Bottle Cap Sofa Table
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Here at Our Sweetly Spiced Life, we tend to hold on to things. There’s always the thought going around of “What could we do with this?” or “Can we create something cool or fun using these items?” This mentality goes back as long as either of us can remember, and I am pretty sure we only made it worse for each other when we met. Pack-rat forces, unite! Or something like that.
Throughout college and even after, we decided to hold on to bottle caps as we acquired them. Over the years we’ve accumulated a pretty decent stash, and it was a good thing we had. One of our best friends bought a house recently and had been getting settled in. He turned one of his rooms into a game room with quite the console setup, and we’ve spent several evenings there hanging out and playing old school games (don’t tell anyone that Joelle beat me at Tecmo Super Bowl that day).
With all the games and furniture in the room, there wasn’t room left for coffee tables or end tables, but we thought making him a sofa table would fit his space perfectly while still adding a place in for drinks and such. We grabbed dimensions for the space, and the planning began.
Having gone to college with our friend, we spent many evenings studying together (which usually turned into hours of random YouTube videos instead of getting any work done) while we “accumulated some bottle caps,” so it seemed the perfect idea to work those into his table.
We had a couple of options for filling in the table top around the bottle caps: resin or grout. Both have their pros and cons, so make sure to do your own research and decide based on your needs and desires. There are many different types of resin out there on the market, ranging in price and in quality. Many people complain that some of the cheaper resins can yellow over time when exposed to light and UV rays. To get resins that won’t yellow, you have to be willing to throw down the money for them; the starter set we had been looking at, Art Resin, costs about $100. Grout is a cheaper option and tends to be more readily available. You won’t get the clear fill and coating like you would with resin, but grout comes in many different colors, giving you several options for coordinating with your design. You also have the option of sanded vs. unsanded grout when choosing materials. Sanded grout will give more texture in the look while unsanded will be much smoother. According to the grout directions, they recommend using sanded grout for gaps that will be larger than ⅛” (which our spacing between some of our bottle caps definitely was). Using sanded grout will also give the bottle caps a more distressed look, as the sand will rub on the finish of the caps some. We ended up deciding on a sanded grout in white and were extremely happy with the results. Regardless of which direction you go, make sure you’ve read up on everything you might need as well as directions on how to use your specific grout or resin.
So that was how this DIY project came to be. Nothing in this project is terribly complicated, but make sure to allow several days’ time for stains, grout, etc. to set up between steps. Here we go!
- 4 1in x 6in x 6ft top choice lumber (or wood of your choosing) **Make sure your wood is flat and isn’t bowed; this will make joining the boards together MUCH easier.**
- 5 ¼ inch x 36 inch square dowel rods
- (Adjust needed lengths and quantities for lumber and dowel rods based on your table dimensions.)
- Kreg Jig Screws and dowel rod to cover holes
- Wood conditioner
- Wood stain (we used chocolate minwax)
- Polycrylic finish for the wood **When staining wood, all steps in the process (conditioning, staining, poly) should be either all oil-based or all-water based. (We used water-based)**
- 220 grit sanding discs (or 220 grit sandpaper)
- Bottle Caps (about 200 for this project).
- Adhesive to attach Bottle Caps (Ceramic Tile Adhesive or Mod Podge are our recommendations)
- Grout Sealer
- Painters tape
- Work gloves
- Disposable gloves for working with grout and stain
- Safety Goggles
- Drop cloths
- Circular Saw, Table Saw, Miter Saw, or whatever you are using to cut the wood to size
- Random Orbit Sander
- Kreg Pocket Hole System
- Kreg Right Angle Clamp
- Power Driver
- Brushes to apply wood conditioner and poly
- rags to apply and wipe off stain
- Grout Trowel to apply and spread grout
Make sure you’re prepared for your project!
