Sunday, August 23, 2009

How to make a bottle cap table

















Over the last year or so, every so often I write a blog that I actually spend a substantial amount of time writing, and every so often, I also write a blog that has nothing at all to do with music. This blog is a combination of those two things.

These guidelines are not about "the" way to make a bottle cap table, but rather, the way that we made one.

Step one: Find a table, preferably not a huge one, and preferably not one that is very expensive. We found a nice $5 table at Savers that turned out to be just perfect.

Step two: Create a border around the edge of the table (because we were planning to use pour-on high gloss finish). This part proved to be a bit more problematic, and after sorting through a few various options, we decided to use wood trim to line the edges of the table. As it turns out wood trim options are not widely abundant at most places, and thus, I had to go with what was provided. I wanted something just slightly taller than the height of a bottle cap, and luckily found just what I needed for that. If you have capabilities to create your own trim to specifications, you are probably in the best shape on that front.

Photos skip the first few steps, but here's the table with the trim border finished. (Click any photo for larger size.)

















Step three: Paint the table. Spray paint is fairly easy if you've got a place to do it, but also not the most economical, as it took us 3 cans to finish the table. Probably one can of paint with a paintbrush would have done the trick.

Step four: The bottle caps. This proved to be another situation where we had some various options and ultimately made our own judgment call. The key is to make the bottle caps into little tiles, and you don't want them to be empty because the air will cause problems when you do the pour-on finish. We decided against plaster, thinking it would be too heavy, but it could probably be viable if you can find a lightweight plaster fill. We finally decided on using hot glue to fill all of the bottle caps.

Caps filled with hot glue and, after drying, placed to determine spacing/design, etc.
















We filled them to the brim and left them to dry. When we got them all filled (and dried), we placed them on the table to determine exactly how we wanted them to be arranged. Once we figured out the arrangement, we put just a little more hot glue on the bottom and stuck them down, trying to keep them in a tight pattern the whole time.

After all the filled caps dried, we put a small dot of glue on the bottom and set them on the table.
















We got lucky that the inside of the table area was 15 bottle caps square. Thus, we had 225 caps on our table. Bottle caps that were not twist-off sometimes required a little encouragement as they were bent out of shape, and given the glue filling, they could be bent fairly easily on the bottom side to make them fit. We found that the bottom could be squared off just slightly enough to make them fit, but not enough to make them visibly disfigured from above.

Getting to this point was pretty nice, and everything went so well that we were apprehensive about putting the finish on for fear that something would get messed up. In theory, we could have left the table as is, with all the bottle caps secured. However, the surface was slightly irregular, and we also knew the hot glue would not hold forever, and probably within a year, they would begin to come loose, especially if they got wet, which is inevitable with a table.

Step five: The final stage for us, besides some touch up painting, was to pour the high gloss finish over the bottle caps and create a clear smooth surface. Having researched this a bit, I found that a product called Kleer Koat is often used to fulfill this purpose, and is usually what restaurants and such use when they make tables with various items inset in a table or bar. However, I found that this product is somewhat expensive, and not that easy to get. Neither of my neighborhood home improvement stores carried it, so I didn't pursue the issue much further. I also expect that Kleer Koat has fairly hazardous chemicals that need to be used with extreme caution.

Not an endorsement, this is just the gloss we used.
















Instead, we chose the one product that was carried at our neighborhood store, a clear high gloss finish of sorts called Envirotex Lite. This material still requires a lot of safety precautions, but I didn't find them unreasonably hard to follow. Further, I'm not certain that it is designed exactly for the purposes we used it for on the table, and by that, I mean I'm not sure that it is meant to be as thick as we have it on our table. This sized box was enough for all 3 of our coats.

After a month or more of hemming and hawing, we finally went for pouring the stuff over our table. It was surprisingly easy, as long as you mix it very thoroughly and have the proper tools available. If you use this stuff, please follow their instructions completely (read the instructions multiple times), and use all the safety equipment they recommend, etc. etc. Don't just try to wing it with this stuff.

With our table, we made the first layer probably slightly thicker than they recommend, but we wanted to fill in all the space between the bottle caps first. Then we poured one more coat to try to level it out. Most can probably get away with just two coats, although we ended up doing a third coat to make the surface flush with the edges of the table.
With each coat, we first put painters' tape around the edges to keep the gloss from getting on the sides, and then peeled it off and put new on for each coat. One could also pour so that the gloss went all the way out to the edges, but that seemed a little messy for our tastes.

The top of the table after the first coat.
















The table top after 3 coats
. Smooth as...high gloss finish.
















And finally, the view from the top.
















As you can see, I'm not an expert, but please let me know if you've got questions about how we made our table. I seriously doubt I can do much to help you troubleshoot any other problems that arise. Overall cost of materials (besides the beer) was probably between $75-100.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

very nice idea, looks wonderful! bernard

Andrew said...

When You put on the gloss stuff at the end how do you prevent it from getting on the bottle caps and ruining the whole display?

Windfarm said...

@Andrew,

I may not be understanding your question, but the gloss/resin finish is poured over the bottle caps and both fills in around them and covers the top of them. Since it is all clear, this does not affect the visual appearance.

