Learn how to effectively cut, sand, and finish wine bottles to make whatever you like!
Step 1: Strip
It is important to remove the label at least where you want to score the bottle. Soak the bottle in water for a few hours. Then peel off as much of the label as possible scraping the remainder off with a knife. Wash the glue off with soap.
Step 2: Score
There are many devices you can get to score a bottle. There are even some Instructables that tell you how make your very own bottle cutter. I have tried three and I had the most luck with consistent score lines with AGPtek Bottle Cutter ($20 on Amazon). All the deviced use small glass scoring wheels. Apply even pressure and rotate the bottle against the wheel. Go over the score line only once and make sure it meets at the end to avoid the crack spreading where you don’t intend. This may take some practice. I tried doing more than one score line at a time on the same bottle and had issues with the crack traveling between the lines so I would recommend doing one line at a time
Step 3: Split
To split the bottle into pieces I prefer the hot & cold water method. This socks the glass along the score line by alternating between hot and cold water until it cracks through. Set up two large mixing bowls to pour the water in so you can reuse it for all my splits and not waste it down the drain. Use a tea kettle right off the stove and a pitcher full of ice water, the more cold and hot the temperature the quicker it will break. I got two thick rubber bands with the Kinkajou bottle cutter that I put on either side of the score line to help contain the water to the line(hair bands or rubber bands are a great alternative). Rotate the bottle while poring hot water over the entire score line by for about 15 seconds. Then do the same with the cold water. Repeat back and forth until the bottle breaks. It will suddenly just fall so hold it close to the surface as you pour. The thicker the glass the more pouring required.
Step 4: Rough Sand
The split lines are often uneven and will take a good amount of sanding to get smooth. I use sanding powder (silicon carbide) to wet sand because I have a number of edges to sand and I want them very smooth relatively quickly. Silicone carbide is the loose form of the sand on sandpaper. You can use a 120 grit for the initial rough sand and a 400 for a smooth matte finish. Get a piece of glass for a flat surface to sand on (an old picture frame works perfectly). Pour a small puddle of water (~5” diameter) on the glass followed by the 120 grit sanding powder. The consistency should be quite wet. Place the edge that you want smooth down in the mixture and rub it around in circles and figure eights. Periodically lift it to grab up the sand being pushed to the edges. After a while the mixture will become less coarse and start to thicken so add more water and powder as needed. Rub the edge around until it is completely flat.
Step 5: Fine Sand
Now that you have a flat edge you’ll want to smooth it out. Clean the 120 grit off your glass and flip it over. Pour a small puddle of water on the glass followed by the 400 grit powder. This one is a very fine power that should not be inhaled so wear a respirator while you pour it. Mix it in with your finger and once it’s fully submerged in the water you can remove the respirator. Again the mixture should be wet. Rub the glass edge around until the coarse look is gone. You can see the difference between to 120 and 400 edges in one of the photos. After the edge is smooth use fine grit Emory cloth to barely sand the corners so they are not sharp.
Step 6: Embellish
Now that hard work is behind you go wild with making the object unique! Frosting the glass is a really great option to add some pizzazz! Get an etching cream then mask off what you do not want frosted and apply. For my drinking glasses, which are different heights, I wanted to tie them together as a set without having them look exactly the same. So I decided to frost the tops so they line up with each other. You can use tape to prototype your frost before you take the plunge. On my bracelets I frosted half of one from side to side, the bottom third of another and I even wrapped neon string around yet another. Needless to say the options are endless… Enjoy!!