Ok guys and gals, so I just tackled a bottle cap table project without ANY knowledge of what I was doing. I just kind of had an idea in my head, that I wanted to make a beer pong table out of the about 3000 bottle caps I had collected in my three years at college. So I took the caps, came up with a design, and it turned out AMAZING. Anyway I figured I could pass on the knowledge I found to those trying to tackle the same project. So here goes:
Figure out what you wanna make (this is assuming you have enough caps to do so). In my case I wanted to make a beer pong table out of the caps, and I had a ballpark figure for the measurements in my head. I wanted the table to be about 8 feet long and about 3 feet wide. But you have to remember that you need to build the structure to the size of the bottler caps in order for them to fit in the space nicely. So I measured a bunch of bottle caps to get their average width and came up with most of them to be about 1 and 1/16th of an inch. So next I took my measurement of 8 feet, and turned it into inches, 96 and divided it by the cap measurement of 1 1/16 " and came up with 90.35 caps stacked side by side to make that length. Obviously you don't want .35 of a cap on the end so you can either round up or down to the next whole cap for your measurement. I rounded down to 90 caps and then re multiplied that 90 caps times their width of 1 1/16" and came up with 95 5/8" total length. By the same process on the width I took 3 feet, turned it into 26 inches, divided that by 1 1/16", coming up with 33.88 caps. I round up here to 34 caps wide, and multiplied by 1 1/16th to get a width of 36 1/8" wide. Now obviously not EVERY cap is exactly 1 1/16th wide at the bottom, so I added about a extra 1/4" to each measurement to make sure they all fit, if you wanna try to be exact here go ahead, but if you some up too small you simply won't fit a cap and could be a whole inch off. Now to figure out how many caps you need just take your length 90, times your width, 34 to get a total of 3060 caps needed for my table.
Now that you have the table dimensions set, all you need to do it build a table. I made a simple 2x6 frame in the dimensions I needed then measured just about 1/2" down from the top of the frame to where the top of my recessed table top would start. In order to make the recess I used 1x2 furring strips screwed into the frame all at a depth of 1/2" from the top of the frame. This creates a lip on which you can set your plywood table bottom to achieve the right recess depth for the caps to sit in. Here is how I figured out at what height the strips had to be attached. Each cap was about 1/8" tall, and I wanted to make sure my epoxy covered the caps well, so I added another 1/8" to that for a total of 1/4". Now the plywood I used was 1/4" thick plywood so you had to take that thickness into account to, so i cam up with a height of 1/2" from the rim to attach the strips. After attaching the strips at the same depth all the way around, I cut my plywood panel and then set it on top of the lip and screwed it down. After the table top is assembled you need to use caulk to go around the inside edge of the recessed top, as well as the seams where the 2x6 frame meets to insure the epoxy has no where to leak out when you pour it. After this is down, paint the entire frame and top, I chose black so the caps would stand out more, and start to lay out your design.
I chose to spray paint some of my caps to make the middle design stand out better so you could easily read the words "Penn State" but depending on what you wanna do, you don't have to follow the same design. Following some of the advice of this thread, after I laid out my pattern and was 100% sure it was what I wanted, I began to glue down the caps. I used a couple cans of 3M Spray Adhesive that you can get a Lowe's or Home Depot and layered it on thick, then filling in my space, stuck the caps to the plywood. Almost all of my caps stuck, any that didn't stick I went back with some super glue and fixed them before pouring. NOTE:
I chose to glue all my caps down before pouring the epoxy, but the spray adhesive does leave a spotty residue on the plywood in the spaces that can be seen between the caps. If you don't desire that look and want to have a super clean look, you don't have to glue the caps down, you can simply pour a super thin coat of epoxy to start and let that harden to hold the caps down. YOU DO RUN THE RISK OF THE CAPS FLOATING UP IF YOU POUR IT TOO THICK. Since I didn't do it this way I can't speak of how effective it was, but my first coat of epoxy didn't even go over the caps, just in the space in between them and I would assume that wouldn't be enough liquid to make the caps float. Again I chose to glue them all down, just to be safe.
The Epoxy! I took some time to research different types of epoxy and ended up choosing this Kleer Koat Table Top Epoxy by a Company called US Composites. They were very quick in sending out the product, and simple to order from. Here is the link: http://www.shopmaninc.com/kk121.html
. I found it to be the cheapest also, and it came out great, so I can attest to their product quality. I used three gallons of epoxy on my table, they give you a chart at the bottom to approximate how big of a kit you will need, the import thing is to look at the flood coat volumes, which are 1/8" thick and go from there. Anyway, after you recieve the product and are ready to pour, read the instructions carefully before beginning. Also make sure your table is AS LEVEL AS POSSIBLE before beginning. The key with this stuff is to measure accurately to get a 1 to 1 ratio of Resin to Hardener, and to mix THOROUGHLY!! DO NOT MIX TOO HARD THOUGH! If you mix the product too fast, and create a whipping motion it will create a lot of small bubbles in the Epoxy which are hard to get out. After mixing the Epoxy until its clear, pour over your caps, using a rubber squeegie to help spread the gunk out. The Epoxy is very good at seeping into the cracks and will self level when poured on thick. I did mine in three one gallons applications,waiting four hours as recommended between coats. I don't know if it would have hurt anything to apply it all at once, but I played it safe and did three coats. The first coat I simply poured enough to fill the whole table up to the level of the top of the caps, filling in all the spaces between them. The next two where flood coats, laid on thick to help coat and cover all the caps. After you pour each coat its a good idea to keep an eye on it for about 30 minuted so you can pop any big bubbles that appear using a propane torch. You really should use a propane torch to pop bubbles and not a hair dryer because the hair dryer moves to much air and will blow the epoxy around. The propane torch supplies a lot of heat without all the moving air and will pop any bubbles that may appear. Let the final product sit for 2-3 days to fully cure before using it, although it will dry to the touch withing 24 hours.
I think I about covered everything, here are the pics of the table. I am VERY proud of the results I came up with considering I am just a college student who has NEVER done anything like this before. If yall have any questions I would be more than happy to answer them for you. I just hope this guide is helpful to anyone who wants to try this project, I sure wish i had something like this when I started!
Here are some pics of the final product: