Fun With Wine Bottles





Introduction: Fun With Wine Bottles

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!!



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    How many cycles of hot/cold water did you need, approximately, for regular wine bottles?

    1 reply

    On the thinner bottles 3 hot was my shortest but the thicker ones take a while, maybe around 15 times with the hot. The hotter and colder you can keep the water throughout the process the fewer times you will need to do it.

    Wouldn't glass bracelets be dangerous? I'm always tripping and would be afraid I'd cut my wrist if I hit a wall or the ground with my wrist.

    1 reply

    Oh man yes if you hit your wrist regularly it maybe try some drinking glasses instead;) I have have worn mine without incident.

    I come from a family of pharmacists and I learned from my grandpa to peel all sized bottles to reuse them in his pharmacy, perhaps 60 years ago. He used a two edge razor blades, holding it with his 2nd and 3rd fingertips against his thumb, making a slightly curved edge. Then, holding the bottle neck with his left hand, leaning the bottom of it over a table, he passed the blade curved and in a 45 degree angle, from the upper right corner of the label to the lower end of it, removing a 2 or 3 mm strip of paper. He repeated this strokes rotating the bottle as needed, until the bottle was label free. The washing is common to all systems.

    For peeling off the labels, I use a slightly different method. Often, the glue used for the labels does not soften in water, only the paper gets wet, so when you clean the bottles you are still left with some goo that won't easily come off. Therefore, I simply rub the paper until the waxed/water repellant surface tears off, then pour a tiny bit of lamp oil, and rub it in. The lamp oil is stinky but dissolves the glue. Then I can wash the greasy lamp oil off with alcohol or regular dish washing soap.

    The glass rings make an awesome sounding wind chime.

    What is the advantage of using loose abrasive over wet/dry sandpaper?

    Also, can you fire polish the edges?

    4 replies

    The problems with fire polishing the edges:

    1) You need a very hot flame to do it (oxy acetylene)

    2) Annealing is a MUST afterwards. Otherwise the heat from the fire polish will leave the glass extremely brittle. You'll need a kiln with a modern, programmable digital temperature control to accurately raise and lower the temperature of the glass.

    The sanding powder sands quicker and it easy to refresh. I found sand paper lost it's grit quickly and was hard to keep tuck flat when wet. If you only have a couple things to sand and you want to try paper I would recommend a strong double stick tape to try to keep it flat. I have never tried to fire polish the edges but that sounds like a great idea! Please let me know how it goes if you do:)

    There was a guy on Kickstarter a while back who came up with an adapter for an electric drill so you can sand the edges much faster. You can then use a sanding sponge.

    sgbotsford has anticipated my questions. I've found that SiC wet or dry abrasive papers on glass, MDF or HDF works fine; once the sheet is wet it doesn't move around, unless one is too exuberant and lifts an edge. This technique also works for fettling planes, getting a wickedsharp edge on various tools (plane blades, chisels and such) and flattening oil and water stones.
    It's also less messy, and I can use tools and materials I already have, rather than invest in new stuff, which has to be stored and kept track of ...
    I haven't done flame polishing on wine bottles and such; just Pyrex, Kimax and random flint glass. It would be nice to know if there are any additional risks to that

    Nice instructable! Soak the bottle in Pub Wash and the labels slide right off. Homebrewers recycle bottles with it.

    I love the idea. Great way to reduce trash. I may make a mismatched set from glass food jars. It would be kind of quirky.

    2 replies

    Food jars... great idea! Will love to see how they turn out:)

    I have to start saving jars. It shouldn't take too long.

    You can clean the labels off quickly and easily with Acetone or Goof Off . Not green though !

    Yes love yours! Especially the sweet etching of the letters!

    What is ACPtek? I've tried to search for it online and found no reference. Is that a product? a company? Where do I get one?