Cutting curved glass

I have a design in mind that would require me to cut up glass
bottles to be able to use pieces of them as components. I
specifically would want to use bottle glass because I want to
incorporate the curve in the design. I have no experience cutting
glass and no equipment for the job although I would be prepared to
buy some tools as long as they are within my budget.

I have been looking through the archives but haven’t found anything
specifically related to what I am hoping to do - I think that
cutting curved glass is probably going to be a lot more problematic
than cutting flat glass. I am wondering if there is anyone who has
the experience with this kind of thing who could shed some light on
the type of tools I would need and what technique I would need to
use. Also, I am wondering whether this could be done safely by
someone who has never worked with glass before.

Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer.

RR Jackson

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Cutting bottles would be a difficult thing to do. I don’t know how
well equipped your shop is but I think as easier alternative would be
to cut strips of flat glass and then slump them in a kiln. You could
make a mold out of investment. A stain glass supply shop would have a
wide variety of patterns and textures.

RR

I had a shot at glass last year, my mom wanted lamps from vases. I
treated it the same way I drill rock. Keep the area wet, drill slowly
and drill or cut with diamond bits or blades. Other than that, I have
noticed no difference than working with agate. They pretty much cut
grind and polish the same.

Terry

This site with info on cutting bottles may help:
http://www.make-stuff.com/recycling/bottles.html

The drilling glass section is interesting. Tempering wire drills in
metallic mercury… has anyone ever tried that?

I have a design in mind that would require me to cut up glass
bottles to be able to use pieces of them as components. I
specifically would want to use bottle glass because I want to
incorporate the curve in the design.

This guy’s been there before:
http://www.cowtown.net/mikefirth/bottle.htm

This is a cut-and-paste:

  A few years ago,when everybody was raising tropical Fish,we
  used to make spare tanks out of one gallon Jugs,that we cut
  off. We did this,(and you can too) by Tying a peice of
  string,that we soaked in lighter Fluid,around the jars,at the
  place you want them cut Off,lighting the string,letting it burn
  about 30 Seconds,and dipping the jar into cold water in the
  Sink. Cuts them exactly where the string was,very Straight,very
  smooth,with no jagged edges to sand or Grind. Cant get much
  cheaper than that,and it works Really well. You can cut top and
  bottom off if needed Too. 

Here’s a bottle cutter:
http://www.delphiglass.com/index.cfm?page=itemView&itemsysid=125862

Well, you get the idea, I suppose…

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I bought a bottle cutter from Michaels Craft store for $35. I only
used it once but it was pretty effortless. Score and tap.

Jaye

RRJackson,

Glass can be cut with any lapidary saw with a diamond blade. The
diamond blade is not mandatory, but works very rapidly. How thick
are your pieces? Plenty of lubricant, light pressure and the blade
lasts forever.

Wayne

You can cut bottles 2 different was as far as I know of. 1 way is
heat, using a "hot wire"wrapped around the bottle, turn on the heat
to heat the glass in the line of the wire then plunge the bottle
into water. It will break at the heated line.

The other way is to make/buy a bottle cutter that uses either a
diamond or a wheel in a glass cutter handle that is mounted so a
bottle can be contacted with teh cutter and rotated on a small
turntable, scoring the glass as the bottle is rotated. Then the score
line is “run” around the bottle by tapping on it (you will see the
crack form) then broken off.

Do a search for bottle cutting, I am sure you will find both home
make instructions as well as kits/equipment.

Either method is pretty easy.

John Dach

Contact Ed Hoy International (1-800-323-5668). They have just about
every type of glass cutting tool imaginable. They have the standard
bottle cutter, they have diamond band saws, and the Taurus Saw that
will cut thicker glass and can be separated to use as a portable hand
saw… I just know that’s the one I’M drooling over. Talk to them
about what you want to do and I’m sure they could help you out. No
affiliation…

Kerry
CeltCraft Beads & Jewelry

If you want to cut straight around the bottles, there is an
inexpensive gizmo you can buy in hobby stores that holds the scoring
tool against the bottle as you turn it. Regardless, you’ll need a
good scorer, or glass cutter (it doesn’t actually cut, it only
scratches)-- one that has a reservoir of oil in the handle to keep
it lubricated. Stained glass places are the source for these. Score
the glass where you want to part it, then tap firmly on the scratch
with a small, heavy metal object like the side of a small wrench.
With luch, the scratch will become a crack, then you tap along ahead
of the crack, drawing it onward.

