A couple of months ago, my girlfriend and I started collecting beer caps with plans to create either a beer cap table or serving tray. We ended up repurposing an old tray for this project and the end result looks really great. This is a really unique piece and I thought I would share how we did this.
For this project, you will need a serving tray, super glue or a hot glue gun, high gloss resin, a lot of beer/soda caps, an old credit card/rewards card and something to cover the resin while it dries (we used aluminum foil).
At the time that we made this tray, my girlfriend was working in a bar. To speed up this project, she emptied the beer caps out of the bottle opener behind the bar at the end of the night. We had enough bottle caps for this project in about two days. If you know someone who works in a bar and you decide to get your bottle caps from them rather than collecting them yourselves, you will need to wash them as soon as you can. They will quickly start to rust, mold and smell terrible. She just used regular dish liquid for this step and then dried them off. After the bottle caps were clean, we sorted through them and got the ones that we definitely wanted to put on the tray.
After going through all of the caps, the next step is to glue them onto the tray. You cannot skip this step. If you do, the caps will start floating as soon as you poor the resin. The caps need to be firmly glued down. We started out with super glue but found that the hot glue gun was working out better for us. This process takes several days just because of how frustrating and tedious it is. If there are any bends in the caps caused by a bottle opener, I would suggest bending the cap back to normal as much as you can before gluing it onto the tray.
We used an old tray for this project, but you can go buy a new one if you do not have one sitting around. We thought this one would be perfect for this because the sides of the tray came up just enough to keep the resin in place. If you opt to use one without sides that are high enough, you will have to find a way to build your own barrier. The tutorial we originally used for this suggested to use aluminum foil when creating your own barrier-but I highly suggest using a tray/table that already has one.
After all of the caps are glued down, it is time to pour the resin. You should figure how much resin you will be needing beforehand, due to the square footage of the surface. We used twice the amount that we needed because we wanted the caps to be completely covered to leave a smooth surface.
It is extremely important to follow the mixing directions of the resin exactly how they are said. After mixing the resin accordingly, pour the mixture on top of the glued-down bottle caps and use that old credit card to evenly spread the resin. There will be some air bubbles, but those will go away on their own. After all of the resin is poured, you will need to cover it up. We used aluminum foil to cover the tray. This keeps dust, gnats and other things from falling into the resin and hardening with it. The resin will need to harden for the amount of time indicated on the instructions before uncovering.
We took the extra resin and put a thin layer on the actual wood as well to make it look newer. Below is the finished product. This project is a lot easier than it sounds so if anyone would like something like this I would suggest giving it a try. It was really cool to do something that involved reusing items that would otherwise get thrown away!