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What manual can opener do you like?

I'm looking for a good quality manual can opener. I'm not thrilled with those "side-opening" ones. Do you use one you like? If so, tell me about it.

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  1. For decades we had a swing-a-way wall mount can opener that I loved. I stupidly left it in storage when I moved abroad. I found this one:


    I'll bet you could find a cool old one on Ebay.

    1. At home I use a non-name side cutting one. On most cans it does a quick and clean job. It did have problems with a Nestles can of sweetened condensed milk; must have been something unusual about the can.

      I use more canned goods while camping. For that I prefer a forward opening Swiss Army Knife (Victorinox style v. Wagner). A P38 opener works well - this is a little folding C-rations opener.


      4 Replies
      1. re: paulj

        I've carried my P38 around for many years...never used it, but carried it all over the world....

        1. re: paulj

          I recently bought a cheap side cutting can opener, and I find myself reaching for it instead of my Swing-A-Way (which I agree is a great can opener). It takes a couple of tries to get used to how it fits on the can, but after it becomes more natural it's much easier to use -- since it's cutting through the thin can wall instead of the reinforced top, it needs a lot less pressure to keep the cutting wheels engaged and turning.

          1. re: paulj

            My father has always carried a folding pocket knife, but I never knew he also carried one of those P38s until just this past year when they forgot to charge the electric can-opener. I noticed my dad making a little up-and-down motion and asked him what it was. He said "You used them to open ration packs in the military and I've always kept one in my pocket ever since. You never know when you'll need it!" It worked surprisingly well, too.

            My Gizmo can opener was beginning to wear out so I decided to get a manual one and spotted a Swing-A-Way and have been really happy with it. The large crank makes it easy to operate.

            1. re: jzerocsk

              Keep my P-38 on my key chain w/ a bottle opener; won't go hungry or sober either.

          2. I grew up with the traditional kind and I've tried electrics but these days my fave is the smooth edge one from Pampered Chef: https://www.pamperedchef.com/ordering... It's neater, cleaner and works for both righties and lefties. :)

            1. We bought a KUHN RIKON at WS about 10 years ago. it has never failed to open any can I've thrown at it. It is a side cut opener. I like it because the wheel and blade never hit the contents. http://www.kuhnrikon.com/products/too...

              2 Replies
              1. re: Eric in NJ

                Agree completely that the Kuhn Rikon side cutter is the way to go. Takes a bit of getting used to, but once you do, it's foolproof. Major advantage over Swing-a-Way type is safety...there are no sharp edges. Also, since the opener never touches the can contents, it remains clean and gunk-free. From the safety perspective alone, the KR (or other side cutter) is definitely the way to go!

                1. re: josephnl

                  Count me in on the Kuhn Rikon side. I really do like it and it is so much cleaner to use. I keep my old Swing Away for some odd shapes and difficult cans.

              2. Can't beat the Swing-A-Way. It's the only can opener I'll use, simply because it's the one that works the best, has the best feel in my hand, and has a simple, elegant, foolproof design. And I believe the one I have, which I bought when I was in college, cost me all of $4.99.

                24 Replies
                1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                  Well, there are some welcome surprises in life. I just bought a Swing-Away for $5.99 in the Detroit area. Got it at a professional supply house Restaurant Outfitters --they are in Southfield and have their main warehouse in Columbus, OH. What a great value!

                  1. re: berkleybabe

                    Swing-Away all the way! I've had mine seen my first apartment. Others have come and gone but the Swing-Away still works perfectly every time. And I have cats so I've opened at least a can a day for over 20 years.

                    1. re: crawfish

                      I am amazed that I seem to be just about the only one who likes side cutting openers like the Kuhn-Rikon. I've cut my hands more than once using the "old-fashioned" Swing-a-Way type openers. Doesn't anyone else see the safety advantage of the side-cutters...especially folks with young children?

                      1. re: josephnl

                        I have used manual can openers my entire life and I have never once cut myself on a can lid, even when I was using a manual as a young child myself. I'm not even certain under what circumstances I *could* cut myself using a manual can opener! So the fear seems overblown to me, and as for changing to a side-cut...ain't broke, don't fix.

