Instructables
Picture of Bottle Cap Table with Poured Resin Surface
We've been collecting bottle caps for what seems like forever anticipating this table. After moving our collection with us to 4 different homes in 3 different states, we now have enough caps for this table plus a few matching stools. What makes this project different than a simple mosaic project is that we covered the table with a thick resin, creating a look quite similar to the tables at your favorite pub.
 
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Step 1: Collect bottle caps.

Picture of Collect bottle caps.
Tips:

-Become friends with bartenders.

-Cheap date night: Visit alleys behind local bars.

-Buy microbrews based on how cool the caps are, not how good the beer is.

-Get your friends to help you collect.

-When traveling overseas, buy beer instead of souvenirs.

Step 2: Find the table.

You can do this on any sized surface. I've seen huge bars covered in pennies or old photos, but unless you want to deal with storing wheelbarrows of bottle caps, a bistro-sized or small end table is good for starters.

We used a Noresund IKEA table purchased in the As Is area at our local IKEA. I believe it is now discontinued. Sorry.

Link to Ikea store: http://www.ikea.com/ca/en/catalog/products/10073835

Step 3: Lay out your design.

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We started out with a random design, featuring just one bottle cap from every kind we had in our cap stash. This left room for some repeats, so we arranged a pattern around the circular shape of the table.

Step 4: Begin gluing.

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You might be thinking that you can just lay caps down and pour resin over them, but don't skip this step.

Since we were covering our table with clear resin, we weren't too concerned with the type of glue used. I started out with contact cement, moved on to furniture glue, then Liquid Nails for small projects, and even tried siliconized caulk. I ended up using plain old super glue. This was the best option and the one I suggest for you. Since the caps are going to get covered with resin, they just need to stick to the table, so a couple of dots are all you need. Don't go crazy, because messy excess glue will show through the resin when you're done.

Extra information regarding this step:
Although I suggest super glue for this project, the contact cement was truly the strongest adhesive. However, it took some time to use and was less forgiving. The silicone-based glues (Liquid Nails and caulk) seemed to shift or expand as it dried, which ultimately threw our design off. Super glue was the least elegant choice, but it dries relatively quickly and was rigid enough for this project. One note of caution: I discovered that Super Glue reacts with the hexane/toluene base of contact cement. They discolor and create a crystalline growth that resembles a fuzzy, white mold that must be removed with acetone. So pick one glue and go with it to avoid this kind of situation.

Step 5: Prepare your surface.

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Once everything was glued down, I used blue painter's tape to cover the edge of my table just even with the surface of the table. This is usually recommended to avoid drips of resin from drying to sides of your project, but I did it to keep the duct tape from getting my table all sticky (see Step 6).

Don't forget to also tape up any holes on the surface of your table. I did this from underneath so that the blue tape wouldn't show once the resin was applied. If you have a table surface with lots of openings (like a metal mesh or expanded metal), you may want to get a piece of Plexiglas or MDF and use that for your tabletop.

Step 6: Build a barrier.

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If your table has a rim, you can skip this step. Since mine had no rim, I had to create a way to keep the resin at a depth that would cover the bottle caps without running off the side. I needed something sticky enough that it would create a barrier against resin, yet slick enough that it would not stick to the resin.

6a. I decided to use aluminum foil and duct tape. First, cut some long strips of duct tape to go around the edge of the table. Next, cut strips of foil about 3" wide and 1" longer than your strips of duct tape. Laying the strips of duct tape sticky side up, carefully cover about half of the duct tape with a strip of foil. See photo for details. The straighter you do this the better. You could also do this with wide painter's tape and eliminate the need to cover the edges of the table with painter's tape in Step 5.

6b. Tape the foil/tape strips around the edge of the table, making sure that the bottom edge of the foil falls just below the surface of the tabletop (the actual table, not the bottle caps). See photo for details. The reason: If the sticky surface of the duct tape is above the tabletop, the resin will stick to it and defeat the purpose of making an easy-release barrier. If the foil is too far below the tabletop, resin may seep over the edge, trapping blue tape underneath.

Step 7: Cover with resin.

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I won't get into how to mix the resin since there are instructions in the box, not to mention ample tutorials available online.  UPDATE: The resin I used was Envirotex Lite Pour-on High Gloss Finish.  You will, however, need to spread the resin to get into the gaps between the bottle caps as well as out to the edges. This is why your caps need to be glued down, as you will be running a rigid piece of paper or plastic over the surface of the caps. This is a great opportunity to use those fake credit cards that come in your junk mail. I used an old insurance card, but any stiff plastic or cardboard would suffice.

