Introduction: Laser Engraved Recycled Wine Bottle Glasses

I made these Pittsburgh themed drinking glasses out of recycled wine bottles. 

I made it at TechShop.

These were etched on the Trotec Speedy 300 laser engraver.

Step 1: Supplies Needed

1. Safety Glasses

2. A silicon oven mitt

3. Empty wine bottles

4. A 5 gallon bucket

5. A copper scouring pad

6. A glass bottle scoring jig. I used Ephram's Bottle Cutter Kit that I purchased from Amazon. I've also seen a lot of homemade jigs on Instructables as well.

7. A stock pot. Here is the one I used.

8. A small towel

9. Ice cubes

10. Sandpaper. I used 60 grit, 80 grit, 120 grit, 180 grit, and 320 grit. 

11. A TechShop membership (for access to a laser engraver with a rotary tool).

Step 2: Removing the Labels From the Wine Bottles

I've tried various approaches for removing the labels from wine bottles and this one produces the best results with the minimum amount of effort.

1. Cut the plastic bit off of the neck of the bottle. 

2. Soak the bottles in a 5 gallon bucket filled with hot tap water. Let it soak for at least 20 minutes, the longer it soaks the easier it comes off.

3. Using the copper scouring pad, scrub the labels off. The copper is too soft to scratch the glass. Make sure to get the adhesive off as well as the label.

Step 3: Removing the Top From the Wine Bottles

1. Put on your safety glasses.

2. Seriously, put them on.

3. Using your bottle scoring jig, score a line around the bottle. You need to press hard enough to create a visible score line, but not harder. See photos #2 and #3.

4. Fill the stock pot with enough water so that when bottle is inserted top down all the way into the pot the water level is 1 or 2 cm above the score line. Get the water hot but not boiling. On my electric range, a power level between 3 and 4 was ideal.

5. Get the towel and place it on your work surface (probably your kitchen counter). Also get a single ice cube out of the freezer.

6. Put on the oven mitt. Hold the bottle upside down in the water for about 30 seconds. Remove the bottle and still holding the bottom, place the top of the bottle on the towel. See photo #4

7. Hold the ice cube against the score line and run it around the entire circumference of the bottle. This should cause a crack to propagate around the bottle where the score line is. See photo #5

8. Often, the bottle will not separate immediately. If this is the case, simply repeat steps 6 and 7 until it does. Usually it will separate when you put the bottle back into the water. It might startle you the first time. 

FYI, about 10% of the time, the crack does not propagate along the score line, instead it curls up or down. If it curls toward the neck of the bottle, you can probably save the glass. If it curls toward the bottom of the bottle, you'll just need to pitch that bottle. 

A helpful hint. I found it difficult to hold the ice cube without touching the hot bottle. I found that if I placed a new ice cube on top of the remnant of the previous cube the two would fuse together and the old one becomes handle for the new one. See photos #6 and #7.

Step 4: Sand the Rim of the Glass

This is a pretty straightforward step. You want to smooth the sharp edges left over from splitting the bottle.

I used multiple sandpaper grits to smooth the edges. Photo #1 you can see the ideal way to smooth the rim. Also, make sure you smooth the corners as well, as in photo #2.

Step 5: Etch Images Into the Glasses

If you have a TechShop membership and have taken the Laser Engraver SBU and Rotary Tool SBU, you already know how to use the tools. 

Insert the glasses into the rotary tool and print your image to the laser engraver.

For power settings I used Power = 65, velocity = 35, PWM = 1000. See photo #3.

I drew three of the four images in Adobe Illustrator. I found the map of Pittsburgh online.  If anyone is interested in how I made them let me know in the comments and I make a tutorial showing how I did it.

I hope you find this tutorial  helpful or inspiring!