Introduction: Want to Cut Wine Bottles? Build This Jig!

Picture of Want to Cut Wine Bottles?  Build This Jig!

I wanted to recycle some old wine bottles into glasses and chandeliers.  I have seen a lot of online tips about how to buy a jig to make the cut,  sand the glass with a dremel, etc.  But why buy a $20-30 jig that you can make yourself?  Here are directions for an easy, solid jig using a cheap stained glass cutter and a few other supplies from your local hardware store.

Step 1: What You Will Need

Picture of What You Will Need

I purchased everything at Lowe's

1. A glass cutter (commonly used for stained glass). I already had one but you can get it for $4 
2. 1/4" x 6" x 3'  pine board $3 each (buy two) or one 4' length if you can find it
3. 5/16" glvanized wire rope clip $0.88 each (buy two) 
4. Wood glue (I like Titebond II, $3 for 4 oz)
5. optional 5/16" washers $0.08 each

Total cost: about $12 if you already own the glue
Total time: 1 hour of Making time + 2 hours waiting for glue to dry.

Tools: I don't have a garage in San Francisco, so I made this at the Techshop (SF) where I used a bandsaw, clamps and belt sander (optional).

Step 2: Cut Things

Picture of Cut Things

1. Cut approximately 8" lengths of the pine board (cut 5 of these).  I don't love to measure so this is approximate.  Just make your board length's about 2" longer than your glass cutter tool.

2. In two of these 8" pieces, cut a v-shape (right triangle) at one end. Make these identical.  The v shape should be big enough to accomodate at least half the diameter of your wine bottle. 

I used a bandsaw because it is so fast and easy and precision is not important here.  As a wise man once said, "don't let your project turn into an anal-retentive-neurotic-nightmare".  Ok, he said this about making beer but I like to keep it in mind pretty much all the time.

3. Use your wine bottle to mark approximately where it contacts your v-shape. 

Step 3: Mark and Drill

Picture of Mark and Drill

4. Draw a line down your board from where the wine bottle contacts the v-shape (check out the picture).  This will help you to correctly position your glass cutter.

5. Decide where to position your cutter (it could actually go anywhere between your two wine bottle lines).  If you want to cut beer bottles as well, move the cutter in about 1/2" from where I have placed it in the pictures.

6. The galvanized rope clips will serve as your clamps.  Plan to place them near the bottom half of your glass cutter. Lay everything out and mark it.  Check that you can raise the cutter enough to make contact with your bottle when it is placed in the v-cutout.

7. Drill the 5/16" inch holes for the clamps.

Step 4: Glue and Screw

Picture of Glue and Screw

8. Glue up the non-drilled v-cutout to one of the other 8" boards you cut in step one. Glue them face-to-face.  OK, you could have done this as step 4 but then I couldn't have called this part called "glue and screw".  Plus, now is your chance to grab a beer, preferably homemade.  You are going to have to wait for the glue to dry before finishing the project.  Go read a "Make" magazine!  Or find some other way to occupy yourself.  Check your glue bottle instructions for drying times.  Usually 30 min-1 hour. For those of you who are feeling cynical, I don't have any personal affiliation with "Make" magazine but that's what I did at this point.

9. Screw your glass cutter onto the second v-shaped board using your clamps. Use your wine bottle to check that it will make contact with the cutter when the jig is put together.

Step 5: Glue Some More

Picture of Glue Some More

10. Glue up your jig.  I clamped it because I have clamps. Really tight masking tape, wrapped around the box might work, too if you are clamp-challenged.

11. Wait, drink another beer, check your watch, wait some more, check watch, etc.

12. Glue is dry!!  Take off your clamps and you are done! I sanded everything up on the belt sander to make it pretty but that is optional.  Pretty is so pretty, though.

Step 6: Cutting the Wine Bottle

Picture of Cutting the Wine Bottle

13. Place a drop of oil on the glass cutter wheel. There is no need to get fancy here and olive oil works fine for this project.  Score your bottle with one nice even line by laying it in the jig, as pictured, and spinning it slowly.  Listen for the slightly annoying nails-on-a-chalkboard scoring sound to know that you are applying enough pressure.   Don't try to repeat the score or reverse your spin.  Don't try to use all of your might on the score line.  Those big muscles are totally unnecessary and too much pressure might cause little chips in the glass.

14. Bottles with labels, label goo, etchings, or printed glass will not cut as well.  You want smooth, clean glass.  A little hot water or "goo gone" helps to remove labels.

15. Heat your bottle with a candle or lighter along the score line.  Now run the bottle under cold tap water at the line.  Repeat a few times then try to gently pull the two halves of the bottle apart.  

16. You now have a cup and a possible chandelier!  Now don't cut yourself before you smooth out those edges.

17. Bonus tip: a dremel with a diamond bit works great to smooth the edge, then sand with sander bits and polish up if you like.  I got a set of 20 diamond bits on for $5. I have also hear its possible to just place your cup, top edge face down in a bowl of sand and twist in the sand.  I haven't tried this.

