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How to Cut a Wine Bottle with Less Mess

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Scoring a line on the bottle.

How to cut a wine bottle quickly, easily, and with less mess. Get a great clean cut on your first try and decrease the number of bottles you break. This is a great way to upcycle wine and beer bottles!

I am in charge of crafts for my mom’s group and we do a craft every other meeting or so. I wanted a cheap and easy idea for planters for our gardening meeting so I decided to cut wine bottles into planters. I collect old wine bottles because we make wine so this wasn’t a huge problem.


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How to Cut Wine Bottles

Supplies

Safety Considerations when Cutting Glass

Please wear gloves and eye protection while cutting glass. There are risks to working with glass and you don’t want to end up in the ER. A mask might also be a good idea if you think smaller pieces of glass could get inhaled (with this project, we didn’t really have small pieces, but better safe than sorry). I did this video and blog post back in 2016 and didn’t really take many safety precautions. Don’t be like me.

Make sure to carefully clean up any broken glass pieces after you’re finished. We used a lot of pots when we did this. The instructions on the G2 suggested dipping our bottle, once scored, in the hot water then dipping it in the cold water. So we setup two pots and alternated. This was horrible. I’ll talk more about why later, but here’s what happened. My husband and I were both cleaning up. He saw the empty pots and put them away. We cooked dinner later that week in the pots and I ended up crunching down on glass. I wish I was joking. Nobody was injured in this process, but clearly there was some miscommunication in the cleanup process that could have hurt us. I would suggest NOT using the “dipping” method for this project (for many reasons beyond this).

How Glass Cutting Works

While glass cutting isn’t something I make a hobby of, I managed to get a lot of experience cutting these for my mom’s group. I think I ended up cutting 30-50 bottles for this project (we broke SO many). The dunk/dip method SUCKS.

The process of cutting glass involves making a light score mark on your glass. You want to make a smooth cut- no stopping and starting. Even in my original video, you can see that I didn’t make a 100% smooth cut. It’s hard to turn the wine bottle the whole way around smoothly while holding onto the tool. This might be better as a 2 person job.

I have been wondering if the cup turners that people use for making epoxy cups could be hacked to work for cutting wine bottles. I feel like they might allow someone to cut a smoother cut for wine bottles. It’s a thought- let me know if you decide to try it and it works. I don’t make epoxy cups so I don’t have a turner.

This bottle cutting tool looks like it might do the trick too, or you could use items you have on hand to make this tool yourself.

The glass cutting tools don’t truly CUT the glass though. They are creating a score mark. This encourages the glass to BREAK along the score mark, rather than breaking in other areas.

When you slip up and stop/start scoring, it creates a spot where the glass, when put under pressure, can break in a different direction instead of following the score mark.

It sort of reminds me of making little rivers in the sand at the beach. You make a big river (aka the scoring) by digging a trench out of the sand. When you pour water into that zone, the water will generally follow that trench you dug. But if you created a small crack in the wall of your trench, some excess water might roll out there, creating a smaller river in that area on its own.

Once you’ve scored your glass, you need to put pressure on the glass to encourage it to break along the score line. If you were cutting a flat piece of glass, you can do this pretty easily with just your hands.

Wine bottles, given that they’re three dimensional, aren’t that easy.

Your goal is to STRESS the score line. We add heat to the score line, then immediately add cold. This stresses the glass and the score line is a guiding hand to wear the glass breaks.

For our first attempts, we dunked the bottles in boiling water, then dunked them into ice cold water. This caused the bottles to break- but not always in the areas I wanted them to break. In my opinion, the temperature changes were stressing the entire submerged area, not just the score mark. This made the whole bottle more prone to breaking. It was a disaster.

We discovered it was easier to apply hot water, air, or flame directly to the score mark so we didn’t stress other areas on the bottle as well. This created a cleaner cut, less mess, and less waste.

Step by Step Wine Bottle Cutting Tutorial

Step 1: Remove your label and any residue from your wine bottles. Soaking them in hot soapy water for 30 minutes or so does the trick for many labels. 

Step 2: Using your bottle cutter, score a light line around your bottle. Do not go over the line again. Just once.

Step 3: Boil water.

Step 4: Put your wine bottle with the score mark in your sink. Using a small pan or measuring cup, scoop your boiling water and pour it over the score mark on your wine bottles. Do this for about 5-10 seconds, turning your bottle so you can get the score mark all around it.

Step 5: Turn on your cold water and run it over the score mark for 5-10 seconds.

Repeat steps 4 and 5 until the bottle breaks. It should break fairly clean, although if you made any deep gouges scoring the bottle or just use too much hot water on other spots, you may have bottles that don’t come out well. 

Step 6: Carefully sand your edges so they’re smooth. 

Video Tutorial

What are you going to do with your wine bottles now? No clue? Learn how to make a candle with them or make a planter for herbs!

Please share and pin this post! If you make this project, share it in our Stuff Mama Makes Facebook Group. We have regular giveaways for gift cards to craft stores. You can also tag me on Instagram @doityourselfdanielle; I love seeing everything you make!

DIY Wine bottle cutting

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