Q: Can you tell me what this is and what it does? I think it says “tool steel tempered.”


A: This is a lever can opener. The claw-shaped can opener was common before electric can openers and pull-top cans were invented. The pointed part in the middle is used to puncture the can. Then the large blade, called a sickle, is used to remove the lid by starting in the hole and sawing around the top edge of the can. The top part of the can opener acts as a guard to keep the sickle from going too deeply into the can. This opener can also be used to pry off crown bottle caps or open a can of beer. The first can opener was a claw-shaped opener invented in 1855 by Robert Yeates in Middlesex, England. Ezra Warner of Waterbury, Connecticut, invented and patented an improved can opener with a guard in 1858. The first electric can opener was made in 1956. Pull-top cans were invented in 1966, almost eliminating the need for a can opener. Can openers like this are still being made, sometimes advertised as “ergonomic” manual can openers or as camping equipment. Some have a corkscrew attachment. You can buy new can openers like this for under $5.

level can opener tool

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One response to “Can Opener”

  1. norcalgal says:

    The person asking this question must be young! I’m 83 and knew right away what this was. These can openers were around before the electric can openers AND the hand crank ones that are much safer to use than these. You have to be very careful using these: you can cut fingers easily and not good for children.

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