How to Make a Glass Bottle Cutter - DIY Wine Bottle Cutting Tool!

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Introduction: How to Make a Glass Bottle Cutter - DIY Wine Bottle Cutting Tool!

Epilog Challenge 9

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Epilog Challenge 9

Cut glass bottles can be used for many different DIY projects, since as drinking cups (when polished properly!), candle holders, "self-watering" planters (when flipped), and much more - many of which you can find online.

I find it kind of weird where pretty much every DIY glass bottle/wine bottle cutter requires a store bought glass cutter and a bunch of complicated mechanisms. In this Instructable, I will show you how to make a simple, yet very accurate glass bottle cutter, using a small carbide v-bit (milling tool), which you can buy on eBay for less than a dollar! This cutter is adjustable, meaning that you can make it cut glass bottles of any diameter, and choosing the length of the bottle to cut can be changed in only a few seconds!

Let's get started!

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(Watch the quick Youtube build video and see it in action!)

Tired of skipping through boring DIY videos? In case you don't already know, I now make short, tightly edited Youtube videos about homemade tools, tool hacks, woodworking, electronics, metalworking projects and much more - Subscribe to so you don't miss out! :)

Step 1: ​What You'll Need:

Want to make this project? Here's what you'll need, or at least what I used!

For those who aren't able to salvage parts for free, I've added some links to eBay below. Keep in mind that these parts can be acquired at a hardware store, or anywhere else online. If you don't see something that you think should be here, or would like to know more about a specific tool/part that I used, feel free to ask in the comments.

I made it for $0.75 since I already had most of the parts that were needed on hand.

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Hardware, Materials & Consumables:

  • A 75 cent carbide v-bit (why are these so cheap, isn't carbide supposed to be expensive?)
  • Some scrap Beech wood (scavenged from a broken chair, previously cut to the appropriate length)
  • Screws
  • Cotton rope
  • Alcohol, acetone, or any other flammable liquid
  • A bucket of water

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Tools:

  • Drill & drill bit set
  • Clamps
  • Scissors

Subjects: Woodworking, Making Your Own Tools

Approximate Time: <15min

Difficulty: Fairly Easy

ALWAYS USE PROPER PPE.


*These eBay links (above) are affiliate links, meaning that I get a small percentage of what you paid, at no extra cost to you. At least they are supposed to be affiliate links, that is, if they work...

Step 2: Screw Both Pieces of Wood Together

As you might know, I use only wood that I can salvage from stuff for free. The dadoes, rabbets, or whatever these grooves that run across the board are called are not needed at all to complete this projects.

I clamped both pieces of wood together tightly, drilled three pilot holes for screws, and drove the screws in, securing both pieces of wood tightly together. Screws, or glue, it doesn't really matter, I normally don't want to wait for wood glue to dry so I use screws instead.

Step 3: Drill a Notch for the Carbide Cutter

I wanted to create a notch in the top of the piece of wood, where the carbide cutter can slide back and forth so I could adjust how much it stuck out, but didn't want it to move from side to side.

This is a technique I've used a couple times in the past, but it doesn't always work so I recommend first practicing on a piece of scrap wood. I clamped a piece of scrap wood on top piece as shown in the pictures, and then drilled a hole right in between both pieces with a small drill bit. It's hard to show the notch on camera, but if the notch isn't big enough, all you need to do is wiggle the drill bit while it's running.

I think this method is way faster and maybe even more accurate that using a plunge guide on a rotary tool, and maybe even more accurate.

Step 4: Secure the Carbide Cutter!

I placed the cutter in the notch that was drilled previously, drilled one hole into the piece of wood on each side of the cutter, and drove two screws gently enough to not crush the cutter, but with enough force to make sure it won't move accidentally.

Since carbide is a very hard material, it doesn't take a lot of force to break it. The cutter should be mounted so the tip sticks out by only a few millimeters, so most of the cutter will be supported if it catches or digs into the glass bottle while you are turning the glass bottle.

Step 5: Clamp the Stop Block

Sure, you could use a ball bearing drawer slider and t-track and a fancy clamping mechanism and...

But there's no need to!

A simple scrap of wood, clamped to the vertical piece of wood works perfectly as a stop for the wine bottle, super easy to remove and adjust, and can also be used on a table saw sled!

Step 6: Score the Glass

This part of is kind of fun. I mean really fun - except for the sound that's created which can get pretty annoying ;)

After adjusting the stop block to make sure I was minimizing the amount of wasted glass, I started turning the bottle, making sure not only to push it into the cutter, but to also push it slightly in the direction of the stop block, keeping it aligned properly. Be careful as to not let your hand slip accidentally onto the carbide cutter, as it is extremely sharp. If it can cut glass and steel, skin is like cutting into thin air! (As apposed to thick air, which will dull the cutter so fast... Right?)

