How to Make a Wooden Can Crusher [Proven Method]

Making a can crusher from wood would be easier. Ever felt the need to recycle such things as bottles and soda cans?

Well, often this is the right instinct because it not only conserves space but is also environmentally correct.

In the USA, while the rate of soda can recycling is still very high, over 40 billion cans still find their way into landfills annually.

That amounts to $800 million of lost recyclable material that could otherwise have gone into making new products.

Making a Can Crusher Out of Wood

The best can crushers will help you to save more space. Besides beer and soda cans, you can use a DIY can crusher to compress other types of cans too, including food cans.

Surprising as it may appear or sound, wood is a common material that is used in making can crushers.

You are, however, unlikely to find any commercially-made can crushers made from wood.

These are largely experiments by homeowners, woodworkers and hobbyists intended only for individual or home usage.

Step 1: Materials Required

Making a can crusher out of wood will require several materials

  • Two wooden boards
  • Nuts and screws
  • Bolts and pins
  • Washers
  • Drilling machine
  • Screwdriver
  • Two jar lids or PVC pipe pieces
  • Cabinet handle.

While it’s your choice to whether to make a small or large can crusher, experts recommend a 16-inch can crusher as the most ideal for home or individual use

Step 2: Positioning Cans

As the name suggests, a can crusher is used to smash or crush empty aluminum cans to their smallest possible size to facilitate their recycling.

The method used depends on the available type of can crusher. Some crushers are designed to crush the cans by applying force or pressure from both sides, while others smash the aluminum cans from above.

Step 3: Drill Holes 

The decision of whether to make a large or small can crusher is up to you. However, we recommend a 16-inch can crusher as that would be the most for use at home.

You begin by marking the holes in the wooden boards and drilling them using a drilling machine.

Step 4: Attach Hinge to the Wood Board

Once the drilled holes are done, have the boards placed end to end on a flat table.

Attach the hinge with the help of suitable-sized screws, such that it’s possible to fold them together lengthwise just like a book.

Step 5: Fix Jar Lids

For the next step, take the two jar lids, fix them to the board’s inner side. The lids should be slightly bigger than the aluminum cans’ circumference.

This step is very critical as these lids need to be fixed opposite to each other in a precise manner. They must be directly on top of each other when the boards are folded.

You can choose to either use small screws or a strong adhesive to fix the lids as they will act as the can crusher holding device.

In place of jar lids, you can also use a piece of PVC pipe so long as it’s the right size to hold a can.

Step 6: Attach a Handle to the Wooden Crusher

Next, attach a handle to the can crusher as that helps you to get a good and firm grip while you work. A standard cabinet handle will do just fine.

You will need to drill holes using a drilling tool and then attach the handle to the can crusher’s outer side.

This should be exactly above the place where you previously fixed the jar lid.

Step 7: Crushing Cans

Aluminum is among the most recyclable materials. This makes crushing aluminum cans easy and efficient.

With your Do-It-Yourself wood can crusher, pull the lever down to crush your cans instead of having them thrown into the landfill as whole pieces.

Hopefully, this easy process will also encourage more people to recycle their used cans more often and conveniently.

These simple homemade can crushers are user-friendly and relatively inexpensive.

Since you won’t need to crush hundreds of cans each day, making your own crusher is a good move.

Simply insert the used can into the holding frame and crush it by applying moderate force to the handle or lever with your hand.

Perhaps, the best thing is that it takes little time to make your own can crusher and it’s very easy to design one.

How to Crush Cans without a Can Crusher?

Aluminum cans are generally flimsy and can be crushed without using a can crusher or tools.

Of course, the first can crusher was the human foot. After drinking the contents, people would often stomp on cans to flatten them.

This was either easier disposal in the garbage bin or for recycling. The other alternative is to twist them with your bare hands.

Sometimes, this could end up hurting the hands or foot if not done carefully. It’s no wonder that entrepreneurs came up with the idea of commercial can crushers.

That, however, might be an expensive option and the best route is to make your own can crusher made of wood for use at home.

Should you Crush Cans before Recycling?

First, you need to consider how your city or town recycles its waste. In a system that uses a single-stream recycling approach, locals place all recyclables—glass, plastic, cans, and paper—in one bin.

These are sorted at the recycling facility later. The majority of recycling collection programs use the single-stream model.

Dealing with Common Issues Associated With Can Crushing

Recycling enthusiasts have always been encouraged to crush aluminum cans.

However, times have radically changed, and can crush may not be as beneficial as may assume.

If you are part of a multiple-stream recycling program where you sort cans in separate bins, please go ahead and crush away.

However, if you typically toss all your recycling items into one bin, it’s better to keep your aluminum cans intact.

That may take up more of your space, but it makes the sorting work at the recycling centers much easier when you don’t crush the cans.

To Crush or Not Crush

Remember that crushed cans help in saving space, and transporting them to the recycling center is more efficient.

Being a relatively soft and malleable metal, aluminum can be easily smashed or crushed with a homemade wooden can crusher.

But in a single-stream system, you shouldn’t crush cans.

This makes it harder for the electrical current being used to aid in separating aluminum cans at recycling facilities. They cannot identify such cans when they have been crushed.

Single vs. Multi-Stream Recycling Methods

Crushed cans directly enter the recycling stream and become more challenging to sort out. They can easily contaminate other types of recyclable materials within the system.

For example, a flattened soda might be sorted as “paper”, thus contaminating the genuine paper recyclables.

In addition, crushed aluminum cans might fall through the spaces provided for sorting other equipment or even be improperly sorted or entirely lost.

Having noted that, if your town or city uses a dual-stream or multi-stream recycling method, it can be beneficial to crush cans when recycling.

Since all your cans in a multi-stream system go together, they won’t contaminate other recyclable products.

Sum Up

While crushing your aluminum cans is not recommended in every situation, there is one instance, when crushing them is highly recommended.

If you are already separating your recycling, placing cans together in their own bin or bag, then crushing is totally fine.

It is beneficial to crush your aluminum cans using a wooden can crusher as it saves space, gets more waste material into a recycling container, and makes them more efficient to transport.