18. Have fun and impress your friends!

FYI. This makes glasses of one length. But without any additional construction, you can flip the cutter to the outside of the jig to make your cups about 1" taller. In addition, if you have a different size cup in mind, just build your jig accordingly (using slightly wider board-stock).


A1BC (author)2015-09-25

I am a "Glazier" and would like to add: when we cut glass; We have a saying, "Lube It Before You Use It" meaning always oil your glass cutter & the glass that is going to be scored = cut. (the oil is a must for cutting glass, and is really thick, so it will not even drip off of a round surface like a bottle) I am going to make the bottle jig; It looks just right the way it is, for cutting glass bottles. Thank You for sharing your project.

don.jackson.7982 (author)2014-12-18

After cutting your bottle, use the Bottle Bit to sand it down. The kickstarter campaign is live now at

acoens made it! (author)2014-05-19

This works really well! Thanks for sharing :-)

tekaka (author)2012-01-10

last year i made this for a friend. works well, if not aplied with too much preasure. Yours seems more stable, thanks,

BOBCARVER (author)tekaka2014-04-04


txmediator @

heathbar64 (author)tekaka2012-10-31

I like your design, tekaka! I always seem to have trouble getting a consistant score. with this design I could put a specific weight on the handle and get the same pressure every time.

andrea biffi (author)2013-12-06

great project!

malbotia (author)2012-03-17

I love this ible. I am going to attempt a modified version of this that allows adjustment so the bottles can be cut at different lengths. I am going to use the wood piece with the V cut and glass cutter and also the back V cut piece and the solid piece it is glued to. Instead of gluing solid pieces for the sides I am gonna try to use 4 long bolts secured with nuts going through each corner of the front and back planks so that the back plank can be slid closer to the cutter by adjusting the nuts and sliding it forward then tightening the nuts again. I will post an update with results once I am finished. My only concern is that the bolts will not hold the ends straight and may allow the jig to slant.

Sort of like this:

999592 (author)malbotia2013-05-17

You can keep this design but add one board on either side screwed only to the back board that extends just slightly beyond the furthest point you plan to extend it, as well as a small board placed between the two sides about midway down on the bottom.

Alekij (author)malbotia2012-08-02

Great idea! That's exactly what I thought: "What about different bottle-sizes?"

That's a great idea but I feel like it probably will slant a bit, even if you do utilize the jam-nut idea from Sch8611. I built a jig very similar to this one and used old feed rods from printer toner cartridges (they're good steel and should be stockpiled by anybody who makes stuff like this...) as traverse rods for the cutter. A small jig like the one used in this 'ible rides along the rods and clamps in place wherever I want the cut to go, making the adjustment of the whole assembly unnecessary. Also, I used a pair of old skateboard trucks bolted face-to-face to hold the wine bottle so it would spin nice and smooth. It works wonderfully.

Sch8611 (author)malbotia2012-06-16

Try using 12 nuts, 3 on each bolt. Then, you can use one to tighten to the bolt head end to keep it from being loose and the other 2 on either side of the other board to do the same. If you're worried about the nuts moving you could wrap rubber bands or tape just below/ above them to stop the extra movement. I haven't tried it, but in theory it should work.

grammers (author)malbotia2012-05-20

How did it work?

glopines (author)2013-04-11

Gracias, gracias, gracias, no te imaginas lo que llevaba intentando hacer una maquinilla de corte con calor y electricidad, pero esto me parece mucho mas practico, económico y facil

jpaddle2 (author)2013-01-31

Great idea , n make sure to were safe glovesd

jasonsj (author)2013-01-30

just an UPGRADE... make a smaller V cut on the uncut board just to make the neck of the bottle fit, so you can also place the bottle upside down on the cutter. you can also add some lock so you can stuck the neck in the smaller V cut in order to avoid any sliding of the bottle from the cutting axis. hopeI can make a similar to yours with this upgrades and post a picture of it. GREAT PROYECT!!!

cjs1298 (author)2012-12-28

I think a good idea would to add a bottom and have U-bolts to ground the bottles into place.

Phoghat (author)2012-12-09

I thank you and the 2 dozen blue wine bottles in my workroom thank you. Not to mention my wife.

grammers (author)Phoghat2012-12-09

You are very welcome!

Wilmette (author)2012-12-06

This is yours too?
I want to make it; but, in fact, there are too many nice glasses so readily and cheaply available in thrift stores that I cannot justify the project.
One suggestion is that you advertise how you use corner clamps. Until I started using them, I despaired of simple joints. Bandsaws and jigsaws are wonderful, but the new oscillating tools make these projects possible without a shop.

droid1936 (author)2012-06-22

Thanks, without you instructable I could never make my lamp

grammers (author)droid19362012-11-20

Looks great!! Thanks for sharing your picture.

profpat (author)2012-01-08

great jig,

i usually tie a wire around the bottle and heat the wire with a candle or torch, then place the heated wire and bottle under the tap with water running. it makes a crack on the bottle where the wire touches..

but this one is easier!

heathbar64 (author)profpat2012-10-31

I've seen where someone used a nichrome wire and heated it electrically to cut a lot of bottles. seems like a sweet idea to me.

