Cave-Cool Bottle Opener

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This article is from Issue 65 of Woodcraft Magazine.

Craft a single piece of wood with a magnetic personality.

Overall dimensions: 5⁄8"t × 33⁄8"w × 101⁄2"l

Looking for a project with a “catchy” design? Cut from a single piece of wood and shaped like a beer bottle, this ultimate opener contains four rare-earth magnets in its back face–two in shallow holes for adhering the piece to a metal surface like a refrigerator, and two in deep holes for catching falling bottle caps.

Simple steps and a full-sized pattern speed the work. Consider making multiples for all of your cap-popping buddies. As an added design element, opt to laser-engrave a label. (See “Customize Your Cap Popper,” at right.)

Note: For the full-sized bottle pattern, go to

Customize your Cap Popper

If magically catching bottle caps makes ’em smile, make ’em laugh with a clever laser-engraved label. I hooked up with Epilog Laser to gin up labels for bottles made of walnut, cherry, and African mahogany. After you create the words and art idea for your label, go to to find an engraver nearby. Costs should run around $10 per label for an original design; $3 to $4 for multiples of the same design. If a local engraver is not available, send your unfinished wood bottle (minus the magnets) and label idea to the Woodcraft laser-engraving service by calling 1-800-535-4482 or going to They’ll work with you on the type and basic stock image you want to keep the cost around $10. Here, factor in shipping, in addition to the engraving costs.

With a pushpad, round over the bottle edges at the start mark, feeding the piece clockwise against the bearing; stop at the stop mark.

Shape the bottle

1 Plane a length of 3⁄4" stock to 5⁄8" thick, and rip it to 33⁄8" wide. (I choose walnut for its dark brown beer bottle color when finished.) Cut it to 12" long for one bottle; cut several pieces to that size for multiple bottles. If adding a laser-engraved label, avoid open-grained woods such as oak.

2 Make a full-sized copy of the beer bottle pattern and spray-adhere it to the blank, flushing the edges of the pattern with the blank. Now, bandsaw the bottle to shape.

3 Remove the bottle’s saw marks along the shoulders and neck at an oscillating spindle sander while sanding to the line. Change drum diameters as needed for the inside corners, keeping the workpiece moving to avoid gouging. Use a sanding block to further achieve straight, clean lines along the neck edges.

4 Install a 1⁄4" round-over bit in your table-mounted router. Flip your bottle blank pattern side down on the router table, and mark at the top of the bottle’s neck where to start and stop routing so as not to cut into the swollen collar. Rout the round- over along the edges of the neck, shoulder, and body to give the bottle a realistic look (Photo A). Do not rout the collar.

5 Clamp the bottle in a bench vise, pattern side up, so that you can further detail the neck, collar, and cap. Use a utility knife or carving knife to sharply define the edges between the collar and neck and between the cap and collar, following the pattern lines. Scribe 1⁄16" to 1⁄8" deep dividing lines with the cutting blade held at a right angle to the wood. Then, angle-cut at 30° just below the dividing lines to remove a thin wedge of wood across the grain. You want to create a tapering relief below the collar, and also the cap.

Carefully disc-sand or file the neck to round over the edges leading into the collar. Round over the edges of the collar and cap.

6 To speed the work, use a rotary tool and sanding disc to finish-shape the neck up to the collar dividing line, rounding over the portion of the neck you could not round over at the router table (Photo B). Round over the corners of the collar and bottle cap. Do not round over the blank’s back edges. Hand-sand with the grain to remove any facets. If you don’t own a rotary tool, a file and 150-grit sandpaper will achieve the same result. Also, note how the paper pattern helps you determine that you’ve removed equal amount of wood along both front edges of the neck, collar, and cap.

Center a V-groove carving gouge at the notch locations on the pattern, and cut no more than 1⁄16" deep.

7 Using the pattern as a guide, cut the V-grooves in the cap to give it the crenulated or crimped look (Photo C). (I used a small V-groove carving tool for this, but a carving knife or file could work as well.)

8 Referencing the pattern on the bottle’s front face, transfer the hole locations to the back face. Now, peel up the pattern.

Clamp the bottle in place to prevent it from moving during the drilling operation.
Spread epoxy in the hole bottom, insert a magnet, and clamp it in place before moving to the next hole.

9 Install a 1" Forstner bit in a drill press and bore two 1⁄8"-deep holes in the back face of the bottle where marked. Test the depth with a 1"-diameter rare-earth magnet. You want its surface flush or a hair under flush with the bottle’s back face to allow for the epoxy. Bore the two deeper magnet holes where marked (Photo D). Ensure that the bit’s spur does not come within 1⁄8" of the bottle’s front face.

10 Mix a batch of two-part epoxy and glue in the magnets. To do this while keeping the magnets from jumping on top of each other in the deeper holes, use a small clamp to press each magnet in place after you insert it (Photo E).

11 Finish-sand the bottle through 220, being careful to maintain the bottle cap and collar details. Center and locate the metal bottle cap opener between the shoulders, and onto the base of the neck. Drill pilot holes and install the opener with screws. Remove the hardware and apply a finish of your choice. (I used three coats of spray lacquer, sanding between coats.) Let dry, reattach the hardware, and start drinking … away from any sharp tools, of course.  

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