Instructables

Wine Bottle Accent Light

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When you're finished with this project, you will have a low-cost accent light made with commonly available materials. The project is simple and produces great-looking results. If you want to do this with a bottle that has sentimental value to you, I recommend that you practice first because glass is a hard, brittle material and you need to get a feel for the process to increase the likelihood of success.

This instructable is easily adapted to assembly-line processes... Once you have all the jjgs built and materials together, you can whip out bottle after bottle. Total time per bottle is about 10 minutes.
 
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Step 1: Equipment and Materials List

Here's the materials and equipment list:

Equipment
- Craftsman drill press or equivalent (you can do this project with a hand-held drill, but you'll have less control)
- Safety glasses
- Gloves
- Bottle and stopper jigs (See below for materials; instructions included)
- 1/2-inch diamond hole saw
- 5/16-inch drill bit
- 7/16-inch Forstner bit or standard drill bit the same size (the Forstner bit will work best, because it drills a flat-bottomed hole)
- A condiment bottle or other type of squeeze bottle
- A box knife or other sharp cutting tool
- Pliers

Materials
- Wine or liquor bottle, with cork or cap
- 12-inch section of wire coat hanger
- A 12-inch piece of 2x8 for the jig base
- 2 12-inch pieces of parting stop or similar material
- 6 1 1/2" wood screws
- 20-bulb string of white or multicolored Christmas lights
- #00 rubber stopper
- Modeling clay
- Goo-Gone brand adhesive removal product

Step 2: Choose Your Wine

Picture of Choose Your Wine
This is the most fun part of the project. Find a distinctive wine bottle, and drink responsibly. I chose a 2004 Jailhouse Red Merlot with a picture of The King.

Try to choose a bottle with a clean, undamaged label. Colorful labels will give a quasi stained-glass look. Rinse out the bottle and either allow it to dry or dry it out with paper towels. Make sure the exterior of the bottle is clean and free of price stickers or other extraneous labels. Use Goo-Gone or other adhesive removal products to clean up the outside of the bottle.

Step 3: Build the Jig

While the bottle is drying, build your jigs. Although this step may seem unnecessary, it makes a big difference. The idea is to build a base onto which you can place the bottle and hold it steady and prevent rolling while drilling. You can use any material for the base, but the thicker material allows you to drill a hole to hold the stoppers securely while drilling.

Lay the 2x8 on a flat surface. Place a 12-inch piece of parting stop on the 2x8, roughly one quarter of the way from the edge. Screw the parting stop to the 2x8 using three of the wood screws. Place a bottle on the 2x8 against the first piece of parting stop, and place the other piece of parting stop on the opposite side of the bottle. Hold it in place, remove the bottle, then move the loose piece of parting stop slightly closer to the piece of parting stop already attached to the jig base. The goal is to hold the bottle slightly above the jig base, and prevent the bottle from rolling during the drilling process. Fasten the second piece of parting stop to the jig base with the remaining wood screws.

Somewhere in the center of the jig base, between the pieces of parting stop, drill a hole about 1.25 inches deep using the Forstner bit. Test the depth by inserting the #00 stopper; you want the hole to be deep enough to ensure the stopper is firmly seated, but still easily removed.

Step 4: Make the Fish Wire

Take the 12-inch piece of wire coat hanger, and bend a 90-degree ell about a quarter-inch long on the end. You'll use this to fish the light string out of the bottle and adjust the placement of the light string.

Step 5: Drilling the Stopper

Insert a stopper into the hole in the jig. Do not attempt this without the jig; holding the stopper with your hand will result in injuries!

Chuck the 5/16" drill bit into the drill press. Center the bit on the stopper, turn on the drill press, and drill through the stopper. You want a hole completely through the stopper. Most likely, you'll have to unscrew the stopper off of the drill bit.

Remove the stopper from the jig, and using the box knife or razor blade slice from the top to the bottom of the stopper with the point of the knife just inside the hole in the stopper. Later, you'll fit the stopper over the cord of the light string to act as a grommet.

