Photography & Video Workshop
Make: Inventions | Can Openers

The humble can opener might seem like an obvious invention today, but it took 50 years from the tin can’s invention to the very first can opener. Before then a hungry person had to use whatever tools were available, from bayonets to rocks. Over the last 150 years there have been hundreds of attempts to improve and perfect it. Some more successful than others.

On this episode of Make: Inventions we go through the creation and construction of three different designs. Then we put them to use to see which — if any — are an improvement on the bayonet or a rock. Along the way we also discover why my workbench now smells like soup.

The original patents for this video are:

Make: Inventions | Can Openers

See all projects in the series here.


Steve Hoefer is a creative swashbuckler, freelance writer and inventor. He regularly contributes projects to the pages of MAKE and his inventions have appeared internationally on TV, radio, and print. He lives on his family farm in Iowa.

View more articles by Steve Hoefer