Project 3 Week 3 – Jumbo Bottle Cap Letter

This week I decided that it was time to think up an alternate use for all the beer bottle caps I have lying around.  Normally, I make them into coasters for my Etsy shop.

But I have a LOT of bottle caps, and sometimes I feel like I should find new things to do with them.  I’d seen picture frames online before that were covered in smashed bottle caps, so I figured I’d try my own.  But I wasn’t really feeling the whole picture frame thing.  Then, while wandering around Michaels, I spotted these jumbo wooden alphabet letters, and I knew they would look really cool covered in bottle caps!

Many hours of tough work later, and I’m pretty happy with the results, but my dreams of offering custom alphabet letters through Etsy is pretty much squashed like these bottle caps, because I’d have to charge way more than people would be willing to pay, just to offset the amount of work each letter takes!

But, all the work was probably worth it, because it looks pretty awesome decorating my bookshelf!!

That’s all for now, but come back tomorrow for the start of my ‘Rescued from the Curb’ series showcasing home decor I have personally rescued from the NYC garbage trucks, and given new life.

Ciao, Allison

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62 Responses to Project 3 Week 3 – Jumbo Bottle Cap Letter

  1. Candice M says:

    My husband’s birthday is coming up shortly and I would love to do this for him (he has been saving beer bottle caps forever!) Could you tell me what adhesive you used and how you smashed them so well (hammer?)
    Thanks a million! Awesome project!

    • Hi, thanks for the great feedback! I found there was a lot of trial and error with this project. In terms of flattening the caps, a hammer was definitely the ‘smasher’ of choice, however first you really need to take a pair of strong and sturdy pliers, and bend up the sides of the cap so it is as flat as possible. if you skip this step then the cap is much harder to smash and the edges end up curled under as opposed to flattened out. I would recommend doing this in a workshop if you have one, or at least on a sturdy piece of wood that you don’t mind gouging a little bit. While a hammer works just fine, if you had a larger mallet of any kind that would probably be even better.
      As for adhesive, I used hot glue, but I’ve found that some of the caps are now falling off, especially the ones on the side that get bumped most frequently. I wanted to try Gorilla Glue because apparently it expands as it hardens, but my local stationary store was out of it, and the alternative adhesive cement that I purchased didn’t work well at all. Because the caps are bumpy, and laid on top of each other you definitely want a glue that has some sort of volume and can fill in the space between the wood letter and the cap.
      Good luck, and I’d love to see your finished product and hear what you found worked best for you!
      Thanks, Allison

      • Rose says:

        just a bit of advise. instead of a super glue style or hot glue. use an epoxy style like E6000. Michaels and hobby lobby and home depot carry it. it will adhere a ton of stuff. plus it will fill gaps like a silicone. now it takes longer to cure but it is strong strong strong once completely cured,

    • Norma Casas says:

      Hello, I just want to tell you that I really like the finished product on your bottle cap coasters. I also make them but I don’t sell them. I like to make them to give as gifts for Christmas, Birthdays and so on because people just love them. I have already given your estsy store name to some friends so they can buy their own because I only make them as gifts. I know that you don’t give a tutorial for your coasters but I want to ask you what kind of resien do you use. I use Cast and Craft and they get a little yellow on me sometimes. Yours really have a pretty clean shine on them. I’m not ask for you to show me how to make them because I already know how but just what kind of resien you use. I would really appreciate your input, you know from one crafter to another :) I hope to hear from you soon. My e-mail address is madmonkeycaps@yahoo.com. Thank you for your time and if you would like to visit my fb page to check out my stuff please feel free at Mad Monkey Bottle Cap Art.

      Norma Casas

  2. Jesse says:

    Wow, I love all your projects! A lot of them are amazingly similar to things i’ve been into, what an awesome coincidence! This alphabet letter is awesome, and when I read the comments, I instantly thought of some suggestions. For glue, you might want to try a caulking…… hot glue didn’t work because it has to stick to something more porous. Believe me, I glued a bunch of those melted marbles with hot glue onto something, and sadly watched them all just fall off day by day. BUT! I used aquarium caulking, found at a hardware store (used for glass to glass contacts) and it worked like a dream-and-a-half. It’s pretty cheap. For smashies, I wonder if you went to a hardware store and asked for a type of ratchet clamp…. they can be pretty big and flat, probably enough room for a bottle cap…. they close like pliers but go a step farther when you squeeze due to the ratchet. I think you could definitely find a way to streamline this for your shop, just harass a hardware store clerk for a bit :)

    Excellent work!