A great tips from users 79spitfire and prof_jellis: Putting the rubber stopper in the freezer overnight will make it easier to drill; drill slowly so the bit doesn't get clogged with melted rubber. www.instructables.com/id/a-little-brown-egg-in-Maine%3a-terra-cotta-smoker/step4/Top-it-off/

Step 6: Make a Lubricant Reservoir

Picture of Make a Lubricant Reservoir
Clay ring.JPG
Take a piece of modeling clay, and work it into a rope approximately 4 inches long. Take the rope of modeling clay, and form it into a ring. This ring of modeling clay will serve as a reservoir for water to lubricate the diamond hole saw during the drilling process.

Step 7: Decide Where to Drill

Picture of Decide Where to Drill
Examine your wine bottle. Look for a place on the back of the bottle, near the bottom, free of labels. You want to drill the hole through the glass, but some bottles are made in such a way that you'll have to go through the label as well. Place the ring over the spot where you've decided to drill, and seal it to the bottle.

Step 8: Prepare to Drill

Chuck the hole saw into the drill press.

Place the jig on the drill press table, and place the bottle on the jig. Move the bottle until the diamond hole saw is centered over the ring of modeling clay, where you plan to drill your hole.

Step 9: Final Preparations

Picture of Final Preparations
Fill the squeeze bottle with tap water. Fill the lubricant reservoir with water from the squeeze bottle. Check for leaks at the edges of the clay reservoir, and seal any you find.

Don your gloves and safety glasses. Glass is a hard, brittle solid and whenever you drill it you run the risk of shattering the bottle and injuring yourself. From this step on, you could injure yourself or those around you so work slowly and with care, and always wear proper personal protective gear.

Read the previous paragraph again :-)

Step 10: Drill the Hole

Start the drill press and lower the hole saw until it's just in contact with the bottle surface. This is very important: Don't force the hole saw through the glass; allow the saw to do its work. As you lower the hole saw into the work piece, the lubricant will cloud up with the glass dust from the drilling process. Continue to apply scant downward pressure on the press.

At some point (in my experience, about 20 to 30 seconds is all it takes), the lubricant will cascade into the bottle, which will indicate that you have drilled through the bottle. Continue applying downward pressure until the hole saw is completely through the bottle wall. Slowly reverse the hole saw out of the bottle, and turn off the press.

Step 11: Check Your Work

Check for cracks in the bottle. If you see cracks, discard the bottle. Remove the modeling clay ring and empty the bottle into the trash; you should see a small disc of glass (if it's not in the bottle, it's most likely stuck in the cavity of the hole saw). If the disc is trapped in the hole saw cavity, worry it out with a paper clip; when the edge is accessible pull the disc out of the cavity with needlenose pliers.

Rinse the bottle with water and allow the bottle to dry again.

Step 12: Add the Lights

Remove the 20-bulb light string from the box, and straighten it out. Plug the light string in to ensure it works, then take the #00 stopper and place it around the cord of the light string, with the wide end of the stopper toward the light string plug. You'll want the narrow end of the stopper to be a couple of inches away from the last light on the string.

Insert the first bulb on the string into the hole in the base of your bottle. Continue to feed the lights and cord through the hole, one at a time. On the second and subsequent lights fold the bulb against the cord and gently push through the hole. Take care not to nick the cord.

Once you've gotten four or five bulbs in the bottle, use the 12-inch piece of coat hanger to fish the first bulb on the string out of the bottle. Then, continue feeding bulbs into the base, pulling the light string out of the top of the bottle. This makes it easier to feed the string into the bottle.