                        1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                          A Swing-a-Way type opener cuts the top of the can off leaving very sharp edges. The newer side-cutters, like the Kuhn-Rikon basically lift the lid off leaving no sharp edges whatsoever...therefore this type of opener is inherently safer. Also, since they never touch the can contents, they remain totally clean. But perhaps I am the only one concerned re this?

                          1. re: josephnl

                            I have to ask what might be a very stupid question, not having used a side cutter: doesn't cut metal always have a sharp edge ( I say this as someone who's worked with metal cutting to some decent degree)? The sharp edge is just on another part of the can.

                            The only time I have found the edge left by my Swing-a-way to be a problem is when greasing reserved clean cans for the cylindrical quickbreads I make at Christmas - youch!. But then I simply rasp those edges smooth. Beyond that baking, I never have my hand inside the can to get cut.

                            Wait, one more stupid question: do the side cutters actually never touch the food inside the can? How does that work, since they're cutting in, and at roughly the same level or lower than the top cutters? I'm not being flippant or snotty - I truly want to know.


                            1. re: cayjohan

                              What the side cutter does is cut a groove into the bead around the top of the can. So the cut part is indented into the half left on the lid and half left on the can. It is almost impossible to come in contact with it. Being kinds of frugal I like the fact I can add a little water or wine to an emptied can hold the lid back on it and shake to get the last bit of sauce/soup/whatever out.

                              1. re: cayjohan

                                The side cutters open the seam that holds the top of the can to the sides. I'm not sure if they actually cut any metal, or just pry open the curl where the two pieces are joined. Regardless, they only penetrate the joint; no part of the opener enters the interior of the can.

                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                  I think I need to branch out from my old opener. This sounds like a gadget that lives up to hype. Thanks for the explanation!


                                  1. re: cayjohan

                                    Aside from no sharp edges, as hinted at by Eric, the lid will fit tightly back onto the can so you can add some liquid, shake it and get the last bit out. And also...as stated before, the opener never touches the can contents, so it stays clean. They take a few tries to get used to, but once you do, I am sure you will like a side cutter like the Kuhn Rikon.

                            2. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                              I always thought the same. Until a couple of years ago.

                              I was getting ready to take a bag of stuff out to the recycling bin. There was a can with its lid was sticking straight up above the top of the bag, parallel to my line of sight and thus nearly invisible in the darkened utility room.

                              Long story short, the lid neatly filleted the middle finger of my left hand, severing an artery and a bunch of nerves. It was pretty spectacular. The utility room looked like a murder scene, and I still don't have any feeling in the tip of that finger.

                              Not to say that you shouldn't use your Swing-A-Way, but you do want to be careful with the cans.

                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                Okay. I'm sorry to hear that. But number one, you shouldn't leave the lid of a can sticking straight up where it can cut someone and not pushed back down into the can. And number two, you should get better lighting in your utility room. Neither of those things is the fault of the can opener.

                                1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                                  Oh, we've got great lighting--it just didn't seem necessary to turn it on when all I was doing was grabbing a bag on the way out the door. And when you live with others they will occasionally do things that you might not--like leaving a lid sticking up from a can.

                                  It was a freak accident that could have been avoided in many ways. You mentioned a couple, but using a side-opening can opener would have prevented it, too. For anybody who finds that using a side-opener is a hassle, the marginal increase in safety probably isn't worth it. But all other things being equal, eliminating a safety hazard--no matter how minor--isn't necessarily a bad thing.

                                  1. re: alanbarnes

                                    Maybe I've used it incorrectly because my memory of side cutting openers is they leave a sharp edge on the can which always seemed more dangerous to me. Coincidentally, I just had this same discussion with some people at work (this is actually what I do for a living: analyzing things like can openers) and we were all mystified by the attraction of a side cutting can opener. Judging by the response here, I'll have to re-look at it. Clearly there are two camps and both should be served.

