Can Opener Drive Gear: FAIL

The fancy OXO can opener doesn’t work well on #10 cans, so we bought a not-bottom-dollar can opener with comfy handles to replace the one that convinced us to get the OXO. After maybe a year, tops, it gradually stopped working well, too, which prompted a trip to the Basement Shop Workbench.

The symptoms:

  • The handle wouldn’t move the cutter during maybe 1/4 of its revolution
  • It pushed the handles apart during another quarter turn

Look carefully and you’ll see the teeth sticking out slightly more on the right side of the drive wheel:

Can opener - drive gear misalignment
Can opener – drive gear misalignment

When those protruding teeth line up with the gear behind the cutter wheel, the handles open and the drive wheel loses its grip. When the low side lines up with the cutter gear, the gears very nearly disengage.

Taking it apart shows that both “gears” (which is using the term loosely) have been pretty well chewed up:

Can opener - gears and cutters
Can opener – gears and cutters

Destroying those gears should require a lot more strength than either of us can deploy on a regular basis, which suggests they used mighty soft steel. It’s not obvious, but the drive gear hole is just slightly larger than the screw thread OD; it doesn’t ride on an unthreaded part of the screw shaft.

I’m not in the mood for gear cutting right now, so I filed down the wrecked teeth and buttoned them up with some attention to centering the gear. The can opener works, but sheesh this is getting tedious…