Glass likes to take the path of least resistance, so it may not
break where you want it to. It may be simpler, since glass bottles
are a throw-away item, to break them with a hammer and choose pieces
you like. Stained glass folks use various grinders that can help
with curves, but are not cheap.

Obviously, there is a lot of potential to harm yourself doing this,
so wear goggles and gloves, and work in an area where you can clean
up all the tiny splinters of glass that may fall all around.

You can smooth the edges with sandpaper, or glass places sell a
grinding stick that is very effective, sort of like a scotch stone
(which should also work), but coarser.

Good luck!
Noel

If you do smash a glass bottle. be sure to put it in a plastic or
paper bag before hitting it, and that will contain all the little
dangerous pieces and slivers of glass.

Sandra

It is not too hard to cut glass, curved or flat. Like most things it
takes the proper tools and practice. There used to be jigs/tools
sold specificaly for cutting bottles, and you could likel find one
through a staind glass supply. Basicaly all you need is either a
stationary mounted glass cutter (or a stationary bottle with the
cutter moving around it on a fixed length bar) and a “v” of some sort
for the bottle to rest in as you turn it, and some kind of movable
stop to change the distance from the cutter to the end of the bottle
(this defines the width of the bottle being cut off). After the
glass is scored by the cutter (only score the glass once, don’t go
over the same spot again) tap on the cut line with the ball end of a
metal glass cutter and run the line. Then grind the edge clean.

Be very careful of the cut ends, as they are knife sharp. Also be
extra careful of any glass dust from sanding. Silicosis is nasty
stuff. Sand in a wet bath if possible. There are wet grinders
avalible through stained glass shops. look online too.

Find someone friendly to show you how at a window or stainedglass
shop. Just be friendly, perhaps offer them a few $ to warm them up.
If you are in the S.F bay area I would be happy to show you.

It is not hard, and like most stuff, hard to describe clearly in
words. Seeing is easier. Just connect the double doohicky
thingamijigger with the half twist return on the left, while…

Sierra Salin

The drilling glass section is interesting. Tempering wire drills
in metallic mercury... has anyone ever tried that?

Don’t even think about quenching in mercury!! It is not a safe
practice-- Mercury vapor is hazardous-- This is what caused the
"Hatter" to go mad,

jesse

Dear RR Jackson,

The biggest thing to remember when working with glass hot or cold is
to r espect and understand the glass but not fear it. I’m sure there
are places that you can get the glass cut and polished and that
would probably be the safest route, for example a glass blowing
studio at a college or in town, or a stained glass shop. but if you
want to do it yourself, it shouldn’t be that difficult depending on
how big of a piece you would like and what your definition of
"pieces" would be, If you want a half of a bottle, it’s best to send
it to the hot shop and have them use their Diamond saw and then they
can finish off the piece by polishing it there.

But it’s not too difficult to do it yourself, and if you decide this
is the way to go then this is what you would need: GLASS CUTTER:
(there are two types, one with a comfort handle, highly recommended
$20-$30, or one with a solid handle you need to dip your “blade” into
oil. cheep route- $4-$10 ) CUTTING OIL, (usually put into the glass
cutter’s handle)$4 RUNNING PLIERS, usually $10-$20 MINI BREAKER
/GROZER PLIERS, $10-$20 (these are not completely necessary but they
help with bit’s of glass that don’t come off after you score and
break/split they also help really complex cuts)

The best way to learn is just to do it. I would suggest that you
practice cutting (scoring and breaking/splitting) on flat glass
first, it’s easy, depending on the type of glass you have and the
cuts you want to make… Start with making straight lines, then move
onto wavy lines. There are certain cuts that are not easily done and
some that are impossible. Once you get the handle of how the glass
breaks and what all is implied but cutting glass I would then play
with the bottle.

