Can Crusher

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Project by Odiferous posted 03-03-2013 10:07 PM 35944 views 25 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I grew up with plastic can crushers and a dad who will bring an extra trash can on vacation just to collect everyone’s cans. Ran across these plans in an old ww mag and just had to make it. Being my first project not made from dimensional lumber, and trying to figure out how to do all the cuts with a RAS and circular saw, it took me forever to finish. Even so, it was a great project for me—got to do lots of stuff I either hadn’t done, or hadn’t done well.

It’s working great, even with a few beginner’s mistakes. The only real issue I had is that the heft of the arms would bring them down even in a breeze, so I just glued a magnet to the back of the top jaw where it lines up with a mounting screw.

I didn’t want to take up valuable deck real estate with a large trash can to catch the cans, so I added a hooked piece of wire to hold the wastebasket, which is working great. I’m definitely going to want to add a (slightly less unattractive) version of that hook to the next one I make. And I’ve been told by several family members that I will be making more.

The only thing I really don’t like about it is that it wasn’t cheap—but most of that was from buying big-box lumber (hopefully I won’t be doing much more of that). I’d like to make it stainless hardware, but the 8” bolts and acorn nuts already aren’t cheap.

17 comments so far

View dakremer's profile


2742 posts in 3327 days

#1 posted 03-03-2013 11:28 PM

what do you do with the crushed cans? You can no longer return them for nickels, right?

-- Hey you dang woodchucks, quit chucking my wood!!!!

View woodlover's profile


32 posts in 3794 days

#2 posted 03-04-2013 01:30 AM

I crush my cans here in FL and take them to a recycleing place. I take them in about twice a year and make about $100.00. Not that much but I do put it all towards my woodworking, so to me it is worth it. Like your crusher.

-- Steve, Zanesville, OH

View Odiferous's profile


105 posts in 2427 days

#3 posted 03-04-2013 01:44 AM

There’s no deposit for cans or bottles in Texas; you just have to find somewhere that buys cans. Growing up in a small town, it was our local beer distributor. Recycling centers seem to be the primary place these days.

View Dan's profile


159 posts in 2195 days

#4 posted 03-04-2013 01:50 AM

Odiferous this is great, any chance you would share the pattern/plans?

-- Dan - Wooden Treasures CT -

View Odiferous's profile


105 posts in 2427 days

#5 posted 03-04-2013 02:53 AM

They’re not mine to share, but a quick google search turned them here, up on the Gorilla Glue website, for some reason. The only glaring error I recall was that the materials list only calls for 6 acorn nuts instead of 8.

View Dan's profile


159 posts in 2195 days

#6 posted 03-04-2013 09:31 AM

Thank you much!

-- Dan - Wooden Treasures CT -

View smitdog's profile


415 posts in 2341 days

#7 posted 03-04-2013 02:20 PM

I like how this drops the can after crushing it, I have a metal one but it crushes straight down and leaves the can sitting in the bottom so it’s an extra step taking the can out. This could save some time and I could probably modify it to do 2 at a time or taller for the energy drink cans.

-- Jarrett - Mount Vernon, Ohio

View rrww's profile


263 posts in 2349 days

#8 posted 03-04-2013 07:23 PM

First time I’ve ever seen a wood can crusher, pretty cool. I too like how the can falls out after being crushed.

View Time2beupinAZ's profile


453 posts in 3198 days

#9 posted 03-04-2013 08:05 PM

I like that nice work there.

-- Tim - I usally measure twice after I cut......then I know for sure that I cut it short.....

View Yeti's profile


38 posts in 2148 days

#10 posted 03-04-2013 08:11 PM

Very nice, Thanks for sharing.

-- Tom

View cwdance1's profile


1159 posts in 3495 days

#11 posted 03-04-2013 08:53 PM

I made one a few years ago and have made lots of money taking the cans in. The wire basket is something mine does not have.

Great Job

View eztrigger's profile


157 posts in 2163 days

#12 posted 03-04-2013 09:45 PM

i think this is one of the best crusher designs with it falling out after the crush. only thing that would make it better is if it had some sort of feed mechanism for more than one can!

-- "Some get spiritual 'cause they see the light, and some 'cause they feel the heat." --Ray Wiley Hubbard

View RRGR's profile


54 posts in 3570 days

#13 posted 03-05-2013 03:08 AM

From the looks of it the geometry is such that the can goes in upright. Then when the handle is pulled down the anvil at the top and bottom pivot with the the can, at the same time the anvils get closer together thus crushing the can. Kinda neat.

View mickeyt's profile


25 posts in 2188 days

#14 posted 03-05-2013 04:32 AM

I really like your idea of the magnet to hold up the arms when not in use, great idea!! I’m going to add one to mine.

I made this same can crusher about a year ago, I made a few changes to the original plan and think it works better after having some problems with the first design.
Things I changed was to make the top and bottom plates that crush the can ½ inch wider front to back. With the original the can was right at the front edge and some tines if I went to fast or the can was already bent some it was hard to get it lined up. The extra ½ inch give a little more room for the can and does not effect it working as it should.
With the extra ½ inch it also gives the bolts a little more room at the back edge.
The other change I made was to use 9 inch bolts instead of the 8 inch that was called for in the original plan and put a 3/8 lock nut and washer on the bottom of them, this extra inch of bolt seemed to let it slide up and down just a little better then the 8 inch ones. Also my top and bottom blocks are 1 ¾ inch thick instead of the 1 ½ in the plan, just what I had to work with at the time.
My first bottom plate broke out at the bolt holes trying to crush some cat food cans. So for it is working great.

-- Do it right the first time

View Odiferous's profile


105 posts in 2427 days

#15 posted 03-05-2013 11:17 PM

I’d have low expectations for getting stacked cans to crush predictably—even single cans sometimes crumple faster across the back side than the front, and the can shoots out of the jaws.

I do get that occasional misfire, but probably less than with any other crusher I’ve used. I have considered adding a couple of small wedges at the front of the top jaw to better hold the can in place, but it really hasn’t been enough of an issue to justify mucking with.

RRGR—you are correct, that is exactly how it works

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