Saturday, June 8, 2013

800 Bottle Caps Down the Drain

Using "unconventional" items to embellish furniture or decorative wear is a trend for the hardcore DIY crowd right now. Penny covered tables and counter tops. Crowns/bras/jewelry made of teeth (pop stars can be bizarre). Old brooches and earrings made into wedding bouquets. These projects end up being the ultimate "upcycle" adventure. The creativity and ingenuity that goes into these projects is amazing and wonderful. Sadly though, they aren't always as easy to reproduce as all of us would like. But then I guess everyone would have stuff like this and it wouldn't be such a novelty. 

Lauren and her husband found an idea to make an awesome table and eagerly got saving so they could make their own. 

The Original Pin
The resin topped bottle cap table. It's not quite what I'd want in my dining room personally, but it'd be fun to do something like this for a patio table or an end table of some sort. This could be done with plain beer caps, pop bottle caps, or you could paint the caps to be whatever colors you want (like in this serving tray). I bought a big bag of bottle caps about a year ago thinking I'd paint them and make something neat with them, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. I knew I'd never save up enough without losing them or just giving up and throwing the caps I just bought the bag. Lauren however worked hard to save their own. 

She says, "thankfully we had been saving bottle caps for three years. When we moved to our home in Texas, we found a discarded coffee table that we sanded down for this project. We needed over 800 bottle caps for this project. Took a whole weekend arrange the design. An additional day gluing the caps down and this past afternoon pouring the resin. It seemed simple enough and blog upon blog told us you could spread the resin to fill in the cracks..."

The Pinstrosity

"...wrong. dead wrong. not only did the resin start to harden moments after we poured it, but trying to spread it created cracks, dips, bubbles, and worst of all started pulling up our carefully laid bottle caps. Now the resin is cracking into craters on the table and pulling off the bottle caps. Oh yeah, and the resin definitely doesn't level out. We poured from the center out. The center has about an inch of resin and slowly thins out towards the edge. We're beyond devastated. 3 years and 800 bottle caps down the drain in 10 minutes."

In a search to see if they could salvage their project the did come across a forum where they found the advice to lay out the resin in thin layer upon thin layer rather than pouring the resin all out in one big thick layer. This didn't help them after the table was done of course, but they hope to help someone else if they try this project out. Another thing they found after the fact was that many resins yellow over time, so even if their top and been clear to start with, it would have yellowed as time went on. 

Having this large-scale of a project go wrong is always heartbreaking. I think that's why so many of us are afraid to try something this big. If it works, then we have an awesome homemade item sitting in our house like a trophy. If it fails...what do you do with it now? 

I went to some projects that used similar ideas to see what I could glean about using epoxy to pour the table tops and here's what I found:
-they suggest using 2 part mixable epoxy and to closely follow the directions for mixing it
-either pour a number of thin layers, or pour the epoxy in a spiral, starting in the middle and working out, smoothing with an old credit card as you go. 
-after all the epoxy is poured, tilt the table/counter/desk/etc as needed to let the epoxy run and fill the thin parts. 
-One the epoxy is level-ish, they suggest either exhaling over every inch or using a blow torch (a creme brule torch works just fine) to help get the bubbles and cracks to rise out of the epoxy. 
-If the background under the bottlecaps is a tan or yellow color, the epoxy is really really going to look extra yellowish. Darker colors will show the yellowing of the epoxy less. The yellowing of the epoxy will show with a true white background, but it won't look as yellow for the first bit. 

And then there's this idea from me...I'd do a mini-test pour on something to make sure the epoxy is working just right. I could check for consistency issues, cracking issues, instant hardening issues, instant yellowing issues, etc. Then if I didn't have the consistency just right, I could work on the epoxy a little (or bite the bullet and buy different epoxy) before pouring it on my real project. 

Even though this turned out to be a huge disappointment and frustration for Lauren and her husband, I think it's really cool that they even tried it in the first place. I think I'm too chicken to try something like this, so I always think those who have the courage to try it are awesome. 


  1. Oh wow what a bummer. :( What a drag that happened with the resin!!! I've seen that project and it looked so easy! Isn't there any kind of resin that dries clear? I see a lot of resin products in my beading catalogs, but it's meant to be used on a much smaller scale than this kind of project.

  2. That stinks!! When my boyfriend built our bar, he used a 2 part epoxy for bartops that dried completely clear after like 12 hours. The only problem we had with it was that one of the cats tried to get on top of the bar before it was completely dry so there are some spots that have cat prints in them!

  3. I have seen these projects as well and the best tips I have picked up are to use a good resin intended for bar tops, and follow the directions on the resin. Resin can be very finicky as to temp and humidity, so read all the paperwork.

  4. My dad did a bar top with coins, back in the 70s, with polyurethane. It turned out pretty cool. I seem to remember a few tiny bubbles here & there, but not obvious.He did do a lot of thin coats, rather than all at once.

  5. -huge SADFACE for Lauren and her hubby. Maybe one should start a bottle cap fund for them for a possible future endeavor...?


    One of the better Epoxy Desktop/bar/Surface Tutorials I've seen.

  7. There are many different specifications of epoxy resin. I think you used one not suitable for your requirements.

  8. Hmm.. they could have skipped the epoxy altogether and used a glass tabletop instead.

  9. If you are making artwork it is best to skip the resin and use Krylon crystal clear acrylic coating. You won't have a glass like surface over the caps, but they will have a protective coat.


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