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Drilling holes in glass wine bottles

My lab (the Center for Game Science at UW) is hosting the department TGIF next week. It's going be extremely elaborate and over the top and fancy-shmancy and amazing. A lot of people are  contributing via cooking or playing live classical music during the event. I'm in charge of decorating, and decided to bring a dash of danger and power tools into the equation.

So, as of half an hour ago, Adam and I finished drilling holes in wine bottles. Because it is utterly important to me that the lights get crammed in the side, not the top of the bottle.

wine bottles with holes drilled in them
Wine bottles with holes that seem large enough to shove lights through...

I haven't put lights in them yet (partially because the lights I'm planning to use are still attached to the outside of the house...) but they should end up looking like this:

End result, maybe? From this blog:
bright wine
HERE is the real final result! 6 illuminated bottles in various shades of green and clear!
glass drill bit package glass and tile drill bit
Drill bit.

Other people have succeeded at this on the internet (drilling a hole through a bottle with a drill bit like this and not dying), and now so have we.

Some of the highlights:
  • Some kind of coating flaked off the drill bit and then it seemed to work slightly better.
  • We had a spray bottle of water that we would use to spritz away glass powder (and turn it into glass mud) and also to cool the drill bit, although we did this outside in 40 degree weather so it didn't get too hot. 
  • Adam pointed out that in the hardware store, I was doing a "self-comforting" behavior of petting my hands with my other hands. Which makes sense because I was quite nervous about this whole drilling experiment until the first bottle was finally done and reasonable. Also I wanted a hole saw and the local hardware store didn't have those for glass.
  • We had a fancy bottle of Chianti with a basket, but the glass was kind of thin and we cracked it. 
  • It took about 10 minutes per bottle.
  • We used the 1/2 inch drill bit to make holes wider than 1/2 inch.
  • It worked the best when I held the bottle and the spritzer water bottle and Adam held the drill with both hands. 
RIP, chianti...
The chianti bottle didn't make it.


  1. This is great! I have a project I want to do that involves drilling through porcelain (dishes), so this has given me some encouragement that with some online searches and a smidge of inner fortitude, I might not die in the process. Thanks for sharing =)

  2. I have seen this on pinterest! Very nice!!!

  3. Hey !!! Thanks for sharing very important information on this blog, i have visited your blog really you give us great information....!!!!

    Water drilling

  4. Nice post. I read your post. It’s very simple and informatics. Thank you for sharing..............

    Conservation Vin

  5. when ever i use a 1/2 inch drill but the booze bottle always cracks or breaks.. if i use a 3/8 drill everything is good but the mini lights dont fit thru the hole.. thank god ppl i know give me all their empty bottles.. but what am i doing wrong with the 1/2.. i do it outside and i use a garden hose to keep it cool but still cracks.. so what can i do.. if u can email

  6. My daughter is getting married this Dec (she only gave 2 months notice - and no, she's not least she had better NOT be) so I have been dumpster diving at our local restaurant to retrieve those wine bottles. after much soaking & scrubbing and a fair bit of cursing...I was a bit disturbed by the number of bottles that were cracking when we tried to drill holes...we too ended up with glass sludge in the bottles when using water to cool the bit. But still 3 out of every 5 bottles broke. Has any progress been made to turn the tables more in our favour? I thought placing masking tape over the bottle before drilling may help? Any info would be greatly appreciated as the date is fast approaching and I really don't feel like diving into my local restaurants' dumpster in the warmer weather...yuck! I tell you; the things a mother will do...please save me from that

  7. I always see these things at Ben Franklin and wanted to know how to make them myself, thanks for the great advice. I am going to give some of these away as gifts.

    I was wondering though, should I use something like these to drill through the glass or something else? I appreciate any advice, keep em' coming!

  8. Take time to examine your drawing in a mirror to save yourself this problem. RS Glass Bottle

  9. I want. I can place anything I want in side the cork bottle from buttons to sparkles to dandelion seeds. The possibilities are endless.
    ........750ml glass bottles for sale,

  10. Superbly written article, if only all bloggers offered the same content as you, the internet would be a far better place..


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