Introduction: Festive Bottles

Picture of Festive Bottles

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

Picture of 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!

Picture of 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

Picture of 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!


jeanniel1 (author)2016-01-06

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!

KathyS91 (author)2016-01-02

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

KathyS91 (author)2016-01-02

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.

AndrewG25 made it! (author)2015-12-24

We used white micro LEDs with battery power on thin silvery wiring. We winkled some drawn out cotton batting into the bottle as we introduced the string. Effect: starry clouds.

scalvert3 (author)2015-12-24

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

wsecomp (author)2015-12-24

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

travelfeet (author)2013-11-21

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.

spark master (author)travelfeet2015-12-24

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.

Raitis (author)travelfeet2013-11-23

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?

travelfeet (author)Raitis2013-11-23

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...

LoganG (author)travelfeet2013-12-08

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.

Raitis (author)LoganG2013-12-10

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. :)

amol1 made it! (author)2015-12-24

Beautiful night light. I drilled a bottle like this.

And here is the night light

seckela made it! (author)2014-12-26

So I posted before about using a 5/8" crown bit. I used a dremel to clean up and widen the whole and then used a 5/8" grommet I trimmed to cap the hole (using super glue to hold in place). Here are the results.

Raitis (author)seckela2014-12-29

Looking good! Is the blue glow out of hole due to blue leds or the white balance is a little off?

seckela (author)Raitis2014-12-29

Its the white balance being off. I used a bright white batter powered LED setup. It worked good, though in the future I think I'd use a smaller hole, cut the grommet on one side and wrap the wire after inserting them in the bottle for a tighter fit and less light leakage. It worked great for what it is though.

theNightwalker247 made it! (author)2014-12-22

I made it
to get the glue of the bottle was really a hard work I tried hot water with soap and even with steel wool in the end the thing that worked was Nail Polish remover

Raitis (author)theNightwalker2472014-12-22

Great! Is the bottle still wet inside though?

Acetone works great for this kind of gooey glue residue if you even need to do it again.

seckela (author)2014-12-15

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.

Raitis (author)seckela2014-12-15

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.

osoubra made it! (author)2014-12-14

Works great with a bottle of Champagne too. Thanks!

Raitis (author)osoubra2014-12-15

This one has a nice hue of green! I see you used incandescent light garlands, are there any heat issues due to that?

afowler3 made it! (author)2014-12-13

I saw the 'ible in the regular email and was inspired to have a go. My effort was very simple, but it works as a simple festive season decoration.

The bottle was once filled with a German liqueur, and the battery powered lights came from a "Poundshop". Total expenditure £1.00 and a few minutes.

Thanks for the idea.

Raitis (author)afowler32014-12-14

Beautiful take with a bottle like that and without drilling it's really simple! And with so many possible light - bottle combos to try there's plenty of space for originality. Coloured lights in a clear bottle look great as well by the way. Tried some in a Finlandia bottle.

Jareth247 (author)2014-12-12

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

Raitis (author)Jareth2472014-12-13

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.

Jareth247 (author)Raitis2014-12-13

Maybe like some kind of torch holder.

Raitis (author)Jareth2472014-12-14

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

ken.valliere.7 (author)2014-11-11

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.

Raitis (author)ken.valliere.72014-11-27

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

yas4u1996 (author)2014-03-01

Great :-D

Raphango (author)2014-02-03


Congratulations! =D

wolfsingleton (author)2014-01-02

Used to do something like this, and some advice on the hole you made - take a sliver of sugru to rim the edges to make it safer and better looking. One sliced cord or finger and you'll wish you had!

static (author)2013-12-12

WhenI seen the drill and the water I assumed it was cordless drill, using a corded drill wpuld be plan nuts, sorry I wonder if a torch could be used to soften the glass so metal rid could be used to punch a hole through? Now everyone rush to Walmart after Christmas to get the light strings on sale

Raitis (author)static2013-12-16

Using a torch is probably the hardest way to make a proper hole in a glass bottle unless you're a glassworker and have various stuff for making it happen. You might wonder why, so here it is: these bottles are usually pretty thick (4 to 5 mm glass) at the bottom; applying heat and taking it away locally at room temperature = stressing glass, so you'd probably end up with a spiderweb like cracks or it can simply explode in your face; there are other disadvantages too.
As for using corded drill, well, yes, it's dangerous at some point, but to get in trouble you'd need to put the drill underwater, what is not likely to happen. Oh and if you do that with a cordless drill it wouldn't end too good too, given that batteries are often made from alkali metals you'd have some proper fireworks if water gets in there.

sunevesor (author)2013-12-02

I have some antique bottles that were buried in the ground for over 20 years. I don't want to put a hole in it. But I will try the lights.

