My college son has collected several hundred beer bottle caps (I don't even want to KNOW how he managed to get so many!) and he wants me to make a table where these caps will be imbedded in a clear substance to form the table top. He wants it to be 2' x 5'. I'm thinking something like an open box with a wooden rim that's about 1/4" higher than the bottle caps.
I need to select and obtain an appropriate "clear substance" that pours on and flows around and over the caps, and then hardens into a surface that can stand up to residing in a male college student's apartment.
I found a link where someone else made a much bigger table, and they recommended something called "Envirotex," which evidently is used as a "liquid bar top." Supposedly you can pour on one coat and it's equal to 30 coats of polyurethane. It costs like $40 a gallon.
My son has heard that the cheapest way would be just pour in a couple gallons of polyurethane. I'm worried that I'd die of old age before that amount of poly would dry and set up.
Anybody ever done something like this? Any suggestions about the best stuff to use?
just wanted to say that i'd seen this mentioned in one of Mike's posts recently, i believe he called it Build-50. I dont know how expensive it is, but i definitely dont think poly is the way to go. I'm wondering if one of those two part fiberglass epoxy type solutions would work??
You'll want something that maintains as much clarity as possible.
"Ever notice how good enough, is usually neither good nor enough?"
You will want to go with the stuff you talked about or even some other 2 part epoxies. They are not cheap by no means. If you used the poly you would have the problem of drying, when it did dry you would probably have bubbels from h***, not the best way to go. Hope to see a pic when your done.
Be sure to glue the bottle caps to the table so that they dont float up into the clear cotaing that you're going to pour over them. The caps will have air trapped beneath them.
There are some other products that you may want ot consider. There is a liquid lucite type of stuff that is poured into a mold over coins or bills or just about anything for presentation. There is also some thing that I can pronounce but cant spell. Deck-Oh-Pa-(as in granPa)-G. The stuff is clear and a lacquer type that has been around since the twenties.
It would be a lot of drilling but if the sides of the caps being hidden is not a big deal you could drill a pocket with a forstner bit and use a little construction adhesive under the caps to secure them in place. Way more time intensive but would cut down on the amount of coating you will need.
I think you're right. I remember my Mom used to use that stuff when I was a kid. She was pretty 'craft-ey', and she used to make all kinds of stuff like what Dave is talking about. I'll check, but I think the spelling is 'Decopage'. I guess you could get it at a craft store, but I have no idea how much it is. It must not be very expensive, else my Mom (who is notoriously 'thrifty' (ie. cheap)) would have never used it!
Nope...that's not it. "Decoupage", as I now learn, is the term for the craft of placing paper cut out objects under varnish (or some other material). It's the 'other material' that we need to figure out.
Okay, here you go. This is an clear coat epoxy product. It looks to be about $25 per gallon. You have to put on a couple different kind of coats. One is a sealer (to prevent bubbles). The rest are 'flood' coats that build up the surface. If you read down a ways, they talk about exactly what you're doing (ie. embedded objects). Looks like air trapped under the caps will be your biggest hurdle
BTW, I also did some research on other products. Originally I was thinking you might want to use Acrylic, but after reading up a bit I now doubt you do. Turns out the stuff is HIGHLY toxic and pretty dangerous to work with.
Also, I kind of hijacked some information on coverage from another website. It will give you an idea of how much you need. It is as follows:
1 gallon of anything applied 1/4 inch thick will only cover slightly less than 6.5 square feet.
1 gallon of anything applied 1 inch thick will onlyl cover 1.6 square feet.
At 1/2 inch thick that gallon of epoxy will only cover about 3.2 square feet.
There 231 cubic inches in a gallon. One square foot is equal to 144 square inches.
Gee, I even learned something too. I had been wondering about a similar product before and never found it. Now I know where to get it.
MAN, that Envirotex stuff is nasty! I really appreciate your research, Bob, but my son and I went shopping yesterday and our local Menard's had the Envirotex in stock -- at $49.99 per gallon. OUCH!
We made the table frame and legs yesterday ("Dad, it doesn't have to be PERFECT, I'm taking it back to COLLEGE!"), and I put a coat of poly on it last night, and today he placed the 1,100 beer caps on it. Unfortunately, he then talked me out of gluing all the caps down first (he'd still be working on that for days yet). OK, it's HIS table, and if he wants to ignore the sound advice I got here from a previous posting...
You have to mix the resin with the hardener, just like the stuff you found, and then stir the h*** out of it for two minutes. We poured on the first gallon, and sure enough all the caps started floating. (Well, we were WARNED, right?) So we spent the next 45 minutes using sticks to press down each cap (multiple times) to squeeze out the air, while the stuff started to harden. He kept pushing while I mixed the second gallon, after which I got pack to pushing down caps with a stick. We even had his mother helping for a while.
Once we get it done, I'll try to post a pic. I've bookmarked the web site you found for me for future reference -- I may need it. He still has another thousand beer bottle caps!