                                    1. re: crawfish

                                      I think you are thinking of the ones that take the whole beaded edge off leaving the top of the can sharp. I've seen them and don't know why anyone would use them.

                                      1. re: crawfish

                                        There are cheap versions that cut just below the "lip"... that will leave the lid "unsharp" ... but leave the top of the can just as sharp as ever.

                                        The better ones cut through the lip and both sides are smoooooooth.

                                2. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                                  Same here. Have always used manual can openers and have not once, in 42 years, cut myself on a can. (Hope I didn't just curse myself....) And the can opener I have now is a very cheap one I bought at the market and it works great. My last one was a KA, expensive and it only lasted about 3 years.

                                  1. re: flourgirl

                                    DO NOT waste your money on a side-cutter - if you feel you must try one, just put your manual on top of the can as opposed to the side. It can be done. That being said, the top edge of a side cut can is sharp, but not as jagged as a top cut. Also, a side cut can let liquid out because it has cut a little further down the can. IMO they are rip-off. In answer to the OP, I have had an OXO good grips for years that does a great job.

                                    1. re: jacquelyncoffey


                                      The side-cutter you describe is nothing like the one in my kitchen drawer. Mine opens the can with a completely different mechanism than the top-cutter. It doesn't even have a blade; instead, it has a little non-moving wedge that goes into the seam between the lid and the side. Rather than cutting, it appears to pry apart the lid and the top, which are two separate pieces of metal that have been curled and glued together.

                                      After it's open, the can is just as tall as it was before, since the side has not been cut. The only way liquid is getting out is if you tip the can. In fact, because no metal has been cut you can re-assemble the can by putting the top back on and it's pretty leak-proof, even if you shake the can. You'd have to put more adhesive on the joint and curl it back again to have a true seal, but it works fine for cleaning out a can of tomatoes with a splash of wine, or for storing half a can of pinto beans in the fridge. And the top edge is not sharp at all; once again, no metal has been cut.

                                      There may be side openers that work differently and cause the problems you describe. If there are, I'd tend to agree with you that they're a waste of money. But your description certainly doesn't apply to all side openers.

                                      If you're happy with your current opener, more power to you. But if you ever need to replace it, you might want to consider at least looking at a quality side opener. Maybe even this one from OXO:


                                      (Check out the last photo and you can see how the lid and the can are both left intact.)

                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                        Yes, there are other side openers.... I have the kind that is just like the top opener, except the blade goes on the side. I can't stand it. I have to relearn how to use it every single time and it leaves the top of the can very sharp.. The kind that you mention sounds a lot better. Though I still pine for my cool 1950s candy red wall-mount (has to be the wall-mount) swing-away can opener. It had a magnet that lifted the can lid off, so there was never any danger of getting cut. Plus it had style and a great, smooth mechanical feel.

                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                          Your OXO link does not seem to work. I agree with you completely and love my Kuhn-Rikon side opener which apparently works exactly like the OXO. OXO is a great company, and I am sure that their side opener works exactly like the K-R and is terrific.

                                          Just discovered that the OXO website is down for maintenance, so that is probably why your link is not working.

                                      2. re: flourgirl

                                        For me it's not just about the sharp edge... it's about the gunk that gets onto the blade from being in a million cans. Even if you scrub them, them seem to get gross over time.

                                        My side edge opener is perfectly clean after 5 years.

                                        1. re: Jennalynn

                                          I can assure you, my can opener is not in any way "gross".

                                          1. re: Jennalynn

                                            And my decades old Swing-away is too. It's washable, you know.

                              2. I've got an OXO Goodgrips that my MIL bought for me. She had arthritis, and loved hers so much she bought one for me. I've had it about 8 years now, and it works fine. I hope it still works when my hands become arthritic... I've got a small collection of emergency back-up openers, too. Some are quite rudimentary, some just plain scary.

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: comestina

                                  I used to keep my P-38 can opener on a chain around my neck to open c-rations in Nam. I'm still partial to it and use it camping or kayaking or in my kitchen, just to keep in practice. What a great little invention.

