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raum's avatar

How to cut a soda can in half without jagged or sharp edges?

Asked by raum (13206points) March 3rd, 2022
27 responses
“Great Question” (2points)

Okay, so our kid’s school is having a plant sale fundraiser. Last year we hand painted some ceramic pots from the dollar store.

This year, I thought it would be more cost effective (and fun) to use one of these things to utilize soda cans as cost effective planters.

But I’m kind of realizing it would require more dirt than necessary. And if I used a filler at the bottom instead of dirt, it’d still be pretty top heavy.

So my question is this…is there away to cut a soda can in half without a sharp or jagged edge?

Maybe I can look for shorter cans? Other ideas for cost-effective planters?

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zenvelo's avatar

Short answer is No.

The soda can wall is very thin, like a razor blade thin, so it is almost impossible for you to dull the edge.

raum's avatar

@zenvelo Well, yes. But is there a way to roll the edges? Or copper tape maybe? Still don’t know how to get a clean cut though.

Copper tape probably isn’t the most cost-effective solution. But you get the idea. The edge could be covered.

raum's avatar

Wondering if small rocks at the bottom the can would do the trick?

SEKA's avatar

Maybe you shouldn’t cut them in half. This is a 6–½ min vlog showing a different way to make a planter from a soda can. It might be more work than you are willing to do, but it looks a bit safer than cutting the can in half

raum's avatar

@SEKA That is a pretty cool hack! The Draft Top that I linked essentially does the same thing—but only for the top of a can. Which still leaves the issue of being kind of top heavy for a planter.

raum's avatar

Found a thing that cleanly cuts cans in half. But would need a 3D printer because it’s just a file. Argh.

SEKA's avatar

@raum I was thinking that if you remove the bottom of the can that you could make the top the base which would add a bit of weight and maybe a little more stability since the top is wider than the bottom and less likely to tip over

raum's avatar

@SEKA Hmmm…those are good points. Both for weight and stability. Might have to do one and see how it feels.

RocketGuy's avatar

Maybe you can use small milk cartons or plastic water bottles instead.

raum's avatar

@RocketGuy I don’t have access to a ton of small milk cartons. Though I do like how you could just plant them straight into the garden if you wanted to.

Water bottles might be a good option.

KRD's avatar

You could try a box opener.

SEKA's avatar

2 liter soda bottles makes nice hanging planters if you add some twine to a couple of holes

raum's avatar

@KRD Tried that. Had a hard time not crushing the can. :/

raum's avatar

@SEKA That would be super cute too!

LadyMarissa's avatar

Many years ago I made a hanging planter out of a 2 liter bottle. I did a macrame handle with a vine type plant. It turned out really pretty!!!

raum's avatar

@LadyMarissa That sounds like a really fun project. :)

smudges's avatar

Pebbles at the bottom would help with the top-heavy problem, like you said. It would also help with drainage. I use them whenever I put a plant in a container, even if it has a hole in the bottom.

raum's avatar

@smudges That’s true. Especially helpful if we end up doing succulents.

kritiper's avatar

Use a glass bead parts cleaner. Smaller and more precise than a sand blaster. Filling the can with sand might help, too.

raum's avatar

@kritiper That’s pretty cool. I’ve always liked using a sand blaster. And I’ve always wished it could be more precise. Though how would you use it for this project? To soften the edge of the aluminum?

That might work. Though biggest hurdle would be finding access to one. And two, I think it would also blast off the design (which is partly why I like the idea of using a soda can).

Though now my brain is thinking of all the fun projects I could do with one of these. :P

kritiper's avatar

The glass beads will cut the aluminum and leave a fairly soft edge due to the nature of the glass beads.

raum's avatar

@kritiper Whoa! I did a quick google search and the video that popped up didn’t look like it could be that precise. (Maybe I googled the wrong thing.) That would be amazing!

Wonder if there’s a local place that has one that will rent out studio time? Hmmm…

gorillapaws's avatar

I’d build a jig with an arm that holds a Dremel fitted with an abrasive disc. I’d place the can in the fixture and slowly rotate it while applying very gentle pressure on the arm to slowly wear through the thin walls. Then I’d try to figure out a way to roll the cut edge maybe with a female/male 3d printed mold that clamps together somehow.

raum's avatar

@gorillapaws I think I might be able to figure out how to cut the can. But tell me more about this idea for a female/male 3D printed mold that clamps together somehow. I’m intrigued.

gorillapaws's avatar

@raum I was thinking broadly and didn’t have a detailed plan in mind. You’d need something that fits in the interior of the can to center the top half. I’d imagine it would need to be 3 pieces that could be put in (and, most importantly, removed) individually. The top piece would center over the bottom mold with a beveled edge. Perhaps you’d need multiple top pieces to roll the edge in stages?

raum's avatar

@gorillapaws Yes, figured it was more conceptual brain storming than anything concrete. But appreciate you thinking out loud.

I wonder if running a can opener (the kind that rounds the edges) would do the trick? Not to cut it. But just to round the edges? It’s kind of the same idea right? Male/female mold?

gorillapaws's avatar

@raum That sounds a lot less complicated and a better starting place. I’d try that first.

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