I save food cans to be used to store things like screws, nails and other small parts on racks that I have built in my garage.

When using cans that have a conventional top that is opened with a can opener like this:

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Picture Source

I end up with a very nice top edge of the can that is easy to get parts into and out of. Here is an example of a can like that:

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Unfortunately more and more cans these days have this type top that is removed using a pull tab:

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The pull tab cans end up with an annoying lip remaining around the rim of the can as you can see here:

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The typical can openers that I have tried are not able to cut out this annoying lip because the cutting wheel on the opener is unable to reach down far enough to engage the lip.

My question here is looking for how to conveniently remove the lip in a manner that leaves a nice edge like what is left on a conventional can after opening?

The method needs to be easy to use and not leave sharp edges. I have dozens of these annoying cans and would like to make it so much easier to get parts into and out of the cans.

  • I use a normal can opener to remove the offensive edge. Of three I tried, all of them work to remove the pull tab top as well as "normal" ones. Try another brand of opener. Bring a clean can to the store to try before you buy? The one you have may be uniquely incapable for your chore.
    – Stan
    Jun 7, 2020 at 13:50
  • @Stan - I have already tried four different models of can openers that have the cutting wheel with the gear behind it (like shown in my question). None of them come close to doing a satisfactory job removing the lip. Some did nothing and others only achieved in bending the lip down. Jun 7, 2020 at 15:23

3 Answers 3


A safety can opener removes the lid rather than cutting through it. I have this one https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01H92WATA/ref=cm_sw_r_em_apap_cHX2dtuMOXSZI

  • That looks very interesting. Never knew such a thing existed. Tell me...once the lid is removed this way does the can itself maintain a reasonable amount of rigidity around the top edge? This is important in my usage of the cans for storing parts. Jun 8, 2020 at 18:23
  • 1
    I used one once. Don't lose the lid! It left the top of the can sharp enough to be used as a great circle cutter. The lid is safe. The empty can without the lid is a menace, however. @MichaelKaras
    – Stan
    Jun 8, 2020 at 20:44
  • If you want to re-use the can and you're concerned about the sharp edge, seems like that could be solved through the judicious application of masking tape.
    – Gdalya
    Jul 2, 2020 at 12:53

I wanted to see if my idea of pressing the lip in would work, so I opened a can, emptied it and looked for my favorite pair of pliers.

Snipe-nosed pliers

These are not it, but they would have to do.

Can with pliers on lip

My first attempt left a not so pretty folded lip and so I pressed slightly while bending the pliers towards the center of the can.

Can with bent lip

The result doesn't look very pretty with these pliers, but the can is safe to handle.

Can with bent lip

As you can see, I've left parts of the lip untouched for comparison. There are no sharp edges left even if the picture says I did an awful job! My pliers are too narrow and I'm sure a pair like these, would make a nicer finish.

Broad-nosed pliers

Or you could drape the edge with some tape, maybe even in different colors to mark the various cans. Now, excuse me while I grab a fork and eat some canned pineapples!

  • That idea may work for one can but it is way to labor intensive for dozens of cans and gives a sub-optimal result compared to what I would like to see. Jun 7, 2020 at 13:16
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    @MichaelKaras I bet if you used round nose pliers, you could apply pressure and just slide them all the way around the edge of the can. It would take seconds and give a more uniform result, but you'd need strong wrists.
    – piojo
    Sep 24, 2020 at 16:19

You can Hack the Procedure To Open the Container.

Flip the can over onto the top. (That side is usually cleaner, anyway.)

Ignore the pull-top and open the bottom of your cans to get a clean-cut rim for your parts.

If you steam off the label and put it back on right-side up, you will see very little difference. You might even want to ignore the up-side down label or remove it completely.

Most all of the time, it (opening the bottom) will make no difference to the contents.

Good luck

  • Almost all the cans I want to remove the lips from are already in use holding parts in my garage. Also way more than half of them do not even have a rim at the bottom side. Jun 7, 2020 at 15:19
  • Many cheap cans with ring-pulls are pressed in one piece; they do not have a seam at the bottom.
    – RedSonja
    Sep 16, 2020 at 11:31

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