Glass Bottle Cutter




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A few weeks ago my wife and I saw some interesting wine bottle lamps and after one glance at the price tag, instantly thought to ourselves "we could totally make this!" As i did some research though, I found that cutting the glass wasn't going to be as straight forward as I thought. I had seen plenty of videos all with completely different methods; some people wrapped a flaming piece of string around the bottle, others took a file to it, and some simply scored and snapped. I think all of them had the right idea, but i couldn't find both a reliable method for consistent cuts AND an adjustable platform on which to cut various shapes and sizes at different points on the bottle (unless of course you wanted to shell out upwards of $50...but I just wanna cut glass here people not build rockets!).

So, in true instructables fashion I decided to make my own on the cheap. Hope you enjoy, and thanks for reading! 



1  kobalt glass cutter
4  patio door rollers
1  1x6x14 piece of wood for the base
1  5/8" dowel
2  pieces of wood for the dowel holder/bottle stop (these can be any size...use your judgement)
4  small pieces of wood for the feet (again size is not important, they just have to clear the bottom of the rollers)
1  1/2" conduit hanger
2  1/4"-20x1" cap screws
2  1/4" hex nuts
a small length of coat hanger wire (1" should be plenty)
wood glue
wood stain (optional)


Forstner bits
drill bits

Step 1: Layout the Cutting Areas

Before you start cutting anything, make sure you've laid out/sketched where all the pieces will go. It helps to have an idea of what you plan to cut. In this case I know I intend to cut cut bottles ranging in size from a beer bottle to a magnum wine the layout of the four rollers has to accommodate that.

Step 2: Start Hacking Away!

Now that you've got everything laid out go ahead and drill out the spaces for the rollers. I used a forstner bill to get rid of the majority of the wood and a dremel with a sanding bit/files to clear the edges.

Step 3: Rout Space for the Axles

Once you have the cutouts for the rollers set you'll need to cut out a spot for the axles. It's important that they're all seated at the same depth, otherwise your bottle won't sit evenly and you won't get an even cut.  This is where a router or a dremel with a router bit comes in handy. Set the depth so that the axle is just barely sticking out above the base and carefully rout the cavity. I strongly suggest you rout a little bit at a time...its very easy to slip with the router, so hold it steady.

Step 4: Setting Up the Dowel Guide

The conduit hanger is going to slide up or down on the dowel so make sure you set it up high enough from the base that it won't hit the base. Use a a forstner bit to drill out a space for the dowel. Use a bit the same size as the dowel to ensure a snug fit. Since the back stop will also ride on the dowel you may need to sand  the hole so that it will move along the dowel smoothly. 

Step 5: Routing the Backstop Guide

Now that you know where the backstop is going to be moving, you want to add a channel along the center to keep it from shifting and so you can place a set screw (or bolt in this case) to lock it in place. Start by drawing a rectangle just barely wider than the 1/4" bolt directly behind the back set of rollers. Little by little rout out the channel until you've gone all the way through. Once you've got the channel cut out, make sure the bolt slides easily through it. The next step is mounting the bolt to the backstop.

Step 6: Mount the Bolt Guide Onto the Backstop

Set up the backstop with the dowel in place so you know exactly where it will fall and hold it  over the end of the channel you just made. Mark a spot where you wan the bolt to go. It may be easiest to clamp it in place to keep it from moving around while you try to mark it. Once you have it marked, center the bolt head over it and trace it out on the wood. Then, using a 1/2'  forstner bit make a cavity just as deep as the bolt head which should be about 1/8". After you've made sure the bolt is flush with the wood go ahead and glue it in. You can use the 1/4" nut to set the location of the backstop.

Step 7: Making the Cutting Head

The last piece left to assemble is the actual part that will score the glass. Take the second 1/4" bolt and put it through the hole at the top of the conduit hanger. Secure it in place with the 1/4" bolt. Once this is in, you're going to grind the bolt to half its thickness. Now drill a 5/64"" hole into the middle of the flattened part of the bolt. Line up the kobalt cutter so the base of the wide part lines up with the hole you just made, mark the spot, and drill the hole. Now simply put the coat hanger wire through, cut the excess, and press the ends in  until they start to mushroom to make a sort of rivet. 

Step 8: Putting It All Together

It's finally time to assemble the whole thing! You can start by gluing the feet onto the bottom of the base. Once they're on and level, you can put a little glue into the pockets for the axles and set them in place to dry. make sure you don't put too much don't want it to stick to the rollers. Next, glue the dowel into the corner holder and then glue the holder to the corner of the base. 

