How to buy a can opener

publickmanDecember 8, 2011

I very seldom open cans, and so I have been putting up with a bad can opener for some time, but I did put it on my list and bought one at Surfas Restaurant Supply last Saturday. All of the manual can openers they had were inexpensive, somewhat to my surprise, and so I just bought the one that had the sharpest blade. They were all made in China, and so finding a domestic one was not an option. The opener appeared okay in the store, but when I tried to open a can of tomatoes, the gears got stuck and would not turn. I finally did get the can open by punching it around about twenty times, but it was not the kind of experience that I want to repeat. I thought about taking it back to the store, but since it only cost $6, I decided that it was not worth my time to do that. Also, I may find a way of getting the gears to work, but they are obviously not made very precisely.

The only cans I buy are tomatoes and Herdez Salsa (which sometimes has a flip top), and so this is not an emergency item for me, although I prefer manual to electric. I've never tried the ones that cut on the outside of the rim, and so I think I would prefer something more conventional. I read some reviews that said the OXO opener is good, but I'm not sure where to buy it. Do I have to get it on line, or would I be able to find it in a store? I would rather see and hold it in person before buying it, which is why I would like to find it in a store. I'm thinking that I may have to go to BB&B or maybe a hardware store.

What is your recommendation? If you have had yours for a long time, is it still available?

BTW, I ended up buying a lot of other stuff at Surfas and can never get out of there for less than $100, but I did buy some very nice olive oil - a bottle from France for every day use and a can from Spain that I really really like. I made the mistake of sampling oils first and selected one from Tuscany that I liked best, and so of course it was by far the most expensive. I like the Spanish oil as well, but it was not open for tasting at the time.


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I find the ones that remove the lid instead of cutting the lid to be easiest to use. It takes a little getting used to, but no sharp edges is a definite plus. I've had a Pampered Chef can opener for around 12 years. I love it.

I hate those home sales parties, but a former neighbor who used to occasionally cat-sit for us hated our old can opener so bad (it was awful) that she dragged me, kicking and screaming, to the party. She tried it out to be sure she liked it, and then made me buy it as a condition of her future cat-sitting. The party was inane (aren't they all?) but I'm glad I got the can opener.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2011 at 12:46PM
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I swear by Swing-away...I don't know if the new ones are as good as the ones that are about 10 years old...but my swing-away works very well....and has for a long time!

It works so well that I bought one for the church.....then someone got a wild hair that we needed a "fancy" one and bought a Pampered Chef one....that won't work on a large can...just won't cut. Anyhow now there are 4 in the drawer....the Swing-away I bought is gone....but the only one in the drawer that works is the OXO....and not as well as the Swing-away.

Here is a link that might be useful: Can opener

    Bookmark   December 8, 2011 at 12:49PM
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I like the OXO. Have had it for years and it still works great. I expect it to last many more years. Got mine at BB&B.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2011 at 12:50PM
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Thanks! I finally got the BB&B web site to open, and I could see that they have both the OXO and the Swing-A-Way, and so I'll try to go there this evening, since I have to go to that mall anyway for the drug store.

I had a Swing-A-Way before, but it became dull over time. At least at BB&B I can view a better selection and pick what I like best. I won't be opening another can for a few days, however.


    Bookmark   December 8, 2011 at 1:11PM
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I have this one and love it. Have used it going on three years now and it still works like new. It's getting a work out at the moment opening Libby's pure pumpkin for pies, muffins, bread, etc. ;)


Here is a link that might be useful: Kuhn Rikon Auto Safety Lid Lifter, Red

    Bookmark   December 8, 2011 at 1:14PM
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Did you think of oiling the gears? Maybe hit them with a shot of PAM or something like that? Or pour some vegetable oil on a paper towel and then run it through the can opener.
I have the OXO. I think I got it at Target. I really like it.

Although some folks love them, I do not care for the ones that open the top of the can. I had one once and it drove me nuts. It always took me several attempts to get the can seated correctly. Probably more user error than anything else.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2011 at 1:23PM
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If a brand new item does not work straight out of the box, you should always take it back to the store and ask for a replacement. It does not matter how cheap it was. Maybe the store got a batch of defectives that will annoy other customers and cost them business later when the customers don't come back, so they should welcome your letting them know that they have defective items on the shelves, while they still have time to notify the manufacturer. If you get two in a row that are bad, take the second one back and get a different make of the item.

Make sure you always save all your receipts for a while in case you have to return something. If you go in with a $100 receipt to exchange a $6 defective new item, the store should treat you well.

I have had a Swing Away for years and it has always worked perfectly well.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2011 at 1:29PM
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Another Swing-a-Way fan here. That's the only brand of can opener I'd buy. They're available many places on line (Amazon link below). Our local hardware store also carries them.

Here is a link that might be useful: Swing-A-Way can opener

    Bookmark   December 8, 2011 at 1:34PM
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On Linda C's link, some comments said that Swing Away is made in China since 2008 and not as good, but the same company that used to make Swing Away now makes the same opener under the new name Easy Duz It. You can buy them here at Fantes

Mine is stamped Made In USA, is about 20 years old, still works like new.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2011 at 1:56PM
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I have an OXO saftey opener and just love it. It does take a little while to get used to it, but once you have the hang of it, it is great.