grammers (author)profpat2012-01-08

How does the cut look? Your way sounds really simple.

profpat (author)grammers2012-01-08

could not complete the task in one try.. sometime i have to heat the wire again, also some times the cut is not perpendicular... :-(

grammers (author)profpat2012-01-09

So far, with this jig, the most important thing seems to be making a perfect score-line. If I am slow and careful it lines up perfectly and I get a very good cut. Sometimes there is a slight notch (as in the cup picture I posted) but that is easily smoothed out. If I am too fast, sometimes I get a bad score and big notches. But, luckily, there are nearly unlimited bottles to use in my recycling.

acpoknight (author)2012-08-06

Great 'ible. I built this jig last weekend for a friend. Took one of the commenters idea and used my drill press to line up 4 holes and then cut threaded rods to insert in the holes. Put stop nuts on the one side, and then 3 wing nuts on each rod to hold the two pieces of wood tight. I did not glue the 4 side to the other three (the one with the cutter attached). It slides nicely and allows full adjustment of the height of the cut. thanks for the ideas everyone, it really works well, and all in at lowes for the material was about $26. I'll post pics if i can ever get it back from my friend.

rwomble (author)2012-01-10

Used this to make my own. Great instructable. Mine was a bit more crude but got the job done nicely. We've been using these instructions to break the glass after the score. We're getting about 50% rather than the 95% this guy quotes, but we're learning.

Awesome work!

rwhitney (author)rwomble2012-03-17

Just made the jig recently and used the video link above as my method to cut the glass once I score it! A+! It's easy and quick - now to sanding.

ArtisanEclectic (author)2012-02-15

Have You tried this with square bottles?

grammers (author)ArtisanEclectic2012-03-06

I have not tried it with square bottles. At first when I read your question I thought of course that wouldn't work. But now I'm thinking it depends on the size of the square.

brandon83 (author)2012-01-10

a great idea to use both ends of the bottle would be to make one of these. the only trick would be that the spout of the bottle needs to sit just on top of the bump on the underside, to keep it stable.

this one is market as a 'Grow Bottle' and they do sell recharge kits that include clay pebbles and a felt wick, as well as some seeds.

grammers (author)brandon832012-01-11

Thanks Brandon, I am going to make some of these.

agis68 (author)2012-01-09

Excellent simplicity and poductive idea....thnx....from me 5/ you remember the cutter model...or can someone recomend me (from ebay) one best value/reliability glass cutter?

grammers (author)agis682012-01-09

My cutter was from a stained glass class. It is a "Fletcher Gold Tip Ball-End Wheel Cutter", one of the most basic cutters. Available online for $4 or at most stained glass stores. Lowe's carries one that looks just like it, also $4 but I haven't tried that particular model (made by "Warner").

agis68 (author)grammers2012-01-09

ok thanks allready ordered.....i had one but broke and i make stain glass vitreux

agis68 (author)agis682012-01-09

my sample works in staned glass

maltesergr8 (author)agis682012-01-10

Your stained glass work is amazing!! I also work with stained glass and always enjoy seeing the work of other artists.


agis68 (author)maltesergr82012-01-11

I use to do this for living during my second degree in electronics. From these iwas good to pay my room, food, and study books....I had production 1-2 artifacts per month....and i had a studio at the end just for this!!!!!!


One day i will make a complete instructable about this

grammers (author)agis682012-01-11

I love it!

sharkh2o (author)2012-01-08

I work in a frame shop and I cut glass daily. For cutting glass olive oil is your best friend. We keep our glass cutters soaking in a jar with the cutting wheels covered in about 1/4" olive oil. We take them out only to cut and then back in the oil they go. I've been cutting glass for 10 years now and have never had a single miscut or broken piece yet! Get some olive oil on that cutter and you'll see what I mean :)

n0ukf (author)sharkh2o2012-01-09

For diamond point (instead of wheel) glass cutters, is there any benefit at all to oiling or is this only to lubricate the wheel's rotation?

sharkh2o (author)n0ukf2012-01-11

No, the oil is for the wheel. Without oil the wheel often locks up and drags across the glass scraping it instead of scoring it. I haven't used diamond cutters but I would image that they don't need the oil.

grammers (author)sharkh2o2012-01-09

Yeah, I always use olive oil and I get great cuts as well.

non-instructed (author)2012-01-09

you sure have magic hands. this is an incredible project.

Brosiman (author)2012-01-09

Very simple and great instructable,also well and entertaining written!

godbacon (author)2012-01-09

I have made a simular jig. Mine was vertical.
To break the line you've scored on the out side of the bottle; glue a wooden beed to a length of wire coat hanger and bend it a bit. Inserts it into the bottle, and Then tap line you scored. A wine cork pushed onto the length of coat hanger can act as a stop if you are cutting all your bottles to the same length.

I am in the shed! (author)2012-01-09

I like this, well presented and inspiring, well done. I've become quite accomplished at the hot kettle/cold water tap method, its really pleasing when the bottom just falls of. I think this jig will help me scoring technique now

angelabchua (author)2012-01-09

Great I'ble! Found it featured on Lifehacker! Awesome that your first instructable got featured!

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