Instructables
Picture of bottle cap pins
Let's face it, button pins make everything more awesome. I've seen street vendors and trendy hipster stores sell custom pins for a few dollars each. I figured I could make my own easily enough and would make great gifts for friends, the best part is that I can customize each button so it's personal to each recipient.

This project uses old bottle caps as the base for each pin, clear casting resin to hold the image in place and a regular safety pin to affix it to your clothes. This inexpensive and fun project is sure to delight everyone. Did I mention it's customizable? It bears repeating because it's just so amazing!

enough talk, let's make some pins!
 
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Step 1: Tools + materials

Picture of tools + materials

tools:
  • solder
  • sandpaper
  • scissors
  • computer + printer
.
materials:
  • bottle caps
  • casting resin
  • safety pins
  • printer paper
  • disposable cups + stir sticks

Step 2: Bottle caps

Picture of bottle caps
08.jpg
Making one or two pins is fun, but making a bunch your friends can choose from is even better. I made about 80 pins, so I needed at least 80 bottle caps (a few extra as there's always mistakes). I got my caps from a local bar, I asked nicely and they set aside the caps for me. After a busy weekend I had more bottle caps than I knew what to do with!

Since I got my bottle caps from a bar, they reeked of beer and regret. So, I tossed all the dirty bottle caps into a large bowl with warm, soapy water and let soak overnight. In the morning I cleaned and rinsed the caps, then left them on a towel to dry. After, I sorted out the really bend or damaged caps, and tried to re-bend all the misshapen ones. 
noushinmelody5 months ago

great idea:)

Danger is my middle name made it!6 months ago

My friend and I made a ton of these last summer and brought them to Burning Man. I only have a picture of one of them, but we also made some with googly eyes that were a huge hit!

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SJF0071 year ago
No I'm gonna make like uh 50 or 30 something like that
SJF0071 year ago
This is cool I am gonna make one
petalee1 year ago
How do you solder on the safety pin? I tried yesterday with solder and a soldering iron but the solder didn't stick properly.
mikeasaurus (author)  petalee1 year ago
Make sure the back of the bottle caps are stripped of any paint and sanded down to the bare metal and that your solder iron is set on high. Are you using any special type of bottlecap?
Sorry I haven't replied in so long, I'm just using normal bottle caps, like from a glass bottle. I'll try setting my solding iron on higher - think it may have been on medium.. :)
cgosh1 year ago
Great Instructable -- and thanks for including your printout.

Questions: How many watts is that soldering iron -- it looks a lot bigger than the one I use for delicate electronics work. And would you recommend removing the inner plastic ring on the caps, or just leave them alone? How about using some leftover Easycast to make a mold of the top (and bottom) of a straightened cap to simplify straightening the rest of them?
mikeasaurus (author)  cgosh1 year ago
Thanks cgosh.

The soldering iron I used was about 40W, but I believe you could use a lower wattage with the same results. Just make sure you remove the decal on the back of the cap before soldering.

I left the soft plastic lining inside the caps. I don't think removing it would help the soldering, and it's removal is not necessary for the EasyCast adhesion. I would leave them alone.

The left over EasyCast to make a cap straightener is an interesting idea. The caps are usually bent back into shape easily enough, but making a jig to reform them might produce more consistent results. I would be very interested to see your attempt at this.

Do you have any pictures of your completed pins?
Gumby451 year ago
This is a really creative idea! I love it. Very clever and cute :D These should be nice christmas craft thingies.
bpfh1 year ago
Could you not stick the images to the base of the cap with a plain paper glue stick before adding the resin? You would not have to mess around with prodding floating paper back to the base if it floats?
hraza12 years ago
as a newbie can i ask what is a resin? any subsitute
mikeasaurus (author)  hraza12 years ago
Casting resin is a 2-part mixture that is applied as a liquid and sets hard and clear (I used EasyCast, but there are other brands). I don't think there is a direct substitute for resin as it a a specialized product. You might be able to get away with a thin layer of hot glue, but the results will be cloudy and it'll be hard to see your design. Resin is really the way to go here.
I have used Modge Podge Dimensional Magic to make similar projects.
You can use a product called Sakura 3-D Crystal Lacquer (I buy mine on Amazon.com). It is in a squeeze bottle like glue, works great. Resin is probably cheaper, but I am often dealing with time constraints and the extra step of mixing resin is too much.