    • Awesome suggestions!! The aquarium caulk is a great suggestion, I think I mentioned somewhere I was going to try Gorilla glue also, since it expands. Have you had any success or failure with that? I have a bottle somewhere so might try it first, just given the fact that I already have it in my apt but I’ll definitely look into the caulk. A ratchet clamp could work. I’ll have to ask at my local hardware store about that… I still want to try a really big mallet, I’m wondering if I tried smashing with the top of the bottle cap flat on the surface and the ridged edge facing up whether I’d have more luck. I need to remember to try some of this out the next time I’m at my parents’ house and can use my dad’s work bench.
      Thanks for the ideas!!

      • Jesse says:

        Yea, a mallet is a good idea…. or even a square of hard wood to put on top of a few bottle caps, and slam THAT with a mallet… even pressure, you know? oh! i just thought of something! sandwich some bottle caps between two hard pieces of wood or metal, and then use a vice grip that you have to twist shut you know? sandwich ‘em, put ‘em in, and squeeeeze the life out of those :D

        Is it vice grip or table clamp? You know what i’m talking about though. It’s mounted on a table, and holds things for ya.

        As for glue, the gorilla and I have never met – yet – but window caulking and I have a long love affair established, and it’s never let me down. It’s the king of sticking to things that are super smooth, hence the glass!

        Good luck!

  3. Mary says:

    How did you make the bottle cap coasters in the first picture? I would love to do that with some of the bottle caps I have collected!

    • The coasters are made from bottle caps encased in an epoxy resin. I make and sell them in my Etsy design shop, which is why I don’t post any official tutorials about them. I hope you understand.

      Thanks for reading! Allison

      • I just saw that you no longer sell the coasters in your Etsy design shop anymore, are you planning on selling them again anytime soon? If not, is there anyway that you could give a brief tutorial or overview on how you make them? If not, I totally understand!
        Thanks!

      • I have momentarily put them on hold while I focus on lighting (because with working full time it was all I could do to keep up with the lighting orders.) I do plan on selling them again though, I’ll probably bring them back around March. I was originally going to start back up after the New Year but I’m working on a huge wholesale lights order right now so I have had to put the coasters off again for just a few weeks.

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  6. I just wanted to let you know that I love your project and I featured it today at “You Sew Rock Me Fridays” on my blog. You can see it here: http://www.sewrockin.com/2011/12/02/you-sew-rock-me-fridays-7/

    Awesome job, I can’t wait to see what else you come up with!

    Jamie @ sewrockin.com

  7. Webster says:

    We made one of these today. The mallet works great. We used 3-4 taps per cap. I had my 8-year old son do this. It was supposed to be his Christmas present to his dad. Why did I use supposed in the past tense? We used Gorilla glue! A little dab will do ya! It expands like Great Stuff! We hid it in his room with tiles on top. We checked after it had cured for several hours and foam was all on top of the bottle caps! So sad.do when it says to spread a thin layer, don’t listen! Use a dot!

  8. Cristina says:

    I want to make one of these for my brother for Christmas but I can’t find any stores that are selling big wooden letters. Any suggestions on where I canto try and find one, or order one?

  9. Cindy N says:

    This is such a fun idea I can hardly wait to collect enought caps to try it out. You are so creative. I’m loving your 30+30+3 projects. You go girl.

  10. Kelly O'Connor says:

    I would LOVE to make one of these for my Dad for his birthday but am not nearly creative enough! You are so talented! If you were to make more of these, what would you charge!? I’ll pay any price .. these are so cool!

  11. Kathy says:

    I noticed your etsy shop that carries these coasters is closed. Do you still sell them?
    Kathy

  12. Kim says:

    I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to smash a bottle cap. Here is what I did: used the plyers as you stated. I have one of the first Sizzex die cut machines that are made from metal. I was able to smash 6 at a time!

  13. cindy jensen says:

    just a heads up… Gorilla glue is extremely toxic to pets, who, of course find it delicious. They eat it and it swells up in their stomachs and intestinal tracts and has to be surgically removed. Please keep the Gorilla Glue container and completed projects out of the reach of pets :)

  14. Stacy says:

    Hi I was wondering how you attached the caps to the letter I was given a $20 limit on my birthday gift for my bf so I’m trying to do crafty thing so I can get him more! I know he’d love this! Thanks for the idea!

