Introduction: Practical (Cheap) Bottle Cutting

This shows a cheep and effective way to cut glass bottles for your own needs, such as drinking glasses, shot glasses, vases, pencil holders, and anything else you can think of. No cracks or sharp edges. This may not be an ideal technique if you want to produce a lot of bottles, but a cheap way to cut without cracks in your bottle.

Step 1: Tools and Supplies

You will need:
Standard size hacksaw (A coping saw may work fine as well)
Carbide saw blade (Glass is harder than steel, so a regular blade won't work)
Leather work gloves
Safety goggles
source of water
At least three different pieces of sand paper of various grit (I used 220, 100, and 60)
Roll of masking tape
Marker
Glass bottle
A base to set your bottle on while you saw. I used a 9X9 Casserole dish turned upside-down.

Optional tools:
Carbide bit
Home Made Jig

***ATTENTION***
While I would like for everyone to use my instructable, you may skip it if you can get your hands on a Tile saw such as this one:

http://www.northerntool.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product_6970_33353_33353

Still be safe, wear protective gear, and use step four to help smooth out the edges.

Step 2: Getting Ready

CHOOSING YOUR BOTTLE
I've used both round and square bottles, and they all work so far (I have not bothered with flask shaped bottles). However, thinner bottles (beer, zima) are more fragile and tend to break sooner than liquor bottles, so you 'll probably spend a little more time sanding/grinding down the bumps and edges, but more on that later.

PREPARING YOUR BOTTLE
First, think about where you want to cut your bottle (keep it horizontal). This is one of those 'measure twice cut once' situations.

Draw a straight line along the center of the tape, then wrap it around the bottle. It's easier to line up two ends of the line when applying the tape than trying to draw a straight line on the bottle. In case you're thinking about just 'winging it' without using masking tape, don't. When you start sawing your bottle the tape will help your saw from slipping off your mark.

PREPARING YOUR WORK SPACE
A side-effect of sawing glass is glass dust. Very Dangerous! You don't want to breath it in, get it on your skin, or get it in your eyes. It's like poison. Instead of wearing a mask and other protection, having a steady trickle of water on your bottle while your sawing will remove the glass dust.

I used a sink, but you can probably rig up a water hose if you want to work outside. If you do work over a sink, setting your bottle on a base in the sink will give your more freedom of movement. An upside-down wire dish rack might make a good base.

Step 3: Getting Started

With your safety goggles and gloves on, grasp the bottle with one hand and start sawing. I've encountered no accidents sawing glass this way, but I also don't want to explain to the emergency room why I wasn't wearing gloves and goggles while sawing though bottles. The trickle of water doesn't necessarily have to fall directly on the area your cutting, so long as water flows over it.

Start sawing by making very short strokes until you got a groove, then go to town. Sawing glass is about quantity of strokes, not the quality. Putting to much weight into your strokes could ruin (break) your project; it's much better to saw quickly and lightly. You knew this wasn't going to be a five minute project; don't get hasty.

The trick to sawing bottles is not to try to saw all the way through. Because glass is so very brittle, it doesn't absorb the shock of sawing very well. Once you break through the glass, the saw starts catching on the glass. Also, glass doesn't flex like wood or metal does when you cut half-way into it, so it breaks before you get to the end.

I keep putting off making a jig, but two perpendicular pieces of wood with a slot for your saw would be very helpful, just strap the bottle to it.

So instead of sawing all the way through it you'll make three cuts into the bottle, leaving little pillars. These pillars keep the sides of the bottle from trying to flex, thus snapping the rest of the bottle. Once your saw starts catching, rotate the bottle forward a bit and saw only on one edge of the hole until the hole is about a third of the bottle.

Once you've made your three cuts, gently begin sawing the pillars. At least one of them will break before it's over, but this will decrease the area you have to sand down. Using a jig should delay the final breaking.

Step 4: Finnishing

Once you have successfully cut your bottle the real fun begins (note sarcasm). Start laying a low grit sand paper (60) on your work table, hold the bottle upside-down and draw circles or figure-eights with the bottle; this is a great way to get rid of bumps, and give you an even edge.