Great Instructable. Love the images and tip on free design software! Thx!
CrashMGD1 year ago
Could you use hot glue as your "resin"? Would it still display the image nicely like a resin?
dur.sk82 years ago
How creative!!!!!!!!!!!!!
adrian092 years ago
what kind of paper would you recommend?
mikeasaurus (author)  adrian092 years ago
I used standard printer paper. I recommend paper that is very bright white.
Coliflower2 years ago
Any homemade/other alternatives for that resin?
mikeasaurus (author)  Coliflower2 years ago
Hmm, not that I can think of. Hot glue may work, but usually dries cloudy. Casting resin isn't very expensive and has loads of other crafting uses. What's your concern/aversion to using it?
Ah, just don't have any lying around (which means I'm too lazy to go out and buy it)

I guess I'll just go out and get some, thanks.
rocketman72 years ago
Very Nice! Is the 3 Month Pro Membership promotion still going on?
mikeasaurus (author)  rocketman72 years ago
You bet! Show me what you've got!
Kryptonite2 years ago
I hate to advertise, though here's another possible method of attaching a pin to the back. Of course, the cap would have to be so the outter rim is facing inwards, folded around the pin. This is a really great Instructable, as with all of your Instructables! Subscribed :D
mikeasaurus (author)  Kryptonite2 years ago
Great suggestion, I like alternatives!
I actually used your exact method to fix a commercially made button last week.
Great minds think alike! Or so I like to think... Its an easy fix, and it works.

I just love the pictures on your buttons.
Browncoat2 years ago
My Kaylee umbrella pin :)
IMG_0375[1].jpg
mikeasaurus (author)  Browncoat2 years ago
Great pin, I love the Firefly twist! Thanks for sharing.
Enjoy the patch and the 3-month Pro Membership!
here is mine
DSC02736_2.JPG
mikeasaurus (author)  annoyingfeatures2 years ago
Awesome, thanks for sharing! Enjoy the patch and the 3-month Pro Membership!
carpfluff2 years ago
i like the homestar runner ones. and most of these. but what was the kicker was the bottle caps on bottle caps. its like capception.
bajablue2 years ago
I LOVE this idea!!!!
mikeasaurus (author)  bajablue2 years ago
I'd love to see your version of this idea, I'll bet it would be awesome!
VHIT17172 years ago
Heres mine i did it a little different, making the design on the outside like a fallout 3 bottlecap, and putting the safety pin on the inside of the bottlecap
100_0266.JPG100_0265.JPG
mikeasaurus (author)  VHIT17172 years ago
Mmmm, I could go for a frosty Nuka Cola right about now.
Enjoy the patch and the 3-month Pro Membership!
Thanks! I got the the artwork from Deviant Art, a pretty cool website with a lot of different stuff
http://www.deviantart.com/
r3jt2 years ago
I think this is a great idea and just bought the materials today. Downloaded GIMP but I'm having trouble figuring out exactly how to create a grid template and put images into it. Any help would be much appreciated.
mikeasaurus (author)  r3jt2 years ago
Download picture 3 in step 3 and open it in GIMP, then the page size to your printer paper (typically A4 / 8.5x11"); on a new layer replace my images with your own!
holy cow! thats a lot of work for one pin! but there really cute! X]
ilpug2 years ago
I have that same exact fix it yourself pin. I think it's on my airsoft BDU. I had about five, but they all got stolen off my backpack :/

I will for sure do this project, since I have been seeing people wearing these, but have wondered how to do it.
raviolikid2 years ago
Nice project and everything is very clear. The only thing I am curious about is when the images are put in. In this picture, it looks like you are pouring the resin into the empty bottle caps. Do you add the pictures after that and then pour another layer? Or do the images sink to the bottom of the resin? Could you please clarify.
mikeasaurus (author)  raviolikid2 years ago
I poured the resin first then placed the image on top and suck it with a stir stick. I chose this method as I found the other way could sometimes entrap air bubbles, which look weird when the resin dries.
Pic should go in first.

psalviati2 years ago
I have got to try this! Do you have Button Image Template?
canucksgirl2 years ago
Very Nice :)
depotdevoid2 years ago
What a great idea! I'll forward this to my brother, he runs a comic shop and I know he's got a bucket of handmade pins on the counter--perhaps he'll add some of these to the mix!
susanrm2 years ago
I've been collecting caps for years, intending to do this, just never got around to it.

You can also drill a hole in the top and add a jump ring for a necklace. Or glue a magnet to the back for a fridge magnet. Two holes (top and bottom) with jump rings can turn it into one part of a bracelet.
Lindie2 years ago
Very nice!