Instructables

how to flatten a soda can?

I have some monster energy drink cans I want to flatten for the top of a table. Kinda like one of those beer cap resin tables if that makes any sense. Anyways, I have cut off the ends of a few soda cans but I cant get them to stay flat. I'll listen to any and all ideas, I'm not afraid to buy some tools. Oh yeah I want to be able to use the design of the cans, most of them are discontinued or rare. Hope I'm not confusing anyone. Have a great day!!

Try cutting the top and bottom of the can off and slicing the can so that you have a long rectangle with the design on it. (Think of the net for a cylinder) Hope this helps!
Just crush it with your foot, and then put a few heavy books on top for a day or two. That would probably make the cans very flat and easy to use. Hope that helps!
curvy771 year ago
Heh, im a little confused but i think i understand a bit on what ur problem is. A good solution might be some duct tape and either gorrila glue or strong hot glue.(ok doaent have to be hot, but some kind of super strong glue.) Use the glue to join the flattened pei ces together while also useing the duct tape too hold the pieces until theglue dries and or hardens. (Depends on what glue u get) once thw glue is set, remove,or not ur choice, the duct tape and place some ki nd of weight to test it. I suggest a non liquid or non fragile object. Maybe a brick or ur foot, i dont know. And if it holds wala u have a table top. If not then im srry, and i hope u didnt have any liquids on the table.
Also , if u wish to do so, u could also get some scrap metal (strong but with a low melting point, like more thin aluminum) and a sodering gun to combine them. WARNING- sodering may destroy the visual effects u may be trying to create with this project. Sodering is not for everyone, please consault ur nearest workshop or hardware store before use.
JoeyHersh2 years ago
Easiest Way To Flatten A Can: Step On It When Its Empty
Yeah, that'is it , quick , inexpensive and efficient.
Before you step on it. Stand it upright and put two dimples on either side then stomp on it hard. I call them can coins.
NXTHacker2 years ago
go the the middle of the ocean, tie a 1000m string to the can, and chuck it into the big blue ocean. The pressure will surely flatten them:)

*actually don't do this all the fish will die:(
duk2422 years ago
The trick is a sandwich maker, you get 4-5 cans, cut and ready to go.
Using a sheet of baking paper on either side to stop it sticking or breaking your sandwich maker, just put them in there and turn the sandwich maker on.
Leave them in there for 5-10 minutes (I usually do 10minutes), then turn off and let them cool right down before opening it.

They'll be beautifully flat!

There's photos and stuff in my instructable here: http://www.instructables.com/id/Papercraft-with-Aluminium-Cans/

Ducky
luig2 years ago
wear some gloves and grab the top and the bottom and twist them till their flat. you can also try to cutting the can vertically (on the one you cut off the ends) so you are left with a piece of sheet metal
Boppylop2 years ago
first, cut off the top and bottom. next, you have to cut the can from top to bottom on the line of thicker metal that holds it together. place the heaviest object you can find (no bigger than a refrigerator) on top. If you take it off in two days, it should be flat. If its not, how do I explain this??? it should curve one way. Rub it on the edge of a table the way it dosent crve, and it should be flat soon enough.
simple just cut the bottom and the top and cut it from between and place so heavy books on it
try with a hammer
if you weakened the can without compromising overall integrity, and bent the ends inward a bit, you could find a rubber stopper/grommet for the hole in top, and use the principle shown in these two vids. Keep in mind that these are steel cans and even 55 gal drums, so I would think you could quickly and simply achieve your goals using a small aluminum can. Worth a shot, and if it works, I get "best answer," right?. Sounds like a potential win-win.

here you go:
http://www.phys.unt.edu/~klittler/demo_room/fmech_demos/2b30_25.htm

http://demo.physics.uiuc.edu/lectdemo/scripts/demo_descript.idc?DemoID=414
Snowbr33ze2 years ago
Steam roller! lol jk
using a good scisor, cut the top and the bottom, you will geta cilinder.cut vertically and carefully pull each side in a opposite direction. it will get flat. when you want use it again, roll the sheet again and you're done
5hockwave2 years ago
I would place it a on the ground, then focus all my energy into one place then with a sudden movement stop go inside and grab a hammer. You can guess the rest.
DeceptibotX2 years ago
I can do it two ways, but whether they are what you are looking for, I don't know. One way is to press the sides in a little and push from the top. Another way is to run it over with a car.
put a teaspoon of water in it,
put it on just the element not a pan or pot just the element
wait for the water to boil get a pair of tongs flip the can upside down and put it in a big bowl of water really fast the result??
squashed can because of the heating and the air pressure it does that
Take the sheet of metal, place a piece of wood on top, and place something heavy on it.
caarntedd2 years ago
You need to roll the sheet to reverse the curve as rick and others have suggested.

I have a simple method, but it might be difficult to explain.
I have used the method before to bend flat materials (or "unbend" them), by "breaking it's back".

When using sand paper or cloth to dry sand something smooth, the sand paper can often crack when folded, and the sanding medium falls off. You need to "break the back "of the sand paper which will curve it, much like your curved can. You do this by gipping the paper in your hands and pushing the back of it down on the edge of a work bench or table (as if you were going to use the edge to tear the paper in a straight line) but in stead of tearing, you drag the sand paper over the edge and the it is then curved and lasts longer as it doesn't crack as badly when you fold it.

I know I'm rambling, but bear with me for a moment.

