How to Make a Handsome and Handy Wooden Bottle Opener

by A Manly Guest Contributor on September 20, 2012 · 37 comments

in Manly Skills, Projects

This is a guest post by Ethan Hagan from One Project Closer.

You can make a bottle opener out of just about anything. I’ve seen lighters, rings, shell casings, hats, sandals, and I’m sure you can add to the list. All those openers probably work just fine. However, making your own bottle opener is a fun project, and a handmade one is sure to impress your family and friends every time. In this guide, I’ll show you how to make an elegant bottle opener similar to ones that I’ve seen pictured online.

The mechanics of this opener are nothing new. In fact, I’ve seen some pretty rudimentary ones that follow the same basic design of this nail and stick combo.

Rustic, yes. But nothing to write home about.

But no one is going to be impressed by a stick with a nail through it. Instead, I’ll show you how to make a nicer model from a small piece of wood and a nail. It will even catch your bottle cap as you remove it and stick to your fridge for easy access when you need it.

Materials & Tools Needed

  • Small block of hard wood (I chose Walnut)
  • 3″ common-head nail
  • (2) 8mm diameter magnets
  • Jigsaw (or a coping saw)
  • Dremel with sanding drum (or just regular sandpaper)
  • Drill/driver
  • 5/16″ and 5/32″ drill bits
  • Glue gun

How to Make Your Own Bottle Opener

I chose a hard wood for this project because that’s what I had lying around (spare Walnut from installing hardwood floors). I expect this opener to get a lot of use, and Walnut should hold up well. The only downside is that hardwoods are tougher to cut and drill, and you have to be careful not to scorch the wood.

The dimensions are flexible. However, I’d suggest keeping it close to what I’ve laid out here. My bottle opener is 5″ long by 1″ wide and 3/4″ deep. I wrapped everything in masking tape to protect from tear out when making cuts, and to sketch an outline.

To cut out the shape, I used a miter saw, table saw, and jigsaw. Many of you may not have those tools handy. A coping saw will get the job done too, albeit much slower.

Next I sanded each side using a combination of a cordless grinder with sanding pad and a Dremel with a sanding drum. I also rounded all the edges just enough to make it more comfortable to hold.

I purchased some small, inexpensive magnets, but you can harvest refrigerator magnets in a pinch. My magnets are listed at 8mm in diameter, which translates into 5/16″.

Carefully, I drilled holes on the front and back of the bottle opener. The magnet on the face of the bottle opener is for catching the bottle cap, so I positioned it pretty close to the top. The second magnet is to store the opener on the fridge, and I placed that a little lower.

I also drilled a 5/32″ hole on the top for the nail. A drill press would have been ideal for this step; however, I used a drill/driver and still had good results.

To secure the magnets, I put a dab of hot glue behind each.

For the nail, I chose a 3″ common nail, and you can see in the picture how the nail head is flat on both sides (as opposed to a more convex underside).

I didn’t want to bend the nail with a hammer so instead I used a clamp and a vise to slowly bend the nail into a right angle.

Just like with the magnets, I added a dab of hot glue before pushing the nail in place.

That’s it! This is a great bottle opener and a fun project. I’ve already made three and given away two as presents. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Below are the plans for the opener in PDF format. Thanks to Robert Heffern for providing them.

Bottle Opener – Measurements
Bottle Opener – Final w/Color

Ethan Hagan is the primary editor at One Project Closer. Ethan spends most of his days shadowing real contractors on actual job sites and most of his nights writing about the experience. If learning and interacting with pro contractors sounds like something you’d enjoy, sign up for OPC email updates. OPC also provides coupon information to home improvement centers like this Lowe’s Coupons page. See their site for full details.

{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

1 logan September 20, 2012 at 9:15 pm

what a handsom piece of man machinery

2 Brian September 20, 2012 at 9:34 pm

And to think, a few minutes ago I didn’t have any plans for the weekend…

3 David H September 20, 2012 at 9:58 pm

this was on huckberry.

4 Kyle Atkinson September 20, 2012 at 10:07 pm

I made one of these a couple months ago after seeing one just like it for $30 in a fancy design store. I take it everywhere and show off my beautiful “Nail on a Stick”. They all laugh until they realize it works. I’ll have to upgrade with the magnet trick though.

5 Will September 20, 2012 at 10:12 pm

Plans for the weekend just got awesome!

6 Felipe September 20, 2012 at 10:24 pm

Very rustic indeed, love it

7 Caio Brisolla September 20, 2012 at 10:37 pm

This is a great idea.

8 Sharpie September 20, 2012 at 10:51 pm

@David H.

Yes, for $31

AND you can’t stick it to the fridge.

9 Mark Petersen September 20, 2012 at 11:37 pm

I should make a bunch of these and sell them around the student housing at school on the weekends

10 Perry September 21, 2012 at 1:52 am

You are a genius! Thumbs up!

Now I won’t have to worry about losing bottle openers or flinging caps in people’s eyes!

