In November, I saw a post on Cool Hunting about Jen Roder’s Rotorcaps, cufflinks made from bottle caps. They were quite nice, cut caps riveted to silver backs. I balked at the price of $40 a pair (at the time I didn’t know that this price is fairly standard for a pair of unique cufflinks). I thought that surely cufflink blanks can’t be that expensive; as it turns out, they aren’t, so I purchased 24 pairs.
My friends and I wear suits quite often, usually to go to The Magic Castle with our magician friend tommEE pickles. Beyond that, a handful of us own tuxedos solely to go bar crawling in for events like Tuxedo Tyrants. Also, for a reason I can’t coherently explain, our hacker crew is known to drink large quantities of Corona, so I set out to make a pair of Corona cufflinks for each of the members to wear with their formal attire.
The cufflink blanks I bought have 15mm circular pads on them. The size fits easily inside the perimeter of a standard bottle cap while giving plenty of surface area to make the bond.
In addition to Corona, I started collecting caps of some of my favorite beers. I made sure to bring back a couple from smaller breweries in the Nebraska area when I was home for Thanksgivingâ€”I’m not sure if shuffling the heap of caps I had collected from others’ beers at the family reunion left the best impression. Bottle caps are really soft so it’s hard not too mar them when opening. I’ve found that most traditional bottle openers do quite a bit of damage. What doesn’t leave a very big impression is my bottle opener ring I got many years ago. The caps still have slight dents in them. They’re hardly noticeable and a little pressure from a thumb while supporting the edges can reduce them.
My first choice for affixing the blanks was super glue. It held up pretty well and I attempted to reinforce it with some silicone rubber RTV. It worked, but neither glue is easy to work with. Chris offered me his hot glue gun and that turned out to be the best solution. I just squirt a droplet of glue slightly smaller than a dime into the back of the cap and press the blank into it. You want enough glue so that the excess will curl around the edges of the cufflink disk and help retain it. The glue sets almost instantly. You should mark the inside of the cap with the location of the top and bottom of the design before you start and then line up the legs of the cufflink with those two dots while gluing. That way the design text will run parallel to the wearer’s arm. Keep track of how centered the blank is as you apply pressure since it will tend to slide in the glue (that’s just for finish since it’s not really perceptible while being worn). Also, always keep a bowl of water nearby to dunk any extremity you accidentally get hot glue on.
The assembly went fairly quick and I’m quite pleased with the results. I know this isn’t an original idea and there’s even someone on Etsy selling them with a mixture of glue and silicone in the back (mine aren’t filled flat).
Attention: If you are an acquaintance of mine, and would like a pair of cufflinks, I’ll make you a pair for $10, shipping included. The caveats being: I just told you I’m hot-gluing two bits of metal together; it’s not a show piece. Also, I have to be able to both acquire and be willing to consume the beer of your choice. I will also trade for bowties.