Introduction: Make a Hanging Light Out of a Wine Bottle

I created a hanging light out an old lamp and a used wine bottle.  This was my first time through so it is a bit of a rough project, as I was learning as I went.  Hopefully it will serve as a good jumping off point for you if you wish to try something similar.  This project should take about one hour to complete.  

Step 1: Gather the Materials and Tools

Old Lamp
Empty Wine Bottle
Inline Switch
Light Bulb (make sure it will fit in the bottle) I used a small 60 Watt equivalent CFL but would try 30-40 Watt equivalent next time.

Small Flat Tip Screw Driver
Wire Cutters
Box Cutter (exacto knife would be better)
Dremel with Carbide Blade
2 X Handi Clamps
Small Torch (bought for $20 at Lowes)
Kitchen Sink...seriously
Sandpaper, coarse and fine
Paper towels

Step 2: Disassemble the Lamp


-Separate the socket from the base of the lamp. (Pic 1)

-Remove the protective cover over socket. May have to use the screw driver if your lamp is as old as mine was.  Don't worry about ruining the brass finish either as the entire assembly will be inside the wine bottle when you're finished. (Pic 2)

-Mark one wire and the terminal it is connected to.  This is to ensure proper reassembly later and may or may not be necessary depending on your lamp. (not pictured)

-Unscrew the wires from the terminal and pull out through base of the lamp (may have to remove a knot in the wire first). (Pic 3)

-Discard the body of the lamp.

Step 3: Attach Inline Switch

This will vary depending on the switch you are using; so keeping that in mind, I will show you what I did with mine.

-Disassemble switch (Pic 1).

-About 1/2 way down the wire (or wherever you think it would be most convient to have an on/off switch), use an exacto knife to separate the two wires BEING CAREFUL NOT TO CUT THE INSULATION EXPOSING THE WIRES. (Pic 1)

-Use the wire cutters to cut one wire in half. (Not pictured)

-Place the ends into the grooves in the switch and reassemble.  The switch I used has metal points which are driven through the rubber insulation and into the wire as it is reassembled. (Pic 2)

-Screw the bitter ends of the wires back into the correct terminals in the socket, screw in a light bulb and test your switch. (Pic 3)


-This is also a good time to mark the switch on the socket.  For our purposes, we always want this switch in the "On" position because it will be covered by the wine bottle in the final product (which is why we installed a second switch).  By marking the switch you will easily be able to tell if it gets bumped during the building process. (Pic 4)

Step 4: Break the Bottle, Phase 1

This is the hardest part of the entire project and I encourage you to test the step out on a bottle you do not intend to use for your lamp.

There are many videos out there on how to cut a wine bottle.  This one ( on Youtube seems particularly popular.  I however could not get this system to work for me in my apartment.  Not even a little.  

The purpose of this step is to remove the bottom 1/4" of the bottle.  You can use whatever method you please, but I will show you what worked for me.

Phase 1 - Score the bottle

-Set up your Dremel (I used a carbide blade, but suspect a diamond cutting blade would produce better results) as shown in Pic 1 atop some scrap wood with 2 straight sides. I clamped the wood to my work bench and the Dremel to the wood.  Notice how I butted the dremel against the clamps to add a layer of security against it traveling on the wood.

-Position the Dremel so it will score the bottle where you desire (I recommend about 1/4") once the bottle is pressed flush against the wood base. (Pic 2)

USE EYE PROTECTION AND A DUST MASK WHILE DOING THIS! I also recommend covering any other projects you have on your work bench as well as laying down some plastic or an old towel to catch the bits of glass that fall on the ground.

-Turn the Dremel on to full RPMs.

-Move the bottle into contact with the cutting wheel and slowly rotate the bottle. Score the entire circumference of the bottle and make a few passes around.  I found it was better to apply less pressure and take more time.  If you apply too much pressure the cutting wheel heats the glass very quickly which can cause fractures.

Step 5: Break the Bottle, Phase 2

This is the hardest part of the entire project and I encourage you to test the step out on a bottle you do not intend to use for your lamp.

There are many videos out there on how to cut a wine bottle.  This one ( on Youtube seems particularly popular.  I however could not get this system to work for me in my apartment.  Not even a little. 

The purpose of this step is to remove the bottom 1/4" of the bottle.  You can use whatever method you please, but I will show you what worked for me.

Phase 2 - Heating and Cooling

(See my video of this step here:

-Use a damp paper towel to wipe off the glass powder that has accumulated on the now scored bottle.

