Introduction: Wine Bottle Lamp (Chandelier)

About: Photography teacher, woodworker, and general repair man

My wife and I are remodeling our basement to turn it into a living space rather than a studio/office/storage space. With that, we are planning a bar top, small wet bar, and enough storage to move our current laundry room to this basement area.

My wife has requested a wine bottle pendant lamp be placed above the bar. This is how I made it for her.


Wine bottle cutting jig was made from scrap plywood.

Step 1: Optional: Make a Jig to Cut Your Bottles

There are about 10,000 instructibles covering this topic already so if you don't like my method (or lack the tooling), there are 9,999 other ways to do it.

Optional but suggested - jig:


1 - 11.25 x 3.5"

2 - 3.5 x 4.5"

1 - 3.5 x 3.5"

To cut the wine bottles, I created a jig out of scrap wood. I did it the lazy man's way and used the bottles to measure the lengths in my table saw. Those dimensions above are pretty close to what I used. The biggest thing is to make certain your length is correct. Otherwise, the bottles don't fit.

You will want to get your bottle laying perpendicular to the ground and measure to the bottom of the thick part of the opening (where your bottle opener presses against). Take that measurement and mark your square piece of wood then draw a center line. For me, that was at 1.75", it will differ for each style of bottle.

Then, measure the top of your wine bottle and choose the proper forstner bit (for me, I used 1 1/4"). Use a size smaller rather than larger if your measurement is between bit sizes. If you go up a size, the bottle will float around instead of being held steadily in place. If it is a size too small, just cut the piece so that you are left with 30% or so of the circle on one side. It doesn't need to be exact.

Line everything up like in the pictures and do a dry fit. Adjust as necessary and then glue it all together.

Note: This jig took me about 5 minutes to make. If I was going to be cutting a lot of bottles, I would spend six minutes making it. Adding a second piece to the bottom side of this in the shape of a V or a pair of uprights would have helped a bit. Just something to keep the bottle from walking around in the jig when you encounter bits of label glue would have been nice.

Note 2: never use a table saw where the guards have been removed. It's a crappy excuse, but I bought mine like this and have had a tough time finding the proper guards

Step 2: Clean and Cut Your Bottles

If you decided to make a jig, hopefully it is drying at this point.

Remove the labels:

I just used a bucket of really hot water to loosen the labels. They came right off but left quite a bit of residue. Goo-Gone took care of the majority of the residue and then a Magic eraser did the rest.

Cutting the Bottles:

This is roughly as difficult as removing labels if you have a wet saw. Mine is absurd for this task because I bought it to cut landscape blocks. You could get away with a $75 saw as long as it has a fence for your jig to rest against.

Put your jig on the saw and cut the bottle just above any of the markings that are on the bottom. Align your fence to your jig if you are using a saw.

Start cutting your bottles. You may or may not be able to cut your bottle in one pass. I couldn't do it because my saw's through is 3" while the bottles were 3.5". So, I had to spin my bottle in the jig.

Step 3: Sand Your Bottles

There are two methods for this. You can do it by hand using 220 and 440 grit sandpapers. It's slow and tedious but you'll eventually get done.

Or, you can clamp an orbital sander in a vice/use a Work Sharp and make your life easy. I went with this routine and 220-grit paper was just fine. You'll need a lot of pads though. I went through one per bottle to do an initial sanding and shaping and then another three on a final finish sand. (this method isn't pictured).

Step 4: Cut Your Wood, Drill Your Holes

For this step, I already had a perfectly sized piece of scrap wood. It ended up being 9.5" x 48".

From there, I found the center of the board and made a mark. This will become the hole for my center light.

Then, I divided the short distance by two (4.25") and made a mark on my long center line at that distance on both ends. These two holes will become my last lights. Using half the width as a measurement ensures that my end lights are the same distance from all the edges making the light very symmetrical. You don't have to do that if you don't wish to.

Then, Place a mark on the center line half way between the center light and your end lights. These two marks will become your lights between the ends and the center.

Check your work by placing bottles on top of those marks. If you don't like the spacing, adjust it and/or your board.

Drill your holes with a 1/4" drill bit.

Step 5: Wire Your Bottles

I put a cork back into my bottles. I noticed that the wires bent a bit causing the socket to also bend. That would have made my bulbs crooked and I didn't want that. The corks help keep the wire straight. I figure the corks will also help to keep dust out of the top of the bottles which would be hard to clean.

