Introduction: Bottle Cap Pins

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!

Step 1: Tools + Materials

Picture of Tools + Materials

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

Step 2: Bottle Caps

Picture of Bottle Caps

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. 

Step 3: Find Images / Print / Cut

Picture of Find Images / Print / Cut

I brainstormed image ideas that I thought would be easily understood at a quick glance. I scoured the internet for images and dumped them into an imaging editing software (GIMP is great free image editing tool). 

In your image editing software set up a new work space with the same dimensions as standard printer paper, A4 [8.5"x11"]. The inside diameter of the bottle caps were measured at about 25mm [1"]. In the image editing software I set up a simple grid template of circles with the same diameter as my bottle caps. Accounting for printing margins I got about 8 circles across and 11 deep.

Each image I found from the internet was copied onto the circle template. I've provided the sheet I used, feel free to use it as-is or as a template for your own images. Here's the full-size image.

When your template is full of images print in colour and then cut out each circle. After cutting place one circular image cut-out in each bottle cap.

Step 4: Mix Resin and Pour

Picture of Mix Resin and Pour

Following the directions from the package of EasyCast, I warmed the resin and hardener bottles in warm water for a few minutes. Then I poured equal amount into separate disposable cups (exact measurements are important, do not 'eyeball'). When equal portions have been measured out, combine into one cup and stir for 2 minutes. Ensure sides, bottom and stir stick itself have been incorporated into the mixing, resin mixture must be homogeneous.

After mixing pour contents into a new clean disposable cup and mixed for another 2 minutes with a new stir stick. After secondary mixing the resin is ready to be poured. Use resin immediately, as the chemical reaction has begun once mixed and will begin to harden.

The resin was carefully poured into each bottle cap, filling only about halfway. I used about half of the resin and hardener for my 80 caps (each bottle is 4oz [120ml] and I used 2oz [60ml]). After pouring I went back with a new stir stick and poked down any images that had floated to the top or were otherwise misaligned. Allow resin to cure overnight.

Step 5: Prep Back + Solder

Picture of Prep Back + Solder

After the resin has cured it's time to attach our pins. The reason this is done after the resin has been cast is that we needed the bottle caps to lie flat when casting to ensure a level surface for each pin button. 

All bottle caps have a logo or image on the top, to ensure good contact for our solder each cap needs to be sanded to remove this logo, allowing the solder to have good contact. No need to sand the entire top of the cap, just a strip where the safety pin will be. Leaving some of the logo or image adds a neat bit of flair to an otherwise boring pin back.

Using fine sandpaper (100grit) or a rotary tool, sand away a strip on the back of each pin to reveal bare metal, then solder on a safety pin to the back. Repeat for each pin.

Step 6: Pin to Stuff

Picture of Pin to Stuff

All that's left is to pin your new buttons to your favourite jacket, bag or whatever else you wear! What are you waiting for?! Give those pins away and show everyone how crafty you are! 

Have fun!

Did you make your own bottle cap pins based on this Instructable? Share a picture of your version of this project in the comments below and earn yourself a digital patch and a 3-month Pro Membership to!


MattJKF made it! (author)2017-11-10

Made my version with glue gun and a safety pin, then added a thin coat of matt finish

mikeasaurus (author)MattJKF2017-11-13

Looking sharp!

Thanks for sharing a photo, enjoy the Pro Membership!

NerdyGirl79 (author)2015-10-30

You've just given me some awesome xmas gift ideas for my family! I have a lot of resin left and a bag of bottle caps I was gonna use for something else. This is perfect!

X905NEONE (author)2015-07-22

where could i buy a casting resin?

Amethyst Star made it! (author)2014-12-14

My first try. I wouldn't recommend putting light ornaments/decorations because mine floated to the top, and messed up. My second batter is currently drying. I was too lazy to drill holes, so I just went out and bought ready-made bottle caps.

