So, like Lou, you want to add a little festive glow to your occasion with some bottle lanterns like these? Well, you have two options. You could order some from us and give me an excuse to wield my power tools... Or you could have a go yourself. Once you know how, it's an affordable (and actually not all that scary) way to create some cool upcycled decorations. When I first decided to try drilling through a glass bottle, I read through designmom's tutorial
to find out how. Since then, (and 50+ bottle lights later) I've developed a few tips of my own!
Now, I know I said it wasn't all that scary. But you still need to exercise a certain amount of common sense and self-preservation. We're talking about combining power tools with glass, so it's a good idea to take a couple of protective measures.
For example, gloves, goggles and a thick apron will protect you in the event that your bottle breaks and sends bits of glass flying. A breathing mask will prevent you from inhaling powdered glass, which drilling WILL produce.
What you need:
- a glass bottle (if you don't fancy wine or spirits yourself, most pubs are happy to share. Please don't drink before handling power tools)
- a workbench/vice to hold the bottle steady
- a power drill
- a spray bottle of water (it's essential to keep the drilling surface wet at all times. This helps to reduce heat which can stress and crack your bottle, as well as preventing the glass dust from becoming airborne, which would irritate eyes and airways.)
Although several types of drill bit can be used for glass, this is the type I use. It is a 10mm diamond tipped glass and tile bit. They're inexpensive, long lasting, faster and make a much cleaner cut than the other types I've used. The hollow point also keeps water on the drilling surface where it's needed.
Begin by wetting the bottle surface. Then brace the drill firmly in both hands, and begin drilling at a 45 degree angle to the bottle. This helps to stop the drill from moving around on the surface of the bottle.
The drill will make a semi-circular impression on the bottle at first--this is what helps to keep the drill in place. Continue drilling, gradually raising the drill until you are drilling at a right angle to the bottle. Hold the drill steady, but do not apply pressure to the bottle. Essentially, you are allowing the diamond drill bit to wear a hole in the bottle, so there is no need to push.
When you are drilling at a right angle to the bottle, you will see that you are making a circular indentation in the bottle. Continue drilling at a slow speed, holding the drill in place. (stop frequently to spray with water and re-wet the surface) Different bottles will take different lengths of time depending on their thickness, but I find that they average 2-4 minutes drilling time each.
Pay close attention when you begin to break through to the inside of the bottle. You may hear a slight "clink" noise as the drill breaks the surface, and you may notice that water begins to run down the inside of the bottle. This is a potentially tricky point, as the bottle may want to twist or jump as the drill breaks through so go slowly and grip the drill firmly. When the drill has broken through, press down on the bottle with your other hand while pulling the (still moving) drill out to ensure a clean cut and avoid the bottle lifting or spinning with the drill. And that's pretty much it! Remember to wash your bottle thoroughly before touching it, and wash your hands as well--any of the cloudy coloured water on the bottle's surface will contain powdered glass which can irritate!
The 10mm hole you've drilled will allow you to easily insert a string of LED lights to finish off your bottle. If you'd like something more elaborate, (like the lovely bottles on the left) then stay tuned for our next tutorial--in which we show you how to customize your bottle lanterns!