Tools & Materials
Don’t toss your old wine bottles in the recycling bin; use them to block candles from drafts instead. All you need is a few minutes and some glass-cutting tools to fashion hurricanes to place over tea lights by carefully removing the bottles’ bottoms.
To create this decorative project for a table centerpiece or garden display, you have to cut the wine bottle cleanly. We’ve found a simple way to do it, using a little lesson in physics. The idea: Split the glass along a carefully placed fault line using thermal shock.
Build a Jig
Sandwich the handle of the glass-cutting wheel between two scrap 1x2s, one atop another, with the tool perpendicular to the wood, about 1½ inches from the ends. Hold the ends flush and square while you drive in a screw on either side of the tool handle to hold the tool firmly in place. Screw your scrap lattice to the flush end near the tool to form a right angle. Clamp the entire apparatus to a table or workbench as shown.
Score the Bottle
Remove the wine label and place the bottle along the table in your jig so that the bottom abuts the lattice scrap. Press the bottle against the glass-cutting wheel, and slowly rotate with steady pressure to create a score line all the way around the bottle. You’ll want the line to be even and fairly deep (about half the thickness of the glass, or close to it).
Heat the Glass
Boil water in your kettle. Over a glass bowl or sink, slowly dribble the hot water along your score line, rotating the bottle with your other hand. Use about half the kettle of water—you want the glass to get good and hot.
Cool the Glass
Immediately submerge the bottle into a bucket of cold tap water. Listen for a crack. If you hear it, carefully pull out the bottle. You may need to gently grasp the bottom and twist slightly to pop it off along the score line. Be very careful not to touch the sharp edges created along the break. If the bottom doesn’t come off, repeat the hot-water step using the rest of the kettle of water, then do this cold-water step again. You may also need to let the glass cool so that you can score your line a bit deeper.
Smooth the Cut Edge
Don your work gloves. Place a sanding block flat on a table or workbench and rub the cut edge of the wine bottle atop it to smooth rough edges. You may need to do some finer polishing once the really sharp spots have been filed down.