Easiest Way to Cleanly Cut Bottles

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Posted in WorkshopFurniture

Introduction: Easiest Way to Cleanly Cut Bottles

I know there are already quite a few great bottle cutting instructables but I find this technique to be the fastest, and in my expirience the cleanest and easiest way to cut bottles. My project was to make a set of drinking glasses from old pepsi bottles that I had lying around, but you can use this technique for whatever project you like.

Step 1: Tools

All you really need for this is a simple glass cutter you pick up from a hardware store and a propane torch with a relatively fine tip. It may work with something else like a lighter, candle, larger torch etc. but I have yet to try those as my little benzomatic pencil torch has worked so well. My preferred way to do this also involves a lathe with a very slow speed but it can be avoided as I show later in the instructable. All you really need is some way to rotate a bottle at a relatively slow controlled speed, Ive done this on a potters wheel also but you could easily rig something up with a geared motor from a toy car, its only needs low torque.

Step 2: Nick

This is what makes this method so much easier, you dont need some jig to cut around the edge of a bottle perfectly all you need is a to make a little (like 1/8") nick with the glass cutter that would follow around the circumference of the bottle. It should be a decent nick with quite a bit of pressure applied to the cutter.

Step 3: Spin It (lathe Method)

All you need to do now is find a way to rotate the bottle slowly, the way I like to do it is use my sherline lathe and set the variable speed to very low, I put a pencil in the tail stock so everything doesnt just fall down when the bottle breaks. Then you simply light your torch and hold in place over the nick while the bottle spins, after about a minute depending on the thickness of the glass there be a cracking noise and a line will appear all the way along the bottle. The bottle sometimes but wont always split in half, sometimes you just have snap it with your hands, be careful the edges will be sharp. As always be carefully the is fire, a spinning lathe, and the potential for broken glass. At the end of my video you hear a clicking noise its not from the glass breaking its because my chuck loosened and the bottle was falling between jaws, I would recommend wrapping a rubber band around the base of your bottle so you can get a better grip.

The crack is usually perfectly clean only requiring light sanding to smooth out sharp corners but sometimes you might get a slight bump the needs a bit more sanding, I usually just do another bottle because its so easy.

Step 4: Spin It (string Method)

This is just one way to do this without a lathe, there are much easier/safer ways but this should give you an idea. You need something that will fit over the top or bottom of your bottle that you can attach string to. You could always just duct tape string directly to you bottle but this is more repeatable. I found that a water bottle cap was a good fit so I punched a hole in the bottom and tied some thin string to a piece of wood and taped that inside the cap. I then taped the cap to bottle and tied the string to my ceiling. Then I simply spun the bottle up to build up rotation in the string, I regulated the speed by taping it with my finger. Make sure you have something directly below the bottle so it doesnt fall too far and break. 


Step 5: Enjoy

Do whatever you want with some cleanly cut bottles, I sanded my rims and made a nice set of pretty neat looking drinking glasses, the painted on graphics on the pepsi bottle looks cool and lasts well.

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    67 Comments

    Jack Daniels bottles, qu and gal. ..???

    How or have you tried?

    It looks like it has been a long time since the last comment and I am not sure I should wake up this old topic but some people might still be interested in cutting bottles and a new technique I recommend. I have been cutting bottles extensively for many years and the tool in my video is the preferred best one I have found.

    My video is here: https://www.youtube.com/embed/QE28BZPcX9A?rel=0

    But a micro torch such as the one used in this instructable can be used as a backup heat source in three different ways shown in order of preference (and success).

    1. With a heat blower attachment (as in the Bernzomatic ST2200) and a bucket of ice water

    2. A bare flame (tip runs about 2000 F) for a short time plus ice water (2nd choice and rate of success)

    3. A bare tip, dry heating until the bottle separates. (last choice, not recommended for a number of reasons).

    Cheers, Murray

    1 reply

    Murray I wanted to see your method, but the video is private! Or so Youtube says. Can you give us access please?

    Scott

    Is there a way to score it with a knife?

    Just tried it with my butane pencil torch and it worked just fine. Except I still need to find a way of rotating the bottle a little more accurately... : )

    2 replies

    www.theBottleBit.com

    This will allow you to rotate the bottle with your power drill

    you tube

    www.Greenpowerscience.com Water cutting a bottle cleaner and you can reseal the bottles and make vacuum tubes

    Pretty cool

    Nice Ible

    I use the jig and score method... Sometimes after a cut a little bit remains above the scoreline. Can you recommend a tool or the best way to make it a clean cut please

    1 reply

    I use the Bottle Bit to sand down bottles after cutting them. You can get one one Amazon

    Does anyone know how to cut liquor bottles around Detroit MI?

    This works pretty well..Thanks!!

    can you use other methods like hot water instead of the pen torch? just curious if the heat will be enough.

    Thanks!

    boy those look neat! can't wait to try to make my own, my boyfriend is wondering why I am collecting Pepsi bottles that are of a cheap type they have sticker lables on them, they lack the etched on Pepsi logo but have a neat twist look!

    Are you saying that you only need a single 'nick" in the glass, Not a continuous cut al the way around the bottle? Thanks!

    2 replies

    Did anyone ever answer this for you? I have the same question.

    Yes, that's what it means. The single nick is needed, the heat then extends the nick through the rest of the bottle "cutting" it.

    Here are my results with your method, which later on i use a turn-table i manage to put together..
    Thanks again!

    I've tried with different kinds of bottles, thick, thin, big, small, even the square one..
    It works well for me and I'm pretty satisfied with this method..
    Check out my pictures, all done with the nick and pen-torch technique.
    Notice the four similar ones are local beer bottles, very uneven thickness!
    The square bottle works fine, only needs a bit more sanding.
    The equil bottle is widening towards the top, although it's not a horizontal cut, it's very straight.
    The super thick bottle and tiny-and-thin bottle also works great..
    :)

    IMG_0550.JPGIMG_0549.JPG

    Very cleaver the string turning 8)
    I'll test your method.
    Thanx

    1 reply

    thanks for sharing Jor2daje, the video helps a lot..

    There's so many different technique/method on the web, and yours is very simple and i have a pen torch and a glass cutter is very cheap around here.. :)

    I'm wondering about the success ratio of your method, and if different bottles have different success.. I have some pretty exotic bottles that i want to cut for a project but i'm really afraid to screw up.. and i cant just try it out on them since i only have a couple..

    Did you manage to try Jor2daje's method, asegade?
    if yes, would you care to share your experience?

    I'm also wondering about the nick vs the scoring all-around..
    I think the nick is better, it gives a start point for the crack and then the crack will run straighter and smoother.
    The all-around-scoring would be rougher. all of the tiny fractures along the score-line might give way for the crack to jump out of line and create a rough crack..

    What do you guys think?
    thanks again!

    How do you sand the rim ? what do you start with ?