Step 14: Reinsert the Light String and Arrange

Plug the light string in. Start feeding the light string back into the bottle, using the 12-inch piece of coat hanger to arrange the light string in the bottle. Continue until all of the lights are in the bottle. Avoid placing lights in the neck of the bottle.
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vanityall5 months ago

does water hurt the lable on the bottle

KEUrban (author)  vanityall5 months ago
Not at all. Most labels will stand up to gentle washing and the amount of water necessary to rinse out the bottle is minimal. Thanks for your question.
Benjiak made it!5 months ago

Thanks for the great idea.

IMG_1946.jpg
scb62311 months ago
bottle lights i make i use 35 string incandescent warm not hot http://www.christmaslightsetc.com/
light supplier
i use a bottle light kit with an upgraded socket its a 2 circuit 3 wire turn knob once inside light om turn again top light on inside out turn again both on
0jameson lamp.jpg0jack lamp.jpg
scb62311 months ago
http://www.christmaslightsetc.com/
here are xmas light strings in mini incandesent and led i use 35 string incandesent have for a year and no prob not to warm the ones im making now use a bottle light kit i replace the single throw socket with a 2 circuit 3 wire switch you turn switch once bottom light turns on turn it again top light on bottom off turn again both on
anasdad1 year ago
Great Insructable? I wonder how it would turn out being battery operated with a magnetic reed switch to turn it on and off...
Ken
KEUrban (author)  anasdad1 year ago
I'd love to see that. Where would you stash the batteries?

With LED light strings, you could use a 1-inch diamond hole saw for the larger bulbs, and I'd expect that you could power those off of a battery box.
sunshiine1 year ago
I love this! Faved! Thanks for sharing and do have a splendorous day!
sunshiine
i found christmas lights to be much too hot, the glass bottle becomes too hot to handle. LED is a better solution. ikea used to sell a great string of lights, they didn't market them as christmas lights, but that's what they look like.
hock3ydud32 years ago
If it is throwing off glass dust at all, you need to wear a respirator rated appropriately. It is horrible for your lungs. Good instructable, I'm going to attempt to make a few of these as christmas presents!
KEUrban (author)  hock3ydud32 years ago
Very good point. Inhaling glass dust can lead to silicosis, which is very bad as you say.

If you ensure that the clay reservoir is filled with water, glass dust is captured in the liquid. If you were doing dozens and dozens of these, I'd wear a respirator for sure.
desnotes4 years ago
Great instructable...I have always wanted to drill holes in glass for different projects. From reading your instructable I know that getting the proper drill bit is important. What about drill speed? I have a drill press for my dremel and would build a jig but what speed did you use to drill through the bottle?

Thanks,

desnotes@gmail.com
KEUrban (author)  desnotes4 years ago
I set my drill press at 1,100 RPM when drilling bottles. I put scant pressure on the bit, allowing it to cut at its own pace. Keep the bit lubricated with water.

In my experience (and contrary to some other 'ibles that say it takes minutes or hours to drill through glass) it takes about 30 seconds to drill through a wine bottle, and a bit longer to go through thicker-walled bottles like liquor bottles.

Good luck!

Kenneth
The drill press does work wonders and fast; however, if you do put pressure on it, the glass where you're drilling will break. Also, odd shaped bottles (pear shaped) are difficult to work with but they can be done with the drill press too.
KEUrban (author)  seekertat2 years ago
For odd-shaped bottles I fill a plastic bag with sand and put the bag in a small box. Then, nestle the bottle in until it's in the proper orientation for drilling.
 Thank you for the response. Drilling glass has been something I've always wanted to do and now I have all the instructions. Thanks again.

Mike
desNotes
leannehr2 years ago
I love this project, I made a couple and want to put a cute bottle stopper on it but then I really think it will get to hot and if I try to sell them I don't want to risk fires for someone else. I have 20 light strand and I want LED lights but they are all to long with to many lights. Does any body know where to get LED's around 6 feet in length that are not battery operated? IM DESPERATE! I've looked every where! Thanks!
KEUrban (author)  leannehr2 years ago
I'm glad you like this project.

