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…

5 thoughts on “Can Opener Drive Gear: FAIL

  1. We use a lot of cans, but usually the 1 pound-ish sizes. Looks like we swapped out our older can opener a couple of years ago. Swing-A-Way, purchased at one or another kitchen gadget section of a local store.

    If you have to open a lot of #10 cans, I recall the beast we used at the McDonald’s in my youth (I missed the Apollo 11 moon landing TV coverage, but caught it on the radio). They had a dedicated #10 opener that used a bracket mounted to a table. Pretty easy to open the cans-o-ketchup and stuff. The one-legged handle was about a foot long with a free-turning knob, and the cutting head was mounted on a beefy sliding column. If you go for the industrial look in the kitchen [grin], maybe searching on Ebay would help, or try that restaurant supply store. Amazon prices range round $75-100 or so…

    1. a dedicated #10 opener

      Probably resembled the one I used in my parent’s home restaurant; the cans never talked back! Of course, it produced razor-sharp edges on both the lid and the rim, but that was in the old days when such hazards were perfectly normal.

      Given the number of seemingly good-quality openers we’ve gone through, you’d think we were hard on our toys. This one makes me mad just looking at it; I delete all over their censored.

  2. Have you tried the crimp-cutting (side-cutting) can openers?

    1. Yeah, which led to the OXO knob thing; it works reasonably well, but the knob isn’t nearly as user-friendly as we expected and it doesn’t handle #10 cans at all.

      You’d think opening cans would be a solved problem by now… [mutter]

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