Storing empty cans can take up a lot of space in the pantry, garage, basement, or even the trash bin. A simple remedy would be to crush the cans for recycling, thus, reducing the waste. You can either buy a can crusher from the market or you can make one yourself at home if you want to save some money. Making it is not that difficult if you understand how its mechanism works. You also need to know a bit about woodworking. Designing your own can-crushing tool can be a fun exercise to do. Let's first take a look at the basic designs of the crushers made from wood using simple woodworking skills.
DIY Basic Designs
Can crushers basically work on the principle of applying force to crush the can. In earlier times, people simply made direct use of their foot for crushing a can. The basic design also utilizes this same rationale in its construction.
- 2" x 4" x 16" hardwood boards, 2
- Strap hinge or door hinge kit (comes with screws)
- Screen door handle kit (with screws)
- Old jar lids, 2 (should be slightly larger size than a 16 oz. can)
- 1-inch screws or adhesive glue
- Using the strap hinge sets, attach the two boards together. With the help of the screws in the hinge set, fasten the hinge onto both the boards. Use a screwdriver to tighten the screws. The two boards should lie on top of each other when you close the hinge.
- Attach the jar lids onto the front of the boards, with the help of the 1-inch screws (you can even stick them onto the board with the help of adhesive glue).
- Make sure that they are attached on the opposite side to the hinge. Your can crusher is almost ready.
- Check whether the jar lids are on top of each other, when closed. Now, attach the door handle exactly across the hinge side and the lids.
- To attach the door handle, use the hardware that comes with it. Tighten the screws with the help of a screwdriver.
- 15½" x 2" x 4¾" wood pieces, 2
- Strap hinge or door hinge kit
- Screen door handle kit
- Attach the wooden pieces on either sides of the hinge in such a way that the top and the base boards fall flat on each other when the hinge is in closed position.
- First, fasten one side of the hinge to the center of the shorter end (4¾" side) of one of the wooden pieces, with the help of screws in the hinge kit. See that the wood is not on the inside of the hinge and that the latter is not on the 4¾" x 2" side of the wooden piece.
- Then, affix the loose end of the hinge to the other piece of wood in the similar way, so that the hinge is attached on one side (2" x 15½") of the wood. Remember, you need to ensure that at the end, the hinge should be able to close with the two pieces of wood one over the other.
- Close and open the hinge to check if it has been fixed correctly.
- Next, on top of one wooden piece (opposite side of the hinge), fix the screen door handle with the help of screws provided in the kit. Once this is done, you can use the can crusher.
DIY Complex Designs
Using these complex design ideas will need more than basic woodworking tools and skills. If you're new to woodworking, it would be advisable to seek the help of someone who is experienced at it.
- ¾" x 6" x 39" Hardwood board
- #8 2" Wood screws, 7
- Wood washers, 2
- 3/8" Dia Washers, 4
- 3/8" Cap nuts, 6
- 3/8" x 1¾" Carriage bolts, 2
- 3/8" x 8" Hex head guide bolts, 2
- 3/8" x 7" Threaded rods, 3
- 1/16" x 3¼" x 2-7/8" Plastic laminate, 2
- Adhesive glue
- Polyurethane varnish
- Drill and bits
Before beginning to assemble the can crusher, you need to get the wooden parts together. So, take the wooden board and cut it into base, arms, handle, sides handles, and jaw pieces (jaws should be slightly larger to enable trimming later) as indicated below.
From the hardwood board, cut the following:
- ¾" x 5" x 12" Base
- ¾" x 1-3/8" x 20" Arms, 2
- 11/8" x 5 Handle
- ¾" x 3" x 6" Sides, 2
- ¾" x 3¼" x 2-7/8" Jaws, 4
- Once the wooden pieces are ready, you can make two pairs of the jaw pieces with the help of adhesive glue. Keep the jaws aside for the glue to dry. Now, drill holes for the bolts in the side and arm parts of the crusher. Make sure that the bolt holes conceal the bolt heads. Next, using a 3/8" round-over bit, trim the front edges of the side pieces to a ¾" radius. Do the same with all edges of the arms too. Next, you need to get a 1-1/8" diameter dowel for the handle and two washers. The dowel should be 3" long for the latter. Then using a 3/8" brad point bit in your drill, bore through holes in the center of both the ends of the dowel. Use a hand-screw clamp to bore the holes straight. Next, cut the 3" long dowel to match the length of the washers.
- Now, check if the two jaw parts are dried before you cut them to the finish size. With the help of a contact adhesive, cover the face of the jaw with the plastic laminate. Once dried, trim it and soften the edges using a mill file. Now, you need to drill holes for the guide bolts that go through the upper jaw and ¾" deep in the lower jaw (use smaller bit for the lower jaw). The bolt holes for the latter should be smaller, so they hold the threaded end of the guide bolt firmly. Don't forget to drill pivot holes into the jaw sides. After the drilling is done, using a ¾" round-over bit, rout the bottom edge of the back of the lower jaw. This will ensure that the pivot can move easily against the base.
- Now, we can move to the hardwood base to fit together the wood pieces to make the can crusher. Drill countersunk pilot holes to fit #8 2" wood screws after placing the side parts on the base. Separate the pieces and spread glue in the butt joints before screwing them together. Now, smoothen the front edges of the base with the round-over bit. Drill three more pilot holes in the base for wall mounting.
- At this point, cover the exposed wood parts of the crusher with polyurethane coating a couple of times. This will ensure its long life and easy cleaning once it is in use. Now, we need to attach the other parts to make the can-crushing tool usable. Take the three 7" long threaded rods to assemble the handle and jaw pieces, with the help of cap nuts. Once done, keep the jaws and handle open fully. Now, pour a quick-setting epoxy into the holes of the lower jaw. Drive in the guide bolts till their heads are 1/16" top of upper jaw. Now, the all-wood can crusher is ready to be mounted on the wall and used.