Introduction: Bottle Opener Key

Picture of Bottle Opener Key

Whenever I stand up from a seated position, my first instinct is to perform a sort of signum crucis* to check for my wallet, keys, and phone. I can generally do anything with those supplies. Except open a frosty, bottled beverage that does not have a twist-off cap. I can open a bottle with a lighter, an Expo marker, and a table top. I have even used my teeth. But nothing beats that Boy Scouty sensation of always being prepared.

I need a low-profile bottle opener. Currently, I am using one of these to hold my keys and to open my bottles. It's cool, but it's huge. I have nearly worn through a pair of jeans with this monstrosity, and the time has come for a more permanent solution. I remember coming across this little gem** several months ago, and it seems like an easy enough project to do in an afternoon. A bottle opener that doesn't leave an unwanted bulge in my pants. A bottle opener that is on my person at all times, but no more noticeable than my housekey.

So here's what we've got after a trip to the hardware store for some extra keys:

a bottle opener cut into the bow*** of the key
a pile of brass dust (aka Maker glitter)
an open frosty bottled beverage

This project should take you all of fifteen minutes to complete, and that includes the time spent consuming your beverage.

*Holler si Latine loqueris. You know, the sign of the cross. Spectacles and so forth. Go watch a Mass or Austin Powers, depending on your religious inclination.
**The Makr site sells a much more attractive version of this project. Buy one from them if you don't have and can't borrow a Dremel.
***For those of you non-keysmiths out there, a key is divided into two major parts: the bow and the blade. Yes, that sounds like a sweet fantasy novel and/or RPG, but it's just the handle and the sticky-out part.

Step 1: Supplies

Picture of Supplies
  • Key(s)
  • Bottle opener
  • Sharpie
  • Safety goggles
  • Dremel
  • Vise
  • Frosty beverage

Reluctant to (possibly) destroy one of my personal keys, I used a few discarded keys from the local hardware store. Just ask. They'll probably have a few cut keys that don't work for whatever reason. Or you can just jump in and try it with your house key.

You'll probably want to use a regular bottle opener as a template for the shape of the cut you'll make in your key. It really helps to have a pattern to follow.

Safety goggles are a must for this. You'll be staring intently at your key. Bits of brass will fly at your eyes. Cover them up. I ended this project covered in brass shavings. I looked like a four year old after an unattended arts and crafts class. But my eyes were mercifully brass glitter-free.

For the Dremel, you'll need a cutting disk and a sanding wheel. You could do this with a grown-up grinder, but it'll require a very deft touch. Use the Dremel. Keep your fingers.

Speaking of finger safety, use a vise. You might be able to get away with a pony clamp, but you will definitely not want to just hold the key in one hand and the Dremel in the other. Unless you are a cyborg.*

For the frosty beverage, I recommend a Mexican Coke. The kind that uses real sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. Or just get the tamarind-flavored Jarritos. Or, you know, a carbonated hops-based alcoholic beverage. 

*If you are, in fact, a cyborg, you may skip all of these steps and just use your metal claws to unbottle your drinks.

Step 2: Prep

Picture of Prep

Using the Sharpie, trace the shape of the bottle opener onto your key. Be sure to leave enough bow on the key to attach the key to your keychain. And be sure that you are marking the key on the flat side of the blade. If you cut the other side, you'll end up with key teeth digging into your hand every time you want to open a fresh drink. [I made this mistake in my prototype. It's unpleasant. Big thanks to thartley for noticing the notch placement and pointing it out. You owe your pain-free fingers to him.]

Set up your vise on your work surface.

Get those glasses on.

Plug in/charge your Dremel.

Put the key into the vise with the Sharpied side visible.

Place the frosty beverage in a safe place within view of your work space. You'll want it on hand for motivational and testing purposes.

Step 3: Cut and Grind

Picture of Cut and Grind

With your Dremel's power set to about 1/2 speed, start cutting along your marker line. Go slowly and err on the side of caution. Crank up the Dremel's speed once you've got an idea of how easy it is to cut through the key.

