January 5, 2014

Finally Putting All of Those Bottlecaps to Use

If you're like me, anything that gets used in your house that remotely looks like it could be useful for a craft project gets saved. I had been saving beer bottle caps for about a year, fully intending to make something like this with them. But when I decided to have a DIY crafty Christmas, I needed something more manly to make for my brother. And it had to be with components we already had at the house.

Enter: concrete bottle cap coasters. 

Note: sorry for the bad photo here. I forgot to take pictures of the finished item before I wrapped and gifted them, so I had to settle for a slightly blurry cell phone picture from my brother. But you get the point, right?
Use beer bottlecaps to make concrete coasters - great for man gift | A Crafty Wife
I bought 4 mini gift boxes from the dollar bins at Target around the holidays - they were the perfect size. Hubs helped me "wrap" the inside of the lid in wax paper so it would be easy for the coaster to pop out as it dried (and not stick to the paper box). The thought was to then put the bottle caps upside down in the bottom of the lid and cover with concrete. Once they dried, pop them out of the box and clean up the top side.

We did a trial run on 2 coasters to see how it would go. On one, I put a dab of hot glue to hold the bottle caps to the wax paper. Our concrete mix had some big chunks of rock, so I filtered those out using some chicken wire hubs had in the garage. I mixed it up until it was the consistency of peanut butter.

Use chicken wire to filter out large chunks in concrete mix for bottlecap coasters | A Crafty Wife

After slopping enough concrete into the forms to hold the caps in place, I used a trowel to tamp it down, going left to right across the box and then top to bottom. Then I picked up the box about 6 inches and dropped it onto the work surface, just to make sure the concrete got into all of the spaces around the caps. (SIDEBAR: in the actual ones I made to gift, I also cut a small square of the chicken wire and sandwiched it between layers of concrete to give the coasters some extra stability. So in order in the box form: bottle caps, thin layer of concrete, chicken wire, another thin layer of concrete.)

Small gift boxes make perfectly sized forms for concrete bottlecap coasters | A Crafty Wife

After curing for about 18 hours, I took the coasters out of the box and carefully tore the wax paper off. They weren't fully cured yet, but they were solid enough I could clean up the tops. Using a copper wire brush (aluminum may scratch the bottle caps - be careful if you use this!), I lightly brushed the tops until all 9 bottle caps were visible.

Use copper wire brush to carefully scrape off concrete from bottle caps before it sets up | A Crafty Wife

I also checked for level (important if you want these to hold a drink!). On the ones that were out of level, I brushed the bottoms a bit to get rid of some of the concrete until they were good to go. (NOTE: this step works best when the concrete is still soft and not totally set up yet).

Concrete bottle cap coasters in various curing states | A Crafty Wife

Then it was back to the table to sit for another few days. It took about 72 hours for the coasters to fully cure. When they were dry, I hot glued a thin piece of cork (leftover from one of those make-your-own bulletin board packs) to the bottoms. Total cost for me was $4 for the boxes - everything else we had on hand (if you don't count the beer).

Concrete bottle cap coasters make a great gift for boyfriend, husband, brother, or man cave housewarming gift | A Crafty Wife

In hindsight, I should have used the dab of hot glue on all the bottlecaps. In the box lids I used for the non-test batch there was a lot more room and the caps slid around too much (as you can see in the photo above). I thought about re-doing them, but it was too close to Christmas and the concrete wouldn't have had time to set up. I also like the random pattern in the test batch better too (the coaster in the upper right corner in the photo above). Now I know for next time. My brother loved them just as they are - they are perfect for his bachelor pad!

Anybody else have a creative use for old bottle caps? Or other crafty 'trash' items you can't bear to part with?

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