Make a Cool Light From a Whiskey Bottle




Introduction: Make a Cool Light From a Whiskey Bottle

About: JP's Workshop is a business that designs and produces unusual, quirky and sometimes slightly off the wall home and garden products. I use majority reclaimed materials in my pieces and you could describe what...

Here's how to make a stylish lamp out of an empty whiskey bottle at very little cost. This is the perfect item to brighten up your study, studio, man cave, or nuclear bunker, no specialist tools or hard to learn techniques, just a couple of new drill bits and a bit of patience.

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

Obviously you are going to need an empty whiskey bottle, you can either save one of your own brand if you are a whiskey drinker or you can ask around your local bars and restaurants if they have an empty you can have. You could even try a bit of begging on freecycle, gumtree, or craigslist.

The other major component to this build is a set of battery powered fairy lights. You can find these in pretty much any budget shop especially on the run up to christmas, you can expect to pay 2 or 3 pounds for a set of 40 battery powered LED lights. Make sure you buy the straight narrow lights as the one with big shades will not fit through the hole you are going to drill into your bottle later. Also make sure you only use LED lights for this project, incandescent lights put out far too much heat for this project.

Step 2: Drill a Hole in the Base of the Bottle

To get the lights into the bottle you first need to drill a hole somewhere around the bottom of the bottle. The ideal spot is at the back centre of the bottom about 1-2cm from the base. Find a spot that is flat and free from any raised ridges or raised lettering to position your hole.

Its very important to use a special glass drill bit to drill your hole as trying to do it with a masonry, metal, wood or any other kind of bit will invariably cause your bottle to break which is potentially dangerous as well as a waste of a bottle. Fortunately these kind of bits are inexpensive and widely available.

USA readers can order glass drill bits here from

In the UK they sell them here in Wickes

Also please wear a dust mask when you drill glass because these drill bits powder the glass very finely which gets into the air.

When you start drilling just go gently and take your time. Use the lowest speed setting your drill has and regularly check your bottle isn't getting too hot. If it is then allow it time to cool - do not pour cold water over as the thermal shock is liable to crack the glass. Once you pierce the inside of the bottle then be even more careful, by this point you have probably already spent 10-15 minutes drilling and breaking it at this point would be a shame. Just keep removing material a bit at a time, slow and steady wins the race.

Step 3: Clean Off the Glass Powder

At this point there will be powdered glass everywhere including inside the bottle. Allow the glass ample time to cool before rinsing away this fine white powder. Be careful not to get too much water on the labels to avoid accidentally washing them away.

Step 4: Remove Any Sharp Edges

Using a Dremel or any other suitable rotary tool, use an abrasive bit to carefully smooth out any sharp edges that may have been left by the drilling. If you don't have a Dremel then you can do this with a file. You only need to work this gently, a couple of passes applying light pressure to your tool should do it.

Step 5: Insert the Lights

Now the bottle is prepped you can add the lights. Find the end furthest from the battery box and start pushing the lights through the hole one at a time until they are all inside. If you want you can pull the string of lights out of the bottle top and pin a couple to the inside of the cap before putting them back in. This will help stop the lights from all sitting at the bottom of the bottle, however I didn't do it on this project as the Bulleit bottle is short and squat and the natural springiness of the wires helped fill the bottle nicely. It is something I would consider doing on bigger bottles.

Step 6: Seal the Hole

To finish off I used a hot glue gun to seal up the hole where the wire goes in. Give yourself as much slack wire on the outside to the battery box as you need, then start building up layers of glue in the hole. Have the bottle stood up nomally and apply glue to the bottom of the hole. Let it start to set and add another layer of glue on top, repeat until the hole is sealed. Finally lay the bottle so the hole is pointing up and once the previous layers of glue have set, add another bead of glue to finish it smoothly.

Step 7: Enjoy

Finally put your new lamp on, pour yourself a whiskey, sit back and enjoy the ambience. While you are sipping your whiskey relaxing, why not pay a visit to my Patreon page and if you can afford it throw in a couple of dollars a month to help me continue creating projects like this. A little help from you goes a long way.

Step 8: If You Enjoyed This Project Please Help Me Win a Contest

I really hope you enjoyed reading about this project as much as I enjoyed making it. If so I would really be grateful if you would follow this link and "Respect" another of my projects that is in a competition right now. It is a jack-o-lantern I made for Halloween this year that glows green and has a snapping jaw. Its really cool, if you like fun projects then I'm sure you will enjoy this. Having visitors to the site "respect" (its essentially a like) my project weighs heavily towards who wins a prize, part of which is a magazine feature which will really help me get my work out there.

