Introduction: Wine Bottle Accent Light

About: I've been a president at two colleges and currently provide consulting services for small businesses, non-profits, and educational organizations. In a previous life, I was a human factors engineer and human pe…

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.

Step 1: Equipment and Materials List

Here's the materials and equipment list:

- 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

- 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

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 tip 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.

Step 6: Make a Lubricant Reservoir

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

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

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 13: Insert the Stopper

When you have inserted the last bulb into the bottle, insert the stopper into the hole in the bottle. The stopper will serve as a grommet and protect the cord from being cut by the raw glass edges of the hole.

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.

Step 15: Enjoy

Reinsert the cork in the bottle, or place the cap on the bottle. Enjoy your new wine-bottle accent light!

If your friends are like mine, get ready to make more!

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