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M20_MAKE_Opener1

Sometimes it costs more to buy it than to make it from the money itself.

$1.00

Church key from a country store.

$0.50

Bottle openers made from coins.

At the checkout counter of an old country store I saw a bowl of stamped metal bottle openers. It was marked with masking tape: Church Keys — $1.00 each!

This got me wondering what sort of bottle openers I could make for just half that price, using real money.

I made the first one by pinching 2 quarters in a vise and and bending them with a hardwood mallet. I fastened them together with a single steel pop rivet.

I fashioned the next one from a single Kennedy half-dollar. This opener is designed to be stamped from an industrial punch press — but that would require a custom tool and die. To make the prototype, I used a tiny jeweler’s bit to drill a 0.5mm hole through the coin. Then I sawed out the shape of the tooth using a jeweler’s saw with a Size 0 blade. The rest was easy: careful bending and filing with the coin held in a vise.

My favorite opener required no bending. I made 3 cuts in a quarter using a hacksaw. Then I made matching cuts in 3 other coins using different saw blades so that the kerf of the cuts matched the thickness of the coins. I snapped them all together, brushed on some soldering flux, heated them softly with a MAPP gas torch, and added a dab of “silver solder” braze.

A quarter, 2 dimes, and a nickel: still just 50 cents, but this one works like a champ and looks like a million bucks

Tom Parker

Tom Parker is an author who lives in Ithaca, N.Y., and works for Cornell University. When he is not tinkering with junk, he’s a flight instructor and flies a 1956 Cessna 180 bush plane.


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