Picture of Reuse the whole thing: Glass bottles

This is the first part of series (hopefully) of Instructables where I will show how to upcycle things to the maximum. I'm going to start with something simple - a glass bottle.

Probably many of us have tried making a glass from a wine bottle and threw out the left over part of the bottle. I was doing that for a long time as well, but as of recently I'm not throwing out the top of the bottles any more because they make a great lampshade.

Since this is the first part of series and I'm planning to enter the "Teach it" contest with this, there will be more explanation of various processes included in all of this.

I myself am currently doing the cutting and polishing with a tile cutter, Dremel and an improvised flat lap (for which I will sometime make and 'ible as well) which gives a way smoother and more predictable outcome, but I know the frustration of not being able to make something due to lack of fancy stationary tools since the only one I have is this small tile cutter. That's why I have decided to make this instructable as simple as possible and within the reach of many.

Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: That's all you need

Picture of That's all you need

A glass bottle (wine works good);
A Dremel rotary tool with a silicon carbide grinding stone (85422 works well) and a polishing wheel (425 is great), one of each should be enough, just keep in mind that sharp edges eat up the polishing wheel really fast, so try to avoid that;
Glasses, face mask, heavy leather gloves;
Handheld glass cutter;
A scraper;
A pointed knife (x-acto works);
A marker;
A butane torch (could replace with a candle+some water);
A lightbulb (4W Philips E14 LED in my case), bulb socket, power plug and some cable;

1-40 of 43Next »
DIY-Guy2 months ago

Thanks to the author!
This is worth a download. :)

ooohlaa4 months ago

Gosh I have a PILE of perrier bottles I wanted to use to make a raised bed until I found out they break in the garden, leaving shards and shards. I found this in my unread emails from last August 2014! This is so great, you did a fine job and I will search you out for other "ibles". I want to suggest to you and to all to try using a clear lightbulb, I think it would make this beautiful lamp much more elegant. I have clear lightbulbs that have crystal designs etched into them and they would be great too. Thanx again, love this site. Had no idea about Reddit or the others, will check them out. Like you, I learn best watching how-to's. I have repaired my washer, dryer, broken china, and so many things from the generosity of others and I appreciate it so much!

Raitis (author)  ooohlaa4 months ago

Thanks for the lovely comment! :)

Clear bulb with crystal patterns or and Edison bulb would really make a difference depending on your desired look. Glad to hear I could contribute to the positive experience here on instructables as I also find this site to be both inspiring and useful.

If you ever need help with some glass bottle related DIY project - just let me know, should be able to help you with that!

ooohlaa4 months ago

Oh and I meant to add that I love the last paragraph of your lovely philosophy! Very thoughtful.

PowellMade5 months ago

This is cool! Great instructable!!

I wonder if you can get big wine bottles. I wouldn't mind making a couple of light shades.

Raitis (author)  PowellMade5 months ago

It depends how big is big for you... See picture :D

On a more serious note - it will probably be easier to find bigger champagne bottles than wine ones. Or you could always go for a non-standard wine bottle of the same volume. Specifically - something wider, in a form which is more of a sphere, not cylinder.

sunshiine11 months ago

Thanks so much for sharing this! I will be on the look out for more great projects! Have a beautiful day!


Raitis (author)  sunshiine11 months ago

Thanks, I actually have a little something planned in two weeks or so, will see how it goes!

sunshiine Raitis11 months ago

I will be looking for it.

carl winter11 months ago

where is your glass cutter? what does it look like ?

why hide the machine with your glove ?

how much pressure to apply ---has the glass cutter got a power silicon carbide

cutting wheel -- or is it a std glass scoring tool ?

why not show the most important aspect of glass cutting --? how to accurately

cut a perfect cylinder?

Raitis (author)  carl winter11 months ago

You raised some valid points here, thanks!

Glass cutter(scorer) is the 3rd tool from the top in step 1, pic 1. Looks like this. The glove is there to protect my hand from small glass shards resulting from scoring and is barely visible from any angle in this case. The pressure should be enough to make a score line, don't score twice over the same line though.
A perfect cylinder will probably not be the case if doing this as simple as presented, however you can get close to that by making a simple jig. Scroll down a few comments for a great suggestion an explanation by Jack.

As for the picture issue you mentioned in another comment - maybe the main picture of this instructable gives you an idea of how the lamp looks from closer up since it's there, just not lit.

carl winter11 months ago

nice job ---very neat --- now show the completed lamp in close up!

( backlighting has spoilt your digital foto ---adjust 2 stops or use flash -

well done !---

jack855911 months ago

Here's an idea that you might want to try, stack some wooden blocks up to the height that you want to score the line and using a fence staple or two, fasten the cutter to the wooden block and rotate the bottle while holding the cutter against it on a flat surface. That way there is no real reason to mark the bottle all the way around before cutting it. If you use several different thicknesses of blocks, you can cut different heights by simply adding or removing blocks and you can go around the bottle several times and always be in the same place on the bottle as you score it. Another way is if you know a machinist, ask to use their height gage with a carbide tip on it to scribe the line on it, again, just rotate the bottle within one thousandth of an inch accurately and you can make it go to any height within the limits of the gage's travel..