So you cut class by scoring the glass with the cutters. Stabilize
your bottle or smash the bottle beforehand and use the size pieces
you would like tocut down. Using the oil to lubricate the “blade” of
your glass cutter either through the handle or gently dipping the
"blade" into a small amount of oil, put pressure on the blade by
pressing down on the glass and by using some force make a nice clean
line, make sure you start at one end of the glass and continuously
go to the other end of the glass,run the blade right of f the end of
the glass without letting up on the pressure. ( if you are working
with a whole bottle, I would rotate the bottle under your blade, and
make sure that your score line meets up with where you started it
from, and then genlty tap the bottle or the score mark to break/split
the glass) You will hear the glass almost scratching underneath the
blade, (careful because that sound can become addicting.:slight_smile: too much
pressure and the glass will break before your done scoring. Not
enough pressure and the glass will not break when you go to
split/break it. Then either by putting a thumb of each hand on each
side of the score squeeze tight, putting equal pressure on both
sides, pull hands away from each other. Or use the running
pliers(which I recommend as the safest route) there will be a line
in the rubber or metal ends of the pliers, put that line on your
score mark and squeeze. if the score is done right the glass will
break. watch out for the edges of the glass they will be sharp,
which brings me to my next question, how do you want the edges of
your glass to be? remember that the edges of the glass will effect
how the light goes through the glass. Do you want the finish of the
glass to be clear? If so that will require some glass “polishing”,
which is a whole different ball field. however if you are going to
cover up the edges so they wouldn’t matter you can do one of two
things. invest in a glass grinder, they run about $70- $120 which
you can get from any stained glass shop, or even on-line. where you
hold the glass and move the edges around awet, rotating diamond bit
and that will chip away the “shards” of glass left from your cut and
make the glass finger friendly, It will look like you took polished
sheet of sterling silver and pushed it alond a cement drive way.
Using the glass grinder is the safest option. Or if you don’t wish
to invest in a grinder get a diamond bit for your flex-shaft from
any hardware store, keep it wet and run that evenly around the edges
of your piece of glass. this should also make it finger friendly.
remember to do this in an area that is “safe” to have glass shards
around, because they will go flying and you won’t be able to find
all of them. Not to say that you would do this in your living, just
a precaution.

I hope I haven’t overwhelmed you, it really is quite simple, I just
wanted you to have as much as possible. I grew up making
stained glass with my mother, then moved into hot glass, using hot
head (torch), my freshman year at College I moved to the Hot shop (
blowing glass by use of a pipe and furnace) and got a second
specialization of my BFA in glass… My first passion and
specialization is Metals. If you have any questions pleasecontact me
or your local stained glass shop.

Hope it helps!
Amanda
There’s always more than one way to shave the cat.

I cut bottles all the time to make wind chimes. In order to make
‘fancy’ cuts, use an engraving tool. Yep, the same one you might use
to sign your work. Get it at Home Depot, or use the Fordom handpiece
that vibrates with a diamond point.

It scratches the glass, and that’s all you need.

To break the glass after you score it, tap it from the inside. Get a
threaded rod, about 18 inches long.

Get a little steel ball with matching threads, small enough to fit
through the neck of the bottle, and screw it one the end of the
threaded rod.

(These can be found in the hardware department, where they have
cabinet knobs and drawer pulls.)

Lower the ball into the bottle, and tap from the inside along the
score line.

To soften the edges and make beach glass out of it, put it in a
tumbler with some water, some sand, and some small gravel. Tumble
untill you get the softness you want. To speed things up, put in a
few table spoons of graded silicon carbide grit #220. This can be
purchased from Kingsley North, lapidary supplies for about 4.50 a
pound.

Love and God Bless
randy
http://www.rocksmyth.com

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