1. Measure the dimensions of your couch to get a height and a length that you like. Decide how much height you want between the tabletop and the shelf. We settled on 72” for the length of the table, 35” for the height of each leg, and 9 ¼” for the distance between shelf and tabletop. This height for the shelf allows our friend be able to store games or DVDs on the shelf with a little extra room. Cut the legs down to desired height, and cut the center support out to match the distance between shelf and tabletop.
2. Once all the pieces are cut to size, get out the Kreg jig (or other pocket jig system). If you don’t know what a Kreg jig is or what pocket holes are, definitely check it out! It’s a great way to put furniture or other projects together and not to have ugly screw heads showing. Kreg isn’t the only one out there; it just happens to be the one we have. Decide where you are putting your pocket holes, ensuring that the screw will be driving into the meat of the board, not into the edges, and never into the end grain for the best holding power. Our pocket holes were set up to be underneath the bottom shelf to minimize visibility, on the surface of the tabletop (they would be covered by the bottle caps and grout), and in the center support, where we filled them with dowels and sanded smooth. Drill your holes, following the instructions for your system.
3. Sand down surfaces of all pieces with the orbital sander. If your lumber is pretty rough, start with a coarser grit and work your way finer. Our boards were in pretty good condition, so we started right away with 220 grit. You could sand the pieces by hand, but I don’t recommend it; the orbital goes much faster. If you are using an orbital, make sure you have enough pads. We used up 3 pads sanding everything down.
4. Using your impact driver (on the lowest setting), drive the pocket screws through the holes and into the legs. Our Kreg jig kit came with some dowels to fit into the pocket holes to make them look nicer, but we only used these on the center support, as they were the only holes that would show. We glued them into place with wood glue and then sanded them down flush with the orbital once the glue had dried.
5. Cut down dowel rods to length as needed to form a border around the edge of the table top. We had to piece multiple dowel rods together for each of the long sides. Adhere the dowels to the surface using wood glue or liquid nails. Fill in the cracks between dowels with wood filler; then sand everything smooth.
6. Wipe all table surfaces down really well to remove any dust and debris. Apply a thin coat of wood conditioner to the table with rags or brushes. Let the conditioner set for 20 minutes or so but not longer than indicated on the package. The conditioner allows for a more even absorption of the stain, creating a better overall finished product.
7. Apply wood stain to surfaces with a rag. Let the stain soak in, and then rub excess off. For a darker stain, you can leave it set longer before wiping off or can apply a second coat. We went about 3 minutes from application to wiping off. Joelle applied the stain, and I worked a few minutes behind her with rags to clean up the extra stain. It worked out really well! Let the stain dry and set completely (we let the table sit overnight, but I think the can says at least 8 hours).
8. Now is a great time to prep your bottle caps, cleaning them and fixing them up, as well as sorting them for designs if you are going that route. If you’ve ever used a bottle opener on a pop bottle or a beer bottle, you probably know that they often come off slightly bent or dented. A hammer works wonders to fix these up if you’re careful. Lucky us, the bottle caps fit perfectly over the head of our hammer. We then just gave them a few good taps on a solid surface and they fixed right up. Finally we washed up our caps and sorted them out by color.
9. If you aren’t worried about a specific design for the tabletop, you can skip this step. If however, you like planning and want a cool design, stay with us! Cut a piece of heavy duty paper to match the dimensions of the table top. Lay out your design on the paper. We spent one morning with a full pot of coffee (and only the occasional “helpful” kitten) laying out bottle caps on the paper until we found a design that we liked. Once finished, mark out where each bottle cap was and what color it was onto the paper. You now have your template laid out.
10. Once the stain has set, its time to put a finishing coat on. Make sure to use good clean brushes for this step, or spring for brand new ones. Coat the wood lightly, going with the grain, and make sure not to leave drips or excess. Once each surface was covered, we went back over the entire length with one long, even stroke to help with consistent coats and brush strokes. Let each coat of poly set up for at least 2 hours (for water-based, oil-based could be different). Between coats give the table a light sand with 220 grit, and wipe off with a clean, dry cloth before coating again. Our table needed 3 coats all told. No need to sand after the final coat.