Remember that the resin will level itself out, so just make sure you have enough to fill in the gaps and even out any high areas. You may want to cover your work to keep any random hairs or dust from getting stuck. Now walk away for about 7 or 8 hours.

Step 8: Remove the tape.

Picture of Remove the tape.
After the resin is fully set, carefully begin peeling away the foil/tape. If the foil was kept relatively smooth and the tape was not touching the resin, it should peel away from the hardened resin easily. The only area I had problems was where some resin seeped between overlapping ends of the foil/tape. Also, there were a couple of spots where the resin seeped over the edge of the blue tape slightly. These were both easily remedied using a hobby knife.

Step 9: And voila!

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You have a great new conversation piece for your home or patio.
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dcarnevale24 days ago

Does it matter if i lay out the caps with a little more space or tightly put together? I wanna do tighter but I don't want it to affect the table at all

hrvatska6 months ago

It seems that a lot of people are having trouble with the foil sticking, do you think this project would work with wax paper (like for baking)? Or do you think the resin would stick to that even more?

skaue hrvatska27 days ago

Do not use any oiled or waxed surfaces for this. While it might help a little bit with the barrier not sticking - the sides it covered is very likely to become tacky/soft/sticky. If any surface doesn't harden properly during the rather lengthy curing process, it will not harden - ever.

Some resins are easier to "fix" than others, when this has already happened. Polyester for one, is very hard. This is good, because that means not only can you grind/sand away the tacky surface - but more importantly - you can sand and polish it to a "clear glass" surface afterwards. Epoxy for instance, is too soft for this.

Remedying this is often a lengthy and tedious piece of work. But given the fact this is a "hands-on" surface, it needs to be fairly solid.

dresch2 hrvatska2 months ago

The foil comes off easily if you pass a blow torch over it. I had no issues with that. The only issue with sticking was with the duct tape.

I just finished mine. It was pretty easy. The issue I have is the top edge of the resin is rough. How do I round it off and still keep it looking nice.

dresch2 made it!2 months ago

I did a larger coffee table. But, there are a few suggestions though..... Make sure that your barrier around the table very sturdy, also make sure you have plenty of superglue handy, and finally make sure when you calculate how much resin you need to account for the 1/4" height of the bottle caps. Other than that, I love my table, can't wait to make more of them!

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this looks awesome! how much resin did you use?

Nicely done. Thanks for the details.

TheHomeBarGuy3 months ago

Awesome well presented project now I know what I'm doing with my bottle tops. Cheers!!

Lkac2284 months ago

I pushed beer bottle tops into the end of a cut log

.. Made a great table. When the log rotted, I just upped my beer intake! Easy Peasy!

Rvaldock5 months ago

NOW I KNO HOW TO GET RID OF MY PENNIES ….!

THANK U

RON

lukemazz9 months ago
When you were adhering the caps to the wood, did you fill the caps with anything, like hot glue? Other online tutorials suggest this step because they feared the air in the caps would cause bubbles in resin while it cured or bumps in the surface over time. My table is 80"x40" and I have over 2000 caps so I would like to avoid this step to reduce the weight (by about 13 pounds). If you didn't fill the caps, did you have any of these problems. Thanks
ccronkhite9 months ago
My wife and I actually met at one of those cap covered pub tables you talked about at a local bar. We've been doing the collecting for that last 5 years to make our own. We actually have had enough caps and the table to use for quite a while but the main thing holding me back has been my inexperience in using resin and not wanting to mess it up. The main thing I wondered about was how to retain the resin on the top. Now I feel confident enough to actually do it. I might actually make it for her as a Christmas gift. Thanks!
pippipick11 months ago
I'm on my 2nd attempt at my beer cap table. Caps are in place and I am ready to pour the resin (my first error was using poly and not resin). My question is if the resin will hold up outdoors as mine is a patio table. The resin I have bought is Parks Super Glaze ultra gloss epoxy but it doesn't really specify if it is for outdoor use. Think it will work?
a4yaplesur1 year ago
Sliding door
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a4yaplesur1 year ago
"Bottle cap furniture" , I told my wife, " I want to quit my job and start making bottle cap furniture". She just rolls her eyes.
I love it. I'm on my 5 th project. I've made a bar in the shape of California, 2 end tables similar to this one, concrete table top and the barn door that separates my man cave from the rest of the house. I wish I would have taken more pics and did a tutorial of the bar and the door.
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Nice. I'm thinking of doing something similar, with a collage mod podged on. How much resin did you use? Should we be looking at gallons or something smaller?
I would pour rice or sand into the object you are going to work on before you start and measure how much volume it holds to see what amount of resin you will need and then keep a silicone mold or two handy on the side to accept the leftover resin if you have any.
MaryLenehan4 years ago
 I was thinking about doing a project like this, and considering hot glue to secure the caps. Did you reject this approach for some reason? Mess?
americangypsy (author)  MaryLenehan4 years ago
I originally thought of grouting the table, so I bought glue with that in mind.  When I decided to use the polymer resin, I just didn't really rethink the glue.  Since I hadn't used this resin before, my main concerns were (obviously) to keep the caps in place and not have a lot of glue show around the edges of the bottle caps.