I've looked for short LED strands but all I can find are battery powered strings. Even with stoppers, none of mine get very hot. Please post if you find a source, though.
cattco2 years ago
hi, can the labels be left on the bottle then the bottle lamp sold for profit? just wondering if this is legal because i also make these for family but a friend wants to put them in her shop. thanku :)
KEUrban (author)  cattco2 years ago
That's a good question. Since I'm not a lawyer and I don't play one on TV, I'm not sure I'm qualified to answer. Fellow instructabrarians? Any direction for Cattco?
I'M GIVING AWAY MY TRADE SECRET. USE AUTOMOTIVE ANTI FREEZE!!! IT'S SLIPPERY, AND DOESN'T BOIL OVER.
ncohen20043 years ago
I just love these bottles....i bought one and love it but am a little fearful of the heat....i'm afraid the heat will shatter the bottle....am i being over cautious? The craftman used christmas lights.....
KEUrban (author)  ncohen20043 years ago
The light strings I use have just 20 bulbs, so the ones I've built never get hot, just warm. If someone crammed a 50- or 100-light string in I imagine it would get much warmer. Hot enough to shatter the glass? Most likely, not (in fact, I can't imagine that). But hot enough to melt the insulation? With 100 lights it might.

I'm glad you like them... They are pretty cool.

Kenneth
thanks for your response....i do believe there are only 20ish lghts....it gets warm...not hot...and so now i feel much better using it...thanks again and happy holidays!
Sowee3 years ago
I did this, but without drilling a hole. Its amazing, but gets VERY hot.
KEUrban (author)  Sowee3 years ago
That's interesting; the ones I've made get warm but never hot. What type of lights did you use? Is it possible you nicked the cord?
Holcan4 years ago
What does accent mean? Sorry for the ignorance D:
KEUrban (author)  Holcan4 years ago
No such thing as an ignorant question! An accent lamp or light is a lamp that is used to make a design statement in a room. It is used in addition to the primary light (like a ceiling light) in a room. See: http://interiordesign.lovetoknow.com/Small_Accent_Lamps
Holcan KEUrban4 years ago
O I get it Thank you very much man
spa31rky4 years ago
Great work! I seen this at a local flee market......the people were selling them for $35 dollars and up.......and they sold too!
TabbyDeAnne4 years ago
This is fantastic! I also have wondered how to drill through glass and have lots of unused wine bottles so this is high on my list of "to do's"! Thank you so much for taking the time to teach us how!
KEUrban (author)  TabbyDeAnne4 years ago
You're very welcome. I'm glad you found it useful. I'd love to see you post your finished bottles!
ragdolldude4 years ago
I've made several of these bottle lights, using the led's. I"ve put up to 60 led bulbs in bottles. I cut off the plug and feed the cut wires first into the bottle. I solder a lamp cord/switch to wire ends that are pulled through thedrilled bottle . Glass bits can be found on Ebay easily. I then feed the bulbs in through the neck of the bottle. I use a mechanics claw tool to grab the bulbs and wires to help spread them around the bottle for a more even look. I've also used an etching compound to "frost" the bottles exterior. I've left some of the led bottles lit for several days, with no noticeable heat.
KEUrban (author)  ragdolldude4 years ago
That sounds very nice. I'd like to see a picture!
I can't seem to upload photos. All photos are jpeg format, but can't seem to get them into the reply box. Suggestions?
KEUrban (author)  ragdolldude4 years ago
Down below the reply box, lower-left, is an "add images" button. Once you browse to the file and add it, click the "Upload" button.
Avatar.jpg
wdwdash4 years ago
 I did this project yesterday - pretty cool results!
lightedwine.jpg
KEUrban (author)  wdwdash4 years ago
Glad you like it!
luvit4 years ago
i;ll finish my wine tonight and do this. i have a string of lights in my shopping cart. they don't work, but that;s ok. i don;t have electricity.
and-reas4 years ago
I wanted to do a instructable about this exact same thing! Oh well, gonna make it anyway. Thanks for the tip of the reservoir =D
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