Introduction: Blacksmithed No-Touch Door Pull/Bottle Opener

Do you have a desire to blacksmith a hand-forged item that will be useful during the COVID19 pandemic, but won’t be obsolete once the pandemic eventually ends? Are you tired of touching public door handles and the pin-pad to complete your transaction? Do you need to remove a metal cap from a glass bottle? Then this is the project for you!

I wanted to learn the blacksmithing skills involved in making a bottle opener, but after my mentor (a roommate) had already made a dozen bottle openers, we seriously didn’t need another one lying around the house. I had the idea to blacksmith a “no-touch” door pull/button pusher, and realized the end that doesn’t touch public door handles, elevator buttons, and checkout pin-pads could double as a bottle opener.

This is a good project for a person with intermediate-level knowledge and experience blacksmithing, or a beginner with a great blacksmithing mentor to guide you.

As this project should not be attempted by someone who does not have either a mentor working with them or an intermediate level of experience, my instructions will include helpful tips for beginners like me, but will not cover blacksmithing basics such as knowing when your material is ready to be worked, how to use tongs, etc.


What you’ll need:

  • A forge
  • Eye protection
  • Ear protection
  • Material: steel flat bar
  • Hammer
  • Anvil (with a pritchel hole and horn or a set-up for punching & drifting)
  • Tongs
  • Punch or drift punch
  • Chisel

Optional supplies that I found useful:

  • Rasps and files
  • Wire brush
  • Bottle cap (for size reference)
  • Flatter
  • Curved rod for manipulating work
  • Glove for my non-dominant hand (I know gloves vs. not is a personal preference and sometimes a controversial topic; I like to use one)
  • Your choice of oil or wax for finishing (I used WD40)
  • Drill and drill bits if you want to attach it to a key ring

Step 1: Prepare to Make the Hole That Will Become the Bottle Opener

Heat your flat bar.

Tip: As a newbie, I found it helpful to mark the center of my pritchel hole with a sharpie (it disappears with heat) and to get familiar with how far down I could drive my drift punch while the forge was heating up.

Step 2: Punching Part 1

  1. Place your heated material flat on the anvil, place the tip of your punch centered about equidistant from the end and two sides of the material.
  2. Strike your punch and check your placement. Continue striking until you have a strong indentation on the front of your work and a visible circle on the back. Realign the punch after each blow. (This took me several heats on my first try.)
  3. Turn the material over so that you can see the circle on the “back.” Place your work flat on the anvil and strike the circle with you hammer to begin to flatten it down. You will be punching from this direction to remove the circle of steel.

Step 3: Punch All the Way Through the Steel

Position your work with the indentation-side down over the pritchel hole and punch all the way through the flat bar.

For newbies, take care not to get the punch stuck in the pritchel hole.

Remove the tiny circle of steel. (If it’s perfect and if you are weird like me, keep it. Wear it as a necklace.)

Step 4: Drift Open the Bottle Opener Hole

Continue to drift your hole as big as you can with your punch and the pritchel hole.

Move to the horn of your anvil and continue to open up the hole until you have an opening that is almost as wide as a bottle cap, then hhape your bottle opener profile to your satisfaction.

We used the circle printed on this Lagunitas cap as our size guide; it’s about 23mm (0.9 inches) in diameter; that's about 7/8".

Apparently it's better for a bottle opener hole to be a little snug than for it to be really oversized, or you won't get enough leverage. I knew I was going to upset my work to make the hole more oval, so I drifted my hole to match the imprint on the bottle cap before I upset it. My mentor's bottle openers tend to clock in around 15/16" when finished.

Step 5: Create the Lip That Catches Under Bottle Caps

Use your punch to create the small lip that will catch under the bottle caps:

Place your work flat on the anvil and the tip of the punch about 3/4s on the material, with about ¼ hanging off on the inside of the hole you drifted and shaped. You may choose the angle your punch for some of your hits, to push material toward the center of your hole and create a nice lip.

Make sure your bottle opener works before moving to the next step!

Step 6: Begin the No-Touch Door Pull Side of the Project

Decide what kind of shape you want your door pull to have.

I marked the lines I wanted to chisel in chalk on my piece and laid it on the cutting surface of the anvil.

Step 7: Chisel to Remove Material

Use your chisel to remove the portion(s) of the metal that you want removed. I did this cold.

At this point you have the option to heat and beat your project closer to the finished shape you want, or move on to filing.

Step 8: File!

File the edges to remove burrs, smooth corners, and create the profile you want before you remove the piece from the length of flat bar.

Step 9: Remove the Piece From the Length of Material

Use your chisel (or other preferred method) to separate your work from the length of flat bar.

Step 10: Shape to Your Heart's Content

If your design calls for it, heat your work again and continue to shape it. I tried to use a flatter to give my door pull a nub for buttons, but I didn’t like how it was coming out. I also tried rounding the arm a little bit, and making the end pointier.

Step 11: Finishing Touches

When you are fully satisfied with the shape, file any remaining sharp or wonky edges.

Give it an oil finish if you want one.

Drill a hole if you are going to attach a key ring.

Step 12: Test It Out and Celebrate!

Does it work? You did it! Great job!

Some notes:
At first I liked the bird beak shape from my first design, but when I was getting ready to travel I decided the the point made it look too much like something that would get confiscated by TSA!

I think the arm on my first design was also a bit long, so although I left a tab where I could have drilled a hole to attach it to a key ring, it might have been cumbersome to have on my keys.

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