After using many methods for cutting bottles, Murray has discovered the perfect method for him that yields precise and perfect results 100% of the time.
We are always excited to hear from our friend Murray and want to share his new way of cutting glass with you guys. (Be sure to scroll to the bottom to see Nick’s cut wine bottle vase.)
A few months ago I was approached by members of a Scotch Whiskey Tasting/Expert Club. They had seen my bottle lamps and had two empty Scotch bottles which were from a rare and cherished batch of an ancient and revered distillery in Scotland. These bottles had fancy paper labels that needed to be preserved and there was a very narrow bandwidth of glass that I could put a score line through. I couldn’t melt or burn the labels either. I could not remove and re-attach the labels. I undertook the challenge and the necessity caused me to come up with the following solution that I have used since then on almost 100 bottles. The method will not harm paper labels, nor the clear plastic labels like the ones on Bud Light Platinum blue bottles.
The two key tools in the process are:
- A turntable (a.k.a. record player) which turns at the standard speed of 33 or 45 RPM. Used ones are available for free on free-cycle networks or purchased new for anywhere between $25 and $100.
- A 3-in-1 Butane fueled Soldering Iron/Heat Blower/Torch available from Home Depot or many other places. I have several but I find the best ones are the Bernzomatic 2200T and one made by Roburn supplied as a kit through Lee Valley Tools.
- Score the bottle as usual. A clean score line means a very clean separation with little or no sanding/filing required for glasses/mugs/vases. A clean score line means a clean separation of the bottle with ZERO glass loss so bottles can be reassembled as lamps.
- The bottle is centered on the turn table. I place a 2″ piece of wood (from a 2 x 8) that raises the bottle off the platter and facilitates heating the score line very close to the bottom.
- Configure the Torch as a hot air blower. Here is the secret. With the blower attachment on, (remember to use the “flame-off” button), the heat coming out of the blower is approx 350 F (175 C). It is not hot enough to melt plastic labels, won’t burn paper, will not cause the glass bottle to get hot enough to break, crack, of cause spider fractures.You hold the blower about 1/4″ or 1/2″ away from the score line as the bottle rotates. After a fixed time of heating you immediately immerse the bottle vertically into a a small bucket of ice water (like a 2 liter plastic ice cream container). The bottle will either fully separate or the score line will be visibly almost fully separated around the bottle. Sometimes you just need a light tap to separate it. Sometimes if the glass is unevenly thick around the bottle or if you have not sufficiently heated the score line, you may need a 2nd pass of heating/cooling. With this method it is better to apply heat for a little longer to ensure that the score line is heated all the way through from the outside to the inside of the bottle.
A thin walled beer bottle only needs about 1 min. A medium thick wine bottle needs 2-3 mins. The thick 1/4″ Grey Goose bottles and that giant vase had 4 mins of heating.
The 1/4″ blower tip on these torches keeps the heat confined to about 1/8″ on either side of the score line so you don’t need to worry about meandering water as in the boiling water method. The turntable ensures even heat distribution which makes the process safer and more reliable. You don’t need to worry about wearing safety goggles.
The bottle cuts/breaks are smooth and clean, assuming a good score line is made and assuming the bottle is reasonably centered on the turntable so it doesn’t wobble and gets relatively evenly heated. The only downside to the process is cost/investment. The torches are around $30. So the total investment could be up to $100. Many DIY’ers may not want to make the investment especially for one or two projects.
However, for serious or repeat DIYers these tools in combination with a good scoring tool are an excellent time and money saver while producing quality and reliable cuts. I still cut bottles into mugs, flower holders, pen & pencil holders & wind chimes, but my main love is bottle lamps. If you have any questions, please feel free to let me know. Cheers, Murray
Sharing other craft projects is one of the highlights to the bottle-lamp website. As a good friend once said, ‘Every bottle tells a story‘. Thank you Murray for this great tutorial.
Its kind of funny you asked about cutting glass in an earlier email. It was just yesterday evening when Silke and I had come back from the grocery store that an opportunity to dig out the Creator’s Bottle Cutter came into play. We had grabbed some flowers and Silke was arranging them in one of her vases. She complained that they were all either too big or too small. I grabbed one of our empty bottles from up in the cupboard and offered to convert one into a new flower holder. (Yes, we keep empty bottles either because the labels are cool or who knows why, but that’s another story.)
Within minutes I had the bottle scored and separated, ready for use.
What do you think? Will you give Murray’s suggestion a try? Please leave your comments below.