How to Make a Drinking Glass From a Bottle

by Jeremy Anderberg on February 19, 2014 · 38 comments

in Manly Skills, Projects

bottle18

I’ve often admired the artwork on beer bottles, liquor bottles, even craft soda bottles. And I’ve often wondered how to capture some of this artwork in a way that doesn’t involve simply collecting the bottles. When I stumbled across a shop in Vegas that sold beer and wine bottle drinking glasses, I knew I found my answer. With a little bit of research, I found out how easy it can be to make the same glasses without the hefty retail price tag. What’s great about this project is how versatile it is. It could take the shape of wine bottles turned into vases for Mother’s Day, manly wedding gifts for a groom using his favorite beverage, or you can use smaller bottles and create a set of tasting glasses.

It’s also cheap, fast, and uses items that can be found in most households. And did I mention you get to play with fire?

With this project, you are using fire and chemicals, so take extra precautions. Having said that, I’ve done this a few times, and never had any issues or even felt nervous about the safety of it. You’re just as likely to injure yourself using a drill or a hammer and nail.

Supplies

bottle2

  • Any kind of bottle — beer, soda, wine, liquor
  • Acetone (found in nail polish remover, raided from my wife’s cabinet)
  • Small dish for acetone
  • Rag/towel
  • Scrap yarn or string — yarn has the best absorption in my experience
  • Lighter
  • Sandpaper

Step 1: Choose Your Bottle

bottle4

The coolest bottles to use are those that have a logo or printing etched right onto the glass. They’re a little harder to find, but definitely worth it if you can. Otherwise a plain ol’ bottle will work just as well. This 220z bottle is a great size for a drinking glass, while 12oz bottles may work better as tasting glasses.

Step 2: Consume Beverage

bottle3

This Stone Brewing Cali-Belgique IPA was quite enjoyable. You of course need an empty bottle, so take this opportunity to pour yourself a drink.

Step 3: Create Ice Bath

bottle1

Fill your sink up with ice water. You don’t need a ton of ice, it just has to be cold. I went with the coldest tap water and a few handfuls of ice and it worked great.

Step 4: Pour Acetone into Dish

bottle5

You don’t need much — just enough to soak the yarn/string. Obviously, this a chemical, so be extra careful working with it. It’s fine if it touches your skin, but keep away from your face.

Step 5: Cut Yarn and Wrap Bottle

bottle6

You need enough yarn to wrap around the bottle 4-6 times.

bottle7

Start wrapping yarn around the bottle where you want the top to separate. For this bottle, it’s right above the logo. Wrap it tightly. I also found this step to be easier holding the bottle horizontally than just sitting on the counter.

bottle8

Tie off the yarn, remove from the bottle, and snip the ends. Ultimately, the yarn will be lit on fire and rotated, so you don’t want loose ends flyin’ around.

Step 6: Soak Yarn in Acetone

bottle9

With the yarn still tied, soak the entire thing in acetone. Make sure it’s really soaked all the way through — don’t skimp on this step.

Step 7: Put Yarn Back Onto Bottle

bottle11

Put the yarn back over the bottle where you want the cut to be. Do it over a towel or rag; remember, you’re working with a chemical and you don’t want to mess up any tables or countertops.

Step 8 – Light Yarn on Fire

bottle12

Hold the bottle at the far end of where the yarn is and using a lighter, torch that yarn. Rotate the bottle so the entirety of the yarn gets lit, and continue to rotate the bottle until the flame burns out (about 30 seconds). I can see how safety is a concern for some, but the yarn burns quickly, and you’ve already created an ice bath should an accident occur.

Step 9 – Submerge in Ice Bath

bottle13

Once the flame burns out, immediately submerge in the ice bath, and the top should pop right off where the yarn was. It may take a couple tries — this one did because it’s a thicker glass. Don’t worry, just repeat the process above once or twice and you’ll get it.

bottle14Step 10 – Sand Edges

bottle15

Use sandpaper to smooth the edges and imperfections. I’d wait 30-60 minutes after breaking the glass to do this, as it remains fairly fragile immediately afterwards. Again, you may think of safety here and worry about sharp edges on a drinking glass, but when I’ve done this, it doesn’t take much sanding to make it perfectly smooth and safe for use.

Step 11 – Test Your New Glass

bottle16

After the beer, a nice glass of water was refreshing and hydrating. Ahhhhh. Works like a charm, and looks great too!

{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rob February 19, 2014 at 3:33 pm

How weird, I was reading a very similar article just a few hours ago. I also saw in this article:

http://www.designsponge.com/2010/05/we-like-it-wild-bottle-gardens.html

that you can make pretty sweet looking plant pots from the top half of the bottle. Get yourself some of that recycled goodness, chaps

2 Jeremy Anderberg February 19, 2014 at 3:41 pm

@Rob – What a coincidence! Thanks for sharing, looks like a cool project and great way to use the entire bottle.

