Picture of Dragon Scales
I was inspired by this artist's bottle cap fish to create my own bottle cap dragon. 540 beer bottle caps (170 Amber Bock, 206 Killians, 68 Budweiser Select, 96 Budweiser) make up this 41 x 43 inch piece.

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Step 1: Planning

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I took some time to draw out the design in my notebook and to measure the size of a standard bottle cap.

To save on the amount of caps I would need to complete the design, I decided to flatten them out with a hammer; carefully avoiding folding the sides over.

Step 2: Layout on Cardboard

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After transferring the design to a sheet of cardboard, I laid out the bottle caps to get an idea of how many I would need for the project. It would have taken me years to accumulate enough caps so I emailed my friends: Beer Drinkers Unite!

Note: It took me 5 months to gather and flatten enough caps.

Step 3: Transfer to plywood

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I then cut out the cardboard and traced it onto a sheet of 3/8" birch plywood. I chose birch over hard-board or MDF for its rigidity.

Once traced onto the plywood, I carefully cut it out with a jigsaw.

Step 4: Applying the Caps

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I started fastening the caps with a hot glue gun but it was taking forever (and I had a cheap glue gun.) I decided to use silicon sealant instead. This greatly sped up the process.

Overall I used 3 tubes of silicon and 1/2 tube of construction adhesive.

Step 5: The Finished Product.

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I added some touch-up paint along the edges where the caps didn't fully cover and put a couple of screws and some piano wire on the back to hang it with. The finished piece (41" x 43") now hangs next to my bar in my basement.

This was a really fun, albeit time consuming, project. 540 caps = 90 six packs = ~$7 per six pack (depending on the brand) = ~$630 worth of beer.

I've started collecting caps for my next project -- if you own a bar and want to help out, collect your caps and mail them to me. Or if you're local, I'll come out and pick them up!

I do plan on making this, as my cousin in Wisconsin mailed me a bunch of beer caps. Probably well over 500. I haven't sat down to count them. Soon this will be hanging in my basement. :)
krusty8 years ago
That looks super!! Hey, next time you want to make something like this, why not have an "instructables" party and everyone can bring a 6-pack :) That would make for a rock'n night!!
skeplin (author)  krusty8 years ago
Yeah 90 six packs would be quite a party. I'm still (slowly) collecting bottle caps -- I need to find a bigger source.
if you go to the beach there are TONS of caps underneath those restaurants that are on wooden platforms.
It may be more gross of an idea but rummage through some recycle cans on trash day :]
see if you can get in to a collage party, there is easily 500+ bottles of beer if you get in to the right party
You could go to a nightclub or a bar, and maybe give them some finished art in exchange for the caps.
Hmmm. 540 Beers. Wow.
dodib3 years ago
Cool. I have a beer cap project in mind. I wondered if you flattened the caps out before adhering to plywood? thanks dodib
skeplin (author)  dodib3 years ago
Yep, I spent many of tedious hours hammering caps flat. By doing so, it made it easier to glue them to the plywood backing.
I do believe I'll have to do this!
BEAST144 years ago
I like it!!
BEAST144 years ago
I believe your hunk metal might just be a.... hunk of metal.
nerdy-bot4 years ago
I love it! What a lovely dragon for decorating the walll ... it looks awesome .. since i dont drink beer .. i might try something similar with toffee wrappers ...
what is you next project?
PetBennett4 years ago
has any one said "trogdor" yet?
skeplin (author)  PetBennett4 years ago
pontiac5 years ago
its really cool but needs sum arms and legs,
this must have taken foreva gr8 ible
skeplin (author)  moo of the cow5 years ago
I think it took somewhere around 3-4 months to finish. Much longer to collect the caps though. If you went around to local bars, you could probably collect enough caps in a few days.
Jennine1175 years ago
are those bottle tops flattened at all? I can't tell from the pictures. Absolutely great project!
skeplin (author)  Jennine1175 years ago

Yes, the caps are flattened -- a very tedious process. I did develop a method though: I placed a piece of cardboard on the concrete floor and then turned the cap on it's face. The head of the hammer just barely fit into the cap. Then, I would carefully hit it a couple of times making sure to bend the edge out and not over. Once it was pretty well flattened, I would turn it over and hit it a couple more times. Rinse and repeat.

I imagine that someone could develop a machine to do this. Any takers? ;)
Shifrin7 years ago
Skeplin, This was a great Instructable, this has really inspired me to do some sort of junk pop art, with old bottle caps, or mettle things i find laying around in the house! Favorited! -Shifrin
skeplin (author)  Shifrin6 years ago
Thanks! I once saw a picture of an angler fish that someone made out of cut up soda cans that was absolutely amazing. Unfortunately, I have been unable to locate the link again....
skeplin (author)  skeplin6 years ago
I couldn't find the angler fish, but I did find some killer can creations made with Red Bull cans:

and this awesome bird of prey:

There's a incredibly unnoticed source of surplus sheet metal just lying around most peoples homes. And the secret ingredient is... ...sopa pop cans (or beer, or whatevever). lol But seriously, I collect the side panel from rinsed out cans to use in just such projects (not that I've actually started any of them yet. lol). It's easy to get, readily available, and chances are you've already got some. It does take some finesse to get clean straight sheets, but that just takes a good blade and a little practice. I also collect the bottoms, as they are thicker metal and quite sturdy.
For heavier duty applications, you can use the metal from canned goods, though that also requires better tools to reqlaim, and its not smooth.
Calltaker8 years ago
OK, that definitely qualifies as highly kewl. Great idea getting your friends involved, after all, having all the caps but being in the hospital with alcohol poisoning would suck :) Looks great tho!! ~C
trebuchet038 years ago
Almost missed this one :P Very cool :)
What's your next project, i'm eager to to see it finished! I might even start my own.