Introduction: Pop/Beer Can Tab Armor

Picture of Pop/Beer Can Tab Armor

This is a suit of armor made entirely of pop/beer can tabs and copper wire.

It started out as a few tabs strung together after watching Edward Scissorhands, but quickly evolved as my Obsessive Compulsive Nature set in.

It's surprisingly durable, and also has some flex to it.
4 of us couldn't rip the shield apart, trust me, we tried.

You imagination is the limit for using tabs and wire, so start designing!!

Step 1: Pop/Beer Can Tab Armor Phase 1

Picture of Pop/Beer Can Tab Armor Phase 1

To begin, you'll need to amass an incredible amount of pop/beer can tabs and copper wire.

I posted ads on Kijiji looking for tabs as well as raiding recycling bins in apartment buildings just to start.
In desperate times, you may be able to hire a hobo to hunt and collect tabs for you.

For the copper wire, I used almost anything I could find that was a decent gauge.
A good source of wire is inside older tube televisions and small electric motors.

The majority of this stuff can be found for free on Kijiji or your local classifieds.

Step 2: Pop/Beer Can Tab Armor Phase 2

Picture of Pop/Beer Can Tab Armor Phase 2

Once you've collected enough pop/beer can tabs and copper wire to start, you'll have to prepare them to save time.

sharp edges where the pop/beer tab were connected to the can should be bent inwards, to prevent slicing the wire and your fingers. 
If you own a pair of pliers or a gerber multi-tool, it will make this job much easier.

Now you'll have to cut the copper wire into manageable pieces.
I cut them into approx 3-4" lengths, this allowed me enough wire to make several wraps around the tabs.

Step 3: Pop/Beer Can Tab Armor Phase 3

Picture of Pop/Beer Can Tab Armor Phase 3

Now you can start securing the tabs together.

To do this, simply pinch two tabs together that are facing the same direction, and begin looping through the wire.
You can use your thumb to hold the end of the wire for the first few loops through.

This will take time and patience!!  But eventually you'll be connecting these tabs together like clockwork.

Once they've been looped, just twist the ends together a few times to tighten the wire.

Step 4: Pop/Beer Can Tab Armor Phase 4

Picture of Pop/Beer Can Tab Armor Phase 4

Now that you have a few strands of tabs together, we'll have to get rid of the excess wire that's poking out.

I just used a pair of scissors to snip the excess, leaving a few centimeters so I could fold it down.

Once you've snipped the loose wire away, you can use a pair of pliers or a gerber tool to pinch the sharp, freshly cut wire flush with the tabs.

One side should be all your cut and folded sharp wires, and the other should be smooth wrapped wire.  You can decide which side you would like to rub against your skin.

EH VOILA!!!!!    once you've got a few rows put together, your imagination should take hold and inspire you to create strange and interesting things.

Step 5: Pop/Beer Can Tab Armor Phase 5

Picture of Pop/Beer Can Tab Armor Phase 5

Here's my progress so far, ideally I would like to have him standing on his own in the corner.

The helmet is a mix of Roman/Spartan and the remainder was just assembled using video clips from several movies like lord of the rings.

I would not recommend using this armor for battle or target practice, and will not be held liable for those that do so.
This is an art piece only.

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial, and I would love to see pictures of what you've created.

Also feel free to send me ideas for new designs, I've managed to collect a ridiculous amount of tabs since I've started.


badideasrus (author)2013-10-07

ahem..... >

instantly reminded of this

stierney2 (author)badideasrus2016-10-12

LOL - that was great! Thanks for sharing that!

kweigant (author)2015-09-07

I plan on making this with a backing. I will use for SCA battles but will have as I said a backing to make it fit the SCA regulations. Can you show us the instructable for the shield?

skahn3 made it! (author)2015-08-21

work in progress and the cuts on my hands to prove it. Ow

anthony2219 (author)2015-07-09

Hey! That is amazing I was collecting these things for one reason or another so I think I will be doing is soon, Do you think if I use some stronger wire like the stuff they use to make chicken wire that it would be liable to say......some protection?

monarchspoison (author)2015-06-26

could you use crafting wire (stuff that is used for making jewelry and things) instead of copper wire? I have tons and tons of the crafting stuff, but no copper. Do you think that would work?

MoFracka (author)2015-05-05

how many can tabs approx did this take i need to know how much to pay the hobo

Kickblitz (author)2014-11-15

Awesome job!! You could make some serious art! You should make animals! Or humans!

Victor Does (author)2014-10-15

Nice project! Need to drink a lot of coca cola before making this thou. :)

Dakota Joel98 (author)2014-08-03

I wouldnt make it very long in trying to make this. LOL "Patience isn't my strongest suit"-Wolverine Days of Future past

mayday12 (author)2014-01-03

I attempted to make this mail a long time ago. After a week or so, I gave up. Although I used thicker wire, I still I can't even comprehend the patience it must take.

cmarsh4 (author)2013-10-13

Can I just buy it from you

poofrabbit (author)2013-09-29

I would love to see a picture of this on! VERY cool!

elizruge (author)2013-09-28

awesome! i've been wanting to make chainmail for the longest time. i mean, who knows when it'll come in handy, right? this is badass

BriannaRenee (author)2013-06-17

This is just a little TOO awesome! So epic!