                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                    WHERE oh WHERE can civilians buy such an item? Sounds great!

                                    1. re: Val

                                      Army surplus stores or similar sites on line. I bet if you googled it, of course, you'd find it.

                                      1. re: Val

                                        Yup, a buck at Glenn' Surplus. Wikapedia had a short history of it and photos, of course.

                                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                                          Being left handed, I had trouble with all hand held can openers. And I never adapted to the "leftie" things, because I grew up in a right handed world. But, the one thing I could never do was open a can.

                                          I found EZ-Can, a few years ago, and finally can opening is a breeze. It lies flat on the top of the can, instead of a side, and it's user friendly for left and right handed people as well. Oh, and it's low priced too, nothing fancy!

                                      2. re: Passadumkeg

                                        Is the "P-38" the tiny little folding opener that looks like it might be a bit of scrap metal?

                                    2. Believe it or not, Tupperware make a GREAT can opener. After years of buying cheap ones that lasted oh, a week, my $40 (AUS) investment has lasted me a couple of years, with no signs of failing any time soon.

                                        1. re: eatmyfood

                                          Agreed. We use the OXO basic


                                          I have never like electric openers.

                                          1. re: scubadoo97

                                            I third (or is it "fourth" at this point?).

                                            The snap lock version is fab:

                                            I have very very small hands and it's just about the only can opener I can actually use.

                                            1. re: spycygrl

                                              you're the fourth...i'm the fifth vote for the oxo.

                                              1. re: spycygrl

                                                Another vote for the OXO here. I used a Swing-A-Way for years but now I like the OXO better. And another plus, it comes with a life time warranty.

                                          2. My Swing-a-Way is old reliable, though some "new" cans don't seem to open as well. I got it from a woman's apartment when she died. It must be from the 50's or 60's...

                                            9 Replies
                                            1. re: Scargod

                                              My deceased mother-in-law was a survivalist. We have a case of swing-a-ways in a secret room under the cellar steps to open enough #10 cans of freeze dried food,that would feed the Mormon church for 5years, that I'd rather die than eat. Oh, yes the can openers are on a shelf next to the Israeli gas masks with German made filters.

                                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                Wow, you are a fascinating character, P'dumkeag.

                                                1. re: crawfish

                                                  He's not nearly as fascinating as me; he just makes up better stories.

                                                  I was thinking. I bet I don't open four cans a week and we eat in about 12 of 14 meals (I exclude breakfast).
                                                  Is that low or average to open a can, in preparation of a meal, once every three meals? Don't count pet food cans. I open jars with even less frequency. Perhaps I cheat; I garden and freeze things.

                                                  1. re: Scargod

                                                    Discounting the dog food cans (our brand of cat food has tear-off rings), I would suspect that around 75% of the cans I open have tomatoes in them. I won't buy grocery store tomatoes except under duress, and therefore I only eat fresh tomatoes between late July and mid-September. So most of what's in the pantry is various forms of canned tomatoes, with a strong sideline in Goya canned beans.

                                                    1. re: Scargod

                                                      Excuse me Mr Scar, but that is "fascinating as I" not you. God saved me for some purpose, I'm not sure what. Photographic proof to follow.

                                                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                        OK, Mr. Smarty-Pants english teacher! You got me there!
                                                        I showed you my can opener, so where's your box of them?
                                                        Do you wear the gas mask when you open the old cans? Perhaps while you are cooking peppers?

                                                        Reminds me of the first time I cooked for SO. I lived in this tiny cottage and the miniscule kitchen didn't have a vent fan. I was fixing a strir-fry with jalapenos in it. I got the skillet a little hot and smoke off the skillet nearly asphyxiated us both!

