If you follow me on Facebook, then you probably saw the status I posted last weekend about promising to write this post because this project gave me a lot of trouble.
Well, here it is!
First, I want to say that this project, despite its problems, was actually fun and I’m pretty happy with my results.
Next, I want to explain (as Sweet Something Designs did in her post) that this is NOT a thrifty project. Even if you manage to get free bottle caps, the resin still costs about $14 for 8 ounces. I needed 16 ounces to complete this project, which brings me to $28. Plus I spent $4 on a tray from Michael’s because I couldn’t find one at any thrift stores. I also spent about $2.50 on each paint (three different colors = $7.50) and another $5 on stain (except I didn’t, because I already had stain…but if you don’t have some, that’s what you’ll spend at minimum).
That brings the total cost of this project to $44.50, minus the cost of the beer if you can’t get your bottle caps for free. I lived in a college up until 4 months ago, so I just picked up bottle caps after a tailgate we went to last October (yes, I have been planning this project for a year). I completed my collection last month when Zach’s dad and brother came to visit and I “convinced” them to drink a case of beer for me. (Twisted their arms and everything.)
This is not a thrifty project.
That said, it’s a cool project to do. Now let me explain what I did and what I would change.
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Bottle Crap Tray
- 1 9×12 inch wooden tray from Michael’s
- 77 bottle caps
- paint of your choosing (for bottle caps–I went with Rose Gold, Gun Metal Grey, and Champagne, all from Martha Stewart)
- 16 oz Easy Cast Epoxy
- hot glue gun
- wood stain (I used Espresso) or paint (for tray)
- staining brush
- glue (super glue, wood glue–something to glue down the bottle caps with)
- cardboard or plastic drop cover
Step 01: Stain or paint your tray. While it dries, paint your bottle caps. I did this by hand, but if your paint colors come in spray paint, I highly recommend using that instead. Spray paint is easier and won’t leave brush strokes (although you can’t really see the brush strokes under the epoxy). Once the stain and sealer have dried, turn the tray over (so you’re looking at its bottom). Take your hot glue gun and seal the bottom of the tray.
What I would have done differently: I would have added another coat of stain and then sealed once it was dry and before adding the bottle caps. I forgot to do that and I wish I hadn’t. I also didn’t do the hot glue gun thing. The problem with Michael’s trays is that the bottom isn’t glued on, it’s just sitting there. So when I dumped my resin it, a lot of it leaked out of the bottom. I lost a lot of resin and it was one of the reasons I had to buy more. I might have been able to do this whole project with only 8 ounces if this hadn’t happened. Hot gluing the bottom of the tray would have saved me a bit of money, since I already have the gun and glue.
My cardboard is now covered in resin. And my tray got stuck to it. So I set the tray on top of this can of stain to keep that from happening again. And I’ve discovered that there is no way to take a decent picture in the work room.
Step 02: Arrange the bottle caps however you want them and then glue each one down.
What I would have done differently: I didn’t glue them down. I meant to and completely forgot. Do not skip this step. Bottle caps float. So when I poured my resin, they floated to the top and drifted away from where I originally had them arranged. I managed to force them to sink again (which involved sitting there for 5-10 minutes and using a plastic spoon to shove each floater back down, hold it there, and then pop the air bubble that formed as a result. I repeated this until they stopped floating.)
Step 03: Once the glue has dried, mix your resin according to packaged directions. Seriously, follow the directions. They seem silly. You may be saying, “Why do I need to dump this mixture into a SECOND container? I’ll just keep stirring in this one.” No. Do what the directions say or it will NOT come out. The manufacturers know how this is supposed to work better than you do. I bring this up because I read a lot of Amazon reviews that said their resin didn’t come out right and they blamed the company. In reality, it was because they didn’t follow the directions, plain and simple. (And if you read the entire pamphlet, it explains what will go wrong if you skip certain steps.) If you’re not going to do exactly what the directions say, then you have no room to complain if it doesn’t turn out right.
