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!



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    15 Discussions


    Reply 3 years ago

    Yes, you can, especially if you have a rotary fixture for your laser. In fact, you can cut the bottle with the laser, by repeatedly running a line at the point you want it cut.

    Also, but putting a small amount of water in the bottle while it rotates will help with the shattering from overheating.

    That's a good question. I haven't tried using the laser to score the bottle but it seems plausible. I'm going to try it eventually; when I do, I'll let you know.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Great idea, kudos. I sure hope the Rooneys don't see the 'stillers' logo!


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I posted the first tutorial for wine bottle glasses:

    In it I use an etching cream for the designs so you can definitely get some good results without the laser.

    I have also tried cutting with a laser and you have to realize that the laser can't cut the glass, only score.  Even if you tried to use it to make your cutting score line, it is very rough since the laser creates thousands of micro fractures along the laser path.  Using your traditional glass cutter will yield a better score/cut.

    After cutting over 100 bottles, I have found that the best way to separate the bottles is to use a hot/cold water bath.  Dip the bottles in near-boiling water for a few seconds and place immediately in ice water. Repeat until the bottle separates.


    5 years ago on Step 5

    Good stuff.

    How tough are they in comparison to a similar size (glass thickness etc) "off the shelf" drinking glass?

    1 reply

    It depends on the wine bottle you use. I made a few (not shown in the tutorial) that were at least as think as regular drinking glasses. These were made using Charles Shaw (3 Buck Chuck) bottles which are significantly thinner than regular drinking glasses. That said, they are pretty durable. They all seem to be dishwasher safe, although I can't guarantee that all will be.

    I would add one thing to the end of the instructable though, after the laser etching. As it's not actual etching, in the sense that it eats away material, you will end up with very fine glass dust, and sometimes depending on the glass really small glass splinters. These easily make it into your skin if you're not careful, or god forbid into your system when using the glasses. To prevent that it helps a lot to take a stiff brush to clean off the etched surface under running water to get rid of all the loose glass.

    Nice instructable though, gotta love them lasers!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Could you elaborate on the laser cutting process for those of us who don't live near a TechShop?

    These are beautiful!

    And, even without a laser cutter, you can make some really cool coloured glasses!