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Is it possible to use some type of nail gun to attach beer or soda bottle caps to wood without crushing the bottle cap? Answered

I make bottle cap mosaics and I'm open to any suggestions that could help speed up process and ease manual labor!? Thanks in advance for the help...I sure do need it. Also, any suggestions for a struggling artist with many ideas, but difficulty completing pieces, because of lack of technical knowledge and skills.



Best Answer 8 years ago

I am a professional carpenter, and own a wide variety of nail guns. I also suspect that the force of the nail will bend/indent the cap, at least a little bit, but I think that your best bet would be a 18 gauge brad nailer. I'll try it tomorrow with mine. It would also be helpful to know what type of substrate you are nailing to, as it could make a difference. If I am successful, I'll let you know. (P.S. Porter-Cable makes a very cheap and reliable brad gun. Look into prices and see if it is in your range. Also, for any nailgun, you will need a compressor, but one that is only used to run a brad nailer would be quite cheap)

So I tried it, and it worked pretty well. The first brad went all the way through the cap (into 1/2" plywood), but I dialed down the pressure a bit and it worked well. The dark dot in the middle of the K is the hole where the brad went through, and the light dot to the left of the K is the head of the second, successful, brad. Verdict: slight denting, but no crushing.


I greatly appreciate your time and effort to solve my problem. Do you agree with the comment that it's dangerous to use a nail gun for this application? It looks great to me, at least for the bottom layer. Thanks again to you and everyone who contributed!

Using a nailgun is inherently dangerous; I have shot myself several times, with several different nailers. The key to using a brad gun, in this and other applications, is to use the shortest brad that will be effective, as they tend to want to "hook out" (deflect and travel in a curve). Also, it is important to keep the gun as perpendicular to the work as possible and to keep your fingers well away. I actually think that shooting bottle caps is pretty safe because the corrugated rim of the cap will bite into the substrate, and most brad guns have a rubber "boot" to keep the tip from slipping and/or marring the workpiece, but wear safety glasses anyway.

Thanks for the great input - my faith in people is being restored...

on most bottlecaps there are sharp jagged edges. i would take a hammer and pound the edges into the wood. hope this helps!

u don't want to dial down the nail gun too far (much below 65 psi) as it can harm the cycle capacities of the tool, and/or the safety components. The best and safest way is to build up the wce (work contact element)(the thing that depresses against the material u are nailing) with a fixture (for u something that matches the circumference of the bottlecap) that holds the actual nose of the tool away from the bottlecap. Remember the tool is made to drive fastener into wood and countersink the nail. Even simplier, grind down the actual piston, however this will shorten it's life since it is tempered.

Nail guns used to penetrate a bottle cap would be dangerous. Depending on the size you use, a bent nail or breaking is something skilled trades worry about when using a nail gun. You should just do it like a real tile mosaic. Lay on a coating of mastic or thinset. You could then just press on the bottle caps. There is some working time to rearrange or even pull off the caps when you are working. Good luck.

Though a nail gun may speed up your production I would avoid using it, mainly because you'll have a nail in each cap potentially ruining the effect of any detail on the caps. A better option would be a hot glue gun with a nice big gob in each, it's cheap and easy to replace a cap if you change your mind of the placement. Alternatively if you were building this on a sheet of plywood you could build a small raised edge around the perimeter of your sheet, then lay the caps in any design you want, then pour a resin over the entire mosaic and wait for it to harden. The raised edge you built earlier around your mosaic will keep the resin in place and solidify into a transparent block with your mosaic in the middle, forever protected! The drawback of this is that it will be heavy and you need to be certain of your design before pouring. hope this helps!

Shuriken if your a ninja. If you are a mere mortal then I ~~can't~~ won't help you.

have you tried some type of spacer like a disk of plastic to put inside the cap to stop it collapsing when the nail goes in? hope this helped

what i would do is put nails through the bottle caps but not on the wall then hammer them all in after wards

What about using the clear resin that is used on bar tops or table tops? I have used this with photos to make coffee tables for my mom and motherinlaw. Works Great. Can be polished if it gets scratched. You could completely cover the caps or just go half way up the sides. Very strong stuff.

Thanks to everyone who has replied. I don't have a bandsaw and the idea is to cut down on work not create more, but I will try it if there is no other solution for a nail gun to work. What kind of nail gun would you suggest? I get a bit overwhelmed at the store when I look at power tools...There are so many different kinds - so many different price points. Of course as a struggling artist I have to be frugal, although, I will purchase something if it saves my hands and I'm able to produce enough to make it worth it! A glue gun won't work well, because (not the best pix) there are 2 layers of caps (you wouldn't be able to get a curve without 2 layers and you would have large areas of space - unless it was enormous in size). Plus my own personal prejudice, I would only use a glue gun if it was the only possible solution, as I used when I made a plastic wall out of the annoying packaging that everything comes in now.

I have a compressor nail gun and its adjustable so you can vary the depth the nails go in however you'll probably find that for it to have the force to pierce the cap and penetrate the wood it will be very difficult to stop it from bending the cap itself. I understand you wish to cut down on labour but to me the best solution would be to buy a cheap drill press for a power drill and drill a small hole in each cap then you can either nail them by hand or use nails in a staple gun. Alternatively a cheap and quick way to fill the back to stop them from buckling would be to mix up a batch of filler and use something like a cake icer to fill the backs of them. or use a caulking gun or something. My personal opinion however is that the sense of pride an artist gains from there work partly comes from the hours of painstaking work which goes into each piece. None of this mass produced nonsense :)

Apologies for the atrocious spelling ;P

I would use a glue gun instead

In you were to cut down some old wine corks, you could make round sections that are just the right depth to fit inside the cap. Then when the nail gun hits it, it wont be destroyed.

I like this idea, it's quick and easy and reuses wine corks. Slice up some wine corks on a bandsaw or even with a serrated kitchen knife. Place a disc behind the bottle cap, then hit the cap with a brad nail gun. You could even make the cork disks a little thicker if you wanted the bottle caps to stand off the surface a bit.

i like the idea of filling them with cork, but that seems like alot of work.. wouldn't clay be better? or maybe even a resin?