Step 1: Supplies + Tools
Purchase at Home Depot
¼” copper tubing is available at Home Depot in a several different lengths. 20 foot long coil is more than enough and can usually be purchased for less than $25. This tubing is soft, flexible, and can be cut with wire cutters or a small pipe cutter. Aluminum tubing is also an option that is silver in appearance. Aluminum tubing can be a little harder to find at your local home improvement retailer but is always available at mcmaster.com.
Purchase at Home Depot or Online
A simple $4 glass cutter from Home Depot will do the trick if you construct a simple guide to make sure that the score line around the bottle is straight. A few scraps of wood and a couple of screws will do the trick. A quick Google-ing of 'bottle cutter' will reveal a variety of devices that make this task a little easier. The Generation Green (g2) Bottle Cutter worked really well for me and only cost about $20.
Not all glass bottles are created equally. Different shapes and types of glass all behave differently. In general I had the best success with wine and liquor bottles. Make sure you have extra bottles since many will break when you try to cut them. At first I broke about 50% of the bottles that I tried to cut. After I while I was able to improve to about a 70% success rate.
Purchase at Home Depot
Goo Gone will help remove the adhesive used on the labels.
Wire Cutters or Pliers
Can be used to cut and bend the copper tubing. A small pipe cutter will also do the trick.
RYOBI Cordless Drill with a ¼” Diameter Bit
For drilling drainage holes in the corks.
To smooth out the edges of the cut glass.
Safety Glasses + Gloves
Should be worn at all times.
Step 2: Clean the Bottles
Step 3: Score the Glass
The Cheap Way:
A $4 glass cutter will work fine if you construct a jig to hold the cutter still with 1 hand while you use the other hand to rotate the bottle. I made a jig by screwing a few pieces of pine to a scrap piece of plywood.
The Easy Way:
For about $20 you can buy a bottle cutter online. This tool serves as a guide that makes it easy to create an even line all the way around the bottle.
Step 4: Separate the Bottle
Method 1: Candle and bucket
This was the slowest and least effective method I tried. Constantly rotating the bottle over the candle was tedious. A dunk method in the cool water should be done vertically so as not to put gravity on the end that is going to break off.
Method 2: Tea kettle and cold tap water
Pour hot water along the score line to heat the bottle. This method works quite well especially if you let the bottles rest on the bottom of the sink. Make sure to rotate the bottles to evenly heat all the way around the bottle.
Let the bottle rest flat on its side when heating and cooling it in the sink. Holding it by the neck puts stress in the bottle which can cause un even splitting.