I have been posting various stages of this project on my social media accounts for the past few weeks and have gotten a lot of inquiries for how to make these bad boys. Well, first off, the step-by-step instructions are in my book Modern Pioneering, (do you have a signed copy yet?) along with some other amazing Martha-Stewart-Meets-MacGyver projects. But here I am posting it for you to show you an easy way to make homemade fabulous holiday gifts for practically nothing. To get these I simply called a local wine bar and asked them to save them for me one night and picked them up the next day.
Rather than recycle your glass bottles, upcycle them and enjoy them as glassware. Bonus points if you have bottles with screen printing on them rather than a sticker; the former makes for an edgy-looking drinking glass. There will be some casualties in this process, so have extra bottles on hand. And you can use everything form wine bottles to beer bottles.
Start by soaking your bottles in a sink full of water, up to overnight. You need to get the labels off so that you can cut them easily. Some will have very difficult glue and those ones will require paint thinner. Once you find a type of wine that has easily removable labels and the perfect glass thickness that seems to cut well every time, make a note of it so you can buy that brand! (Assuming it’s a good wine to drink of course).
Once you have squeaky clean bottles you are ready to go.
You can purchase a glass bottle cutter online. They are cheap.
Different bottles will have different heights. You want to consistently measure the line of your previous cutting with the height of the blade on the next bottle before cutting. As you can see here I have not removed the label on this bottle because it falls below the line where I need to cut. But you have to remove it eventually so it would be wise to do it all at once.
Get a deep pot of water boiling. You want it deep because the bottles need to be dipped in above the cut line, ideally without touching the bottom of the pot.
Get a tall container of ice water prepared. I used a very tall vase but anything will work.
Dunk the bottle for 5 seconds.
Then remove and dunk into the ice water for about 10 seconds or so.
Some bottle cutters come with a metal stick in case your bottle is resisting and you want to tap the fault line gently.
If you look closely you can see the fault line and where the metal stick is tapping it.
Ideally it will split cleanly in half. The thinner glass bottles work better than the thicker. There are some brands of wine that work perfectly every time. And others that are very difficult. Expect to have some casualties and simply toss them into the recycling and move on. If it is just slightly off in one section you could use a diamond glass cutter or sand it down but it requires some extra effort and expense.
If you are using all kinds of bottles you’ll have a whole variety. Some will be thicker rimmed, some will be wider, some will be thinner rimmed, some will be narrower.
Try to match them so you have complete uniform looking sets. Once again, you’ll note that certain brands fit together consistently in size and thickness.
Then get a band of sweatshop brothers to help you sand! Just kidding. I enlisted my friends who have a workshop with a variety of sanding options because I wanted to see what would work. As you can see one tried gluing sandpaper down and getting it wet and running the lip of the glass along it. Another used a hand sander.
We also tried this belt sander.
And I tried this round sander for the inner edges.
Here is what they looked like when we did that…
Here is a closer look. They weren’t as smooth as I wanted. So you know what worked the best off all?
This. I went to the hardware store on a Friday night (because I’m so cool that that’s what I do on Friday nights) and I bought a Dremel tool. It was AWESOME. Use the light cream colored sand attachment (not the darker brown one), for the smoothest edges.
Here they are right before I shipped them off to my manager and agents in L.A. I’m turning them all into Modern Pioneers whether they like it or not.
One tip: The rims will have a white look from the sanding even though they are smooth. I rubbed them with coconut oil but that will wash off in the dishwasher. If any of you geniuses can think of a way to make them look permanently “oiled” leave it in the comments. We discussed torching them with a blow torch but that sounds too extreme to me.
How to Make Glass Bottles into Glassware
Rather than recycle your glass bottles, upcycle them and enjoy them as glassware. Bonus points if you have bottles with screen printing on them rather than a sticker; the former makes for an edgy-looking glass. There will be some casualties in this process, so have extra bottles on hand.
Tall stock pot
Tall vase or other receptacle for ice water
Glass bottles of any size that you would like to drink out of, from wine bottles to beer bottles
Glass bottle cutter
Dremel with sand bit attachment
Paint thinner (optional)
1. Remove the labels from your wine bottles by soaking them in a sink full of water for several hours, up to overnight. Any that don’t come off easily will need to be scraped off and then the glass rubbed with paper towel soaked in paint thinner.
2. Bring a stock pot of water to a boil and turn off the heat.
3. Prepare a tall vase of ice water.
4. Determine the desired height of your glasses and lock in the bottle cutter by tightening the screws so that each glass is the same height. You may find that your wine bottles are different heights in which case you will need to adjust the screws and height against the previous one you have cut to make sure they match.
5. Fit the bottle to the bottle cutter and apply pressure to the blade, rotating the bottle in as few motions as possible so it makes one continuous mark around the glass. Repeat for each bottle you are cutting.
6. Hold a bottle that you’ve already scored and dunk it into hot water for 5 seconds.
7. Remove and repeat in the cold water.
8. Do this one to three times with each temperature of water, and you will hear a crack. The bottle should come apart on its own. If not repeat this several more times.
9. Use a dremel with a sand bit or sandpaper to smooth out the edges of the glass.