11 Rick September 21, 2012 at 2:36 am

There is no hotglue in man projects.

12 Nathan September 21, 2012 at 3:31 am

Gonna have to build one of these with my boys!

13 Dave September 21, 2012 at 8:42 am

An excellent source for magnets is an old Sonic Care toothbrush (head). Remove the plastic shroud (where you thread the brush onto the base) and it will reveal two very powerful magnets which connect to rods and produce the vibration in the brush. I use them for all sorts of projects. Good luck.

14 jeremy September 21, 2012 at 10:51 am

I’d be concerned the nail would spin in the hole…make sure the hole is small enough and perhaps use some epoxy instead of hot glue.

15 zasm September 21, 2012 at 11:58 am
16 Basil Moss September 21, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Who needs a bottle opener? I just use the end of a lighter. Or the back of a knife. Or the edge of a table. Or a spoon. Or the top edge of a road sign. In desperate times I’ve used my teeth, but it’s rare the you can’t find something inanimate to pry the top off a beer bottle with.

17 Ethan@OPC September 21, 2012 at 1:15 pm

I just learned that the original design for this bottle opener can be attributed to Brendan Ravenhill from Areaware, and the article has been updated with a link.

18 Stefan September 21, 2012 at 3:17 pm

Too much work :p…I just open them with the handle of a spoon or fork levered against my index or thumb.

19 Robert Honan September 21, 2012 at 4:06 pm

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, real men use the church key their father passed down to them. Or the one they bought on eBay because they lost Dad’s old church key.

20 Dan September 21, 2012 at 4:43 pm

I think you guys might get some more visitors today. Lifehacker linked to this article.

21 abe September 22, 2012 at 10:55 pm

awesome bottle opener!!!
also if you got any kids, (or just feel like it)
flatten out the bottle cap with a hammer, puncture two small holes on the center, and put some strong tread thread through the holes. center the cap,put your thumbs through the ends of the string and spin it and pull, will spin for hours. makes an amusing toy

22 KambizAmini September 24, 2012 at 10:48 am

…Useful, easy, interesting!

23 Clayton September 25, 2012 at 12:06 am

In Australia most of our local beers have twist tops. For those times I drink beer with pop tops I have a bottle opener on all my sets of keys, my leatherman has a bottle opener and I have a multitool card in my wallet that also has a bottle opener built into it.

24 Johnny September 25, 2012 at 6:23 pm

I love seeing useful posts like this that we can try for ourselves. The magnets are a clever idea. Don’t care so much about the one to catch the bottle cap, but I really like the idea of being able to just throw it back onto the fridge when I’m done.

25 Jessica September 25, 2012 at 6:47 pm

That is a fine looking bottle opener. I love the extra detail of adding in the magnets!

26 Sparticus September 26, 2012 at 4:14 am

I needed something new for the camp. This oughta be sweet and keep the guys talking while they open me another beer.

27 Joe September 26, 2012 at 9:00 am

Just made this guy yesterday, and it works great. Best part is you get to test your work by cracking open a few beers.

28 Cathy September 30, 2012 at 9:36 pm

I just made a bunch of these this weekend. The hot glue didn’t work out so well for both the magnets and the nail. Any suggestions on another type of glue? Someone said epoxy. What about titebond? That works well with wood, but this is wood and metal combined.

29 Jack & Bishop October 2, 2012 at 12:51 am

I feel like I saw one of these for sale at a store recently… At first I said, “Wow, this is so awesome and manly, I must own one!” Then I saw it was $30. Now I’ll just make my own. Hands FTW

30 Eric October 2, 2012 at 9:07 pm

This is how you open a bottle

31 J October 9, 2012 at 3:50 pm

The nail is upside down!

32 Evan November 16, 2012 at 8:08 pm

Wouldn’t it be more ‘manly’ to use a little ingenuity to find a new way to open a beer.

For instance, I usually open a fresh beer with an empty beer. All it takes is a little leverage (+1 physics). That way I don’t even have to find a bottle opener. Lighters, knives, some carbiners, and just about anything with an edge will work too.

33 Max Stewart December 18, 2012 at 7:50 am

Did anyone have to use a heavier magnet on the back to hold it to the fridge? Also I used Red Oak and when I stained it, it turned out almost cherry in color.

Thanks for the idea

34 Cathy April 7, 2013 at 5:22 pm

Max – I used rare earth magnets. They worked great:

Incidentally for glue I ended up using Loctite’s Super Glue Gel Control. It’s been months and so far the bottle openers have been working in tip-top shape.

35 The Mann May 27, 2013 at 5:01 pm

Whats manlier is when I use any damn table or even my belt buckle to open a bottle. Occasionally I’ll use my bottom tooth.

36 Easton Rimer August 27, 2013 at 5:22 am

It is awesome, can’t wait to make one like this. Thanks for the inspiration.

37 schroeder September 19, 2013 at 6:57 pm

Cool idea! Looking forward to giving this a try.

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