If you re-cork your bottles, use a 1/4" drill bit to drill the hole and wiggle it around just a bit. It's tough to feed a wire into the hole from the other since my wires are sheathed in fabric. The extra space allows for easier threading.

Take the threaded nut off the sockets if you want. I wanted my bulbs high into my bottles and the nut prevented that from happening. Then, thread your wire up through the hole.

Step 6: Frame and Stain Your Wood

For this part, I found it better to use a smaller router bit rather than 3/4" like the wood claims to be. 3/4" would have worked fine though and as long as I shimmed or put some weight on the main board during the gluing process, nobody would know the difference.

However, because I would know that there was a 1/32" gap above the board, I decided to two-pass the side rails giving me a nice tight fit.

This part is really up to you but I came down about 3/4" from where I wanted the top of the top of my main board to be. This gives me a nice, deep recess for my lights to come out of and reminds me more of a vintage bar light which is what I was going for.

Route your channel depth to half the thickness of the sidewall and as wide as needed for your main board. Since my main board was 3/4" thick, I routed to 3/4" thick.

Once your routing is done, frame your main board by cutting 45-degree cuts on each end of the side boards. I am positive that there is an accurate method for doing this but, because my miter saw sucks and can't cut a 45-degree angle, I have never had a use for math during this step. I just cut everything a little long and then sand off the excess until it fits correctly. Tip: don't buy crappy tools.

Then, sand the crap out of your boards, all of them. My maple plywood had laminating glue on the surface that I didn't notice until it was too late. My dimensional lumber had ever-so-slight checking left over from the planing process. It may look and feel smooth, but it probably isn't! For those reasons, start with 120-grit pads instead of 220-grit. That will remove most of the imperfections.

To stain, follow the directions on the can. Basically, it's apply it with a foam brush, wait 5-15 minutes and wipe it off. Depending on your stain and technique, this may be different.

After staining, apply glue to the channel and put your frame together around the main board. Clamp with a band clamp, bar clamps, pipe clamps, etc. Let dry 24 hours.

After everything is dry, apply your polyurethane coating. Only do one face at a time to prevent drips from forming on the sides. The directions say that you can handle it in 4 hours but I always wait 6-8 hours for a good enough cure.

Step 7: Wire the Light

Start by affixing a pair of 2x3 boards to each side of the light. I cut mine to 24" and that was a mistake. Go longer, 36" should be the minimum if you're going to use the chain. I would probably forgo the chain and stick with eye-bolts, rope, and a cleat which would allow you an easier time during installation and would allow for complete flush mounting against the suspended ceiling that I will be putting in. Either way, you need some sort of board like this to mount your screws/eye-bolts into.

Wiring this is pretty simple. Add a small single-gang box between your 2x3 runners. plumb all of your wiring into that box. Add a 2' length of 14-2 romex into the mix. Connect all your black wires together. Then, connect all of your white wires together.

At this point, I tested it by plugging it into an extension cord. That might not be wise but I wanted to know if everything was working before I got it mounted to the ceiling.

Step 8: Hang Your Light

Note: I've already gone over the fact that this would not be my preferred method if I had to do it again. It works but I really think that rope and eye-bolts are the way to go. This is just difficult and the chain is prone to slipping off the screws if there isn't tension on it. If you're going to go with eye-bolts, the method is still roughly the same.

Measure in from the side 1" and make a mark, then measure up 3/4" to make another mark. This is where you will place your screw.

Then, make a mark for the center of where you want your light mounted. Extend that mark up one inch and place another screw.

The chain grade is extremely important. This thing weighs over 20lbs, has sharp corners, a large surface area, and lots of glass. It's a big hazard if it decides to fall. Use the right chain for the job.

That said, there isn't a ton of chain between 10lb and 155lb available at my local hardware store. In fact, it goes from 10lb straight to 155lb. You can use bolt cutters or nippers to cut this chain. Cut your chain into two equal length sections that around around 3-4' long.

Loop the chain around the screws in your light and then hang it from the screw in the ceiling. Wire your light into the switch circuit that you have created. Then, gradually raise each side until the light is in place where you want it. (my ceiling and drywall aren't finished so it looks a bit unfinished at the moment.)

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