X905NEONE (author)Amethyst Star2015-07-22

looks cool :D

you could try glueing them down then pouring the resin in

Try pouring the resin in layers. Start with a shallow layer with the trinkets and wait for the resin to cure halfway, then apply more resin to the top of your piece. The resin should layer seamlessly, and the trinkets will be stuck to the lower layer holding them in place.

Still, the photos you show look amazing! Enjoy a 3-month Pro Membership to Instructables.

Thanks! I'll make sure I'll try this after my second batter has cured!

And if you're wondering why I didn't use pins, scroll down and look at my last comment. Or not.

shizumadrive (author)2015-04-19

thats a nice version. you can poke holes on the side and thread a safety pin through and show the other side as well

CosmicBrambleclaw (author)2014-12-13

Cant wait to try :D I've been saving up caps for a messenger bag project, and now that Im in college and we have a pub literally across the street from campus I might be able to make hundreds of these ^_^


I bet people will love the ones you come up with, I'd love to see your results!

Amethyst Star (author)2014-11-30

Love this! I'm going to try this out, but without the pins. I'll try drilling holes through the top and inserting key chains instead so it can be a personalized key chain. It's probably gonna take a lot of work to do this though.

noushinmelody (author)2014-04-26

great idea:)

Danger is my middle name made it! (author)2014-03-07

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!

SJF007 (author)2013-06-06

No I'm gonna make like uh 50 or 30 something like that

SJF007 (author)2013-06-06

This is cool I am gonna make one

petalee (author)2012-11-01

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)petalee2012-11-01

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?

petalee (author)mikeasaurus2013-02-09

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.. :)

cgosh (author)2013-01-11

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)cgosh2013-01-11

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?

Gumby45 (author)2012-12-11

This is a really creative idea! I love it. Very clever and cute :D These should be nice christmas craft thingies.

bpfh (author)2012-12-02

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?

hraza1 (author)2012-07-03

as a newbie can i ask what is a resin? any subsitute

mikeasaurus (author)hraza12012-07-03

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.

ncmabry (author)mikeasaurus2012-10-23

I have used Modge Podge Dimensional Magic to make similar projects.

Keiristy (author)mikeasaurus2012-08-27

You can use a product called Sakura 3-D Crystal Lacquer (I buy mine on 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!

CrashMGD (author)2012-10-12

Could you use hot glue as your "resin"? Would it still display the image nicely like a resin?

dur.sk8 (author)2012-03-06

How creative!!!!!!!!!!!!!

adrian09 (author)2012-02-25

what kind of paper would you recommend?

mikeasaurus (author)adrian092012-02-25

I used standard printer paper. I recommend paper that is very bright white.

Coliflower (author)2012-02-12

Any homemade/other alternatives for that resin?

mikeasaurus (author)Coliflower2012-02-12

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?

Coliflower (author)mikeasaurus2012-02-13

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.

rocketman7 (author)2012-02-11

Very Nice! Is the 3 Month Pro Membership promotion still going on?

mikeasaurus (author)rocketman72012-02-12

You bet! Show me what you've got!

Kryptonite (author)2012-02-08

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)Kryptonite2012-02-08

Great suggestion, I like alternatives!
I actually used your exact method to fix a commercially made button last week.

Kryptonite (author)mikeasaurus2012-02-08

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.

Browncoat (author)2012-01-16

My Kaylee umbrella pin :)

mikeasaurus (author)Browncoat2012-01-17

Great pin, I love the Firefly twist! Thanks for sharing.
Enjoy the patch and the 3-month Pro Membership!

annoyingfeatures (author)2012-01-10

here is mine

Awesome, thanks for sharing! Enjoy the patch and the 3-month Pro Membership!

carpfluff (author)2012-01-08

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.

bajablue (author)2011-12-23

I LOVE this idea!!!!

mikeasaurus (author)bajablue2011-12-23

I'd love to see your version of this idea, I'll bet it would be awesome!

VHIT1717 (author)2011-12-22

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

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm Mike and I make crazy things at Instructables HQ in San Francisco. Follow me and try a few of my projects for yourself!
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