Introduction: Metalshop Bottle Opener
I recently took the Basic Metal Shop class at TechShop (course #MTL103), this is a safety and basic equipment class aimed at getting people with little to no experience working with metal shop tools safely and comfortably.
This Instructable will guide you through the process of making a simple bottle opener from mild steel strap. The process covers more tools than are necessary for creating such a simple object, but the idea was to use many metal shop tools to gain a level of comfort and understanding on a wide array of metal shop machines.
Remember to work within your experience and always work safely. There's plenty of experts around at TechShop to help you out, so don't be afraid to ask.
Ready to see how I made this neat bottle opener? Read on!
Step 1: Tools Used
In the class I took, TechShop provided a detailed sheet explaining what the final product was going to look like and what tools we'd be using to create our bottle opener.
horizontal band saw
vertical band saw
pedestal grinder (grinding wheel)
1.25" x 1/8" x 25" mild steel strap
Step 2: Horizontal Bandsaw
The horizontal bandsaw uses liquid-cooling and can cut many types of non-ferrus metal. The upper half of the bandsaw raises and the metal to be cut is clamped down on the bottom half of the machine. The metal to be cut should be clamped down flat, with maximum metal surface exposed to the cutting teeth.
The speed of the machine is important to set, as thinner and less dense metals can be cut at faster speeds than thicker more dense metals. Most machines will have a chart located nearby to help you determine what speed your horizontal bandsaw should be set at. When in doubt, always set the bandsaw to a slower speed than required.
Once the saw speed has been determined the drop rate of the bandsaw needs to be set. The top of the machine is drawn down by gravity and is governed by a hydraulic piston. The piston resistance can be set to allow the top to fall fast or slow, depending on the thickness and type of material the saw is cutting. Read the nearby reference sheet specific to the machine you are using to determine what the drop speed of the bandsaw will be.
You're almost ready to begin! Before starting the machine become familiar with he emergency shutoff button, usually a red plunger style button. With your speed set, your metal strap to be cut clamped in, and one hand on the shutoff button you're ready to start cutting.
Cut the mild steel strap to a length of about 7", this portion of steel strap is called a blank.
Step 3: Layout & Scribe
After cutting, dab on layout fluid over one side of the blank. Layout fluid is a dye that allows you to scribe an outline in the steel and have it show up. Without it your scribe markings would be difficult to see.
Wait a minute or two for the fluid to dry completely. Be careful not to spill any on your clothes, as it won't come out.
Next, lay your template over your blank and use the scribe to make an outline. Next, place the tip of the center center punch in the locations where you want to drill openings and smack the back end of the punch with a hammer. This center punch acts as a guide for the drill bit and will prevent it from traveling when starting the bore the opening.
Step 4: Drill Press
The drill press is a powerful drill with an adjustable table under the drill bit. Like the horizontal bandsaw, the drill press speed can be adjusted to the material you are cutting. The speed of the drill can be altered by changing the belts in the top of the machine (while it's off), or by the speed adjustment knob (when it's in motion). Either way, ensure your drill is set for the correct speed before any drilling.
Next, adjust your drill press table to an appropriate height and lock the table in place. Then, secure your metal strap in a vice and position the center punch you made earlier under the drill. Place a small dollop of lubricant on the center punch mark and start the drill press.
Drilling through metal takes some finesse. Apply even and consistent pressure when using the drill press, aiming to make large even chips (spirals) or metal when boring through your metal strap. Before the drill breaks through to the other side you'll notice a slight 'give' . When you feel this give it's important to ease up on the pressure applied to the press and back off the opening. Apply more lubricant and gently ease the drill back into the opening, go slow and finish drilling through the strap.
Use a deburring tool to clean the opening edge.
Step 5: Vertical Bandsaw
Unlike the horizontal bandsaw which can only make straight cuts, the vertical bandsaw can make both straight and curved cuts. However the vertical bandsaw is not ideal for long straight cuts.
Like the other metal shop machines, the vertical bandsaw has speed settings. There are 2 gear settings, steel and aluminum. After your gear has been set you can adjust the speed setting.
Gears can only be changed when the saw is OFF
Speed can only be changed when the saw is ON
Once your gear and speed has been set and the bandsaw guard height has been adjusted it's time to cut the steel strap. Lay the strap flat on the bandsaw table and slowly push the strap into the blade along your cutting lines. Go slow. For cuts that are at odd angles use another scrap piece of metal to push the strap through the bandsaw while guiding it with your other hand. Make sure your fingers are well away from the blade at all times.
Step 6: Cold Saw
The cold saw is a heavy, stable saw used for cutting accurate square and angled cuts. It has dual clamps located on either side of the saw blade and provides more stability when cutting, in comparison to bandsaws. The blade is solid high speed steel and is brought down through the metal by the force of the user.
Again, make sure your cold saw speed is set for the correct metal: aluminum or steel. This saw is liquid cooled, and requires a steady stream of liquid cooling/lubricant to work.
The cold saw is used to remove the end portion of our bottle opener. Open both sides of the clamps and place strap flat, position the cut off mark under the blade and clamp vise shut. Turn on machine and bring the saw down onto your strap, apply appropriate force downwards to engage the saw correctly.
Step 7: Grinding Pedestal
Your bottle opener should look close to being done, but will still have rough edges all over. Using the grinding pedestal and the sanding wheel shape the corners to remove sharp edges. When using the grinder and sanding steel make sure to not wear any gloves and to have all loose hair and clothing tucked in, these machines can seriously injure you.
The grinding pedestal is for steel only, do not use aluminum on this machine.
Step 8: Angle Grinder (optional)
After the edges have been smoothed you may notice that some of the edges look shiner than the flat surface of your opener. This dark coloration (aside from the layout fluid you applied earlier) is called mill scale. Mill scale happens when the steel is rolled flat and needs to be removed if you want a shiny finish.
To remove the mill scale we'll use an angle grinder with a flap wheel. Clamp the bottle opener flat onto your work surface and use the grinding wheel to remove the scale. This will create a shower of sparks, so use caution. You'll only be able to grind one half of the surface at once, so unclamp your opener and grind the other side, then flip it over and repeat.
Step 9: Buffing (optional)
After the mill scale has been removed you can work the opener on the buffer to create a nice shiny finish. To use the buffing wheel first make sure the wheel is clean and free from any debris. Then apply a small amount of polishing compound to the wheel while spinning and work the opener back and forth until desired finish is achieved.
Step 10: Physical Application
It's beer time!
This opener can be redesigned to easily accommodate specific ergonomics and designs, such as flipping the opening angle, adding finger groves or whatever you desire. I added an extra opening at the bottom of my opener so I could hang it.
Did you make your own at bottle opener at the introductory metal shop class at TechShop? I'd love to see your version in the comments below!