    • I used hot glue but I found the caps kept falling off. You could try gorilla glue, but beware because it expands and can get a bit messy, I would use it very sparingly. You might look into other sorts of epoxy glues, maybe ask at a craft store what they would recommend for gluing metal. Good luck!

  15. Juli says:

    So how’d you do it?!? It looks awesome and my hubby would LOVE this:D

    • I found there was a lot of trial and error with this project. In terms of flattening the caps, a hammer was definitely the ‘smasher’ of choice, however first you really need to take a pair of strong and sturdy pliers, and bend up the sides of the cap so it is as flat as possible. if you skip this step then the cap is much harder to smash and the edges end up curled under as opposed to flattened out. I would recommend doing this in a workshop if you have one, or at least on a sturdy piece of wood that you don’t mind gouging a little bit. While a hammer works just fine, if you had a larger mallet of any kind that would probably be even better.
      As for adhesive, I used hot glue, but I’ve found that some of the caps are now falling off, especially the ones on the side that get bumped most frequently. I wanted to try Gorilla Glue because apparently it expands as it hardens, but my local stationary store was out of it, and the alternative adhesive cement that I purchased didn’t work well at all. Because the caps are bumpy, and laid on top of each other you definitely want a glue that has some sort of volume and can fill in the space between the wood letter and the cap.

  16. coye roane says:

    can u please tell me how you smashed the bottle caps? what tool did u use?
    and how did u curve the edges.

    • I found there was a lot of trial and error with this project. In terms of flattening the caps, a hammer was definitely the ‘smasher’ of choice, however first you really need to take a pair of strong and sturdy pliers, and bend up the sides of the cap so it is as flat as possible. if you skip this step then the cap is much harder to smash and the edges end up curled under as opposed to flattened out. I would recommend doing this in a workshop if you have one, or at least on a sturdy piece of wood that you don’t mind gouging a little bit. While a hammer works just fine, if you had a larger mallet of any kind that would probably be even better.
      I’m not sure what you mean when you are asking about the curved edges, the caps are naturally circles so they are curved around the edges already. Is that what you were asking about? Otherwise i just smashed them as best I could, and didn’t do anything else to them.

  17. valeri behlmer says:

    I would like a letter with Miller lite caps could u let me know how much

  18. Pingback: Project 3 Week 3 – Jumbo Bottle Cap Letter | the 3 R’s blog | 

  19. Lynette says:

    Hey Allison!
    You have inspired! Great art work! I plan to do this for my boss and his wife. I found that laying a piece of felt down on a hard work surface, then turning the cap upside down and beinging to hammer it flat worked great. Then to mount (I edged covered a picture frame) I used tile mortar and it seemed to hold pretty well. Then I capped that off with a glass finish of liquid sealer – just brushed on a good coat and all looks good! :) Thanks for the inspiration – and after trying this, I totally understand you’re reluctance to sell. It is extremely a labor of love without a price! :) Watching for more amazing ideas!

  20. Samantha says:

    Hello, I’m doing this for my brother and law and I just have one question! Did you smash the bottle caps /after/ they were glued on as well??

  21. Anna Banana says:

    This is wonderful! But how do you go about bending and/or cutting the bottle caps over the edges of the letter? I assume you would do it before you glue it on?

    • They are bent, not cut. And I did it with pliers, I think. I did this project 2 years ago so I’ve forgotten some of the construction details. But I think they aren’t that hard to bend with a good pair of pliers. Bend them before you glue them on, and then you can just glue them where the bend hits the edge nicely, without worrying about gluing and then trying to bend it into place. I may have cut one cap in half, where there was really only room for half a cap to be on the face of the letter, but most of them were bent.

      • Anna Banana says:

        Pliers work great for bending the caps around the edge of the letter! Unfortunately, I’m not having a lot of luck with the gorilla glue. Unless you have a butt load of patience-can only do one at a time and clamp it down then let it dry for almost an hour and even then, it’s not holding so well. I’m going to try some caulking and see if I have better luck with that. Thank you so much!

  22. MaryAnn says:

    Has anyone tried this project recently? I’ve read all the comments and am ready to glue. I’m wondering what adhesive has worked best.

