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How to Cut Glass Bottles (The BEST way)

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Have you seen all those cool upcycled wine bottle projects on the internet? Torches, lanterns, wind chimes, candle covers, glasses – the list goes on and on. How about those Pins saying you can just soak some string in acetone, wrap it around the bottle, light it up and, voila! cut bottle? Ever heard the saying “If it seems too good to be true…”? Yeah… That method doesn’t exactly work! Today I’m sharing how to cut glass bottles the best way so that you can get nice, clean cuts and save yourself the trial and error I went through!

I started trying to cut glass bottles several years ago. I quickly learned that the string/yarn method doesn’t really work. Maybe someone out there has gotten it to work, but it never, ever worked for me.

Next I tried the glass cutter + butane torch method. This brought a sort of success, but I could tell the torch was stressing out the glass and I ended up cracking a lot of the bottles during the cutting process. I don’t know what sort of success rate I was looking at, exactly, but it was poor enough I stopped taking labels off the bottles before attempting to cut them. Then I tried the dipping in boiling water and iced water baths…again, lots of stress on the glass and plenty of fractured bottles.

Then I came across the best way to cut glass bottles with the highest rate of success.

Using your glass cutter with a rig to hold it in place, some nearly boiling water, and water straight from your tap, you can easily achieve fantastic cuts. Awesome! Just read on to learn how!

how to cut glass bottles the best wayWhat do you need to cut a glass bottle?

  • A clean glass bottle with smooth, rounded sides
  • A glass cutter with a rig for cutting bottle. A representative from Home Pro Shop bottle cutter recently invited me to try their product and it is amazing! I previously used the Generation Green g2 and the Home Pro Shop model makes much cleaner cuts and is easier to use.
  • A pot or electric kettle in which to boil water
  • Safety glasses (always a good idea when working with glass!)
  • Cut proof gloves. Optional, but a good idea! The Home Pro Shop glass cutter comes with a pair!
  • A large bowl to hold ice water (optional). I’ve found you can frequently use cold tap water, but you can also use an ice bath.
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The best way to cut a glass bottle

1. Make sure your bottle is clean. Any dirt or grit on the bottle will mess with the cutter!

2. Use your glass cutter to make a light, even score all the way around the bottle. Apply firm, even pressure all the way around, but don’t press down too hard. You might want to press down on the cutter, but this really isn’t necessary. Also, make sure you only cut exactly once around – repeat passes are not helpful can make it more likely the bottle will crack instead of cut! Your glass cutter should have more detailed instructions on its operation.

cutting a bottle with the home pro bottle cutter

The Generation Green bottle cutter is pictured below:

score-the-bottle-using-the-bottle-cutting-rig

This is the Home Pro Shop bottle cutter. As you can tell looking at the base with the wheels and the firm backstop to hold the bottle in place, it is far easier to get a reliable cut with this cutter.

home pro shop bottle cutter

The score line should look something like this:

glass score 1

3. Bring your pot or kettle of water to a boil and then remove it from the heat. You don’t want to pour boiling water on the bottle or it may crack unevenly, or even shatter! You can also pull the water before it’s quite boiling instead of letting it sit to cool down.

4. Put on your eye protection (seriously, please don’t skip this part!) and carefully pour a slow, steady stream of hot water onto your score mark while turning the bottle. If your pot is too unwieldy, carefully dip a Pyrex measuring cup into the water to dip some out and use that, instead. Keep pouring water, slowly rotating the bottle, this until you notice the bottle becoming warm in your hand.

5. Immediately run the bottle under ‘cold’ water from the faucet. This water doesn’t need to be actually cold – ice water can shock the glass too badly. Just use the regular, not heated tap on your faucet. You should notice the score mark is easier to see, thicker, and probably somewhat white. You may even start to hear a crackling noise!

6. Repeat the hot water/cold water process another two or three times, or until the bottle cracks open along the line. If it hasn’t separated after three tries or so, go ahead and bring out the ice water bath. The bottle shown below is freshly cut and not yet sanded. Isn’t that edge nice?

Cut Glass Bottle

7. Be very careful when you handle the freshly-cut bottle pieces! They are extremely sharp and can cut you badly. To dull the edges, sand them carefully in a shallow dish filled with water or under running water. The Home Pro Shop kit comes with a full sized sheet of wet sanding paper, and you can buy more as needed at most hardware stores. Sanding under water is incredibly important because it traps the glass particles – you don’t want to breathe them in!

cut glass bottle after sanding

Here are a couple additional examples to show the effectiveness of this method. Below is a picture of cut bottle, after significant sanding, done using one of the harsher, ‘usual suspect’ methods with high heat and cold cold:

glass nick

This photo is the other end of the exact same bottle, shown without any sanding, cut using the method this tutorial demonstrates:

clean cut glass bottle top

I think the results speak for themselves!

If you’re hoping to make glass bottle crafts to sell, you might end up needing to buy some empty wine bottles for uniformity’s sake. Luckily, they’re pretty easy to find in a variety of colors from home-brew suppliers!

I really hope you enjoyed learning how to cut glass bottles the best way!

What are you going to make with your cut bottles?

Natasha of The Artisan Life-01

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{ 32 comments… add one }
  • Jeri February 7, 2018, 12:07

    Just tried your technique and had a perfect cut. Thank you. I also tried the other techniques and now am convinced we were stressing the glass too much too fast.

    • Natasha February 7, 2018, 12:18

      That’s fantastic! So glad it worked for you and thank you for letting me know.

  • Ninj December 15, 2017, 09:16

    Curious: Will this rig work on a square or other shaped piece? (say a bottle from nescafe instant coffee- which I think would make a VERY nice vase if cut properly)?