FYI, the dust created here is close to nothing, however, this is silica dust, and prolonged exposure can lead to silicosis. Do this in a ventilated environment!

Step 7: FAIL! FIRE! I Mean Try to Cut the Wine Bottle!

I got a bit of help doing this part, filming with my phone for the video, taking pictures with my camera for this Instructable, and playing with fire, safely, might not be the best idea. Which might also be why this step kind of lacks a few pictures :)

We wrapped some cotton rope around the part of the bottle where I scored the glass, and then poured some type of 70% alcohol over the rope, and lit it on fire! I think we waited around thirty seconds for the bottle to heat up, and then dipped in a bucket of water. It pretty much exploded as soon as it hit the water [caught on video!] and didn't break properly.

We decided to try again, this time with the clear glass jar you can see above. We lit the rope on fire, and then turned the jar while on its side, since I thought part of the reason the bottle shattered immediately when it hit the water was since the heat (from the fire) rose, the top part of the bottle was hotter than the scored part. This time when we dipped it into water the score turned into a crack, and when I tapped on it gently, the top fell off. It was better than the first time, but still not good enough.

Now since I was actually more enthused about trying to make a bottle cutter, seeing if it would actually work (which it did, and well!), sharing my idea, and less about actually cutting a glass bottle for a project, I decided that it was enough. And that is why this Instructable is more on how to make a glass bottle cutter, and less on how to actually cut glass, though if I knew if I tried a few more times I would eventually succeed. I prefer spending my time on bringing new ideas to the table... Perhaps the lack of success that I had might be due to the fact that I used an olive oil bottle and not a wine or beer bottle.

I don't know! :)


See it in action, on Youtube!

Some more thoughts:

  • This glass cutter can be used on wine bottles, beer bottles, pill bottles, glass jars, and any other round glass container, but I suppose if you rotated the v-bit sideways (90 degress), it could be used to score long pieces of glass, a bit like ripping boards on a table saw. But that's an idea for a different project...
  • If anyone knows a way to break the bottle after scoring it successfully without fire, please comment below, as I still do want to try it! Maybe with a hammer? Tapping it lightly with a mallet? A vacuum chamber?!

I also will be giving away free Instructables premium memberships (please read before commenting) to members that make their own glass bottle cutters based on this Instructable. Will you be the first one?


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I read ALL comments, and reply to as many as I can, so make sure to leave your questions, suggestions, tips, tricks, and any other ideas in the comments below! - Thanks!

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Tips

Much easier than the string and alcohol method, is to dip the bottle in a bucket of boiling water as far as he cut line for about 30 seconds, then immediately dip bottle into a bucket of iced water. a few seconds later the glass wil simply pop apart

2 Questions

Hi there. This is really cool. I was wondering if it has to be made from Beech wood or if other types would work. Thanks for sharing this!

Oh, not at all.
Beech is just a pretty hard wood (I think like hard maple), looks great, and I can "salvage" it from the broken chairs that people throw away. This can be made from pretty much any type of wood since it doesn't have to have to be very strong, the guide isn't under a bunch of stress.
Thanks! :)

12 Comments

Heat Gun and an Ice Cube. Splits a glass scoring nicely

I don't have a heat gin but perhaps a lighter would work too.

The bottle-cutting set I bought through Whole earth Catalogue back in the '60s had a long knob-ended bent wire, about as thick as chain-link fence wire, which was then slipped through the neck of the bottle. The knob end was then tapped repeatedly and gently along the score mark from the inside. "Inside" or side opposite the score is the key, Likewise with the ball end of the hardware-store tool mention above: tap from BEHIND the score. Worked every time for me.

Hardware store glass cutters have a tiny blade/cutter, some slots, and a ball at the opposite end of the blade. The cutter creates the scoring on the glass. The ball end can be used to tap along the scoring and possibly finish the break. The slots can be used to grab a sheet of glass and lever the glass to break it.

I think we have one of those. Well, that explains the odd shape!

But here the bottle is scored to make the cut more accurate from the heat and cold...

same thing with the "ibles" i've linked above;
they scored the bottle/s first.
then subject to hot and cold trick...

you too, used the same method;
however with a different approach....
they slowly subject the bottles to cold water or ice after heating it up
to produce one way crack around.
and they pour cold water and rub the ice,exactly where the score was.
since your flame/s heated not only the score but the upper part of the bottle/s too, splashing it to a bucket of cold water with the neck first would make the tension start away from where the score is... ;)
i just don't know if holding it on the neck and submerging the bottom first would do and i don't know it it safe either....

Oh, I could always hold the bottle with pliers. I will have to experiment with this more...