Introduction: How to Upcycle Your Holiday Glass Bottles

What do you do with all those leftover bottles? Recycle them? Sure. But what about making them into glassware, planters, windchimes . You have probably seen these upcycled bottles for sale online or even in boutiques.So save those champagne (they work best), wine, Grolsch or any decorative liquor bottles like Grey Goose or JD . With a little practice and a $20 basic bottle cutter you can easily upcycle some glassware, planters, windchimes and more to use at home or give as gifts.

Here is what you need:

1. Bottles. Thick wine and champagne bottles work best. Beer bottles are generally too thin. However, I have had good luck with Grolsch beer bottles and these make a nice set of glasses for the cabin or to give as a gift.

2. Bottle Cutter. I use the Diamond Tech G2 Bottle Cutter. There are a number of cutters out their but for the price this works well.

3. Gloves, eye protection, dust mask.

4. Boiling hot water.

5. Ice bath or snow bath.

6. Emory sanding cloth: Coarse, Medium and Fine grits.

Step 1: Step 1: Cutting Your Bottles

1. Clean and dry your bottles. You will have a better score (cut) if your bottles are clean. Whether you remove all the labels or not depends on the look you want.

2. Set up your bottle cutter and adjust to the height you want for your cut. Put on your eye protection.

3. Hold your bottle firmly in your gloved hand while you make a single score around the bottle. If you make more than one score the glass will not separate properly when heated and cooled.

Step 2: Step 2: Breaking Your Bottle

1. Holding the bottle by the end you want to save carefully tilt the bottle away from you over the drain and pour boiling hot water over the score. If you took chemistry you will remember applying heat to the glass causes the molecules in the glass to excite and move.

2. Now quickly immerse the heated, scored end of the bottle into an ice water bath. The excited molecules in the glass will now quickly contract.  You will hear a slight pop of the glass if it is ready to separate. Sometimes you have to reheat the glass again with the boiled water and re-immerse the glass in the ice bath.  The glass will generally separate without pressure.  But sometimes you will find that slight pressure with a gloved hand will assist the process. 

3.Generally, if the bottle does not separate with the first run through you probably won’t get a good, clean separation.  So try again with another bottle. When the bottle separates properly you will have a very straight and clean line – no jagged edges.  Only minor sanding will be required to eliminate the edges.  You will not need to sand down jagged points.

Step 3: Step 3: Sanding Your Bottle

1. Then for the final step, put on your dust mask. Sand the cut edge with emory sanding cloth. Use the Coarse, Medium and then Fine grit and sand to a smooth finish. Keep the dust where you can control it and wash away with soap and water.  Please be careful not to get glass dust near your face and definitely don’t breathe in the dust.  If you have a Dremel kit or polish kit you can now polish the edge for a shiny finish.

One thing to keep in mind is the failure rate.  When you first start cutting glass bottles you will probably experience a 7 or 8 out of 10 failure.  However, if you keep practicing, you will get the feel of how to score cleanly.  That is the most important part.  You will also get a better idea of which glass works the best for cutting.  Not all glass is created equally.  You may try other heating methods too but I find the boiling water to be the safest and most consistent for results.  The secret to the cooling bath is to keep the water as cold as possible.  The snow with water bath works really well for me.

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