How to use an old fashioned can opener

Updated February 21, 2017

Old-fashioned can openers were one way to open canned goods before the electric can opener was invented and made things easier. However, the manual can opener is still available and many people prefer the old-fashioned opener to an electric opener. Old-fashioned openers have a sharp serrated wheel, two handles and a rotating lever. The serrated wheel can opener was invented in 1925, according to Enchanted Learning.

Set the sealed can on a hard surface such as a countertop. Do not place the can on a hob or any surface that may scratch easily.

Pull apart the tow handles on the can opener.

Place the serrated wheel on the lip of the can right on the edge. Squeeze the two handles closed. As you close the two handles, the serrated wheel will penetrate the lid of the can.

Hold the handles together with one hand. Use your thumb and index finger from the other hand to twist the butterfly-shaped lever on the side of the can opener. Twist the lever forward (away from you) to start moving the wheel. As the wheel moves around the can, the wheel is separating the lid from the side of the can.

Twist the lever backward (toward you) if the wheel doesn't cut the lid. Making the wheel move backward will cut the spot on the can the wheel missed. Continue cutting the rest of the lid, moving the lever forward.

Pull the handles apart when done. The wheel will pull away from the lid so you can remove the can opener from the can.

Things You'll Need

  • Sealed can
  • Can opener
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