Can Cutting

So I've made a few of this tin can banjo things. Having a blast playing on them. I've made a couple out of empty tin "soup" cans and one out of a beer can. I cut a few other cans to prepare them to go on a neck but my question is this: have you guys found a pretty easy and reliable way to cut the tops off the aluminum cans that won't leave a lot of shrapnel hanging about? I crimped it flat on the beer can build but didn't like the way it distorted the "head" of the can.





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  • With Cans, I use a belt sander along the top.  Hold it down on it for a few seconds and eventually it will Pop off.  On a production line, the top is actually just stuck on it, so a little belt sanding on the rim will usually release it, then take some 220 along the brim and you got a clean cut can.

  • I have made only two beer can canjos. I use a utility knife to punch thought and cut the aluminum top. I use a Dremel with a drum sanding head to finish the edge and a little sand paper to clean. Works for me... My can opener would damage the outside of the can.
  • Google safety can opener. These do not leave sharp edge when they open. Walmart has them and they can be ordered online. If you are doing lots of canjos it might be worth the investment.  I use the pull tab type cans and then pound the shsrp edge flat with a ball peen hammer.

  • Buy small can broth or drain though a small hole leave lid intact maybe
  • I've found using a plain ol' twist can opener works great on beer and soda cans. It leaves the lip and there's virtually no roughness on the inside.

  • Some people use a rotary cutting tool like a Dremel tool and I imagine it would do a great job, but I haven't bought one yet, so have not tried it. With some practice with different cutting patterns you should be able to find a way to fold the edges over so they won't be so exposed and so will be less likely to cut someone.

    Also, when I choose a can for a canjo I like those with pop & peel off tops, as they leave a pretty good looking "cut" without having all those jagged edges. But,even then the edges can be sharp and require some filing.

    These days I tend to use cookie tins where the problem is basically limited to the hole for the neck.

    I usually cut them like this: >---<  (my "cutting pattern")

    With a cut down the center and then cutting the pieces to be folded back on the diagonals. When done carefully folding, the jagged edges are inside the tin so people aren't so likely to cut themselves.


    • Hey tnx, Rand!

      I've been wondering the ez est way to cut for a neck-thru can..


  • I haven't made a Canjo yet-just starting my first CBW, as well as a Fiddley-diddley-duclcimer-thingy(using a Bow on it whatever it turns out to be). However, i've used vegetable cans in non-musical projects, and I find an ordinary can opener works great-just take a craft file or 120-grit sandpaper to the inner rim and you're done! I doubt that would work on soda cans about a jeweler's saw or craft saw with a fine metal-cutting blade(with no downward pressure on the cut) and then medium grit paper on the rim, stroking inward?

    I honestly don't think modern soda cans are sturdy enough for the hole to act as a decent bridge myself-the ones I see around here crumple like some of the thicker beer cans might do all right if the tops/botoms are thick enough.

  •  Hi, I havent tried making one out of aluminium yet, But I have used the soup cans with the pop off top.  I get a ball peen hammer and use the round peen end and apply pressure to the sharp part and can get it to roll forward so the sharp part is sort of curled up so it wont cut you. Maybe it would work better on aluminium cans then the steel ones?
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