So if you can spare a couple of minutes to help me I will be eternally grateful, if not no worries, there is another project in the pipeline as we speak which I know you're going to love.

Please Click and Help Me Win!



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20 Discussions

To drill holes in glass, plumber's putty (a soft putty used to form seals between sinks and drains, etc.) is just the thing. Roll a small piece of putty into 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness and form it into a circle. Place the circle of putty over the spot to be drilled and use water to fill the putty "dam". Keep the dam filled with water, and frequently back the drill out to insure it's not clogged with glass residue as you're drilling. An eye dropper is useful for this. No glass dust, and very little heating of the bit or glass if you do it correctly.

4 replies

That would only work until you pierce the glass. Then all the water would drain out.

That's true, and I usually use a small sprayer bottle to keep the glass wet as the bit goes through. For drilling larger hoses, a drill press with a coolant/water spray is what you need, but if you're drilling just a few holes and don't want to buy a coolant spray rig, you can always have a friend keep the bit wet with a sprayer as you operate the drill. For very large holes, I've had good success with masking off the area to be cut with a layer or two of 4--mil rubber and the making the initial cut out with a pressure pot blaster using silicon carbide. A standard glass router can then be used to do the necessary clean-up.

Indeed - the bits work much better when cooled and lubricated. I actually use a hole saw through the base, to get an inch wide hole, then a turned wooden base in to which you can put the battery pack. Looks great.

I should have said, a diamond tipped hole saw. Dead cheap off Ebay or similar.

BTW, I meant to say great project and hop you win. This is one of the few I would actually make and that got me thinking...

1 reply

thanks, fingers crossed

I understand that incandescent lights get too hot. Why not 110V LED light sets? No battery pack to futz with and no batteries to change. Tes, the hole would have to be bigger. You can get some fairly short sets or plug-in LEDs at Christmas time. I know they are probably larger and brighter than the "rice grain" sized battery fairy lights. I would plan to cut a larger hole on the bottle bottom and coat the inside of the bottle with with glass paint or some other semi-clear paint or alcohol ink to obscure the lights a bit better. One could even coat the lower 3/4 of the bottle with amber alcohol ink, and make the bottle look like it still had liquor in it! Hmm...

1 reply

Hey, nothing to stop you using mains LED lights if you know what you are doing, the reason I went for batteries is firstly I had a set of battery LEDs lying around and second for safety. If someone follows this instructable and anything went wrong like something got too hot and melted, or a wire stripped on a sharp glass edge then 4.5 volts of battery power isn't going to hurt anyone.

Sounds like you have some cool ideas, if you do go ahead and make the 3/4 full liquor bottle lamp then please post up some pics. I'd love to see how that looks.

Great project, and really nice effect - totally in line with the nice calming effect of a sip or two of the peaty stuff! This is hopefully going to be gifts for this Christmas for my closest. If anybody is based in Liverpool UK who is looking to do this, as of 18th Nov 2016 McKenzies Whisky Bar on Hardman Street has lots of bottles that they are throwing out (change of decor). These were a bunch I picked up - I hope they will do!


No need to fiddle around with putty dams!

Put the whole bottle in a tray flooded with water so the side of the bottle is just covered with water. This cools the glass as it is being cut, both from the inside and the outside, and totally eliminates the glass dust. If you use a battery-powered drill, there is no shock hazard doing this.

You can also use the diamond core bits, which cut out only a ring of material, and so cut faster and with less heating. Run the RPM higher with these bits.

You must completely dry the interior of the bottle before adding the lights.

2 replies

that would work but if you have a bottle with a paper label that you want to preserve, this might not be the best way. I think most labels will survive few splashes when you carefully rinse the dust off at the end but a prolonged soak in a water bath may not be so good

Stand the bottle at a 45 degree angle in the water, keeping the water level below the bottom of the label, but above the hole. Fill the interior to the same level as the outside when the bottle is so positioned.


1 year ago

Cool project. I was thinking of drizzling the hole with oil as you cut, but like the idea of the water dam with the plumbers putty. Looks very nice.

gotta be LEDs, "regular" incandescent Xmas lights run much too hot in a small enclosed space.

1 reply

quite right, in fact I'm going to put that in an edit. Thanks for pointing that out

I love this Instructable! I might have to try this one. Now to finish off that bottle!

1 reply

its a great excuse to finish off a bottle of bourbon (and buy another). Incidentally this kind of thing sells on ebay for between £10 and £30 a bottle so its perfectly possible to offset the cost of your booze by turning your empties into lamps!

Nice one!
Maby I will try this. Cheers!