You can use this same method to straighten your cans by bending them over the edge in the opposite direction to the curve. Using the sharp 90 degree corner on a bench or table may damage your can, but attaching a tube such as a small diameter pvc pipe or wooden dowel or curtain rod etc, with some sticky tape as close to the edge of the table as possible, will provide a nice radius to bend your cans over. 

Try this method with a sheet of paper on your desk right now and see what I mean. This method will work if you practice with different pressures to achieve different results. You should be able to get your cans flat or very close with little effort and no cost.

I hope I've explained this well enough, good luck.

mattthomas992003 (author)  caarntedd2 years ago
huh? I'm so confused
Grab a piece of paper and sit it flat on the table. Make sure a couple of inches are poking over the edge. Place one hand flat on the part of the paper that is on the table. Grab the part of the paper that is hanging over the edge with your other hand. Now keeping some pressure on the paper that is on the table, pull the part that is hanging over the edge slowly down (90 degrees to the table top) towards the floor. Once the paper has been completely pulled over the edge, it will roll up like a cut up can. Use this method to straighten curved stuff by dragging it over the edge with the curve facing upwards. You will "break it's back" and straighten it out. Practice a few times before trying this on anything good like your cut up cans. Also the table edge may be too sharp for your cans, so try something with a curved edge like a kitchen bench top.
mattthomas992003 (author)  caarntedd2 years ago
Ah ok I see what your saying
Burf2 years ago
After you get it cut open, just spray the backside with spray adhesive and press it down onto the surface of whatever it is you want to glue it to and smooth it out with your hands. Then roll over it with a regular rolling pin or J roller to get a good bond. Repeat with each piece.
mattthomas992003 (author)  Burf2 years ago
What kind of spray adhesive would you recomend me trying
I like the 3M brand adhesive but most any of them will probably do fine.
You could try double sided tape, like carped tape.
hhhmmm Might try
tastur262 years ago
You could try to run over it with something heavy like a car or use an hammer on it.
mattthomas992003 (author)  tastur262 years ago
I worked at a car dealership a few years ago. When people had the rear license plate beat up from trailer hitchs I would run them over with a big honker truck. Worked great to get them flat.
T-K2 years ago
Once you've cut the main flattenable part out, fold the edges over onto the unused side. Try it!
mattthomas992003 (author)  T-K2 years ago
I think I understand what your saying
nangkum2 years ago
I think the designs are printed AFTER the cans are filled, so flattening them might distord the prints. Still, you can try rubbing the top end on a cement floor, they simply fall off once you rub off .5 mm or so.( makes great dispo mugs). Then you`ll have to slice off the bottom with a paper cutter, split open down the join rib, then maybe use hot press iron from the inside. Goodluck.
Careful, the cans are razor sharp.
mattthomas992003 (author)  nangkum2 years ago
I hope your wrong about the cans being distorted. I have been thinking that since before I asked this question
ktyrel2 years ago
my favorite is a science experiment we did a few years ago, basically we boiled water in a soda can and then flipped it upside down in ice cold water and it completely imploded
mattthomas992003 (author)  ktyrel2 years ago
I might do that to a few of the spare cans after I'm done to blow of steam
rickharris2 years ago
To flatten the can you need to reverse the bend put in at manufacture - The BEST way to do this is run it through 3 rollers as below - if you make the center roller adjustable you will be able to change the amount you bend the can by.

Otherwise you may be able to re bend them by hand over a raised edge or table edge. If you mount them under glass or plastic this will keep them flat and protect the designs.
mattthomas992003 (author)  rickharris2 years ago
How would I make that jig?
The rollers could be made from wooden dowel in this case because the sheet your trying to bend is very thin.

If you recovering the materials then a printer will provide lots of materials for this project.

The side plates and bottom could be 18 mm (3/4) ply wood.

Drill suitable holes for the metal rods going through. The top roller should be adjustable and so will need a threaded rod through it to allow adjustment.

To use adjust the rollers so the sheet will go through - Pas through and then move top roller down a little and repeat until the sheet is flat.
How about using a layer of sheet acrylic, aka Plexiglass(tm), to hold them flat. Just sandwich them all under a layer of acrylic. Too easy, right?
mattthomas992003 (author)  Jack A Lopez2 years ago
I've tried that with 2 pieces of wood and 6 c clamps or d clamps, however they are pronounced. Didn't work maybe if I heat it with an clothes iron.
If that is the case, you should probably figure out how to anti-bend them somehow, following the suggestions of the other posters recommending rollers, wine bottles, etc to do this.

If you don't want to press them behind glass or acrylic and getting/making a set of rollers is too much for you then use contact cement and a heavy hand roller. You coat the table and the back side of the can with the contact cement. Lay out the can on the table and use the roller to flatten it out. The contact cement should hold it down flat for you. Once everything is laid out you can then coat the top in resin.
mattthomas992003 (author)  mpilchfamily2 years ago
I've got a heavy hand roller that was my grampa's but never knew what it used for
Yep those rollers are for laying out vinyl flooring or laminating things. They help to get any bubbles out from under the material.
lemonie2 years ago
Roll the sheet around something like rick' suggests, but make it just a wine-bottle or Pringles-tube or similar; you'll get the hang of it.

L
mattthomas992003 (author)  lemonie2 years ago
sounds like a good idea and I've got a boat ton of wine/beer bottles in any size possible
mattthomas992003 (author)  lemonie2 years ago
sounds like a good Idea and I have a boat load of wine/beer bottles of every size you could fathom
I'm not sure how you should do it, but I would love to see the result as an instructable!
mattthomas992003 (author)  Awesome-aniac2 years ago
I want to, I have wanted to make an instructable for 4 years now.