    • Natasha December 15, 2017, 09:19

      Unfortunately, this type of cutting rig will not work on a square bottle or nothing with a wide mouth (like a jar). You might be able to hand-score the bottle with just the cutting piece using a ruler or something as a guide if you had someone to help you hold the ruler really steady and cut around the corners. I’ve never tried that, but it seems like it might work. Best of luck!

  • Shari September 11, 2016, 18:00

    Just used your method after other failed attempt… worked GREAT! Thank you 🙂

    • Natashalh September 11, 2016, 20:11

      Woo-hoo!! So glad it worked and thank you for letting me know!!

  • Karen Groendyke November 22, 2015, 15:12

    Have you been able to find a way to cut bottles on an angle besides a wet tile saw (I don’t have one) or the string/fire technique which I have NEVER gotten to work. I have the G2 cutter like the one you have in the picture. Thanks Karen

    • Natashalh November 25, 2015, 13:55

      I wish! Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to figure out the angle one with this cutter yet. =/ Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful.

  • Michelle July 30, 2015, 15:49

    I find it hard to believe you couldn’t get the yarn and alcohol to work on cutting the bottle. I tried it once and it worked great! I will try your method as well though. Thank you for the tips!

    • Natashalh July 31, 2015, 22:50

      Hard for you to believe or not, I’ve had absolutely no success with the yarn and burning method. Ever. But that’s okay because I like this way fine. =) Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy!

  • MARY June 29, 2015, 12:31

    Yes, I’ve used this method and it’s not foolproof, but all other methods failed me miserably. I use an electric teapot and it provides me with the perfect stream of hot water. You are right about the cold water temp – at first I did ice water and broke a few bottles. I’m adding some info about getting the labels off the bottles – boy did this save me time!

    To get the labels off, first try the the oven method. Put the empty, uncorked bottles into the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees until the bottles are hot — maybe 10 minutes or so. Remove — very carefully — and the labels will peel right off. Put the labels on wax paper or plastic wrap. Again, be very careful with those hot bottles. If the label doesn’t peel off easily, wait until the bottle cools and try the hot water method.

    • Natashalh June 30, 2015, 12:45

      Thanks for the label info! I’ve never tried the oven trick. I’ve mostly done soaking and scrubbing away with a magic eraser and Goo Gone. I think I’d need some better hot pads, though. =)

      • Michelle July 4, 2016, 10:44

        I have had great luck with oven cleaner. Just peel off as much as you can, then spray the label area with oven cleaner. Let sit for about 20 minutes or so. Then scrub lightly with a scrubber to finish the job.

        • Natashalh July 4, 2016, 19:41

          Oh – that sounds like a great idea to try! Thanks for the tip – I actually have a couple bottles I need to take labels off sitting on the counter right now.

  • N May 9, 2015, 12:46

    what do you use to sand the edge? thanks a bunch.

    • Natashalh May 9, 2015, 15:09

      Hello!

      The cutter actually come with a piece of sandpaper and it works fine. Really any sheet of sandpaper will do the trick! I’d go for something about 120 grit. Wearing eye protection, and a mask, too, if you’re getting enthusiastic, are a good idea when you’re sanding glass. =)

  • Don Jackson November 26, 2014, 07:58

    Nice job of getting a straight edge on those bottles. I’ve been cutting bottles for a while with a tile saw and its hard to get a nice edge. If you want to use them for drinking glasses you’ll need to shape and smooth it a lot. I came up with a good way of shaping the edge. Check out my kickstarter campaign:
    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/582093084/the-bottle-bit

    • Natashalh November 26, 2014, 11:54

      Nice! It looks like you’ve really figured out how to get a nice, rounded edge. It is really amazing how sharp those clean cuts are until they’re sanded down. I’ve had to give up playing with glass bottles for the time being. We’re living in Hawaii right now and the deposit/refund at the recycling center makes it a little harder to get lots of free bottles compared to when I lived in a college town. Best of luck with your Kickstarter – I’ll give it a social media shout out after the holiday. =)

  • muhammad farooq February 4, 2014, 03:55

    what an idea.my problem will be solved when i get these items in pakistan

    • Natashalh February 4, 2014, 08:36

      It works way better than any other method I’ve tried. Good luck and enjoy!

  • Linda September 5, 2013, 17:12

    Thanks for the tip, Natasha!! I love it. Linda

    • Natashalh September 6, 2013, 05:15

      I just hope someone finds this and avoids the year of frustration I experienced!

  • Edi August 30, 2013, 06:25

    Thanks for the tips! I bought a glass cutter longer ago than I’d like to admit and have been scared to try it. These tips make me think I can actually do it 🙂

    • Natashalh August 30, 2013, 07:34

      It can be pretty intimidating! I really don’t know how many bottles I’ve broken in the process of figuring it out. Even with the easier method, don’t expect every cut to be perfect. They will be much, much better, though!

  • Rose August 29, 2013, 17:14

    The results are incredible! Thanks for sharing this great, detailed tutorial.

  • Nicole Lauren August 29, 2013, 15:37

    I was just wondering how to do this the other day, cool!

    • Natashalh August 29, 2013, 17:01

      Awesome! I hope you have the chance to give it a try.

  • cynthia August 29, 2013, 08:26

    what a fantastic idea! are you making jewelry with the cut glass pieces? that would be seriously cool!

    • Natashalh August 29, 2013, 09:06

      I’m working on it! =) I’m getting good at the cutting, but drilling is difficult and I don’t have the right equipment to make bezel frames around them right now. Eventually, though!

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