Raitis (author)  jack855911 months ago

I like your simplified jig idea, sounds simple enough that most of the people would have the stuff you mentioned at home or easily obtainable. Would feature your comment, but it doesn't seem to work for me.

jack8559 Raitis11 months ago

As a machinist/maintenance man for industry, I have used things similar to this for many irregularly shaped items to mark where I needed to cut an item and it would certainly apply here. I thought it would be simple yet effective. The trick is to get the cutter parallel to the flat surface the bottle will rest on to be turned. If the cutter isn't 'level' it will have a tendency to "walk" the cut either uphill or downhill as you turn the bottle and that's not what you want.

Raitis (author)  jack855911 months ago

Details are important, thanks! If you got into detail because of me writing "doesn't seem to work for me", that wasn't meant for the jig idea, but the featuring function here. Thought I should clarify this. :)

sawjam11 months ago

Great ideas on the lights! I messed about cutting bottles a few years ago and by far the most consistent way is to score the glass with a glass cutter and just run it under warm water from a tap and then cold, that is all the heat required to create the stress riser to crack the glass.

Raitis (author)  sawjam11 months ago

Thanks! I had some people tell that hot-cold-hot water routine actually gives better results, will have to try it sometime!

MikeM211 months ago


greyhawk8311 months ago

I've used most of these methods and they all work but usually leave the edges a little rough so I found a thick piece of glass (about 1/2 inch) and about 6" x 12" and use it as a lap with wet r' dry paper then use a diamond paste or even valve grinding (fine) compound, for all edges. It works very well and the same method for flattening and polishing metal.

PieceOfPanda11 months ago
I don't know if you have tried it. But in the past I have found a tile saw to be excellent for cutting the bottles in half. It also leaves you with a clean cut if you go slow.
Raitis (author)  PieceOfPanda11 months ago

Yeah, that's the way I'm currently doing it most often. I have an issue of the disc vibrating a little which causes way more chipping however. :(

jdgreen11 months ago
URL for fiery string video https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=J7vT8kdpfNI
rcharles4711 months ago
My apologies ... I should have said quickly plunge ! i.e. you quickly dip the hot rod in the oil. Certainly DO NOT leave the rod in the will!
Raitis (author)  rcharles4711 months ago

How thick should the rod be and what happens if I accidentally hit the bottleneck with it on my way down?

rcharles4711 months ago

Fill the bottle with oil to the level where you wish to cut, heat a steel rod to red heat and plunge into the oil. The bottle will split cleanly at the level of the oil. Works just as well if you wish to make rings ... or lean the bottle and produce an angled clean break.

Raitis (author)  rcharles4711 months ago

I'm both intrigued and worried about the same things as David. Could you elaborate on this?

You will be heating the oil beyond it's boiling point turning it into a gas, possibly igniting, and could spatter on the person resulting in burning them. I've seen red hot metal hit oil, it instantly ignited causing a nasty fire. A rod inside a glass bottle would be quite different than tempering a blade in a large container in the open wearing suitable safety gear.

If you do this safely all the time, please let me know where I can watch a video.

You will be heating the oil beyond it's boiling point turning it into a gas, possibly igniting, and could spatter on the person resulting in burning them. I've seen red hot metal hit oil, it instantly ignited causing a nasty fire. A rod inside a glass bottle would be quite different than tempering a blade in a large container in the open wearing suitable safety gear.

If you do this safely all the time, please let me know where I can watch a video.

WOW! That sounds a lot easier & safer. Any particular oil? Would peanut oil be good since it can withstand high heat? And can the oil be reused for more bottle cutting? Thanks :)
sjohns311 months ago
No sorry I don't have any pictures but greenstone is from NZ I think is a form of what you would call jade it's a very hard green glass-like stone
Raitis (author)  sjohns311 months ago

Jade sounds more familiar!

jdgreen11 months ago
The Russian hacker has a video on YouTube in which he uses sting soaked in a flammable liquid wrapped around the bottle the cut it very evenly.
nerd7473 jdgreen11 months ago

Haven't seen that video that I can recall can you post the URL?

Raitis (author)  jdgreen11 months ago

I have a deep sense of respect for anyone who has mastered the art of cutting bottles evenly with the fiery string method.

Quite a while ago I did a short guide through various ways of cutting glass bottles at home including overview of 4 methods: The Fiery String, handheld glass cutter, glass cutter mounted in special kit and a tile cutter. If anyone wants to get some info on those, you can find the guide here.

RedVelvetBows11 months ago
Maybe you can cut little dots out of the lamp so it can have a cool effect on the room. Meanwhile, you can use the glass dots for something else. Just an idea and great 'ible by the way enjoyed the nothing good to waste idea. :)
Raitis (author)  RedVelvetBows11 months ago

Any idea if I'd have to drill holes or etching dots would be enough? I feel tempted to try this, thanks for the idea!

I feel like drilling the holes would be the better idea. Then again, I have never done projects like that so my opinion might not be the best. :)
*gone to waste I mean.
sjohns311 months ago
I haven't tried cutting glass before but i have carved green stone which is similar the trick to cutting and grinding with diamond wheels and discs is to have the cut constantly cooled by running water it's also safer to use the dremel with the flexible extension or an air powered rotary tool when doing this :)
1-40 of 43Next »