Green Your Life: Bottle Cutting 101

| 11/9/2010 12:45:53 PM

Ever since I wrote a blog about ways to repurpose extra glass, I’ve been excited to try Ephrem’s Bottle Cutter Kit and turn my extra wine bottles into drinking glasses. I was going to buy myself a kit, but my neighbor had one and offered to let me try it out before I decided to invest in one. The kit lists four seemingly simple steps—etch, heat, cool and polish—but I’ve discovered that a successful cut takes finesse, patience and perseverance. Here is what I learned from my first few experiences. 

bottle cutting 1 
Bottle cutting might sound complicated, but all it takes are the tools you see here—glass bottle, lit candle, bottle cutter and sand paper—plus a cube of ice. Photo By Dani Hurst. 

First of all, keep in mind that you are working with glass and take the necessary precautions. (I know it’s hard to refrain from jumping right in, but I figured ten minutes of prep time was worth not slicing through my hand or having to pick up millions of shards of glass.) Set yourself up on a stable surface, have all necessary materials set out and within reach, and limit distractions, at least until you have the technique down. I also recommend watching this tutorial video before your first attempt so you can see what a successful cut looks like and the technique it takes to get it. The instructor goes through the process step-by-step and provides helpful tips along the way. 

The first step is to etch a complete line all the way around the bottle. Apply even pressure throughout this step, but don’t push hard enough to break the glass or cause it to crack. After you’ve cut all the way around the bottle, take a look at your work to ensure the line isn’t broken anywhere. I failed my first bottle-cutting attempt and I realize now that it was most likely because I didn’t get a clean etch all the way around. Because the blade on the bottle cutter is obviously sharp enough to cut glass, etch with care. 

After cutting all the way around the bottle, apply a candle flame to the etched line; just be sure to remove any labels from the bottle that may be in the line of fire because they will curl and blacken. You’ll have to rotate the bottle numerous times over the flame—which I found extremely tiring—so I recommend resting the heavier end of the bottle on something that suspends it just over the flame and use your hands to steady and spin it slowly. Once you’ve completed a few rotations, rub an ice cube on the etched line until it has cooled back down, then gently try to twist the bottle apart. If it doesn’t separate right away, DO NOT force it. Just repeat the heat-and-cool process until it does.  I’ve made two glasses so far, and both took at least five rounds of heating and cooling, so be patient. 

bottle cutting 2 
You can repurpose an old wine bottle into many useful items, including a unique drinking glass or candle holder. Photo By Dani Hurst.

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