So, for a while now I’ve wanted to learn how to cut glass bottles at home. There are so many great project ideas you can make with repurposed glass bottles- from candle containers to planters to hanging lanterns, there are endless possibilities and examples on the web. I ran a search on pinterest, youtube and google on how to cut glass at home, with the leading and simplest method I found was to use a string with alcohol or acetone (you can see an example on youtube here). I decided to give it a try, but 3-4 bottles later I realized this method wasn’t for me. Not only did it feel incredibly hazardous, it also resulted in an uneven cut around the edges of the final product. I mentioned this to a friend of mine, who said he’d seen inexpensive small bottle cutting machines you can purchase online. After debating between two different models (one stationary and the other one mobile) I decided to go with the stationary one (it just felt safer to use). You can have a look at the model I purchased here. I bought mine on AliExpress because that was the least expensive option with shipping to Israel (around $15, a true bargain), but you can get similar ones in the US on amazon.
I started by watching an online demonstration on AliExpress of how to use the bottle cutter. The idea is to rotate the glass versus a tiny cutting blade, thus marking a thin circular line around the bottle. This line is what helps break the glass evenly later on, by creating a weak spot in the bottle that will crack when exposed intermittently to hot water (causing glass expansion) and then cold water (causing glass contraction).
Ready? here we go.
What you’ll need:
- A glass cutting machine.
- Any glass bottle you have around- I used an empty wine bottle. If you’re not planning on keeping the label, I advice you remove it NOW as it will get harder later and can affect the way the blade scores the glass. I find that the best method is to let the bottle soak in warm soapy water for about 30 minutes, and then scrub the label with a stainless-steel metal scrub.
- Gloves and Eye protection. Very Important! Don’t skip on getting these. I like using thick water-resistant kitchen gloves, since when I tried using cut-resistant gloves they became water-soaked and soggy when I poured the hot/cold water on the bottle (explained later in this tutorial).
- A kettle with boiling hot water.
- A container with really cold water. I personally like adding ice to mine.
Step 1: Place the bottle in the glass cutting machine. The point where the glass will be cut can be adjusted using two little knobs. I like to place the machine on top of aluminum or plastic wrap, where I later place all the rest of the equipment I use while cutting glass in the kitchen- just to be on the safe side as you don’t want small chips of glass floating around your counter top.
It’s important to use at least moderate pressure when pressing the glass versus the tiny blade, or it won’t mark the glass. I learnt that you need to hear a light scratching sound to know it’s working. You also don’t want to repeat the same point twice- that will create an uneven line and there’s a good chance the glass won’t break symmetrically. It helps to mark the glass with a permanent marker, so you know at what point you started rotating it.
Step 2: After you made sure the bottle was marked in a full circle, add two rubber bands (If your kit doesn’t come with them or if you happen to lose them, you can always use plain elastic hair bands as a replacement) above and below the score line. The rubber bands help concentrate the water (and energy) around the line.
Step 3: Heat about 2 liters (70 Oz), or 10 cups of water in a kettle, and go ahead and fill an additional container with about half that amount of cold water. I like adding ice to make sure the water is REALLY cold.
Step 4: Fill a large plastic container about half way with regular tap water and place in your sink. The water will soften the fall of the glass when it cracks (safety first people).
Step 5: While holding the bottle above the plastic container with your non dominant hand (I let mine sort of lean on the container for support, keeping it parallel to the water), pour the boiling water with your dominant hand on the scoring mark between the two bands while rotating the bottle constantly. I do this for about 40 seconds to one minute, or until I finished most of my hot water. Then quickly (without moving the bottle) take the cold water container and pour the water on the same spot, again rotating the bottle for another 20-30 seconds. If you’re not sure about the whole process, take a look again at the link I posted above. At this point the bottle usually comes apart, but if it doesn’t, put down the cold water, re-apply hot water to the score line- and that usually does it.
Step 6: Take some gentle sandpaper, and sand down the edges of the glass. I do this above the plastic container filled with water in the sink, and then spill the water out when I’m finished.
Here’s a tip for you- My friend Nadav suggested taking small spare blocks of wood from previous projects, wrapping the sandpaper around them with tape and then sanding the glass. It’s easier and safer.
And that’s it! Now you can take your newly crafted glass and be creative!
I’ll be uploading a few ideas soon.