11. Once the last coat of poly is set, tape your template to the table top. Using a hammer and nail, tap a small hole where each colored mark was, transferring the design to the table. Color in the holes on the table to match the template.
12. Tape off the dowel rod border and sides of the table so that they stay clean when adhering caps and grouting. Attach your bottle caps to the tabletop. We actually tried several options here for affixing the caps to the wood. Try 1 was liquid nails, and we don’t recommend it. Without filling in the inside of the bottle caps, you would need a ridiculous amount of liquid nails to get them to stick. On top of that, it was a mess to work with and smells really bad, requiring masks the whole time. If you want to go this route, though, give thought to filling in the bottle caps with something beforehand (like hot glue), so you have a more even surface with which to work. Try 2 was Mod Podge. This actually worked really well, despite us being hesitant as we were doing it. We ended up using more than we needed at first, but you really don’t need a super thick coating to get the bottle caps to stick to it. (we didn’t think they were sticking at all at first, but it worked great for us after it had fully dried). Try 3 was ceramic tile adhesive. Again on this attempt we used more than we needed, but it worked really well. Both the Mod Podge and tile adhesive would absolutely work, so use what you have or can get easily. One positive to the Mod Podge was that you could see the template through it better than you could with the tile adhesive, but either way work in small sections to keep your design the way you want it. If, however, you aren’t super concerned with a specific design, then you can work in much larger areas at a time, laying down the adhesive and then adding bottle caps, especially with the tile adhesive. Mod Podge does tend to set up fairly quickly, so keep that in mind if you are going that route.
13. Mix up your grout according to the manufacturer’s’ directions, unless you have pre-mixed grout. Cover as much of the rest of the table as you can with a drop cloth or something, because the grout can be messy. Spread the grout onto the tabletop, working to get a good even layer and filling in between all the bottle caps. Don’t worry too much if some gets on the bottle caps; it’ll wipe off as the grout sets. Let the grout set up until firm but not totally dry (about 30 minutes for us), and wipe off the bottle caps with a damp but not sopping wet cloth. This was a bit of a tedious process, but with two of us working, it didn’t end up being too bad. Let the grout set up at least 8 hours, preferably overnight. Take a damp cloth to the whole surface, cleaning up any residual grout on the surface or still on the bottle caps.
14. Seal the bottle cap/grout top with a grout sealer. We bought a spray sealer, and it couldn’t have been easier to use. Just point the nozzle, squeeze the trigger, and go over the surface evenly. This was probably the fastest and easiest part of the project. After the sealer sets, check to see if its fully sealed by pouring a small amount of water on the surface. If it absorbs into the grout, it isn’t fully sealed and needs another coat. If the water beads, you’re good to go (Ours only took one coat).
And there you have it! One bottle cap sofa table (cue celebratory music). This project was a blast to do, and we learned a lot during the process. The look on our friend’s face when we showed him the finished product was priceless. Fingers crossed, though, that all our other friends don’t decide they want one as well, since we don’t have near enough bottle caps.
If you’re looking for a great cocktail to sit back and enjoy with your new sofa table, make up a Habanero Infused Whiskey with Mango and Lime, put a batch of our Warming Winter White in the Crockpot, or invite some friends over and make up some Sangria Slush. You can really make it a party with a bowl of Mango Jalapeno Salsa, Roasted Hatch Peach Salsa, and 5-minute Guacamole!
So go out, get the materials, and make one for a friend! Or if you’d rather, make one and keep it for yourself. Now that you’ve caught the project bug, check out our DIY Pantry Shelf and our DIY Tie Storage Rack. Let us know what you think, and send us pictures when you make your own! Drop us a line down in the comments section, and be sure to check out our other projects, some tasty recipes, and so much more on Our Sweetly Spiced Life, and find us on Facebook.
Until next time, enjoy the journey!