My question is should those bottles with iron deposits and other ground minerals be washed?

Raitis (author)sunevesor2013-12-04

Although I'm not sure about the looks of those. I guess it depends on personal preference. Since you're not drilling them anyways, why not try and put the string in, check the looks and take it out for washing if not satisfied? Did that for some bottles yesterday, when a friend of mine needed some examples how different colors look. :)

sunevesor (author)2013-12-02

Beautiful! iluvit!

siliconghost (author)2013-11-24

Just made one of these today before even seeing this instructable! I didn't need water. Used a 1/2" bit designed for glass and tile. Had to take it really slow but worked great. The bit alone was about $13 at Home Depot.

mrfusi0n (author)2013-11-22

A couple ideas for drying the inside of the bottle without leaving water spots (although I have not tried these):
1) with the bottle upside-down, blast compressed air into the cut hole. Hopefully most of the water would be blown out and the remaining water would dry quickly in very small droplets. The smaller droplet size should mean less apparent spots.
2) rinse the bottle with a small amount of fast-drying solvent. My choices would be denatured alcohol or electrical cleaner. These would rinse out the water and should dry quickly without spots. You would of course need to make sure it is FULLY DRY before putting the lights in. Flammable vapors and electricity don't mix well either :)

Raitis (author)mrfusi0n2013-11-23

What is that stuff you call "electrical cleaner"?
Something fast evaporating sounds good too, I'm currently thinking about acetone. Some compressed air afterwards would help to get those flammable gasses out too I guess!

Ramireex (author)2013-11-20

To clean the inside of the bottle--This is easy and it only took me 5 years to figure it out. Cover the hole with something (usually your finger) Pour in aquarium gravel into the bottle, add water with dawn dishwashing soap, or whatever you have and cover the other end and then shakey shakey shakey. Then, when you want to get out all the gravel, just pour water in and pour it out. You may need to add water a couple of times to get all the gravel out but it comes out super easy and it is very efficient for cleaning the bottle.

Raitis (author)Ramireex2013-11-21

Thanks! Not sure that would do with those post drying stains, but seems like a sound idea for any other stuff you need to clean out.

hammer9876 (author)Raitis2013-11-21

Cool lights!

For cleaning water stains, the gravel trick should work. That is physically attacking the problem. To attack the problem chemically, try something acidic, like, vinegar, or even orange juice or soda pop. To dry without stains, try distilled water. Nothing in it to leave behind once the water dries.

I agree with making a jig. I cringed when I saw your drill so close to your hand.

Raitis (author)hammer98762013-11-23

Thanks for advice! Acidic stuff + distilled water afterwards kinda make sense!
I would cringe if it was some sharp drill bit too, but this diamond crown isn't too good in drilling flesh. :)

jkeehn2345 (author)2013-11-21

Actually 12 mm is about .47", or close to 1/2" in the USA that has those weird measurements.

Raitis (author)jkeehn23452013-11-23

Oops, I somehow mistook the number for centimeters. Thanks for pointing this out, will fix right now! :)
Not sure if I should bother with these conversions, but some might find them useful I guess.

ibwebb (author)2013-11-21

Great Instructable! I want to make some of these now. I was reading about your water stains and wanting to dry out the bottle. I learned this many (many) years ago in a science class when we had to clean out beakers of odd shapes that the teacher didn't want spots in. Us filtered water (the various stuff in hard water leaves the spots) and turn upside down while drying (so dust and dirt doesn't get in it as well). It worked well then. I cannot say I have tried a lot since then, but wondered if you used that stuff for the rinse cycle in dishwashers (rinse that I do not use a brand name) if it would keep the water from leaving spots as well.

polerix (author)2013-11-21

NOW i NO OW to dryl GLAZ

Bard (author)2013-11-21

I tried to do something similar but more low tech using a mason jar. But I tried to layer the lights with marbles to make it more interesting. the marbles ended up crushing the lights making it a learning experience. I then used my second set of lights in the jar and left it running a bit I found that the jar was too hot. I then decided to scrap the project.

I might try again but using the string as a heat source for an easy bake oven.

I also don't remember how many lights were in the string I chose that could of made a big difference.

About This Instructable




Bio: Living the maker's life
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