Good luck in your search!


    Bookmark   December 8, 2011 at 1:56PM
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Have an old Swing a way, OXO one and a no name brand. All can be purchased at a cooking store or BB+B. I like the Swing a way and the OXO. They both do the job well. I have my eye on a pretty red one made by Kitchen Aid. I just can't justify the cost when I already have 3 of them. Lol NancyLouise

    Bookmark   December 8, 2011 at 4:09PM
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I had the pretty red one made by Kitchen Aid. It was not a good can opener. A house guest tossed it in the garbage one day in frustration.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2011 at 4:12PM
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Oh my barnmom, did she at least replace it for you?! LOL, NancyLouise

    Bookmark   December 8, 2011 at 4:58PM
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'Twas a "he" and no! He tossed all of my can openers and did not replace them with a working one. I do not use many canned goods and didn't miss having one for a while. I finally bought one which works pretty well. Darned if I can tell you what brand it is. I'm not at home at the moment. Black handles. Farberware, perhaps.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2011 at 5:05PM
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I have the Pampered Chef opener that jazmynsmom has. I am very pleased with it!

    Bookmark   December 8, 2011 at 5:12PM
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Happyday, I probably will go back to the store on Saturday (the only day I can) because I think it would help the store to know if they have a defective item, as you suggested.

It was not a problem of the gears needing oil - they simply did not meet together properly and would always get stuck in the same place. I could rotate one of the gears separately, and then it would get stuck in a different place, but it would still always get stuck somewhere. I will not leave the store again without testing the opener. I think the one I got would work fine if the gears fitted correctly.

I'm sorry I didn't go to BB&B to start with, and I bought a couple of kitchen items there within the past two weeks - one was a new timer that I found I did not need when I finally put brand new batteries in my old one, and the other item was a bag of hooks for my hanging rack.


    Bookmark   December 8, 2011 at 5:31PM
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I'm sorry to hear that the Swing Away can openers are made in China now. I have a wall-mount one out in my garage that I've had for at least 22 years (if not longer), and a couple of hand-helds. I noticed yesterday that our school cafeteria hand-held is also an older Swing Away!

My younger daughter keeps telling me that I should get an electric can opener, and threatens to buy me one for Christmas. I told her, save your money because I'd only take it back. In our first 10 years of marriage, we went through about 5 electric can openers. It just takes up space before dying a premature death.


    Bookmark   December 8, 2011 at 10:52PM
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I have an old Swing Away too, about 15 years old, maybe, and it works like a champ, love it. I also have an OXO that Elery bought, it works fine and I like the padded handles on that one.

Elery has the Kuhn Rikon that rosewitch linked to, he loves it. I hate it, I haven't successfully opened a can with in in the three years he's had it. Ugh. Last time I got so disgusted with it that I went and got my Swiss Army knife out of the Jeep and used that to hack open a can of water chestnuts.

Yeah, I know, I'm so patient. (grin)

Anyway, my favorite is the old Swing Away, but the OXO is a perfectly good choice too.


    Bookmark   December 8, 2011 at 11:39PM
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I wonder if a dull can opener could be sharpened.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2011 at 12:26AM
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I vote for swing-away. I have an old one and a new one, both work just fine. I bought them at Target. FWIW, I don't care for the type that cuts off the entire top of the can.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2011 at 2:28AM
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Another vote for the OXO that lifts the lid instead of cutting it. Have had for a year or so and love it. It is very easy to use (once you get the hang of how to attach to can), turns easily and does not get dirty from the food in the can. BB&B does sell them but I think I bought mine at Amazon.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2011 at 6:11AM
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When I was a little girl, all we ever used was an electric can opener. I remember how the cats would come running into the kitchen when we used it. It was their dinner bell.

But now I use a hand held by OXO called Good Grips that I bought at BBB. Love it -

    Bookmark   December 9, 2011 at 6:51AM
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I had a wall mounted manual can opener for years.

Last year, while I was house sitting I ended up needing to buy a can opener... theirs was to icky.

I got an oxo at Target.

Love the way it works, but will most likely install another wall mount when I get a house.


    Bookmark   December 9, 2011 at 9:24AM
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Well, I was fascinated to learn from Real Simple that you can use a can opener that cuts the lid (and leaves sharp edges) to open clamshell packages. That was kind of exciting as I have a *itch of time getting those da*n things open. I'm anxious to see if it works!

    Bookmark   December 9, 2011 at 2:11PM
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Well, I came home with two clamshell packages to open and can tell you that was a completely worthless claim. I don't know who had that bright idea, but I can tell you it doesn't work!

    Bookmark   December 9, 2011 at 6:26PM
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Sorry to hear about the clamshell packages, but I'm not sure what those are. Are they like oysters? Maybe you could use an oyster knife, which I need to get myself as well.

I decided not to return the can opener because I discovered that there is a way (although minute) to get the gears aligned properly. I turned one of the gears while the other was stationary, and at one point, they would move together without jamming. At other points, however, they would jam, and so I just have to find the correct alignment when I open a can, which, as I said, is less than once a week, and so it is not very critical. I haven't thrown away my old opener and decided that perhaps it needed more cleaning. It does not have a brand on it, but it does have a patent number that I could look up, if I needed to.


    Bookmark   December 10, 2011 at 7:39PM
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