Zetainex (author)2013-02-24

I have more than 4000 tabs, Your armor set is what made ​​me decide to do something with them. Thanks for the inspiration. I will send you some photos when I end (maybe never haha).

dtouchet2 (author)2013-02-17

Since you are looking for suggestions, why not make a body to go in the armor. I'm sure that you could pick up some small 1 in PVC pipe to make the basic skeleton and then use the tabs to make a head and hands.

metallaro92 (author)2013-01-17

How many can tab you used for the helmet?

JoshWest (author)metallaro922013-01-17

I haven't been counting and have no intention to do so, but a rough estimate would be 900-1000 tabs.

metallaro92 (author)JoshWest2013-01-17

holy s***t!! i have only 45!

Basement_Craftsman (author)2013-01-02


kage_no_mozaiku (author)2012-12-20

may not be cheaper....idk, but it'd be faster if you purchased links from i'm sure you could find some ideal material/gauge/inner diameter spec for this that'd take a lot less time then winding copper wire around each scale.

JoshWest (author)kage_no_mozaiku2012-12-26

Valid point, but I was more looking to assemble this suit using completely free parts.
If I were to spend money on the project, I would have just made real chain mail.


kage_no_mozaiku (author)JoshWest2012-12-28

yeah, you have a good point there. looks great even with recycled parts.

navarre1095 (author)2012-12-20

You farging bastige! you stole my idea! Seriously, good work on those. I use 17 gauge aluminum fence wire from Rural King.

JoshWest (author)navarre10952012-12-26

Haha.. very nice! Do you have any pics of your work? Checked out your page, didn't see an instructable on it.


navarre1095 (author)JoshWest2012-12-27

navarre1095 (author)JoshWest2012-12-27


venturieffect (author)2012-12-16

you're crazy, dude

JoshWest (author)venturieffect2012-12-26

Like a FOX!! Cheers though

Lord_Vek (author)2012-12-16

Very nice, I admire your patience...

JoshWest (author)Lord_Vek2012-12-26

Cheers, I formulated my bucket list while building this suit.... Took a while.. Haha

scoochmaroo (author)2012-12-16

This is amazeballs. You deserve an award.

JoshWest (author)scoochmaroo2012-12-26

Hahaha Amazeballs.. Love it... So what did I win?

woelfwynde (author)2012-12-17

This is actually the best looking set of poptop armor I've seen so far. Good job!

JoshWest (author)woelfwynde2012-12-26

I'm sure you could top it.. I dare you.


boom man56 (author)2012-12-17

soo cool

JoshWest (author)boom man562012-12-26


jmcconnell5 (author)2012-12-18

This is amazing! How long has it taken you to get this far?

JoshWest (author)jmcconnell52012-12-26

It's taken quite a few months of doing small chunks at a time. It's been taken apart and remoulded into something else many times over.

Thanks for commenting!

EpicNinjaaa (author)2012-12-19

My jaw hit the floor.

JoshWest (author)EpicNinjaaa2012-12-26

Try to top it... Your project will evolve... trust me.

Dowaine (author)2012-12-20

if old tube TVs work like the old monitors and should be regarded very cautiously when taken apart in case of electric shock from charged compactors other wise great project i have tried to make chain mail and failed for lake of patients but i defiantly will try this

JoshWest (author)Dowaine2012-12-26

A VERY good safety point!! Capacitors can hold their charge for a very long time after they've been unplugged. Take care!


sflemming (author)2012-12-20

Gloves and boot covers come to mind. You have way more patience than I do to do this stuff. Ever consider real chain maille?

JoshWest (author)sflemming2012-12-26

Nah, real chain mail doesn't appeal to me. This was more of a hobby.
Yes, I made the gauntlet for the right hand, and the left hand is protected by the shield.


vincent7520 (author)2012-12-20

How in the world tit you have the patience ???
I'm in awe.
Wonderful : have you tried it ?

JoshWest (author)vincent75202012-12-26

ALOT of movies were watched during the making of this suit. Was still a productive member of society during the day, but this was the temporary hobby I came home to every night for a while.

And of COURSE I've tried it!! How could I not?! Haha


tinpusher (author)2012-12-20

Amazing! Perhaps you could get your hands on an old mannequin, or even better, make some kind of wood frame dummy to display your creation.

JoshWest (author)tinpusher2012-12-26

I've been looking for a mannequin for a while now, but people seem to want extreme amounts of money for them. RiDiCuLoUs..

I'll prob just end up making one on my own out of paper mache.


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