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My homemade jar opener

    The problem: Jar Opener  Bob, could you please open this jar?

    The solution: Homemade Jar Opener  A jar being opened using both hands underneath our kitchen cabinet.  Also note my hands are no longer doing the work, very important!  Hope you find these jar opener plans useful.  Back to BobsHowTo

    This is a very simple to install and easy to use kitchen bottle and jar opener.  It installs under a conveniently located kitchen cabinet in a very short time.  Because it is installed under a cabinet you or your spouse can now use two hands in a much more comfortable grip to open almost any jar or bottle.  A single piece of wood is attached to the underside of the cabinet on an angle with respect to the front of the cabinet, as you can see in the photo above.  Attached to the wood strip and the inside bottom edge of the cabinet are two strips of kitchen cabinet liner material.  This material is very "grippy".  Inserting the jar in this wooden wedge and twisting easily removes almost any lid.  If you desire the lid is held by the opener, or, if you twist back in the opposite direction you end up with a loosened lid still on the jar.  It's simple, cheap, and works well. 

    The materials involved are typically a single piece of poplar or oak, some kitchen cabinet liner material, and a few wood screws.  Your local building materials supplier or hardware store typically will have a 1" x 2" x 3' or 6' piece of poplar for about $3.00.  Tools: a hand drill, screwdriver, utility knife, hot glue gun, and perhaps a saw.  This document contains a sample, or prototype, "under cabinet"  opener for jars, yours may have to be slightly different simply because your cabinets will be somewhat different than mine in size and configuration.

    Please note:  I've tried to stick to larger thumbnails and fonts so that all generations can easily use this document.

    Please review the entire jar opener plans document before proceeding with your installation, especially check the design suggestions below

Choosing the location of your jar opener: 

    Choose a location that's readily accessible from below, probably a cabinet near your kitchen stove.  Here's a shot of the location of our bottle opener.

Jar Opener PlansTo the left is the kitchen stove and to the right the sink.  You can also see that our can opener is under the cabinet as well.  The jar opener will be installed close to the front of the cabinet.  This allows clearance for the body of the jar.  Larger jars will open toward the right side of the cabinet and smaller toward the left.

Jar Opener ArthritisIn my case the opener is justified toward the right side of the cabinet and forward using the front edge of the cabinet as one of the opener "rails".  The jars won't interfere with the paper towel roll, cooking tools, or can opener.  You can also see that no one will see the opener unless they are kneeling on the floor; like I was for the picture!

Sketch of Jar Opener installation:

Opener Sketches.jpg (87 K bytes)This is a sketch of my installation with some dimensions.  My installation only used one opener rail.  The front, cabinet bottom, support strip forms the front "rail" of the opener.  Your cabinet might have a thin strip of wood here that you might not deem strong enough.  If so consider using two identical strips, or "rails", as shown in the second section of the sketch.  It might be a good idea to click on this thumbnail and print out the sketch.  The full size sketch is at the end of the document.  This sketch is drawn as if you were actually looking down through the cabinet bottom with XRAY eyes!  It just seemed clearest that way.

My Opener Design Details:

My cabinet is 24" x 12".  I chose a 19" x 2" in rail.  I also assumed a maximum of about a 3" jar lid down to almost nothing.  You can see from the sketch I actually allowed 4" between the right hand end of the two rails.  You do want a fairly narrow angle between the two rails, this allows for a good "pinch" on the bottle lid as you twist the bottle.  These dimensions worked out to produce about a 12 degree angle between the rails.

Jar OpenersA shot from below the cabinet looking up.  My sketch does not include the cabinet door.  Behind the cabinet door you can see the front frame of the cabinet and just behind that the strip that supports the cabinet bottom.  This strip I'm referring to as the front "rail".  If you look closely you can see the cabinet liner cut into small strips and "hot glued" to both rails.  It really doesn't have to be pretty, I saw several appearance issues the cabinet builder wasn't concerned with on the bottom of the cabinet too.

Getting Started:

Once you have determined the size "rail" you need it's time to get the material.  Poplar shelves are normally readily available and this is what I suggest you use.  It is a hard wood that won't split easily, but oak should be OK as well.  Your local home improvement or building supply store should have this shelving material.  I used a 1" poplar board which of course is really only 13/16" thick, but this is just right for almost all bottle caps.  If you know your final dimensions your supplier may be willing to cut you the piece you need from the shelf.

P0000974.JPG (71850 bytes)I'm fortunate, having a table saw, and cut my 19" x 2" rail from a scrap board from another project.

P0000976.JPG (71294 bytes)Here is the 19" x 2" board adjacent to a roll of cabinet, or shelving, liner.  One very sticky brand of liner to consider is Super Grip™, Easy Liner®.  It is very tacky.  I didn't use the Super Grip liner and my opener still works fine.

P0000977.JPG (80808 bytes)Two strips of shelving liner must be cut.  I cut one strip 19"+4" inches long and 13/16" wide to attach to my new rail.  I cut another piece 19"x 13/16" for the front rail.  This cut is very easy.  Simply stand your new rail on edge on top of the liner and align it with the edge of the shelving liner.  Of course make this cut on top of a scrap piece of wood.  Using a sharp utility knife cut along the edge of your rail; gives a nice straight cut.

