Manual Can Opener

This Farberware can opener stopped working a few weeks after I bought it.

This Farberware can opener stopped working a few weeks after I bought it.

We used to have one of those electric can openers when I was a kid. Back then, the manual can openers didn't have ball bearings and were hard (and painful) to use. But since they started making manual can openers with ball bearings and bigger turning handles for better leverage and grip, I've only ever used the manual ones. I don't need an electric one, and I don't want one more thing cluttering up my counter.

My old manual can opener got lost. I think it made its way outside during a party and never made its way back inside. I picked up a Farberware can opener (pictured at right) at my local Publix. At first, I really liked it — the ball-bearing action makes it easy to use, and the large soft handles are easy to hold, and the large turning handle is easy to turn.

This is the Zyliss Lock-n-Lift can opener. Its contoured handles are comfortable to hold, especially with the locking feature. The red button on top releases the lock when you're done opening the can.

This is the Zyliss Lock-n-Lift can opener. Its contoured handles are comfortable to hold, especially with the locking feature. The red button on top releases the lock when you're done opening the can. The red button you see on the bottom releases the lid from the magnet (if you can get the magnet to engage the lid in the first place).

This is the Zyliss Lock-n-Lift can opener with the magnet holding a lid from a large dog food can. You can see that the cranking knob is about as wide as the lid, which makes it impossible to stick the opener down into the can to get the magnet to engage the lid.

This is the Zyliss Lock-n-Lift can opener with the magnet holding a lid from a large dog food can. You can see that the cranking knob is about as wide as the lid, which makes it impossible to stick the opener down into the can to get the magnet to engage the lid.

Here's a closeup of the magnet doohickey. It operates on a simple pivot action; when you engage the button at one end, it pivots the ring away from the magnet, which releases the lid.

Here's a closeup of the magnet doohickey. It operates on a simple pivot action; when you engage the button at one end, it pivots the ring away from the magnet, which releases the lid.

After just a few weeks, though, it started having trouble opening cans. I can't see anything visibly wrong with it, but it just wouldn't cut. I could clamp it down hard, get the cut started, and then when I cranked the handle it just wouldn't cut. It's like the gears are stripped. Sometimes it would cut, sometimes it wouldn't. Finally, it stopped altogether. Two days in a row I opened cans by clamping the opener onto the can to cut into it, releasing it and moving it a quarter inch and clamping it again, and repeating all the way around the can. That was exceedingly annoying. The picture shows the opener when it stopped working. You can clearly see it's still relatively new, in very good condition, not rusted or anything.

Into the trash it went. My advice: Don't buy a Farberware manual can opener. It's a piece of junk.

The Farberware was the only can opener my local Publix carried, so I went looking at Amazon. I'm partial to Zyliss and Oxo utensils, and I purchased the Zyliss Lock-n-Lift can opener. It has two features that appealed to me that most can openers don't have.

The Lock feature: Once you clamp it down onto the can, it locks closed, so you don't have to exert any squeeze pressure while you crank the turning handle.

The Lift feature: There's a magnet on the nose to pick up the lid so that you can drop it into the trash without risking a nasty cut by touching it.

The Lock feature works great. I love it!

The Lift feature, not so much. Maybe about 1 out of 4 times I can actually reach the lid with the magnet at the proper angle to pick it up. The cranking handle gets in the way so that you can't push the unit into the can to pick up the lid. If the lid stays up high, you can reach it, but if it starts being pushed down into the can, this unit is just unable to get down in there to pick it up with the magnet. It would be nice if the can opener had the magnet in a position that it would just grab the lid while you were opening the can, like the electric can openers do.

If you're able to get the lid onto the magnet, it holds it securely until you hit the release button to drop it in the trash, but picking it up is difficult. At this point, though, I don't even try to get it with the magnet, because mostly I'm unable to.

Overall, it's a good can opener. The handles are comfortable, the turning crank turns easily, the blade is sharp and pierces into the lid easily. I really like not having to keep a death grip on the handles while I'm cranking.

I bought the Zyliss can opener a couple of months ago, and it's still going strong. Based on my past experience with Zyliss gadgets, I imagine it'll continue working just great for many years to come. It opens cans, which is more than I can say for the Farberware.

 

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