Can Opener

The can-opener is a tool with a lot of history.
It first appeared on the very first Swiss Army Knife in 1891. The original design was dedicated solely to the task of opening cans. It had a claw like hook with a protrusion for resting on the edge of the can. The can was pierced with the 'claw' until the protrusion hit the can rim. The opener was then worked around the edge of the can pulling the claw upward and cutting through the steel. It was somewhat awkward (and dangerous!) to use - as it leaves a very sharp and ragged edge!

The Victorinox and Wenger can-openers were almost identical, and both companies used this design for several decades.

Editor's note: Need image


In 1945 Victorinox brought out a new design and supplied their Officer's models with a can-opener almost identical to the Wenger can-opener in the bottom image below. The Victorinox Officer's models were supplied with this can-opener until 1951. The Soldier models continued with the original can-opener until the 1961 Soldier was introduced, when they switched to the current design.
The contemporary version (patented 1951) is much easier to use than the original, and also has the addition of a small slotted screwdriver that can also be used for Phillips screws. The width of the screwdriver end is roughly 3mm and the steel has a hardness of RC 52. When this tool was introduced the can-opener and screwdriver swapped positions in the frame of the knife.
The blade on the contemporary version is more versatile and has been used with wire shielding, snap-back watch cases, and other small blade short-cut duties where the shorter tool length, and thicker blade, provides better control.

The can-opener tool now also has a much 'younger' cousin, the Combination Tool.

84mm Can-opener Evolution

Estimated Dates:

  • A: Late 50s early 60s (Alox model)
  • B: Late 60s early 70s
  • C: Late 70s early 80s
  • D: Late 80s through 90s
  • E: 2005 and later

Usage Instructions

Victorinox Can-Opener Instructions
The can is opened by working the tool away from the body.


Dog-leg Can-opener - Usage Diagram
Dog-leg Can-opener - Usage Diagram

Original Wenger-Unique Design

The original Wenger uniquely designed can-openers were v-shaped, or some say dog-leg style, with a single, sharpened edge. This tool probably came into being in the mid 1960s.
The way to use this older-style tool was to pierce the top of the can with the tip, and then tilt the tool until the v-notch was riding along the lip of the can; then pressing the SAK downwards levering on the notch and working the sharp edge upwards, cutting the lid, and working away from the body, around the lip of the can.
There is a small diagram of how to use the tool imprinted on the front-side of the tool. There is a nail-nick on the tool's tip edge.

Early versions of the Wenger Original Can-opener
Early versions of the Wenger Original Can-opener
Later Version of the Original Can-opener
Later Version of the Original Can-opener

Later Design

Wenger changed over to their final style of can-opener around 1975. This newer design was originally a Victorinox patent that they stopped using back in the 1950s, when they switched to their current design.
It comprises a single curved instrument with a sharpened straight edge, resembling a claw of sorts.
The can is opened by working the tool towards your body.

This tool is also useful as a small strong blade, sharp scraper or package-opener, and has several other uses beyond opening cans.

Modern Can Opener on the 85mm

Created by ICanFixThat. Last Modification: Monday 27 of May, 2024 08:02:21 CEST by Huntsman.

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Victorinox Models

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