P0000978.JPG (73335 bytes)Here are the two strips of "grippy" shelving liner before final trimming.

P0000979.JPG (80410 bytes) Here I have hot glued the 19"+4" piece to the new rail.  I chose to wrap the material around the ends of the rail, thus the 4" of additional material.  Use plenty of hot glue and don't use your finger to press the material into the hot glue on the board, you will get burned!   Use a stick to apply pressure.  Excess hot glue is fine it seems as "grippy" as the shelving liner.

P0000980.JPG (59055 bytes)It easiest to trim the other piece of liner to the full width of your cabinet before gluing to the front rail on the under side of the cabinet.  Again plenty of hot glue and don't use your finger.  Also in this case be very careful you do not drip hot glue on your face!

Determining what size screws to use:

P0000995.JPG (73089 bytes)


P0001001.JPG (62521 bytes)


P0001002.JPG (55268 bytes)


It's important to choose the correct length screw to attach your rail.  In my case I had 1" flat head screws on hand but 1 1/8" screws would have been better.  To correct for this I simply counter bored the screw holes in the rail.  Before you choose the screw length you should determine the thickness of your cabinet bottom shelf so you won't drill through it or more importantly drive the screw through so it protrudes.

Photo A shows the distance of the shelf below the front rail.  Photo B indicates the height of the cabinet face.  Photo C indicates the distance from the cabinet face to true bottom of the cabinet.  The cabinet bottom support strip interferes a little with this measurement and should not be included.  B-(A+C) is the cabinet bottom thickness.

In my case, 2" - (1/8" + 1 3/8"), or 16/8" - (1/8" + 11/8") = 4/8" = 1/2".  The cabinet bottom is about 1/2" thick.  My rail is 13/16" thick, so the maximum length screw is 1 5/16".  Don't use the maximum length you probably would punch through the cabinet bottom.  Use about 1/4" less screw length.  Please note some cabinet bottoms may be very thin.  You do want the longest screws possible for strength.  If you are truly worried you could glue the rail up, which is easier, but if the rail ever split or failed it would be very difficult to replace.

Preparing and installing the rail:

Please refer to the sketch for a suggested drilling and screw mounting pattern.  I chose to have 5 screws evenly spaced along the edge of the rail closest to the bottle and 3 screws equally spaced along the other side of the rail.  You should pre-drill eight holes in the rail to match the "shank" size of the screws you have chosen.  Please note I've called one hole the pivot hole.  This is the best hole to align and hold the rail while you drill the remaining 7 holes.

You should pre-drill the holes in the cabinet bottom so there is no chance of splitting the shelf bottom.  Choose a drill smaller than the screw shank, small enough so the screw threads will fully "bite" into the wood.

P0000981.JPG (79791 bytes)I was able to recess the drill far enough into the drill chuck to act as maximum drilling depth limit.  The collar of the drill will simply bottom on the rail as I pre-drill the holes in the cabinet bottom.  Another method is to use masking tape on the drill shank as a depth indicator.

P0000983.JPG (88004 bytes)Here you can see the drill protruding to the maximum drilling depth.

P0000999.JPG (59995 bytes)Position the rail in the location indicated by the sketch with the hot glued cabinet liner facing forward or toward you.  While holding it in place pre-drill the pilot hole for the "pivot screw", which in my case is the left rear screw.  This allows you to position the front of the rear rail very close to the front rail.  This will also make it easy to pivot the rear rail into the position you desire before drilling the remaining seven pilot holes.
  | - Pivot screw above line.

I would recommend avoiding using a power drill to drive the screws drive them by hand so you don't strip any holes.  Using one of your wood screws attach your rear rail to the cabinet bottom with the hot glued cabinet liner facing forward or toward you.  Now it easy to pivot the rear rail into position.

P0000994.JPG (66908 bytes)In my case the other end of the rail is 4" back from the cabinet bottom support strip, or front rail.  Holding the rear rail in position pre-drill  one of the right hand screw holes and fasten with another screw.  Now pre-drill and screw the remaining holes.

Using you bottle and jar opener:

With both hands slide the jar up under the cabinet starting from the right side and slide the jar left until it engages with both rails.  Both twist clockwise and push the jar left and the cap will twist off easily.  Twist the bottle back to the right to remove the jar lid from the opener rails before you lower the bottle.


Just use a damp sponge on both rail surfaces and dry with a hand towel.


Tighten the screws periodically, maybe once a year.  I believe the cabinet liner material adheres better to unfinished wood so as you can see I never finished the poplar, and the cabinet maker showed little signs of finishing the bottom of the cabinet frame.

Trouble shooting:

Some cabinet liners are thicker or more tacky than others, try another cabinet liner manufacturer.  The strips will peal right off the hot glue.

Design suggestions, or enhancements:

For better bottle grip you can use a longer rail and even shallower angle than I did.  Mine works fine.  I'm considering adding additional wood strips with beveled edges to more easily align the bottle with the rails.

P0000986.JPG (59226 bytes)Note also with my installation the jar comes very close to the cabinet face.  This hasn't been a problem to date.

Waste material:

The cabinet liner is great around the work shop for holding materials, a typical use is holding wood while you use your router.




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Full size opener sketch.

Highlight this picture then right click and print selection.  This is actually drawn as if you were looking through the cabinet bottom with XRAY eyes.










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