                                                        1. re: Scargod

                                                          Mr. Smarty-Pants "English" teacher. Remember that subjects that are names of countries are capitalized, but the minor subjects are not: English, Spanish, Texan, mathematics, art, photography, socialist studies, etc. Don't worry, I can't spell well. Nobody ever learned me good.
                                                          I'll send photos, but they may come to you as I'm such a computer moron that I'm not sure I can navigate the Byzantine machinations required to post on Chowhound, but ya gotta be honest, Tex. Did you listen to the show today? All TexMex in your honour (sic).
                                                          I used to cast iron fry pepper steak with all the doors and windows open in winter in Maine.
                                                          Man do I love crayfish, how about you?

                                                      2. re: Scargod

                                                        OK, Mr. Silly Name. Here's the proof you sent me. I concede. He still makes up better stories.

                                                2. I am with the others, and Swing a way does the best job. Cheap and Easy, and it works.

                                                  1. You'll have to pry my Oxo out of my cold dead hands.


                                                    No gook ever gets on the blade because the blade never makes contact with the food. I don't care how clean you are, those old cut from the top can openers get groddy!

                                                      1. I use a Kuhn Rikon lid lifter. No sharp edges, no lids falling into cans.

                                                        I'm not sure why people are referring to these as "side cutters" since they don't cut anything, or even have a blade.

                                                        11 Replies
                                                        1. re: Jennifer_B

                                                          Jennifer, I believe you, but I've never seen one. Seems like there are some suggesting that they leave sharp edges, nevertheless. Are these sissies correct?

                                                          1. re: Scargod

                                                            Looks like there are 3 kinds of can openers under discussion:

                                                            1. top cutting like the Swing Away
                                                            2. side cutting
                                                            3. lid lifters like the Kuhn Rikon and Oxo good grips

                                                            1. re: crawfish

                                                              You are including the P-38 as a side cutting aren't you? Otherwise, I'll have to contact the Maine Bureau of Immigration and have your summer visa yanked! I sent Scargod the Swing Away proof. Let's see if he owns up. Repent sinner!
                                                              Where's your summer stomping grounds?

                                                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                I don't get the P-38. Sorry, I drifted off there for a minute, I think you'd better provide pictures. Is this some army issue device?

                                                                I'll be back in South Thomaston in July if you want to come over for a can of beans.

                                                                  1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                                                    Okay, okay, we're talking about 4 kinds of can openers:

                                                                    1. top cut - like Swing Away
                                                                    2. side cutters
                                                                    3. side openers - like K-R and Oxo
                                                                    4. P-38

                                                                    Now, there is a link to a youtube video of the P-38 in action and it takes 3 minutes to open a can with that thing. Fine for camping or war measures but surely we can afford a little more convenience day to day? P'dumkeag, even your mother in law chose the Swing Away for her bomb shelter - she knew she didn't want to sink to the level of the P-38 even if the world was ending. :)

                                                            2. re: Scargod

                                                              No, they are not correct. At least not regarding the lid lifting can openers.

                                                              1. re: Scargod

                                                                No. Like Jennifer, I use a Kuhn Rikon which is terrific. No sharp edges, the opener doesn't even touch the contents, and the lid is lifted so perfectly that it can be reused to seal the can ( it reseats snugly, but is not tight).

                                                                1. re: josephnl

                                                                  I have the Kuhn Rikon lid lifter version and love it. I tested the sharpness last night by rubbing my finger around the cut can - it was pretty dull until I used more pressure and cut my finger a little bit.


                                                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                                                    It's really much safer than the old kind. You really have to try hard to cut yourself.

                                                                    1. re: josephnl

                                                                      As indeed I did. <grin> Still, I make sure it's in the recycling bag in such a way that the dog can't get to it to lick it (despite rinsing it out).

                                                            3. I'm another in the swing-a-way camp--using the same one for years.

                                                              Recently I had an injury/surgery which prevented me from turning the handle. I found this one from Progressive which uses a ratcheting action--it's WONDERFUL.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. The old swing-a-way gave up the ghost sometime last year (the blade started riding
                                                                up and just indenting a groove, rather than cutting). I solved the problem by discontinuing
                                                                to eat canned food. Then Thanksgiving came along and I had to open some condensed milk.

