Festive Bottles

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Posted in HomeDecorating

Introduction: Festive Bottles

About: Living the maker's life

To solve some of your festive season problems I present you a simple guide on how to make your own bottles with a light string inside. These are simple and pretty cheap to make while still making a stunning decoration and have proven themselves as a great gift too!

Step 1: Stuff You Will Need

1. Drill
2. Diamond crown drill bit (12mm or 1/2" in this case)
3. 20 white LED light string
4. Bottle
5. Bowl
6. Rag (optional)
7. Water

Total price in my case - approx 10$ (raised this drill from the dead).

All of the stuff listed is for what I've tried. You may want to experiment with using:
A spade drill bit instead of diamond crown (I don't like spade bits).
A LED string with more or less lights (20 look just right though)
Something else instead of bottle (I'd love to see examples)
Running water instead of bowl filled with it (risky, rag is a must for this one)

As for the color of bottle, Ill post some examples later in this instructable, but I like those dark brown ones the best, since the glow is very nice and warm, when on, and you can't see much through, when off.

Side note: Since it is possible that LEDs are of different size it's possible, that you will need a drill bit that is smaller or bigger (most likely). When measuring, take into account, that it is the LED and two cables that should fit through the hole! For my 12mm drill a 9mm (0.35") (at widest point) LED with 2.5mm (0.1") cables fit just right.

Step 2: Let's Dooooo It!

First of all remember, that water and electricity doesn't mix, so be cautious, if you have one, use a pneumatic tool.

1. Keep your drill at a safe distance and fill the bowl with water.
2. Put your bottle in the bowl, water should be a bit above bottle (0.1" is more than enough), it will be easier if the bottle is filled with water, so it doesn't float. If you can't find a suitable bowl and are using the running water method, make sure to put a rag under the bottle, so the hard surface (i.e. tiles) doesn't scratch it.
3. Dry your hands if they are wet.
4. Take the drill and hold the bottle with the other hand so it's all steady.
5. If your drill has an additional handle to the side, make sure it rests on your forehand, that way it's easier to keep it steady and start drilling at an angle somewhere approx 30 degrees should be fine. This will make the starting groove. It's important to keep drill steady at this point, so the bit doesn't scratch the bottle.
6. Eventually straighten the drill to be perpendicular to the bottle. Drill at low to mid RPM, don't rush it, patience is your friend here.
7. After drilling through pat yourself on the shoulder.
8. Wash the bottle and let it dry.
9. Clean the inside of it from water stains and let me know how you did it (seriously, write a comment about that).
10. Put your LED string inside through the hole.
11. Enjoy!

Step 3: Other Stuff

The first picture is from last year, when I did 3 different colors. From the left: light green-brown aka "dead leaf", amber (like cover ones), dark green. Pick yours. :)

The other picture is just what would you see inside, some off-topic.

Just so you know, I have not tried, but it is indeed possible to make these beauties without any drilling and long cables!
There are strings available on eBay which are battery powered. You can put them through the neck, plug the bottle to hide the cable a bit and voila! I have contemplated about modifying one of these strings so the battery pack would actually fit inside the bottle. Just food for thoughts, let me know if you make something like that!

6 People Made This Project!

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55 Comments

Ooooh, awesome! I'm doing this - and since I blow glass, too, I can use this for some of my bombed out ones that have good colors but won't hold water!

I use old fashioned clay to make a well for water and a drill press. Works well.

I clean the inside with a couple of cotton balls, some marbles, and a little water. Shake this around and the cotton picks up the white residue that is fine glass powder. Try it.

I've done this using mason jars & used petroleum jelly to drill through glass.

Our local cafe' has these for sale. They are really nice to look at. Thanks for the 'ible!

I have made some very similar lights. I have a drill press and was much more successful in drilling without breaking the bottle using it instead of a hand drill (which I started with). In either case I used WD40 as a drill lube and went slow so as not to overheat the bit. With either tool, though not using water, I found it helpful to make a sort of jig to hold the bottle. I used 3 pieces of scrap wood, two parallel and screwed to the third with a few inches between. think train tracks. The curve of the bottle sits in between the two rails so it can't roll, and you do not have to hold the bottle with your hand. Holding a curved object with one hand while trying to drill with the other seems risky. I'll have to try a brown bottle, I only used green and clear so far.

5 replies

Drill press is way to go with a rack to hold the bottle. BUT

WD 40 is very very flammable tranny fluid or simply 30 weight oil would be safer.

I agree that making a jig to hold the bottle would be quite useful, it's just that I don't drill glass too often, so making extra constructions to hold it might be a little too much. One more thing is that it only works for somewhat standard - round bottles.
I haven't broken any glass bottles while hand drilling so far, did it happen to you?

Right, the jig worked for round bottles only, though it only took 5 min to make from scrap. I made about 10 lights and broke at least 3 bottles. Probably from rushing the drilling, and not having the level of cooling you have with drilling in the water. I used a spade bit too, and I don't like them either...

I also used a drill press after breaking a couple bottles in the sink. I used Straps (the ratchet straps you use to strap stuff to trailers) to hold them to the drill press and had a bottle to squirt water onto the bottle as I drilled. This was way faster and created a much cleaner hole and I found it much easier to control pressure and speed using the drill press, I also geared it right down to as slow as it would go.

Yeah, that should for sure produce a way cleaner hole than doing everything by hand. I'd love to have a drill press, but that's not an option now. :)

I used a 5/8" Crown bit that worked great, the bottle was thick enough where I wasn't even worried about breaking it. I used my dremel with a stone grinding wheel on it to smooth the hole and make it a tad bigger so I could get a modified grommet in the hole (for both extra wire protection and look). Just waiting on my battery lights to arrive.

1 reply

You shouldn't be worried about the bottle breaking from drilling, I'm even searching for the thinnest place to drill while making these because it's so much faster.

Make sure to share the end result when the lights arrive, I'm also pretty interested in how that grommet looks when used to rim the hole.

Why not put the lights through the top, turn the upside down and turn them into sconces?

3 replies

I'm intrigued by the idea, but do you think the bottle would stand on its neck while there is cable going out putting it in an even more unstable position? Some base to put the neck in might do the trick though.

Maybe like some kind of torch holder.

Now that might look interesting - no fire or fumes, but still an interesting light source.

To leave your bottles spot free add half a cap of a dishwasher rinse agent (Jet Dry) to a sink of very hot water. Stand bottles up-side down and air dry.

1 reply

Thanks! I might try that soon, it's the time of the year I'm making these again!