  23. Kacie says:

    Okay, I just finished mine! I found that using a metal hammer on concrete worked best to flatten the caps out completely. I originally used a rubber mallet, but the metal worked better. I tried glue and had no luck, and eventually ended up using a construction adhesive from Home Depot. Its made by Loctite and its Clear Power Grab, found in the caulking section. One large tube as about 4 dollars. I used needle nose plyers to bend the edges around the letters. Since I am making these for some of my girl friends, I covered them in glitter mod podge when I finished They are cute! Thanks for the idea.

  24. ej brown says:

    I’m working on a large wooden picture frame that was 1st covered with aluminum tape…..big mistake….I think! Anyway forgot to wipe down with alcohol before trying to glue…..so they are popping off…..tried to hammer them down….that seems to be working…..but think I might try some of the other suggestions! Thanks!

  25. Ellen says:

    I just finished a letter for my son’s birthday gift. I read all the previous comments (lots of good advice) and still had a few issues. I first used needlenose pliers to spread the edges of the bottlecaps out, then folded an old towel around the bottlecaps and smashed them on concrete with a big heavy mallet. I tried using double sided adhesive dots to attach the bottlecaps, but that raised the caps off the surface of the letter. I got a product called Zap-a-Gap (similar to Gorilla Glue), but still no luck. I ended up attaching the bottle caps using very small wire nails (#18 x 5/8″) that I cut shorter so as not to come out the back. The nailhead does show, but it’s not too distracting. I used tin snips to trim the bottle caps to fit the edges of the letter. I found all the tools and the wire nails in my husband’s tool box so that worked out well. At any rate, it’s a great project but lots of work. I posted a couple of pics on my Flickr photo stream (TNquilter).

  26. Ellen says:

    I think I ran out of room…thanks Allison for sharing!

  27. Mandy says:

    I’m still having trouble figuring out the glue part. I used a hot glue gun & held each cap down really hard while it dried & it seems to be working fairly well. The loose ones I’m now super gluing & clamping down to dry. Instead of bending the caps cuz I couldn’t get them to make a sharp 90 degree angle, I used a dremel with a wood & metal drill bit. You have to clamp the cap to a piece of wood & cut it first rather than gluing it to te letter & then cutting it. It worked well!

  28. Mandy says:

    I also tried e6000 to redo the ones that were falling off from the hot glue but I couldn’t get it to stop coming out of the tube & every time I use it it makes a huge mess- any suggestions?

  29. Katie says:

    Did you glue the caps down after flattening out the rims? And then smashed them with the hammer while on the wooden letter? I would love to do this project, looks fun!

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  31. Amy says:

    Thanks for this tutorial. I am trying to make a couple small tables for outside, and have not been able to find a decent tutorial.. I was wondering if you have tried this technique & then covered it with epoxy resin or acrylic water? Do you have any tips for working with epoxy resin or acrylic water.

    • I do have a lot of experience with epoxy resin, but only in small doses and pouring it into molds. I’ve never tried pouring it onto a bigger surface like a table. But maybe some other readers have helpful tips?
      Allison

      • Amy says:

        Thanks Allison! Once I get the project done I’ll post you the link to my blog & tutorial if you want.

        I would love tips from anyone who has any tips!

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  33. Stacey says:

    I wonder if nailing the caps into the wood after gluing them would help hold them on. I realize the nail head would cover up a tiny part of the beer cap, but this could give it a rustic feel. Maybe just one of those tiny little nails. Very cool project, I hope to try it someday!

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  35. Tam Nguyem says:

    What an innovative way to reuse the bottle caps. You could also decorate your home with wooden letters.

    Wooden Alphabet Letters

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  38. gary petersen says:

    HI COULD YOU MAKE A LETTER B FOR MY GRANDDAUGHTER WHO IS IN COLLEGE SHE WILL BE A JUNIOR NEXT YEAR AND IS MOVING INTO A HOUSE THIS MAY AND I THINK THAT WOULD BE A NICE PRESENT FOR HER I WOULD APPRECIATE IT SO MUCH THANK YOU CONNIE PETERSEN

    • Unfortunately I have never made these for re-sale, they are just too much work! But I recommend you search around Etsy, you might find someone who does something similar and could make a custom Letter B for you.
      Good luck! Allison

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