I love a good bevy after work, and with a recent hand surgery coming up, I knew that twisting the tops off wasn’t going to be easy for a period of time. With that foresight in mind, I set about planning my perfect DIY magnetic bottle opener.
There were a few things I wanted from my bottle opener:
1. Magnets: Partly because I love magnets and partly because I dont like to go looking for the bottle cap after I was a bit too enthusiastic during the opening
2. Good, in-hand feel: I wanted smooth edges, soft corners and a perfect fit in my little hand.
3. Beautiful wood grain and contrasting metal: metal and wood are right next to cheese and pretzels in my favourite combos list.
As most projects go, with me being the clumsy crafter, I encountered a few hiccups along the way to my perfect bevy popper, but, in the end, it definitely deserves its place of honor in my bar.
Choosing the stock and drawing the template
The first step was choosing an appropriate piece of stock for the body of the bottle opener.
I didn’t want just any wood for this special project, I wanted beautiful, relatively hardwearing – and most important scrap (so I didn’t have to go buy more) wood.
I had some leftover meranti from my magnetic shelf build and decided it would hold up well to the abuse it might have to endure. I cut the piece to rough size (200mm by 60mm) and then got about sketching up a template that I would use for eventually shaping the piece.
You can really choose whatever shape you want for this project – from a simple, spindle-shaped handle to a more complex shaped handle with several different rounded edges.
Having sketched out a design I thought I would like, I cut it out and traced the outline to the piece of stock.
Drilling the holes
The most difficult part of this build – especially if you don’t have a drill press – is drilling out the recesses that will act as the leverage for removing the cap from the bottle. You don’t want them too far apart or there won’t be enough leverage, and too much overlap will mean that you won’t be able to catch the edge of the cap and the back of the bottle opener at the same time.
If you look at a generic bottle opener you can get a relatively good idea of the spacing that you’ll need.
I used a 35mm Forstner bit for the first recess. Measuring 19mm from the edge of my template, I marked a centre point for my bit and clamped the board down before drilling. I used the depth stop on my drill to ensure that I didn’t go too far through and eventually ended up with a recess about 11mm deep.
The next hole to drill was for the coin that would act as the lip of the bottle opener. I wanted the coin to sit flush with the body of the bottle opener and overhang the previous recess I had drilled by a few mm in order to create the lip. I had a lot of coins to choose from, but not very many drill bits to match.
I eventually settled on a 1000 Rupiah coin which came the closest in size to my 25mm Forstner bit.
I was slow and methodical in this step – a bit of drilling, check the coin, drill a bit more – to make sure that I didn’t over-do it and set my coin in too deep. I did allow for a bit more depth than the coin to take into account the sanding I would be doing towards the end of the project.
The last hole that I needed to drill in the body would be for the embedded magnet I intended to use to catch the bottle cap after opening.
I had 10mm wide magnets that I had also used for my magnetic key shelves. Ordering these in bulk always means that when I have a project that might benefit from a cheeky magnet or two, I have some spares on hand.
I grabbed a 10mm drill bit and put a hole deep enough to hold the magnet and the wood filler that I intended to cover it with.
Cutting and shaping
With the initial drilling done, I was ready to move on to the fun stuff!
I roughly cut out the body of the opener along the template line with a jigsaw, giving myself a bit of leeway since none of the recesses were quite centred (A product of the very dull forstner bits and my shaky hands). This extra leeway meant that I could centre up the recesses during shaping.
I then set about shaping with my carving knives. I sketched a few lines on the handle to show where I wanted to take material from and set about rounding and shaping. This step is purely aesthetics and you can obviously shape it however you want!
I found the sanding barrels of my Ozito rotary tool were a great option for final shaping!
Drilling the mounting hole for the coin
To drill the hole for the coin, I took my 25mm forstner bit and drilled a recess in scrap piece of wood. I then drilled a small hole through the centre of the recess. This setup meant that, in theory, I could place the coin into the recess, tape it, flip the board over and drill directly through the centre of the coin. Because my coin didn’t fit the 25mm recess perfectly, I had to eyeball it before I taped it in. It didn’t work exactly as I had hoped, but I think better than had I tried to do it by hand.
I placed the coin into a clamp and used a countersink bit to take off enough metal so that the screw head would sit relatively flush with the coin.
Mounting the cap catcher
At this point, nearly everything was done, except for attaching the magnet. To do this, I placed a small drop of superglue into the hole and then pressed the magnet in, tapping it a bit with the head of a screwdriver and my mallet to ensure that it sat flat. Then I filled the hole with a wood filler that matched the grain of the wood. Had I not had this filler lying around, I would have just used glue and sawdust, or really any coloured wood filler – I think a contrasting colour might look nice as well.
Because the hole for the coin was slightly larger than I needed, I attached the coin and placed wood filler around the edges to make it look like it really wanted to be there.
I set it out in the nice, hot Australian sun to dry and…..
Came back out an hour later to see that some terrible creature had ripped my poor bottle opener limb from limb.
It only took a quick look around to find the culprit….
Since Taco had apparently assumed that I had made her a wonderful new chew toy, it was back to the drawing board.
I followed the same steps, more or less for my second version until I got a bit rushed/somehow got distracted/had a complete space-cadet moment in which I moved the drill back for some reason before drilling the coin recess, probably because I wanted more work.
As a result, I drilled a very nice, unusable recess which didn’t overlap with the previous hole at all (+1 for clumsy Raff).
Luckily, my stock was thick enough that I could stand to lose a bit. So, I grabbed my orbital sander, sanded off that recess, and re-drilled to the depth of my coin, ensuring that I was definitely in the right spot this time.
I did the majority of the shaping for this one with my Ozito Rotary tool. The longer I have it the more uses I find for it, and I just love it!
Once all the drilling, cutting, and filling were done with this version, I made sure I placed it in a spot that wouldn’t be so tempting for Taco.
Once the filler was dry, I sanded the excess off with a low grit, working my way up to a final grit of 360. As I said, I wanted a smooth hand feel.
After cleaning away the dust, I used a can of thinned walnut stain and varnish that I wiped on and left to dry.
Once dry, I gave it a bit of a buff with the 360 again and then put a second coat of varnish on.
At that point, I eagerly awaited the moment when it was fully cured and I could truly test it out.
And lo’ and behold. It worked swimmingly.