Our Best Glass Cutting Techniques

Craft & Design
Our Best Glass Cutting Techniques


Anyone who’s tried to cut or etch glass knows that it’s not always as easy as it looks. Getting a clean, straight cut on a bottle, regardless of what method you use, can be a real challenge. Over the years, we’ve posted a number of articles on glass cutting and etching techniques. Below you will find some of the best of that content, including what is likely the best method, the 30-second cutting technique. If you have experience in glass cutting or etching, we’d love to hear your stories. Please share in the comments below.

30-Second Bottle Cutting Technique

YouTube player
This video post is one of the most popular items we’ve ever published on Make:. It continues to get significant traffic, year after year. We can only hope that people are actually trying the technique out and are turning a lot of beer or soda bottles into usable glassware and other upcycled glass objects. The video contains a lengthy intro looking at other methods and why they aren’t so great. The method presented in the video actually starts at 3:39. Link: How-To: Learn 30 Second Wine Bottle Cutting

Build an Adjustable Bottle Cutter

glassRoundup_5As a follow-up to the above video, I posted this piece about building a simple jig to use with the technique. All you need is a few pieces of wood, some hardware, and a cheap bottle-cutting blade that you can buy online for only a few bucks. Link: Build an Adjustable Bottle Cutter for 30-Second Clean Cuts

Label Etching a Glass Bottle

glassRoundup_2Sean Ragan shows you how to use the label on a beer or wine bottle as a built-in resist for etching on the glass. Link: Make: Projects – Label-etching a Glass Bottle

Glass Etching Using the Toner Transfer Method

glassRoundup_1This etching method is the same one that Sean Ragan uses in the above Make: Projects post, but instead of using the bottle label, you use a toner transfer for producing the image on the glass. Link: May the Frost Be with You: Etch Your Own Star Wars Drinking Glasses

Bottle Cutting Using the Score and Heat Method

glassRoundup_4This is one of the most widely known methods of bottle cutting. It works, although you rarely get the kind of smooth edge that the 30-second method consistently produces. Link: Make: Projects – Bottle Cutting

Knapping Glass into Arrow Heads

glassRoundup_3“Knapping” is the art of chipping away material to produce a knife or arrow head. Turning a glass bottle into an arrow head is apparently the “Hello, World” project of the the knapping world. Find out how to do it via this venerable tutorial. Link: How-To: Knap an Arrowhead from a Beer Bottle

7 thoughts on “Our Best Glass Cutting Techniques

  1. fstedie says:

    None of these “methods” spend any significant time on the preparation of the glass AFTER you cut it. You’ll need to spend quite a bit of time carefully sanding the lip to make into a smooth, drinkable edge. If you want to “flame roll” the edge, which is the professional way to finish, you’ll have to have a hot enough flame AND a kiln to properly anneal the glass. Otherwise you’ll end up with a fragile, dangerous piece of glass.

    1. Mark Finewood says:

      I thought the https://makezine.com/projects/bottle-cutting/ tutorial was quite comprehensive, devoting two sections to edge techniques.

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  4. Judy White says:

    Where are the instructions on making the bottler cutter holder out of wood?

  5. Paul Searle says:

    if you watch the first video, at 7mins 16 seconds you will see that it wasnt a perfect cut, the guy then goes on to hide the mistake with his finger on top of the edge, why not just do it again and publish a perfect result! anyway this way is the easiest way to cut a bottle, i made a sanding disc to smooth the edges.

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at garstipsandtools.com.

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