-Take the bottle to a sink.  Fill the sink with a few inches of water.  This water will catch the bottom of the bottle when it breaks off so it won't shatter against the hard sink.

PUT ON YOUR EYE PROTECTION! Glass shards can pop off as the bottle expands and contracts due to the rapid temperature change.

-Turn the cold water on to a trickle.

-Take your torch and heat along the score mark while rotating the bottle.  Be careful not to lingerer in one spot too long or the bottle will heat too quickly and result in fractures (not along the score mark where we want them).

-After applying heat to the entire circumfrence of the bottle run it under the cold water.  Try to put the stream directly on the scoring and rotate as before.

-Repeat this process and don't rush it or you will get undesired fractures.  It may take half a dozen cycles between heat and cold before the bottle breaks.

-After the bottle breaks, refrain from subjecting it to anymore rapid temperature changes (ie cooling it under the cold water).  Also, take a few damp paper towel and carefully wipe off the broken bottom of the bottle.  There will undoubtedly be a multitude of tiny glass shards.

Step 6: Sand the Bottle

Sand the bottle along the break.  Be sure to bevel the edges as well.  The bottom should be smooth enough to run a finger front-to-back and side-to-side along the break.

I started with 60 grit sandpaper, then moved to 100, then 150.

When you are done sanding, clean the bottle.  This will be the last chance you get to clean the inside as the next step is to assemble the lamp.  Make sure the entire bottle is dry before moving to the next step.

Step 7: Assemble the Lamp

-Pull the bitter ends of the wire down through the top of the wine bottle and out the bottom.

-Run the wire through a rubber grommet (or other acceptable piece of padding), a large washer, and the base of the socket.  The washer should be large enough that it won't be able to fit through the neck of the bottle.  This is what the bottle will hang from.  The rubber padding is to protect the glass from the hard, sharp, metal washer.  (Pic 1)

-Tie an overhand knot with the bitter end of the wires.  The thick copper wires are strong enough to support the weight of the lamp but you do not want all that weight pulling the wires out of their terminals.  The weight will sit on this knot instead. (Pic 2)

-Re-attach the wires to their proper terminals on the socket. (Pic 3)

-Re-install the protective sleeve over the socket. (Pic 4)

-Screw in a light bulb, slide the bottle over the socket assembly, plug in, and switch it on. (Pic 5)


SIRJAMES09 made it!(author)2013-01-31

I have a thought...
instead of using a dremel tool, why not get or buy a glass cutter that is made for cutting bottles & use that? it would be faster, easier, & would cut the bottle a whole lot cleaner(IE: less sanding & less work). Bottle cutters are not expensive if I remember correctly...

They also make drill bits for glass so you can drill a hole in the glass whatever size you would need. Some local hardware store may carry them, but I know that AMAZON.COM carries them because that is where I got mine.
Again, drilling a hole in the glass with the correct drill bit, would save a lot of work & make a cleaner cut.
wonderful Ible tho...very much pleased at what I learned thru this. 8 )

Anderson+Pooper made it!(author)2012-08-28

Great work Mr. Roboto.

valhallasmine made it!(author)2012-08-28

I have a typical bottle cutter (score then hot/cold shocks), so the tile saw and "no sanding" sound GREAT. Also, anyone seen this type lamp using LEDs and stringing a few together to make a pendant light set? Many thanks for any links!

Chiana_Rei made it!(author)2012-08-25

Glad to know someone else is watching craft wars and being underwhelmed ^^, Thanks for the idea of the dremel for scoring I was gonna just use a tile saw to cut it.

ironsmiter made it!(author)2012-08-25

"I used a carbide blade, but suspect a diamond cutting blade would produce better results"

looks like you were using a normal fiber-cutoff wheel(carbide abrasive impregnated?)
If you get your hands on one of the diamond cutoff wheels, you can CUT the bottom of the bottle off.
It will take time, and you WILL need a steady water drip to keep things cool(and keep the glass dust wet so you're not breathing it), but it is entirely doable.
Best part is, you wont have to sand at all.

The EASIEST way to get your cutting done is, rent a tile saw from the big-home-store.
have a couple dozen bottles waiting before you go. 2-3 hours will cut more bottles than you know what to do with.

scoochmaroo made it!(author)2012-08-25

I like it. You could do this with lamp kits from the hardware store if you didn't have a lamp already to cannibalize.

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