Safety First – Cutting Glass Bottles

For my next project I wanted to have a go at recycling wine bottles and had started reading and researching. I wanted to steer away from the slumping bottles trend and ideally was looking at how I could turn a bottle into something else. In my mind there were two avenues to explore –

  1. turning the bottles into bits / frit that could then be fused together / used in molds
  2. turning the bottles into glass sheets that could then be cut and made into other items

My conclusion was that the best way to do 1. would involve either taking hot bottles out of the kiln and plunging into cold water in the thermal shock method or smashing bottles with a hammer and putting through a frit piston (along with the dangers of all of the glass dust created). I felt that I was not ready to do either of these yet as my confidence in using a hot kiln or handling lots of glass dust was just not there yet. I also suspect things like using a frit piston will be easier being done outside in the warmer weather.

So, I turned my attention to 2.  That is, creating glass tiles / sheets from bottles that hopefully could then be cut into shapes etc to create other items. In pursuance of this I collected together some wine bottles. Soaked and cleaned them. Despite adding bicarbonate of soda,  vanish and white vinegar to the warm water, the labels either slid off easily ( bottles of Ned) or stubbornly stuck fast ( bombay spice). There definately must be a better way to remove labels! The internet claims anything from just soaking in water and soap   to using bicarbonate of soda, borax and white vinegar. Ones I haven’t yet tried are olive oil and nail polish remover.

Those bottles where I had been able to remove labels from were placed in the oven to dry. I had purchased a glass bottle cutter from Amazon a few days before. There were two dominant types online. One being a circular cutter type design, the other being a lie-down cutter. Both had good reviews and I just picked one to try. My aim was to follow this method or this alternative method (both on glasswithapast) for creating flat glass.

Unfortunately on my first attempt at using the bottle cutter, the glass bottle shattered when trying to score it and left me with a nasty gash on my arm.

I decided to take a rain check to up my safety protection for cutting bottles and have ordered a face shield, cut resistant gloves and sleeves in readiness for a future attempt once my arm has healed. It also made it very obvious to me that none of the tutorials / youtube videos I had seen demonstrating the glass bottle cutters had shown / used or even suggested the use of safety equipment. (I had been wearing my safety goggles, but had reserved my gloves until the actual breaking the score line part). The lesson learned for me is that bottle glass is not predictable and I’ll certainly be wearing hand and arm protection all through the process in future in addition to eye and face visors. This youtube video does show the use of gloves, goggles and mask and is a bit more comprehensive than some of the other instructions I have seen.

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