Bottle Cap Pins

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Intro: 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


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

Step 2: 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

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

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

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

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 Instructables.com!

4 People Made This Project!

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56 Discussions

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petalee

5 years ago on Introduction

How do you solder on the safety pin? I tried yesterday with solder and a soldering iron but the solder didn't stick properly.

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mikeasauruspetalee

Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

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?

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petaleemikeasaurus

Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

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.. :)

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lytonlytepetalee

Reply 2 months ago

You also need to be good with soldering iron, I used it when I started but I then moved to super glue because I do them for my business so I needed them to be really professional and neat so that they can sell.

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NerdyGirl79

2 years ago

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!

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shizumadrive

3 years ago on Introduction

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

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CosmicBrambleclaw

3 years ago on Step 6

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 ^_^

1 reply
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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.

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SJF007

5 years ago

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

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SJF007

5 years ago

This is cool I am gonna make one

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cgosh

5 years ago on Step 5

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?

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mikeasauruscgosh

Reply 5 years ago on Step 5

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?

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Gumby45

5 years ago on Step 3

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

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bpfh

5 years ago on Step 4

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?

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mikeasaurushraza1

Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

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.