When your cuts are as close as possible to the pattern you drew, test your key on your bottle. Does it seem like it'll fit beneath the bottle cap? Is there sufficient room for the key to bite into the top of the bottle cap? If so, you're good to move onto the finishing step. If not, compare and contrast with your bottle opener template. Redraw your lines and cut some more.

Once you've got your basic cuts made, it's time to switch to the sanding wheel. Pick something that'll fit nicely inside your freshly cut key. It'll smooth it out, make it look properly round, and grind down any sharp edges that'd ruin your pockets. You can make the negative space a bit bigger without jeopardizing your basic shape if you are judicious with your sanding.

Step 4: Pop Bottles

Picture of Pop Bottles

Use your key to open the bottle. This is the moment of truth. It may take a few tries, but that's what you get with such a tiny lever. The end result is worth it. An always-with-you, low-profile bottle opener.

Drink up.


eaba89 made it! (author)2017-02-03

Thank you @wilgubeast!

Been looking for a bottle opener on my keychain that won't add much bulk. This just made it lighter :D

turtle keeper (author)2015-09-12

What a creative idea!!!!

great job

Alastra made it! (author)2014-06-25

Thank you very much for this very creative/fun/usefull DIY !!

I used a multi-tool metallic card for the shape (less rounded than the one used in this tuto) but it also worked like a charm :-D

This was my first "real project" using my new Dremel and the result is very good !

PS: it is possible to do it all using only the disk.

MrStuff (author)2013-07-11

Boom! Amazing and well written. Took me just under 10 minutes.
Couple of tips:
Since its a very detail specific project and i used a dremel cutoff wheel (which comes in one size) i just ran it against a rock until it was 1/2" diameter.
If you can get a key that has the 3 triangle holes (kwikset ) it'll make this a bit easier.
I didn't have a vice, so just put the key on an ice-cube on top of sandpaper so the key wont over-heat. BEWARE: this is not the safe way at all!

I popped 2 beers during, 1 after the initial cuts, the 2nd after detailing and finishing.

anonymouse197 (author)2012-12-28

Fantastic idea, thanks a lot - finally a good replacement for my key chain bottle opener - a real key bottle opener! I used the left hand design, and it works well. You're right it is a little ugly (and rather sharp before it was sanded) but it works! Thanks a lot, great idea! :-)

imshanedulong (author)2011-08-18

Where did you get glass bottled Pepsi? I've always wanted that since Coke tastes so much better out of glass.

wilgubeast (author)imshanedulong2011-08-18

If you're in downtown San Francisco, you could always swing by our lab and pick one up from the deli just below us on your way in. And a few large-chain grocery stores also carry Coke with real sugar, but finding them can be hit or miss. If you encounter a consistent supply, announce it to the world (or just to Instructables.) I'm sure you're not the only one who'd like to find a steady supply of sweet, syrupy sugar water.

Jollyrgr (author)wilgubeast2011-08-28

Sam's Clubs have Mexico Coke. I've also heard that Costco has it as well. The small "Mexican" grocery stores and restaurants have them as ryanmercer stated.

ryanmercer (author)imshanedulong2011-08-18

If you do have Kroger's in your area it'll be in their 'ethnic' or 'international' aisle. Same goes with most big chain groceries really, but your best bet is a Mexican grocery.

ryanmercer (author)imshanedulong2011-08-18

Find a Mexican grocery in your area, they almost always have glass bottled coke and other glass bottled sodas (, also if you have Kroger's in your area they'll have some generally as well as other Mexican sodas)

flipbook (author)2011-08-18

As a previous comment mentioned there are two different styles of cuts shown in the top image. The one on the left is the one in the movie. This one works. The one on the right is pretty useless. I doubt if it ever works. There is nothing to leverage against. I think you should get rid of that one and only focus on the one on the left to avoid confusion. It means aligning the "church key" handle appropriately when you use it as a template. You might show that too. But it is a great idea. I'm just bummed because I just made the useless one on the right and now I can't open my beer.

wilgubeast (author)flipbook2011-08-19

Yeah, sorry if the picture was misleading. I had hoped that the design on the right would work a little differently by placing the notch over the bottle cap with the key all the way over the bottle (rather than next to it as shown in the video.) I thought it might be neat to have one that you push down on rather than lift up. Turns out... that's a no-go.