3 Nathaniel February 19, 2014 at 3:44 pm

I just did this with a large beer bottle. Took about five minutes, I have yet to sand it. However, there are hairline fractures near the top of the glass where it broke, does anyone know if that is avoidable?

4 Derek February 19, 2014 at 3:47 pm

I don’t know what kind of success rate you are getting, but you can get MUCH cleaner cuts by buying a glass scoring tool, making one clean score, and then alternate dipping in boiling water and ice water. Similar to this method except I dip the whole top end of the bottle in boiling water rather than just pouring hot water over it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFXngPx3w3M

I’ve seen some REALLY ragged cuts result from the string and lighter fluid method.

5 Jeremy Anderberg February 19, 2014 at 3:51 pm

@Nathaniel – It could be because the yarn was too spread out. In that case, the heat might not have been concentrated quite enough for a clean break. Perhaps try bunching it more so it’s more concentrated, or even just wrapping the yarn once or twice. I’ve also seen variations where you hit it with cold water from a faucet vs. emerging in the sink. I’ve not tried that, but it may work as well? Experiment a little bit and see what happens.

6 Andrew February 19, 2014 at 4:27 pm

Great article, and fun project. A few tips from my own recent attempts (with beer and wine bottles):

- Wear safety glasses.
- I’ve had the most success with this method: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I2a-DiTdC_g It’s cheap, no chemicals, and makes a clean, level line with about 40-50% of the bottles. I used a larger propane torch (shown in step one of this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6g5-AdJxJI), and generally had very clean cuts.
- Glass is structurally very irregular, so save about 2-3x as many bottles as you want in the end. Keep the best ones to reduce sanding. Scoring all the way around as in the second video might improve the process, but I didn’t want to build something.
- I used a Dremel tool and a diamond disk to sand, which was easy and very effective. In my experience, regular sand paper didn’t cut it. I’d look for diamond paper, or something similar. This leaves a “ground” look to the rim though. Also, wear a mask. Glass powder is nasty stuff for the lungs. Fire annealing/polishing is the best way, but requires a monster torch (see above video).
- Try to use bottles with thicker glass. This will help prevent chipping when sanding.

7 Sherlock007 February 19, 2014 at 6:48 pm

There is a much better way. Simply score a line around the bottle with a $2 glass cutter held in place by a simple jig. Then dribble boiling water on the line and quickly plunge it into the cold water. You have a clean cut with almost no sanding and no fractures.

8 Kyle Boureston February 19, 2014 at 9:59 pm

Jeremy. So happy with you right now. I’ve wanted to do this for so long. Looking forward to the all important step #2!

9 Vincent February 20, 2014 at 12:47 am

There’s also this product on the market called a Kinkajou.. It was Kickstarter funded. Although a bit pricey for my doing, it sure is a lot safer. Not affiliated with them at all, but here’s the link: http://www.bottlecutting.com/

10 Chris February 20, 2014 at 1:24 am

Well, I thought step 2 was very inspiring, we’ll see whether I get around to the other ones or not. *grabs beer*

11 Matt February 20, 2014 at 4:23 am

This looks like a great little project. Gonna try it when I get home

12 Nikola Gjakovski February 20, 2014 at 5:01 am

I never thought this can be possible, to craft from glass. Science and a little brains proved me wrong. Going to craft it these days

13 Charlie February 20, 2014 at 6:27 am

This is nothing new. Ronco and K-Tel sold bottle cutting kits in the 70s on TV. Act now!

14 Kykos February 20, 2014 at 7:09 am

Only problem is some bottles have tini zone at the bottom and you can use them for hot drinks because you would broke them.

15 Corwin February 20, 2014 at 9:47 am

Stone. Nice choice.

So how will a cupboard full of beer-bottle cups go over with the ladies…?

16 Gwen February 20, 2014 at 10:58 am

Excellent. I think I’ll make some of these for my husband. It’ll be a double present – he’ll love the glasses, and also love that I’ve burned some of my enormous yarn stash.

17 Jonathon February 20, 2014 at 11:34 am

As a chemist I take issue with the how the word chemical is used in step 4 and step 7. Everything is made of chemicals (even water). Instead, it would have been better to say in step 4 that this is a potentially dangerous substance (as not all chemicals are dangerous as implied). In step 7, chemical could have been replaced with Acetone to make the sentence more specific and less misleading. Other than that it was an interesting article.

18 Kent Sanders February 20, 2014 at 11:52 am

This is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen on this site! Thanks for posting this.

19 Spencer February 20, 2014 at 12:09 pm

Part of me really wants to try this… The other part of me is a homebrewer that can always use the bottles haha.