Step 9: The Finished Piece!

Now that you've assembled everything you can go ahead and finish it however you like. I chose to stain mine, but you can paint it or just leave it the same if you like.

So now comes the fun part...actually scoring and cutting the glass! First, set the backstop to a point where the center of the bottle is laying flat on all four rollers. Then, adjust the cutting head to determine where you want the bottle to snap and tighten the conduit hanger bolt to keep it from moving. Apply a moderate amount of pressure to keep it steady and carefully spin the bottle to get a nice even line (you'll know you're pressing hard enough when you see a solid white line appear and hear the scorer scratching against the glass) . One line should be don't want to create too many stress points on the glass.

Lastly, over a sink, SLOWLY pour boiling water over the line you made for about a minute (if you hear the glass start to crack a little, that's ok as long you don't see any large cracks forming perpendicular to the cut), and then run cold water over it.  You may have to repeat this process a few times, but the difference in temperature should be enough to simply pop the bottle off where you scored it giving you a nice clean cut. If the edges are too sharp still, lay some wet/dry sandpaper on a flat surface, put a few drops of water on it, and rub the bottle in small circles over it. And that's it!

Stay tuned for the next instructable to see how this wine bottle lamp is made! Thank again for reading, hope you enjoyed!!



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    26 Discussions

    Excellent design!!
    If I may just critique your technique though. (I used to work in a custom glass shop) You don't have to use a lot of pressure on the cutter, but you should use a little bit of mineral spirits as lube. You are right about not going over the line twice, I see a lot of people that do that. But try to make your cut in one smooth motion without stopping. It makes a smoother cut that way.
    Technically we aren't "cutting" glass, we are scoring it for a controlled break. Breaking glass, like electricity or water, will always take the easiest route.

    Again, This is the best bottle cutter design I have seen yet. Thanks for posting.

    2 replies

    Reply 1 year ago

    I went to a shop that sells stained glass items and all the materials for working with it. They had some very nice glass cutters and lubricating oil for them. The handles are hollow and hold the oil so it dispenses as you score the glass -


    1 year ago

    I have all my materials to start this project. A couple of questions. Did you use a drill press with your forstner bits? To cut big bottles like Magnums, did you say you need to change the roller position? Noise covered your comment on this. your comme


    3 years ago

    Question I gave cut 2 bottles and both bottle broke jagged above the score. What am I doing wrong?

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    It's possible that you are not pressing hard enough when you score the line on the bottle. If there are any gaps in your score line the bottle will not break evenly. Also, if your start and finish points on your score line don't line up the bottle will crack unevenly. It's kind of tricky to get it just right, but keep trying!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Nice work! I'm not familiar with the kobalt cutter, but I'm guessing it has a carbide cutting wheel, and that's what you want. The carbide, as opposed to a steel wheel, will make a much cleaner score. Also, some lubrication will make the cutting wheel last much longer: light oil, like Singer sewing machine oil or a mixture of 3-in-1 oil and kerosene will work just fine.

    1 reply

    5 years ago on Introduction

    this is the idea to cut precisely other methods such as propane heating or alcohol strip etc doesnt work that much precise

    good job


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Glad you liked it! let me know how yours works out..i'm always looking to better my designs

    thanks! i haven't attempted a square bottle yet, but a wet saw will probably be the fastest way. you can always go the cheap 'n' dirty method and use a file, just take your time and waer a dust mask!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I'm in the midst of making one on these for scoring the glass. I'm hoping it'll work better than my present unit. To break the glass, I put the bottle on a modified record player and heat it with a propane torch until it cracks.

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Cool idea! the record player probably gives you a nice even heat...the only issue with a torch is that sometimes i find it's too much heat too quickly and if you don't score it perfectly the glass tends to crack unevenly. Especially if it's thinner glass Let me know how this works compared to what you have now...always looking for ways to improve!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I really like your set up. I saw a video ( that uses a torch to get the final break after using a scoring rig. I wanna try to use a rig like yours and try to fire polish the edge. Now to figure out how to build a kiln to finish the glass after i torch it... any ideas are welcome. I just have to figure out how to regulate the heat without breaking the bank. (college budget)

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Ya i remember watching that video...the fire polishing gives it a nice clean finish. As far as the kiln goes...those bad boys are pretty pricey! Maybe this helps...

    Thanks for the comment!