This instructable is how to make a very simple can crusher. This is a 15 minute approx build. All you need is some scrap 2x4s and a hinge and some screws.
While researching DIY can crushers I came across several different methods from heavy duty, all welded steel down to simply dropping a cinder block onto the top of the can. I even found a great instructable that uses and arduino powered robot to smash cans, seriously great work there. Check it out:
And another instructable that uses a heavy steel hammer head and some large PVC:
These are both awesome but the arduino one is very expensive, and even the PVC fittings add up rather quickly.
I wanted something cheap and easy. Easy to build and use. Using a cinder block is easy enough but it gets old on the joints to pick it up repeatedly. Buying a bunch of steel if far too expensive and even a whole bunch of bolts and hardware to make a multi-piviting arm to copy the store bought crushers was nearly as expensive as just buying one.
Then one night while sitting down after work drinking a beer it came to me. A simple lever is all I need.
Step 1: Gather Materials & Tools
For this simple build hand tools is all that is required. A handsaw and screw driver will do it. Or to make life easier a skill saw and drill will speed it up a lot, but those are technically hand tools combined with electric motors.
For materials: about 6ft of 2x4 and a door hinge and two very small scraps of plywood (or possibly small end cuts off the 2x4 but they may split). This whole thing if bought brand new at a hardware store should run around $5.00 to $7.00. I would say if you live in a city drive to a construction site and look through a few dumpsters and I would bet you could find the wood with no trouble. Maybe even a hinge if its a remodel where they are throwing away old doors. Or half of a normal pallet would have enough wood to make this possible.
Step 2: Cut Lumber & Attch Hinge
I used junk 2x4's from a pallet project. I picked a long one and a shorter one. The bottom 2x4 is about 2.5 ft long while the top one is about 22 inches. All you need is a peice long enough to give some leverage on the cans.
On the bottom 2x4 screw on the 2 plywood scraps. One flush against the back edge of the board and the other about 18 inches inward (or the approx length of a 24oz can with a little room to spare. Gotta crush those tall boys)
Next attach the hinge to the bottom board on top of the plywood that is flush with the end of the 2x4.
Then open the hinge and attach the swinging arm 2x4 to the hinge.
Step 3: Test Run
At this point I took the machine for a quick test run. It worked well enough to call it good, it smashed the cans well enough. I did think i would place the cans standing upright and smash them into dense cylinders, but as gravity would have it laying them one their sides was far more efficient for this design. To get the cans squished to maximum flatness i just kept adding cans. Smash one, leave it, add another, or two, smash more until no more would fit, but they kept wanting to come out the sides....
Step 4: Finishing Touches
So i put 2x4s on each side to keep everything together. It works like a charm. It's very easy to step on and crush several cans. I start with two then add two more. Even my 70 lbs 9 year old can do it. She also enjoys it. Her and her brother make it a competition to see who can do more cans at once. (possible college drinking game)
It's cheaper than a store bought one (cheapest I found is around $12.00) and it goes together quick and easy. Thanks for checking it out.