What I would have done differently: Not much. This was just about the only thing I did right. 😛 I probably would have gotten taller cups, though. I didn’t want to ruin any of my dishes (because the resin is a pain to get off). So I got plastic cups from the store. The ones I got were only 9 ounces, which were fine. But it would have been helpful to go bigger. Also, get a measuring cup that you don’t mind destroying.
Step 04: Pour the resin into your tray, but only pour 6 ounces at a time. Doing more can cause it not to dry correctly or to yellow. (So, essentially, only mix 6 ounces at a time.) I realize this is a pain, because you have to wait 48 hours before you can add more. But it will be worth it.
What I would have done differently: I wound up dripping resin all over the sides of the tray when I pulled the cup away. I should have used a paper towel or something to keep that from happening. The good news is that I have some glossy polycrylic left over from my cedar chest, so I’ll sand down the resin and go over the tray with that.
Another thing I would do differently is something to keep bugs away (I have no idea what). The resin has to remain completely undisturbed for a full 48 hours. To keep cats away, I put it in my work room…where there are tons of bugs. And I didn’t go in to check on it. Big mistake. A gnat landed in the resin while it was still wet and it is now perfectly preserved in my tray. Wonderful.
A few of my hairs wound up in it, too, actually. Oops.
All-in-all? It has its faults, but I really like it!
They look like they’ve been submerged in water. I need to use resin more often. It’s so cool.
I just need to decide what to do with it now. I thought maybe it could hold my wine paraphernalia. But It also looks pretty good holding my knitting stuff.
What cool things have you done/seen other people do with bottle caps? I’d love to do more projects like this, so let me know in the comments!
Pinned this! Very cool and original! Thanks for sharing!
LOVE this! OOOOHHH you could arrange the colors and make it into a checkers board….
That would be pretty cool! 😀
I love the way it turned out! I love the idea of working with resin but have never been gutsy enough. I think the bubbles scare me! Ha! So glad you joined the Saturday Soiree Blog Party!
I saw the exact same project a few years ago, and collected the caps and all but never actually started. In theirs they used acrylic water, which I think doesn’t dry hard enough, so I thought about using water based polyurethane (dries clearer than oil based ones). Do you think that would work?
I love how you describe what went wrong, and give ideas on what you’d have done instead. You are awesome 🙂
I agree, acrylic water doesn’t dry nearly hard enough. The clear epoxy I used (linked to within the post, in case you didn’t catch it 🙂 ) worked really well. I considered using water based poly (or polyacrylic), but I had never seen it used for this purpose and wasn’t sure if it would work. If I did this project again, I would definitely be willing to try it that way! (In fact, I have bottle caps and have been considering making another!)
So short answer: I don’t know! 😛 If you happen to try it, I would appreciate it if you let me know! But the safe bet would be to just use the epoxy. It’s a lot more expensive, which is a huge bummer, but I guarantee it will work. 🙂 Sorry I couldn’t be more help in that regard.
I’m glad you liked my tutorial, though!
Hey there! Just wondering, because I just tried this out with acrylic water, do you have any recommendations about how to seal it?
Hi! To seal the tray, you can use regular polycrylic. Polyurethane is also fine if you used a stain, but I find that it yellows over time. You don’t need to seal the acrylic water because it is essentially a sealant. But I suppose you could if you wanted. Hope that helps!
Have seen other projects using resin over various items so appreciate your do/don’t input, saves anybody else who wants to try this.
I have smaller little tray think will use for this as try out project. Is there reason you stained your tray instead of painting it?
It’s nice to have tips of what to do/not do, saves project and frustration.
Will get my bottle caps out to spray paint while tray is drying from painting (maybe). Have to decide what colors to use on caps and tray. Love color so will need to plan carefully. Love your tray, is great inspiration.
Enjoy rest of week
I’m glad you found the post helpful! The only reason I stained my tray was because I liked how it looked. You can paint yours if you want to. Thanks! 🙂