Introduction: Class Up a Classic Bottle Opener Hack

About: Cheating death for a living, since the day I was born.

In which we revisit a PM hack from almost a half century ago and make it pretty.

Step 1: An Old Hack, Classed Up

This image is from Popular Mechanics, 1966. The text reads "To quickly make a bottle opener, drive a nail into a board so the head stands proud ½ inch. Bend the shank and grab the bottle by the nailhead."

Sure. We could do that. But we could also make this into something that functions well, and looks good too. So that's what I did.

Step 2: Design Pattern and First Draft

Okay, I admit it. I didn't exactly document this part in the best way. Basically, you could do anything you want. I played around with a few shapes that pleased me, refined them, tested them out, and found something I liked.

I'm not going to spoon feed you on this one. Figure out what pleases you and run with that.

My "first draft" of this bottle opener owes quite a bit to the original "hack" design from PM 1966, but it felt a little awkward and gangly.

I decided to make the nail part a little more tidy, as you will see in later steps.

Also, I thought adding a magnet to the underside would be a nice touch to hold the cap in place after opening.

Later, I added a second magnet to store the opener on the fridge or nearest steel object.

Step 3: Cut Parts and Refinement

From this design, I ganged up a bunch of parts onto some wood I found laying around the shop.

I cut them out on the bandsaw, refined the shape using various sanders, rounded the edges on the router table using a 1/4 round-over bit, and hand sanded to a spot I felt okay with.

Step 4: Assembly

I'm using a nail with a 5/32" diameter, and 1/4" x 1/16" Neodymium Magnets. The latter are easily obtained through

Drill out a 5/32" hole at the fore of the opener, approximately 3/4 of the way through the wood. Approximately 11/16" aft of that, drill a VERY shallow 1/4" hole to accept the magnet.

Should you choose to add it, drill another magnet spot on the flat side of the opener.

Now some tricky bits. Figure the depth of the nail hole you've drilled and cut your nail to that length plus 1/2". You're smart enough to figure out how to do that on your own. I've found that while you are hacking the excess off the nail, if you scuff up the remainder that will be hidden, it affords more bite and surface area for the next part.

I add three drops of cyanoacrylate before placing the nail. Some may squeeze out, but we can sand that off later.

Next, assuming you've drilled a suitable depth for the magnets, add one drop of glue and press those in place. In my experience, the nails are slightly smaller and need the glue, but the magnets fit pretty snugly. Nevertheless, I add glue to keep the mags from eventually wiggling themselves loose.

Step 5: Embellishment and Finishing

Should you choose, clean up any glue squeeze out, and finish as you see fit.

In the above pics, I've done a mahogany inlay in one piece before routing, Spray painted and then knocked back some, and finished one with a simple wax paste, which is my favorite, being the most honest and show-offy of the natural beauty of the wood's grain.

Step 6: Crack a Cold One and Marvel at the Process

You've earned it.