                                                                So I went to the store and was faced with two choices: a $6 made-in-the-usa
                                                                swing-a-way ond a $9 made-in-china oxo. At that point I also noticed that the
                                                                swing-a-way was disassembleable and potentially repairable/resharpenable
                                                                and the oxo was not. I toyed with the idea of just going home and resharpening
                                                                the old one, and then I thought that I've been completely happy with everything
                                                                else I've got from oxo. And it was only $9. So I got the oxo.

                                                                It's still too early to tell, since I don't eat stuff from cans much, but it seems to work
                                                                fine. And I haven't tried repairing the swing-a-way yet.

                                                                1. Two manual openers reside in our drawer: A Henkels, and an Oxo Good Grips. For some reason, the Oxo does not work for me, I am much more successful with the Henkels. Spouse is getting the Oxo, and I'm taking the Henkels when we go our separate ways in the near future : )

                                                                  1. I used to swear by my OXo good grips. but after one trip to the ER for my wife nearly severing the tendon in her thumb, and a deep lac in the tip of my index finger that required about 30 minutes of heavy pressure to stanch, We purchased a Rosle side opener, and I'm sorry I waited so long. It's easy to use and no sharp edges. As was observed above, you dont need plastic wrap to store an open can in the fridge, as the lid fits back on the can with a reasonable seal.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: chazzerking

                                                                      Duuuude! Be careful! Kitchens can be dangerous places. That's why rich people have servants.

                                                                      But how in the world do two people chop themselves open at the same time with a single can opener?

                                                                      1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                                                        Not at the same time. actually about 5-6 months apart. However, I can hypothicate(well actually report) a situation where such an occurence would not only be possible, but was witnessed by me many years ago, when a co-worker opened a can and didn't get full separation, pushed the lid down into the can and sliced his finger trying to pull it back out(chinese finger-trap style) and another co-worker tried to help extricate the first and managed to slash his finger as well. Once both were safe, I had to run out of the room to prevent appearing insensitive, by LMAO. anyway, I'm proud to report that I did not participate in any reenactment.

                                                                    2. I truly don't know what people are talking about when referring to dangerous, sharp edges produced by side-cut can openers. I've had an Imperial side-cut can opener (from Shrade Cutlery of Ellenville, NY, now defunct) for about 23 years and it has never produced anything other than a clean, non-sharp cut below the lid of the can. Perhaps it's blades are sharper than others--Shrade was primarily a hunting knife manufacturer--but I've never seen anything other than a perfectly clean, perfectly safe cut.

                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                      1. re: ecustard

                                                                        To the best of my knowledge, all of the so-called "side-cut" can openers work basically the same (Kuhn-Rikon, OXO, Rosle, and I assume, Shrade). They do not leave a sharp edge because they basically lift off the lid by cutting the seal between the lid and the can. I think they are the only way to go now-a-days.

                                                                        I find it absolutely amazing that this topic could raise so much interest. Next perhaps we can get onto something like "pressure cookers"?

                                                                        1. re: josephnl

                                                                          That's not the case--at least not where I live (Europe). If you look up-thread you will see that there are side cut can openers that don't just lift off the top of the can, but instead cut into the side of the can with a blade (one exactly like the top-cutting openers). So there are two different types of side-opening openers (valga la redundancia...). The kind that I have leaves a very sharp edge on top and I can't seal the lid back on the way you apparently can with the other type of side opener.

                                                                          1. re: butterfly

                                                                            Well the Kuhn-Rikon is Swiss you should be able to find one in Europe. I wouldn't use one like you have Too much chance for injury.

                                                                          2. re: josephnl

                                                                            My side-cut Imperial-Shrade does not cut the seal of the lid. It cuts below the lid as I mentioned. The lid cannot be re-seated on the can and it DOES NOT leave a sharp edge on the can itself, it cuts very cleanly. Apparently others of this nature do not cut as well.

                                                                        2. OXO...available everywhere

                                                                          1. I have never been let down by my MagiCan


                                                                            So I guess, I support the "top cutting" group