If you have a dremel, this process may take less time. Recently, I started using a stone grinding head. Now, the main problem with using a high speed power tool is that the friction had heat the glass very quickly, prompting it to chip. To combat this problem I like to submerge the glass edge just under the surface of a pot of water and dip just head of the dremel in the water while sanding. This will help regulate the heat while keeping glass dust out of the air. Keep using dripping water to control glass dust.

BE SAFE. Continue to wear gloves and goggles. Once your glass is the shape you want it, use the higher grit sand papers to bevel, or round down, the inside and outside edges to your personal satisfaction. You can never go too high or too smooth, just don't expect the edge to shine like all of your store-bought glasses. Sawing the glass will have already prevented a lot of sharp edges, but beveling removes hidden sharp spots.

If your bottle had no labels, then you're done! If not, then try to remove them as best you can. Soaking them in water helps, but sometimes you're left with glue on the sides of the glass. Bottles with plastic labels aren't as bad about leaving glue. I haven't had any luck with "Goo Gone." I've gotten the most success from applying rubbing alcohol and scrubbing with a steal wire brush., but mineral spirits and lacquer thinner would work pretty well, as coarse steel wool would be just as good, if not better than, a steel wire brush.

Step 5: Gatuitous Ending

You're done. Now clean up the mess you left in the kitchen.

Comments

author
mcolon3 (author)2014-04-12

If you let the bottles sit in hot water for about 15 minutes, the labels and the glue come off pretty easy. I've done this with my wine/ beer bottles. Works every time. I usually fill them with hot water and submerge them in the sink with hot water from the sink.

author

Thanks! I'll try that.

author
paintphone (author)2009-12-29

You can also use Goo Gone  or
CitraSolve found in the organic cleaning products at most grocery stores

author

As I wrote in the instructable:
"I haven't had any luck with "Goo Gone." I've gotten the most success from applying rubbing alcohol and scrubbing with a steal wire brush"

Maybe I got a bad bottle, but it seamed like a waste of money to me.

author

Try silicone lubricant--like the kind you use for automotive work. You can buy it for a couple of bucks for a large can at your automotive supply store. It doesn't smell great, but it's the best damned adhesive remover I've ever used.

author

But seriously, thanks for checking out my instructable and taking the time to make a comment.

author
juggalo38401 (author)2011-08-17

kudos, great instructable

author
uldics (author)2009-10-01

When I was a kid, I saw my grandfather cutting a glass bottle shorter by another method. He took a simple (1mm maybe) copper wire and wound around at the place to cut and made it tight by winding together. Then he warmed the bottle up on gas oven. Exactly how, not sure. Then he hit the bottle and it would crack in two parts at the wire. I'm either not sure if it was one hard hit or a series of light hits along the wire.

author

Do you know what he hit with? Mallet, hammer?

author

That is a neat idea. Well, I tried some similar techniques; they all involved pouring water on it, or dropping it in water, but I always got a crack down the side. I think I'll give it a try. Thanks, and props to your grandpa!

author
BJdaWonderKid (author)2010-12-26

Good instructable...I actually just did this with my kids w/beer bottles for Xmas gifts.  As far as cutting the glass, I used my husband's angle grinder that uses compressed air.  Then I used a wire brush on the bottle to smooth it out. 
Then I used my dremel w/the sanding drum.  As far as getting the labels off, my kids peeled them off and then if you smear peanut butter on them and wash them the remaidner of the label comes off.

author
justdesol (author)2010-05-02

 I used Eucalyptus Oil to remove the glue/adhesive, its an old Aussie trick. My Mum would use it to remove bandaids.

author
gamnoparts (author)2009-11-11

Nice instructable. Good idea w/ X-mas coming up. . .   Best part is probably emptying the bottles. ;)


as far as getting the glue off of the labels, try ronsonol.  The lighter fluid used in zippo lighters (yellow bottle).  Works GREAT!

author
plopcow (author)gamnoparts2010-03-15

 it worked amazingly for me

author
sreenvas (author)2010-03-05

I wish inform my way of cutting the glass bottle. First I wil make a marking with marking pen upto the level I want  to cut. Next I fill the bottle with the water upto that marking. Then i take a twine string (cottten thread used by the book binders) tightly arround the marking several turns -like we wound the coils and soak it with kerosine or petrol or with denatured spirit . Then ignite the thred. The bottle will get cut neately with smooth edges.

