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How to Use a Glass Bottle Cutter

Some glass bottles and jars are too beautiful to toss in the trash or recycling bin, but what do you do with them? An inexpensive bottle cutter can transform ordinary glass containers into beautiful vases, tumblers, candle holders or lamp bases.

bottle cutterFamily Handyman
Bottle cutters are sold in hobby shops and online-you'll need one in order to score the glass properly. A good bet for bottle-cutting beginners are basic wine bottles made from medium-weight glass.

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Time
An hour or less
Complexity
Beginner
Cost
Less than $20

How to Cut a Bottle: Step 1

Adjust the bottle cutter

Follow the instructions on your bottle cutter to adjust the rollers, making sure the area to be cut rests on the scoring blade. When you have a good fit and the jar is snug against the blade, rotate it in a counterclockwise direction. As the blade hits the glass, you should hear a scraping sound. When the score has etched completely around the bottle, you might hear a crunch. A dusting of glass power might land on your cutter, so watch your fingers.

How to Cut a Bottle: Step 2

Rotate the bottle to create a score line

Check the score line on the bottle; it should be a faint white line that goes all the way around the object. If any section of the line is missing or too thin, the bottle will not break properly, so put it back into the cutter and score it again. Ideally, you should score the object only once, but you might have to practice a few times to get the hang of it.

How to Cut a Bottle: Step 3

Hot water

Once the score is complete, hold the bottle over a sink and pour very hot water (new boiling) over it for about five seconds, rotating to completely heat the score line.

How to Cut a Bottle: Step 4

Cold Water

Then switch to cold water, pouring it over the score line as you rotate the bottle for about five seconds.

How to Cut a Bottle: Step 5

Gently tug at the top of the jar to remove the top portion

You should now see the score line through the depth of the glass. If so, tug gently on the top portion of the bottle to complete the separation. If tugging doesn’t work, tap the top section of the bottle gently on a hard surface covered with a dish towel and try tugging again. If the bottle will not separate, let it sit for a few minutes before attempting the separation again.

How to Cut a Bottle: Step 6

Use sandpaper on the edge

Once your bottle is fully cut, wrap the unwanted portion in paper or plastic and throw it away. The edge of the remaining section of the bottle might be rough and jagged, so use the sandpaper to smooth it out. Also, clean it very well to remove any tiny shards of glass that may have been created by the cut. Wipe your work area with damp paper towels and throw them away to minimize the chances of embedding glass into your skin.

How to Cut a Bottle: Step 7

Decorate

Decorate your cut bottle or jar as desired. Set up a spray booth and transform the project with milk glass or frosted spray paint. If you enjoy brushwork, there are many high-quality glass paints you can use to make flowers, symbols or other designs on the glass. Explore other design features-one easy idea is to line the edge of the glass with copper tape. You can also mask out chevrons or other patterns on the glass before spray painting. Peel away the tape to reveal the unpainted glass beneath.

Once you’ve developed some skill with bottle cutting, move on to more complicated bottles and larger sizes. The creative possibilities are endless: Try lamps, cloches, cocktail glasses and terrariums. Don’t forget that your upcycled bottles make great gifts!