Introduction: US Map Made of Beer Tops

About: Growing a garage shop, and enjoying woodworking in the process.
I saw a version of this in a bar on a cruise ship and though it would go perfect in my basement behind the bar. So I enlisted my nephews who are on summer vacation to help.


1/2 inch oak plywood 38 1/2inches x 26 1/4 inches
3/4 inch thick oak 1 1/2 x 27 1/4 for frame 2 pieces
3/4 inch thick oak 1 1/2 x 36 2/16 for fram 2 pieces
Large map cut out so you can trace onto the wood
Hot glue
Beer or Soda caps

Tools needed
Table saw
Random orbital sander
Protective glasses
Solid surface (I used a brick)

Step 1: Collecting and Cleaning Bottle Tops and Preparing the Base

This is a fun little project but I needed to recruit some friends so that I would have enough bottle tops. Fortunately I have a friend who belongs to a beach club so after a few weekends I had enough. All I had to worry about was getting different brands so for that i hit up some friends and the local beer distributor. In all there are approximately 80 different brands in the project and I can continue to add as time goes on. The beer tops had to be cleaned multiple times to get the beer smell out of them. I soaked them in soap and water, rinsed and repeated, then laid them out to dry.
While collecting the caps a large enough map was secured cut out and traced onto the 1/2 oak plywood that Was sanded with 220 sandpaper. After tracing the map onto the board it was stained to the desired color being careful not to go over the lines so the glue will adhere better. After the stain a clear coat finish was applied agian staying mostly outside the lines.

Step 2: Stress Relief... I Mean Preparing the Caps

With the nephews staying for the week now was the perfect time to Finish. We set up two stations to prepare the tops each with eye protection a hammer and a brick. Each cap was placed on a brick given a couple whacks flipped over given a few more whacks so they would be flat. Other caps were folded in half and crushed by a vice grip to be flat so they could fit into tight places. My nephews had a great time swinging away.

Step 3: Positioning and Glueing the Caps

Regrouping the next day we sat around the table hot glueing the caps to the board. But after awhile the caps were loosening up. So we switched to silicone and used some extra to secure the caps that were initially glued with hot glue. Silicone takes longer to dry so we had to take a few breaks to let the caps dry. We used common caps on the first layer so that we could use the less common caps on top layer. We were also mindful to spread out the colors.

Step 4: Adding a Frame

The version that I saw did not have a frame around it, but in looking at it we felt something was missing. So we added a frame. We went back out to the garage cut up some oak to make the frame. The width of the frame is 1 1/2 inches so we dadoed out a grove of 1/2 inch deep 1 inch wide so it will sit flush on the board with a 1/2 inch overhang. I happily let my nephews sand the frame 1st with 150 grit then with 220 grit. Then we stained it and finished it.after two coats of finish we wet sanded the pieces wiped them down and applied one more coat of finish.

Step 5: Dry Fit and Glue Up

After the pieces to the frame were dry we fit them together to make sure no adjustments needed to be made. Fortunately no adjustments were needed so we moved on to the glue up. We used silicone because it seemed to work the best so far and the board was stained because there was no plan originally for a frame. Once the silicone was applied and the pieces put in place they were clamped and left to dry.

Step 6: All Done

After removing the clamps it finally looked finished. It took a week with many breaks waiting for things to dry but the finished product looks good and new brand caps can be added at any time and will only enhance it. Time well spent with the family.
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