20 Jeremy Anderberg February 20, 2014 at 12:28 pm

@Spencer – I too am a homebrewer, but I figure plain bottles are cheap enough that it doesn’t really matter. Sparing a few for a cool project like this is worth it to me! Especially when you can serve homebrew in the glasses.

21 Jim Collins February 20, 2014 at 12:43 pm

Esteemed Jeremy, Kate, Brett, and Readers,

Glass, even the cheapest of glass, is an astounding material. For absorbancy, cotton yarn is best. As to acetone being a chemical, what isn’t? Glass is a mix of chemicals, as is Jeremy’s (I don’t doubt) delicious home brew, and so am I.

The method reminds me of a brief vogue in the early sixties when playing marbles ranked high in my priorities. We would heat clear – not cat-eye – marbles in a skillet, then douse them in cold water to craze them.

I wasn’t much good at playing marbles, but my marble craft bought some status.

Cheers,

Jim Collins

22 JH February 20, 2014 at 1:12 pm

Is this safe? Seems the glass used in beer bottles isn’t nearly as thick or shatter-resistant as typical drinking glasses. Also for an extruded bottle, seems the shape is inherent to its structural integrity, and cutting of the top might leave a brittle, weak-sided glass? I can see using them for plants or votives, but I wouldn’t want to be using them as drinking glasses or constantly washing them. Maybe I’m way off?

23 William February 20, 2014 at 2:29 pm

I love these glasses. It would cool to make a nice display out of these.

24 LeX February 20, 2014 at 4:08 pm

Nice tutorial, but a think using a glass cutter gives you a bether result!
Watch this video!
http://youtu.be/sFXngPx3w3M

25 Gary February 20, 2014 at 6:22 pm

I saw this in pinterest. cool idea, but a word of caution; I tried this once and while i was submerging the bottle in the ice bath I was holding the bottle in such a way that my finger was plugging the top. the pressure caused the glass to explode.

26 Eric February 21, 2014 at 8:41 am

I’ve been doing this for years, great article! Another option for the completed bottle is to give it a “finish” of modpodge. To make the modpodge mix equal parts of Elmer’s Glue and water in a dish. Paint it over the glass and allow to dry. It gives the bottles a nice glossy/polished look (it also is an easy way to seal down great looking bottles with labels on them)

27 Scott Sideleau February 21, 2014 at 4:14 pm

That’s a neat trick! I always assumed that they were cut with a proper glass cutter. This is much cooler. And now I know what I’ll be doing this weekend! Many thanks.

28 Greg Urbano February 21, 2014 at 10:00 pm

very cool trick with an endless supply of test subjects!

29 Jesse Groenewoud February 22, 2014 at 11:19 am

Looks awesome. i have a few nice bottles from Ireland can’t wait to try it out on those. would make a nice uniek set

30 Kevin February 22, 2014 at 6:21 pm

For bottles with plastic labels, is there a sealer or some other method you can use to keep it from pealing off over time, particularly when washing?

31 Anthony JP February 24, 2014 at 8:14 am

Or you can but a glass bottle cutter. They aren’t expensive and not hard to find.

32 Ekene February 24, 2014 at 10:59 am

How about using petrol or methylated spirit for this?

33 JMKvale February 24, 2014 at 11:32 am

I tried this over the weekend, using acetone, but it didn’t burn hot enough. I tried for about 45 mins, and then soaked the yarn in lighter fluid. It only took one round of that to break the bottle. Much better results.

34 Brownfox February 24, 2014 at 3:44 pm

May I make a suggestion? For a smoother edge, fire polish the rim. I’d use a Bunsen burner since I’m a Chemistry teacher, but I’m sure a torch from a hardware store would work as well. Lick the rim with the flame, from the inside if you want to preserve the label art, until the glass softens.

35 Stefan February 26, 2014 at 12:39 pm

@Jeremy – thanks for the article! this is a great idea and will definitely help out with the DIY Christmas present task the family has been given for this year’s holiday (plenty of time to try out different bottles….mainly beer). The comments section were a huge help, as well. Provided other ideas to improve upon.

Cheers!

36 Clay February 27, 2014 at 9:35 am

I have done this with a liter size Mountain Valley Water bottle, they have a great painted label! I borrowed a cutting wheel and jig from my best friend’s mother, a stained glass artist. I was making a vase for my mother. While I was making it it developed a large crack running down down the bottle. The stained glass artist suggested superglue to seal the crack. It worked and the vase holds water but it did leave a discolored streak around the crack. I’m not sure I would use it if I planned on drinking out the glass, but for other uses it works.

37 Brian March 7, 2014 at 11:55 am

I second the Kinkajou…love mine!

38 Kit Kat March 12, 2014 at 9:46 am

Very interesting DIY cup, I will try it at home, hope that it works.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post:

Site Meter