics of the glass. some would shatter at the slightest pressure, some were fine and just could not be reshaped. I did find an old propane torch and make a fan attachment to spread the heat, but found an oxy-acetylene torch with a makeshift flame spreader worked well (until I accidentally hit the trigger and blew it apart., I was 14-15...). excellent Instructable and I could see the use for this in remodeling to reuse and re-purpose bottles especially in states without return deposits. I would love to make a backdrop for my counters out of the green bottle pieces.

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Dweevil (author)2010-12-09

A crinkled (variegated & cheapo) goldleaf on the back would give bright, changing effects under different lighting.

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lotusduck (author)2010-12-09

Glass tiles at the hardware store just have colored paper taped on the back. If you wanted a variety of green shades or if you had a lot of clear bottles, that could probably work. Spray paint is a good idea obviously, but if you wanted a lot of different colors, it's easier to have a bunch of colors of paper than paint.

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Karinsart (author)2010-12-09

Brilliant!! That turned out really well. I wish I needed to tile somewhere!!

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Twetwe (author)2010-12-09

you can also get a frosted spray paint for glass.

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rory_woj (author)2010-12-08

Very cool. Ive been wanting to do a green glass tile backsplash for a while but couldnt find the right color/price combo. This might just do the trick! Thanks

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patricianorma (author)2010-12-08

That is an awesome idea!

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Treasure Tabby (author)2010-12-07

Oh neat-o and my dad just got one of those cutting wheels to cut I guess tile and other things too. What a recycletastic idea. :D

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JuiceWeasel (author)2010-07-28

To create a frosted effect, you could also sand blast the back of the tiles. Great idea Thanks muchly!

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frazeeg (author)JuiceWeasel2010-12-05

They also make a paste called Armour Etch that will give glass a frosted look and will probably be less expensive than going to a sandblaster.  Just paint it on, let it sit for a few minutes, and wash off.

I will admit it might be a little tedious with a bunch of tiles though, and sandblasting will go quicker.