Build a bottle opener that uses magnet magic to catch your caps

Take a stroll through your favorite DIY website and you’ll find all sorts of bottle openers, from vintage to sports-themed. You’ll even find ones with little cups that sit below to catch the caps, which is both clever and convenient. But catcher cups don’t have any flair — so to make the uncapping even more magical, this project harnesses the power of rare-earth magnets

Rare-earth (neodymium) magnets are insanely powerful, widely available in all sizes and shapes, and perfect for all sorts of maker projects. In this case, we buried one in the back of a board, where it reaches through the wood and grabs the falling beer caps. Your drunken friends will marvel at the cluster of caps hanging in mid-air.

On the front side, where the caps gather, it make sense to place a sticker of some kind, or a laser-burned pattern, or whatever. If your favorite logo, or Chinese character, or ironic picture of a reviled political character doesn’t quite fit, we trust you will shape the board accordingly.

This project is so quick, easy, and useful that you’ll probably make a stack of them as gifts. Everyone needs another bottle opener somewhere. By the way, this is one of many simple but stylish projects in my new book, Build Stuff with WoodHere’s how to build it!

Make it with basic tools

The only cutting tool you’ll need here is a jigsaw, which is an inexpensive and underappreciated tool that can cut curves and straight lines. The secret is putting a better blade on the saw — one designed for making clean cuts in hardwoods. A bandsaw will work even better here if you gave access to one.

The only other power tool you’ll need is a drill, armed with a cool bit called a Forstner bit. Forstner bits specialize in drilling smooth holes with flat bottoms, which is exactly what you’ll need to hold the magnet.

As for the hardware (aside from the big magnet) you’ll need to pick up a classic Starr X opener for the front, and a couple keyhole hangers for the back. Just drive two small-headed screws into the wall, and these hangers will grab them firmly when you lever a bottle down to pop off the top.

Tools and Materials

diy magnetic bottle opener weekend workshop tools

Step-by-step instructions

Pencil the layout

  1. Start with any nice board, at least 12 in. long by 6 in. wide, and mark center lines on the front and back, down the length of the board. These will help you center the curves, the magnet, and the bottle opener.
  2. Mark two arcs with a compass. The smaller one goes at the top of the board, and the other radius should be 1 in. bigger than bigger than your logo sticker, so the wood ends up bordering it nicely.
  3. Connect the curves with straight lines to complete the perimeter layout.
  4. One more arc. This circle is just a hair bigger than the sticker, to help you center it when you stick it on. Draw this arc lightly so it’s easy to erase.

Cut and smooth the board

  1. Cut out the perimeter. Clamp down the workpiece, and stay just outside the line when cutting. Use your inside hand to hold the base of the jigsaw flat on the wood.
  2. Sand it smooth. Use any wood block wrapped with 80-grit paper to sand the edges and to the line. Then switch to 120-grit paper to smooth them. Feel with your fingers to see if the curves are even and smooth. Smooth the face of the board now too, and then sand a little bevel on the top and bottom of the edges.

Add the magnet and sticker

  1. Mark the center point. This is the same center point you used on the front of the board, just on the back this time.
  2. Fire up the Forstner bit. You’ll need a 1-3/8 in. bit, just a hair larger than the 35-mm diameter magnet. Start with a light touch until the bit is fully engaged in the wood. The deeper you go, the better the magnet will work, but check the depth frequently to make sure you don’t drill through to the front of the board! The goal is leave about 1/4 in. of wood at the bottom of the hole.
  3. Drop in the magnet and then run a bead of super glue around the upper edges to lock it in place.
  4. Stick on the sticker. A lot of vinyl stickers are designed for glass, so they might not be sticky at all. In that case, just spray the back first with contact cement, also called spray adhesive or craft spray. Then use that light circle you drew to apply the sticker in the right spot.
  5. Locate the hardware. Place the bottle opener on the centerline wherever it looks best, and mark the centers of the screw holes. Then flip over the board and place the little hanger plate right behind the bottle opener, marking its holes, too.
  6. Pre-drill. First use a small nail to make a small dent at each mark for the drill to follow. For these pilot holes, choose drills a bit smaller than the screws, and add a little tape flag to help you avoid drilling through the board. When the flag brushes the chips away, stop drilling. This is the best trick ever.

Finishing up

  1. Before brushing on the polyurethane finish, erase all the pencil marks and wipe off the dust.
  2. Get some oil-based satin polyurethane, stir it well, and brush it on smoothly with a foam brush. Do the top and edges, let it dry, and then flip the board and finish the back too.
  3. Sand and repeat. Using 220-grit paper, sand the wood areas lightly—not the sticker—wipe off the dust with a paper towel, and brush on one more coat.
  4. Screw on the hanger and bottle opener. You’ve already got your pilot holes drilled, so this goes fast.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: DIY smartphones and zip-on bike tires

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'The Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘The Good Place’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.

Need a quick battery boost? Try one of our favorite portable chargers

Battery life still tops the polls when it comes to smartphone concerns. If it’s bugging you, then maybe it’s time to snag yourself a portable charger. Here are our picks of the best portable chargers.

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.
Home Theater

Learn how to calibrate your home theater speakers for sheer audio bliss

Make your home theater rumble just right with our manual speaker setup guide, a simple, step-by-step walkthrough to getting the most from your audio equipment without needing to rely on imperfect automatic calibration.

Key settings you need to change on your Sony Xperia XZ3

The first thing you need to do when you buy a new phone is dig into the settings and customize it to your liking. We’ve got step-by-step instructions for tweaking key settings on your Sony Xperia XZ3 right here.
Home Theater

TV calibration 101: Here's how to tune up the picture on your new TV

You’ve got your new TV out of the box, but now what? Our TV picture adjustment guide takes you through the simple steps to get the best picture from your brand-new TV so you can set it and forget it.
Home Theater

Want to save your favorite movie? Here's how to fix a scratched DVD or CD

A scratched edition of your favorite DVD is no good, but our guide will show you how to fix a scratched DVD, whether you prefer to repair it using a smattering of peanut butter or Mr. Clean's Magic Eraser.
Home Theater

How to buy speakers: A beginner’s guide to home audio

From the difference between bookshelf speakers and monitors to the proper way to audition, our ultimate speaker buying guide has all the information you need to create your own home audio nirvana.
Social Media

Over selfies and an onslaught of ads? Here's how delete your Instagram account

Despite its outstanding popularity and photo-sharing dominance, Instagram isn't for everyone. Thankfully, deleting your account is as easy as logging into the site and clicking a few buttons. Here's what you need to do.
Home Theater

How to make your TV squeaky clean for not much green

Not sure how to clean the LCD, OLED, or plasma display that's the cornerstone of your living room? You don't need to buy expensive cleaning solutions to clean your TV -- we'll teach you how to do it with simple household items.

Master your new Google phone with these handy Pixel 3 and 3 XL tips

If you’re hunting for some Pixel 3 tips to help you get more from your Google phone, then you’ll find them right here. We’ve got tips for shortcuts, camera controls, and more. All these tips will also work for the Pixel 3 XL.
Home Theater

Keep those albums sounding great by converting your vinyl to a digital format

There are all sorts of reasons for ripping records and storing them digitally, but what's the best way to do it? We cover the different types of equipment and software available for ripping records at any price in this guide.
Home Theater

Our quick-and-easy guide to programming an RCA universal remote

If you're tired of using a million different remotes in your home theater, office, or living room, you'll likely be interested in a single RCA universal remote. Here's how to program it for your system.