Friday, October 7, 2011

Recycling Glass: Bottle Cutting 101

We've all had this happen-- you finish a bottle of wine or use up the last of your olive oil and look at the bottle. It's a really nice piece of glass. Maybe it's the shape or the color, maybe it has sentimental value like a bottle of strawberry wine I brought home from Italy in '09. You don't want to throw it away but...other than keep the bottle as is, what else could you do with it?

 There is confusing information about recycling glass. My local municipality says it isn't cost effective, but this article from indicates otherwise. 

If we can figure out how to reuse glass we won't have to worry about recycling. Bottle cutting is a project I've been wanting to try for a few years but like the recycling issue there is so much conflicting information about it I kept putting it off. I recently found a youtube video by Dan Rojas of Green Power Science that caused me to order a glass cutting device and give it a try. You can watch the video here.

 Here is the assembled glass cutter.

 I started out with 6 bottles I'd been saving of various sizes and types of glass. The instructional video made by the manufacturer of the cutter, Generation Green, says to dunk the bottle in buckets of alternating hot/cold water. I followed the advice Dan gave in his video however and just poured the water on the score line. It seemed like less trouble. If there is an easier way to do something this housewife is going to use it.

The basic method here is just scoring the glass and allowing the heat/cold to actually do the breaking.

 Of the six bottles I used I had perfectly clean cuts on two of them. The Generation Green instructions say to remove the labels but that is a lot of extra work for a bottle that may not break evenly. Plus, with wine bottles especially, the labels make the finished project more interesting. You do have to make sure you aren't trying to cut through the label; it will affect the break. The main thing that is difficult to grasp with this project is NOT applying too much pressure with the cutter. You aren't actually cutting the glass but scoring it to control where the break is going to happen. I was also supposed to oil the cutting wheel which I forgot to do. I woke up in the middle of the night and remembered. That would probably have made a difference. Oh, and my bottle from Italy? Worst cut of all, jagged and unusable. Sad.

When you have your bottle separated (I did this in the sink with a towel in the bottom for the top to drop on) you sand the top to smooth it down. Now that you have your bottle cut what can you do with it? This large wine  bottle will be used for a vase. My next step with this will be glass etching to create a design. Beer bottles would be the perfect size for drinking glasses

If you are planning on using your finished product as a container you can leave it as is. If you are going to use it for something that is going to require washing, you'll either need to remove the label or seal it with a water proof sealer.

There are other ways to use glass. Here's an article with a few of them from Apartment Therapy. At a craft fair last week I saw wine bottle cut just like the ones I've done here  and filled with candles. I'll be trying that soon! And when I look at those tops lying there I'm thinking funnel. I need a funnel come to think of it.

Got other ideas for how to use glass? Let's hear 'em!

 Reduce, Reuse, Recycle...Repair, Rethink, Recreate...


  1. Very nice!! You come up with the most interesting ideas.

  2. i saw some green tumblers or DOF glasses recycled from wine bottles in pottery barn catalog a while back. of course, they wanted a fortune for them. i may have to try this little project. hmmm... but where will i get all those bottles? ha

  3. on the subject of strawberry wine bottle... could you smooth the jagged edge w/ glass sanding stuff, like emory cloth? or, could you re-cut? so, sorry... it was the MOST lovely wine:(

  4. Thanks Carol! Susan, you smooth them all with emory paper to smooth out the sharpness. The Italian bottle was beyond that. :(

  5. I'm definitely going to try this!