author
yusaku (author)2010-02-27

 Naptha(zippo fluid) is one of the best adhesive removers in my experience. I learned this from a pawn shop owner.  Its a slow solvent but keep applying fluid and rubbing with whatever. Also scotchbrite pads are good for scrubbing such things.

author
Mike McGill (author)2010-02-25

I have never tried this, but I have seen a few times in old magazines the following way of cutting a bottle.  Fill the bottle to the level at which you wish the cut to occur with mineral oil.  Heat a poker to red heat and then plunge the poker into the mineral oil.  This should llllllllhave the effect of crackng the bottle cleanly at the required point.  If anyone tries this I would be interested to know if it works.  Just like to say that Instructables are great!!

author
barefootbohemian (author)2010-02-21

 I never tried cutting bottles this way.  I use my glass cutter and some hot water to cut mine and I got some great results. 
I did notice a few chipped edges on the Grey Goose bottle at the top, do these pose any problems? 
Thanks for sharing! 

author

Glass cutter and Hot water? What kind of cutter, and how do you use the hot water? Before I started using a hack saw, I tried scoring, heating, and dropping in cold water, but always got a crack.

author

 I use a Toyo class cutter, but you probably don't want to go to that kind of expense (I do glass work so I really have to have a good cutter). I have used a standard glass cutter like you can find at the hardware store (you might have seen the red one's that have a long handle and a ball ping on the opposite end of the scoring blade).  If you roll the bottle (assuming it is a round one) instead of trying to score around the bottle, it works better.  You will need enough hot water to submerge the bottle into it, or pouring the hot water into the bottle will work also. Wait a few second for the glass to get hot and start to expand, submerge it into icy cold water after that and the subsequent contraction of the glass will fracture and run the score line.  If you need to you can use the "ping" end of the scoring blade to give it a couple of taps to loosen it the rest of the way up.  I use this method to remove the bottom from bottles a lot of the time (and I think I saw someone do that to remove the bottom and "cheat" building a ship in a bottle.... guess if it works, it works LOL!. 

author

The Grey Goose glass is the result of the minimum amount of sanding necessary to remove any and all sharp edges. Nowadays, I use a dremel to bevel the edges. Harbor Freight has an awesome one for only $20.

http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/Displayitem.taf?itemnumber=40457

Only, I've had a little trouble with the drum sanding heads, and ended up buying a new one, plus sanding drums.

author
gamnoparts (author)2009-11-11

One other thought...

regarding cutting glass.  Instead of cutting all the way through, could you "score" all the way around, & then snap the top half off?  Might be worth a crack. . .

author

 Hi gamnoparts, 
I use my glass cutter to score the bottles (I left a comment above), but it is very difficult to get a clean "snap" with a bottle.  It is much easier to immerse the bottle in some very hot water, then shock it into some cold, and just let nature take it's course. :)

author
Jent13 (author)2009-10-22

have you ever tried soaking some string in rubbing alchol or finger nail polish remover with acetone in it, light it on fire, then putting it on fire, and putting it in cold water? 

author

I tried that, but could never make it work. There was always a crack down the side. However, setting alcohol drenched string on fire was way more fun than using a hacksaw.

author
JoeSixPack74 (author)2009-10-04

When I was wine making I used to soak the bottles in hot water. Then I would peel off what I could. Then soak again and use a steel wool to remove the glue and label. It does not scratch the glass. Use the finest steel wool you can find. I would also remove the label before cutting the glass. I am going to try this for a dekatron spinner I made.

author
foobear (author)2009-09-29

I've had good luck with something called "Unstik" (bienfang) adhesive remover. It works better than anything else for getting rid of label glue. You can get it at art supply stores.

author
Tool Using Animal (author)2009-09-24

Well, you really don't want to breathe it, but no, glass dust is not like poison.

author
V-Man737 (author)2009-09-24

YEAH! Who needs a fancy-shmancy bottle-cutting machine! Great Instructable.

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