If you can keep the hot glue "strings" under control and minimize the amount of excess around the caps, I think hot glue would work just fine for this project.  Thanks for the suggestion.
Hot glue can work even if the "stringing" is a problem. A blow drier set on high will wither and eliminate the strings for you.
I tried edging a mirror in bottlecaps, and when doing that i tried hot glue and superglue. THe hot glue popped right off pretty much right after adhering to the mirror for a minute. (not sure if there would be a different result if it wasn't sticking to glass). Can't wait to try this in table form and use the resin... im hoping for a funky and cool piece like that!!! A+ job americangypsi!!!!!
 Cool table.  In college I made a 5' x 7' beer pong table covered with caps.  Needless to say I was working on a much bigger surface.  Had a friend that could do the covering of the caps with fiberglass resin for free (which was great), but we used polyurethane to do the initial gluing down of the caps (aside from the sliding issue, caps will try to float... so let me reiterate what the poster said... don't skip this!).  

The benefit to polyurethane is that it's cheap, you can just spread some on in a not too thin layer with a brush and move the caps as necessary, it dries in a reasonable amount of time, and you don't have to worry as much about mess.  Polyurethane is the same thing gorilla glue is made out of, so it will definitely hold.  If you're worried about the slightly yellow color (e.g., if your background color is white or light wood), use polycrylic instead, just make sure that it is all covered and can't get any moisture on it (it discolors). 
I wanted to say thank you. I wanted to pour a work table top and I succeeded after following your directions. My foil stuck a little but it is the kind of resin I used. I took it off with a knife no problem. Thanks again. I really appreciated your clear directions.
lone_gun1 year ago
Thanks for the amazing tutorial. I'm planning on using my bottle caps for something ... haven't decided what yet, but your instructions will help me plan once I figure it out!
cfunke1 year ago
Need to get drinking so I can do this
yeah I could not download it either....I think I have enough bottle caps for a couple of these and really want to do this!
Do you think that this would work with pieces of candy? like Sweettarts and bottlecaps... i have a lot and i dont think i will eat them. I think the resin would keep it together and not discolor or anything.... any thoughts???
I couldn't download the pdf . Somebody can help me to have it?
My email is lunalunera19@hotmail.com
hswartzloff3 years ago
Any ideas where I can find the Resin? I live in a small town and wal-mart doesn't have it. I might need to make a trip to the city.....
If you're still looking for the resin compound, you can check out dick blick. They sell art supplies online. Here's a link to the resin I use: http://www.dickblick.com/products/castincraft-clear-polyester-casting-resin/
You would have to visit your local home improvement store or art supply store. My guess is that the resin will be cheaper purchased from a Home Depot type store.
In Cincinnati, OH - I have found the envirotex lite at both Michaels and Hobby Lobby.
"-Cheap date night: Visit alleys behind local bars." prolly not a good first date idea
jimbo132 years ago
You can get a good epoxy resin on ebay, i would spread 1 layer and set the caps in it, then after it sets cover with the amount needed.
Hypothetically speaking... if this table was for sale on craigslist what would you pay for it?
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dude, that is awesome!
depotdevoid2 years ago
Hi, I just wanted to say thanks, when I went to build my Starry Night mosaic table, I thought of your project.  We used resin to cast the top, and it turned out great!
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tmisner2 years ago
I'm building my own table and was thinking about putting a wooden border on the side instead of using the aluminum foil (seems like it gets too messy) how high would you recommend pouring the resin? Its going to be a 8x2 table and I was thinking 1/4 in of resin would suffice.
kma akrim2 years ago
oh now i know the name of this thing. a few years back, i saw a decorating program on television and was very amused with the designer's project for the house. he put a few small toy cars on a bar table and pour something to cover the cars. when it was set, it became just like your table! i've been wondering all this time of what is that liquid and where to find it. now i know, but still i don't where to get it. stuff like this is hard to find here in my country.
anyhow thank you so much for the tutorial. i will sure make a lot of tables like this once i get my hands on the resin. : )


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