How To: Cuttin' Glass and Taking Names

How To: Cuttin' Glass and Taking Names

Ever looked at a wine bottle to admire its shape, color, or translucent qualities?

These features shouldn't go to waste in the recycling bin. Here's a fun how-to that can reuse and transform wine bottles into something REALLY worth eyeballing. Get all the info and tools for this killer DIY project after the jump:

I recently became curious about cutting wine bottles, I think it is because I live in a area that has a lot of wineries. I did a little snooping on the web to see what was out there that could cut bottles. I visited a few forums and people said not to buy a plastic one but to buy the old school one that is made from metal.

diy modern glass cutting bottle

I found Ephrems Old Time Bottle Cutting Kit on eBay.

Here are a few tips and tricks I learned on the way:

  1. The bottle has to be perfectly round to roll on the rollers
  2. Clean off all of the labels, you can cut through painted glass just fine
  3. Adjust to your desired length and firmly hold the bottle while you rotate it towards yourself.
  4. Do not go over the scored glass more than once. If you go over your score more than once you will create deeper cuts that could result in pathways for the glass to take off on
  5. Slowly roll your scored glass above a candle heating it up. The thicker the bottle the hotter you should get it. It should be too hot to rest your finger on.
  6. Instead of rolling the score with an ice cube I found a better way. Get a bucket or something that will hold ice water tall enough to cover your score vertically. When you feel the bottle is hot enough place the bottle in the ice water vertically and pop the bottle will split almost perfectly every time.

Now you have cut your first bottle. You now have to deal with the sharp edge. I simply took my hand sander and used a little water and wet sanded the edge.

diy modern glass cutting bottle

After I cut my first bottle I thought, how can I make these more unique? I have access to a sand blaster, so I had some lettering and shapes cut at my local vinyl shop and applied them. I had them blasted then remove the vinyl and I was left these beautiful raised translucent shapes. I really don't see these as drinking glasses but more for your bathroom toothbrush or a fancy pen holder. Someone suggested you could put a candle in them as well, I think that could look pretty cool with the more detailed designs.

diy modern glass cutting bottle

Most people may not have access to a sand blaster but there is always acid etching or I think there is a spray that can mimic this look.

diy modern glass cutting bottle

diy modern glass cutting bottle

What's next? I have a few ideas for some light fixtures I may try.

For more ideas on how to use Mid-Century Modern inspired design in your own home, check out Curbly's MCM how-to manual, Make It! Mid-Century Modern.


Craving more DIY projects? Try one of these typographic wall art ideas:

created at: 03/27/2013

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Heather on May 04, 2014:

Be careful of etching cream. Read the label. It's very toxic and hard to dispose of safely.

Hooseywhatsit on Apr 02, 2013:

I haven't tried it but it sounds like you could use an ice container that you use at the bar or maybe even a small igloo type cooler to cool off the bottle and have it snap

jasoncairns on Jan 11, 2012:


 Question: What blasting media did you use. I tried Aluminum Oxide 240 grit and it didn't make a very deep indentation on the glass. I'm thinking I should try a lower grit like 16 grit. Do you remember what you used? Also what did you use to polish the top of the cut bottles. Any info will help. Cheers!


Trish on Nov 25, 2011:

Using the sand paper and dremel method, how long should it take to get one glass done?  I have mastered the other steps, but am really struggling with this stage and don't want to turn all of these into candles....

Annie on Nov 17, 2011:

A wet saw for cutting tile works great to cut the bottoms off bottles. You can get a cheap tile saw for about $50.  I use the top part of bigger bottles to make pendant lights and making a mosaic from the bottoms.

Phil on Sep 04, 2010:

Hi everyone....I just found this site and appreciate all the tips.  I am buying one of these cutters today.  I do stained glass and I want to know if you can set the bottle on the cutter in order to cut 1/2" or less off the very bottom of the bottle.  I want to use the round bottoms in my stained glass work.  Is it possible to cut off only the bottom portion of the bottle?

Chris on Sep 01, 2010:


Unfortunately, there isn't an easy way to cut a bottle in half vertically. If you cut off the top and bottom, you could cut the remaining cylinder in half pretty easily, but you'd still be stuck with the other two parts of the bottle being whole. Those you could cut in half with a saw, but I doubt you're looking to do something like that then glue them back together. It just wouldn't look very nice.

Chris on Sep 01, 2010:

Hi guys!

This video comes straight from the man himself, Ephrem, and is a tutorial that shows exactly how he uses the cutter.


jdzyn on Aug 29, 2010:


Beachalope on Jul 07, 2010:

Pretty straight forward.  But, has anyone found a means to cut the bottle along its long axis, that is, vertical length?  I'd like to have half a wine bottle with label for display mounting.  Any thoughts welcome...thanks.

yardchicken2 on Jun 28, 2010:

I had one of these bottle cutters when I was ten (a very long time ago!)  It's really easy to use and hand sanding the edges works well.  I used a wet sand paper.

Definitely use a mask to protect your lungs.  It's a lot easier to do damage than most people realize and the scarring of lung tissue is a big deal.

The etching creme is really easy to use and one jar goes a long way.

dragonlady on Apr 25, 2010:


I never thought of contact paper. Thanks for the tip!

aeris311 on Apr 24, 2010:

if you do it again and need a template for etching it w/ the sand blaster, contact paper works splendidly and is d.i.y.

dragonlady on Mar 14, 2010:

Hi Chris,

Thanks for the tip.  That's amazing that you've been doing this since you were 5.

A question for everyone. Where do you find/get your bottles?

jennymarie on Mar 14, 2010:


I don't know if you've seen these outdoor torches made from recycled wine bottles before, but it's cool! Maybe you can come up with a version with the cut bottles?

Chris on Mar 12, 2010:

dragonlady, I've been making drinking glasses with Eph's bottle cutter since I was 5, it's easy and lots of fun! After you rub the cut edge of glass in the grit to even out the edges, use a sheet of sand paper to polish any remaining sharp edges. No hand sander needed, other than your hand for sanding!

M on Feb 12, 2010:

To Anonymous, you can buy glass etching cream at any Michael's or JoAnn Fabrics store for around $10.

dragonlady on Feb 08, 2010:

Yes, you could buy the finished product in a store but by making your own, you can personalize the bottles. Once you have the bottle cutter and supplies, you can make a lot of bottles with different designs.
Actually, you don't even have to do bottles. You can etch anything glass. Years ago, my sister did some old fashioned whiskey glasses as a present for my DH and myself with our initial and holly etched into the glasses. The biggest expense was buying the glasses.

Jenny on Feb 08, 2010:

By the time you buy all the equipment to make these you may as well buy the finished items from a homewares shop for less!

Anonymous on Feb 08, 2010:

I have done may of these projects in the past and found another trick that worked quite well, especially with larger bottles. After scoring the bottle I would tie a piece of butchers twine around the score add a couple of drop of lighter fluid, let it soak in and then light the twine. I would then turn the bottle horizontally and slowly spin it. This allowed for very localized and even heating of the glass (much quicker than a candle). When the twine started to burn down, plunge the bottle into room temperature water and the top would cleanly pop off.

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