Introduction: Keychain Bottle Opener
Months ago, I made a leather key organizer (or a DIY Orbitkey) and I wanted a bottle opener for it. I carry a Nite Ize DoohicKey on my keys, but it won't fit inside the organizer, due to the clip. The only way to get a bottle opener that will fit inside is to steal one off my multitool, buy one from Orbitkey for $7.50, or make one, of course.
While most small, lightweight bottle openers – like the DoohicKey – are made from titanium, aluminum is plenty strong enough in this case to function as a bottle opener and not bend.
So I decided to grab some aluminum from the hardware store and carve one out myself.
Step 1: Gather Materials
The only material you will need to make the bottle opener is a piece of aluminum, roughly 2 1/4-inches long. I found this 1/8-inch thick and 3/4-inch wide piece at Lowe’s for about $6 and have enough to make 19-20 bottle openers. Not bad at all.
You will, however, need several tools for this project:
- Files, at least one small round file and a fine flat file
- Drill with a 7/32 bit
- 220 grit sandpaper
- Dremel/rotary tool with a metal cutting blade
And please wear safety glasses. There will be flying metal bits and dremel blades tend to aim for the eyes when they break.
Also, I had a commenter on YouTube remind me that grinding aluminum can be dangerous. If I were working on a larger block of Aluminum, I wouldn't recommend using a Dremel, but perhaps something like a hacksaw, which won't produce as much fines when cutting.
Step 2: Cut and Carve
To start, you’ll need to cut the piece of aluminum to 2 1/4”. If you’re using a rotary tool for this, take your time. You can also use a miter saw, since this metal is actually pretty soft. Next, find the center point – 3/8” – and mark it on one end for the key ring hole. Then use a straight edge to mark some corner cuts to shape the aluminum, then draw out the opening for the bottle opener. I simply used my Nite Ize key tool as a starting point, then drew out from there, as I wanted this to work a little better than the DoohicKey, which only works about half the time.
Then clamp it down and start cutting away with the rotary tool. Once you get to the bottle opener part, since you can’t cut this shape with the dremel, use the drill with a 7/32 bit to drill the hole, then use the dremel to cut at an angle into the hole.
Be careful, since the aluminum will get very hot due to friction. It actually started to melt my plastic clamp.
Step 3: Sand and File
Once all the cuts are made, it’s time to fine tune the shape with the files. I clamped the bottle opener with a vise and went to town, tapering the bottle opener end so I can use it as a box opener in a pinch, and I eventually ended up rounding the key hole end. Use the small round file to open up the hole for the bottle opener, and the flat file to shape both sides of the opening.
Continue shaping and rounding edges until all the burrs from the cuts are gone and until you reach your desired shape. Then use 220 grit sandpaper to smooth all the remaining rough edges and to give the opener a brushed finish.
Step 4: Test and Tweak
Next, add it to your key organizer or keychain and test it out. (Protip: It will work better on a keychain, as it adds a bit of leverage. Without a keychain, it's a tad too short to work well.) If it doesn’t work, widen the angle of the long side of the opening and make sure the short side has a sharp lip to catch the underside of the bottle cap.
And that’s it! You know have a custom bottle opener that will fit inside your leather key organizer or on any keychain.