Anonymous said...

whats the table dimensions and how much clear coat did you have left

Windfarmblog said...

I believe the dimensions of the table were roughly 19 inches square.

As for the amount of epoxy I had left, I used every bit of the 32 oz. container of the Envirotex lite. That included 3 coats, although the first by far uses the most -- over half of the container -- because it fills in around all of the bottle caps.

Steve said...

Nice work! How did you get such a smooth surface? Did you use a tool to level the drying gloss or was the gloss thin enough to allow gravity to give a flat surface?

Windfarm said...

Steve, it smooths out on its own. you can use a paint stick to move around big globs, but it will settle fairly smoothly on its own after that

Jay said...

Oooooh, very very nice.

Anonymous said...

Impressive!! I especially like the LeftHand Caps ! I am attempting part of a bar counter...thanks for the info!

Christina said...

I have been collecting caps for a couple of years now and am waiting for the right opportunity to do this. This is great info and glad you had such success. Thanks for sharing.

Rachat de credit said...

Using your excellent instruction, now to make a bottle cap table is a pretty simple job.Cheers

Anonymous said...

I'm making a bar top that will be 30" x 8'. I like the idea of using hot glue to fill the caps, but I'm afraid it will be too expensive. Do you reccomend any other type of filler? Table looks great!

Shannon Kelly said...

I used this blog to make a similar table! I couldn't find a good table to use and i wanted a long one i could use for beer pong so I made one myself using a 2x4 i stained and put wood around. i attached legs that are removable using pvs pipes i spray painted. I used the same method of filling caps with hot glue and using envirotex lite on top. I'm a college student and I put my school's logo in the middle. Thought i would share the results! I tried to attach pictures, hopefully this works

http://i143.photobucket.com/albums/r135/shannonxo55/IMG_0635.jpg

http://i143.photobucket.com/albums/r135/shannonxo55/IMG_0637.jpg

http://i143.photobucket.com/albums/r135/shannonxo55/IMG_0636.jpg

Anonymous said...

I followed these directions to construct a table just like this one.I made it for my boyfriend who loves beer. It turned out amazing!!! The resin is perfect for this type of thing. If anyone ever wants to do this- do it. It's a lot of work but it's defiantly worth it. :)

lyns said...

Can I ask where you got your envirotex. I'm in Northern Colorado and I assume you are in Colorado based on your amazing tastes in microbrews.

Windfarmblog said...

I think i got it at McGuckin in Boulder, but pretty sure Home Depot had it as well.

Jed Kosch said...

Hi there, Im about to use the resin, but the direction sort of throw me for a loop. Can you describe the step you took to use the gloss? I will not follow your directions word for word, it would just give my an idea as how to properly use it. Thanks

Clark Glover said...

have the caps rusted at all since you completed the project?

Windfarmblog said...

They cannot rust because they are completely encased in the envirotex coating.

Bailey said...

I had started to use hot glue but was going through the glue so fast I knew it would be expensive and really time consuming,so instead I used Daps caulk and it worked great.

Anonymous said...

I know I'm late to the party.

I've been saving beer caps for 3 years now with the anticipation of building a desk with them. I haven't done any research on the project until today. One thing I've been struggling with is how to get the caps to stay in place as I pour the resin over top. The idea of filling them with glue or caulking is ingenious and saved me a future headache. Thanks for your ideas!

Anonymous said...

I've got my table built, 2' x 8'

I bought the envirotex lite stuff and had a ton of bottle caps.

Does anyone think just pouring on the envirotex will be a problem? I really don't wanna waste money and time trying to fill the caps with hot glue.

I feel like the bottle caps won't move around when I pour on the stuff. Am I wrong?

Windfarm said...

I have no clue if that will work w/o gluing them down. Let me know how it goes.

Anonymous said...

If you haven't tried it yet, DON'T DO IT!
If you don't glue them down, they will all float to the surface.

I tried doing it without completely filling them and still had this issue to some extent, so you HAVE to glue them.

Ricky said...

i impressed by your article ,you are doing a very nice job. I really appreciate your work.
Beer Pong Table

Anonymous said...

U can also use super glue? Couple drops will do the trick.

Anonymous said...

One of the purposes for filling caps with glue or caulk is to eliminate potential bubbles in the epoxy coming from under the cap when the epoxy is poured. Thats a lot of bubbles if every cap still has air under it.

Anonymous said...

Now that it has been a couple of years have you notice any discoloring of the resin or is it still clear as when you did it?

Windfarm said...

No real discoloration, although mine was left in the garage through summer heat, and it is severely cracked

Anonymous said...

it goes ON the bottle caps?

vcisjb said...

How many glue sticks did you use? it seems you would use a lot however glue sticks aren't that expensive...

Eric Carlo said...

Hi I liked the way it turned out but you said you added three layers. How many of the clear coat kits did you get. Cause I want to do this but on a coffee table and would like to have an idea of how many kits to buy.

Grandma Terri said...

Could I use white glue to fill the bottle caps? Seems it would level easier than caulk.