Unfortunately, I gave the best example of a bottle-opening key to the guy who sold me all the bottled beverages that appear in this project. If you (or anyone else, really), have a good photo of a working model of this, include it in the comments and I'll switch the main image of the Instructable to your image.

flipbook (author)wilgubeast2011-08-24

wilgubeast, I've attached some images of the key-opener I made that uses the "push down" method for opening. It works great! The trick is to save the nub at the base of the long part of the key. The "nub" (probably called the shoulder) will be the pivot that you lever against. I've attached some pictures. I hope they help. Let me know if you want a better "action" shot.

mikeasaurus (author)2011-08-17

nice one, Wade!

Dremel+brass keys = maker glitter
(wear them goggles!)

This also looks like something that could be done with a jeweler's saw, for people with a little more time on their hands. I have a dremel, too, but I think I'll try sawing first.

I just cut an opener out of my garage door key with the jeweler's saw - shown here with the opener on my Utilikey (which is OK, but has to unclipped from the keyring to use).

Nice job of your Key Opener, thanks for sharing.
You've been patched and awarded a 3-month Pro Membership to the site!

wilgubeast (author)mikeasaurus2011-08-17

Ladies and gentlemen, my collaborator on the project... Mr. Mikeasaurus! (applause and screaming) He did the video and the photos and helped prototype a working template. He also drank that beer in the video.

Automator (author)2011-08-21

For those of us who are married, a wedding ring makes a nice bottle opener too. I suppose any ring will work, but I find my tungsten-carbide ring is perfect for popping beer tops!

dll932 (author)2011-08-20

You can make one that's more interesting looking and durable out of a bit key (popularly known as a "skeleton key"). The blanks are made of cast iron and won't wear out as fast.

didgitalpunk (author)2011-08-18

i did this with a ring ---in fact i kind of copied thinkgeek's idea's---(go see on in "geek tools" and search for a ring with a bottle cap beside it)

wilgubeast (author)didgitalpunk2011-08-19

That would make an awesome Instructable. Show us how to do it?

didgitalpunk (author)wilgubeast2011-08-19

here are some pictures of the one i already made

didgitalpunk (author)wilgubeast2011-08-19

ok but it'l be long cause im going on vacation tomorow for one week and then i have to prepare for school but i'm shure it'll be online before october : )(this will be my first instructables yay =} )

wilgubeast (author)didgitalpunk2011-08-19

Spectacular. Be sure to credit your source when you post it. The folks at ThinkGeek are good people (much like the folks at Makr who inspired this idea), and they deserve the too-lazy-to-remake-it business we can send them.

agis68 (author)2011-08-19

clever....i have a banch of lost and findes keys...i will try to make mines....thnx

ZoDo (author)2011-08-18

This is so cool and simlple. When I have some free time I wanna try this.

tswill2 (author)2011-08-18

Lacking a Dremel, a hole could be drilled in the bow and a hacksaw with a fine blade could complete the opening. A few small files would smooth it up nicely. If it's a scrap key being modified you could round off the teeth on the blade to be nice to your hand and pockets. Looks handy - think I'll make one! tswill2

frankiebishop (author)2011-08-17

Not bad...but, a bit on the frivolous side. You can use a key without having to modify it to open a bottle. Just press the key against the bottle with your thumb and gently opening the cap around 1/2 to 3/4 of the circumference of the cap. Then...walla! Opened! Another trick is too take the bottle and place against sharp solid edge, then impacting the cap with the bottom of your palm. Walla! Opened! No dremel, goggles, vice or wasting time necessary...

kmccollum (author)frankiebishop2011-08-18

But there's something to be said for using the right tool for the job. Voilà!

Spokehedz (author)frankiebishop2011-08-18

I've used the key-under-the-cap-side method and broken many a bottle lip of both soft and hard drinks. Or, it fizzed all over from the bubbles that I made before opening a small part of the seal.

This instructable, has never broken a bottle yet.

So unless you like glass infused Coke, then I suggest that you take a key that you can make spares of, and make a spare bottle/door opener with this in. It will take up exactly no extra room on your keychain, so there really is no reason not to have this on there.

spark master (author)Spokehedz2011-08-18

absolutely dead on, I seldom drink beer, but when I do I drink GERMAN BEER , never Mexcican (sorry, the krauts got it down to science and art and are to be praised for that. Ok there is Kronenborg Martinelli and a few other Euro centric tasties, but mostly Deutch Brau ooober allus).

I have busted bottles using other methods and watch a NON drunk teenager break a tooth on a cap. Now he has a cap, won't do that crap again.

this is a great simple how to.

SHIFT! (author)frankiebishop2011-08-18

Possibly, but where's the FUN in that?

Jeffwho (author)2011-08-18

If you don't have a dremel, or just don't feel like using it, a good set of files will do the job in no time.

Jeffwho (author)Jeffwho2011-08-18

P.S. I love the idea and am now looking for keys I don't need to make myself one.

Marsh (author)2011-08-18

Nicely done!

ryanmercer (author)2011-08-18

This beats the heck out of opening it slowly with my swiss-tek screwdrivers haha

fuzychiapet (author)2011-08-18

It seems everything these days is also a bottle opener.

vader0ne (author)2011-08-18

Hey I know a lock smith that would love this idea...Great idea!!!!

chrwei (author)2011-08-18

Did you see any performance difference in the 2 types of cuts you show in the picture? Does the one on the right work at all? seem like the leverage is on the wrong side

wilgubeast (author)chrwei2011-08-18

The one on the right is pretty, but less useful. The left one worked well and just needs a bit more TLC with the sanding wheel. I should probably add some image notes. Thanks for pointing that out.

SHIFT! (author)2011-08-18

What a fantastic idea! Now the next time I break into my neighbor's house, I can avoid getting sued by surprising them with a six-pack!

mossman (author)2011-08-18

I found this on etsy a while as many old keys as my heart desired from the locksmiths at school, and a bunch of dremel cutoff wheels!
They turned out pretty well, but I need to find where I put the finished ones!

belsey (author)2011-08-18

Love this! So simple it's genius.

farzadbayan (author)2011-08-18

Really great idea!

thartley (author)2011-08-17

One subtle detail that the author shows in the images, but I did not actually see mentioned in the instructable:

Cut the opener notch on the side opposite the key's teeth. That way your fingers are levering against the smooth side of the key instead of the pointy side when you open the bottle.

It might be easy to accidentally overlook this detail if one wasn't thinking about it.

wilgubeast (author)thartley2011-08-17

Good looking out! I actually made that mistake on my first prototype. It makes opening bottles a huge pain. Literally.

roftranspo (author)2011-08-17

BRILLIANT!!!!! And i happen to have extra keys to use too :)

Whackmaster (author)2011-08-17

This is a perfect example of an incredibly clever idea; worth its weight in gold and stunningly obvious after the fact! Give this man elebenty bazillion internet points! My friends are going to FREAK when they see me open a beer this way, and I suspect I'll have to cut a bunch for all my friends who don't own a Dremel (I know... how can you be friends with someone who doesn't own a Dremel? I have great patience and pity for the lesser people. ;)

cpedersen1 (author)2011-08-17

I will have to try this! My emergency bottle opener weighs too much, as in a few thousand pounds. In a pinch, I use the car door striker.

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm an English teacher and former Instructables staff member.
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