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September 1, 2004

World's best can opener: Swing-A-Way classic


After decades of assaults on its iconic design, Swing-A-Way still stands tall at the top of the heap.

Every time I cut myself on a sharp can lid trying to remove the darn thing from under the liquid on top, I vow to replace my Swing-A-Way with one of those that removes the entire top with no sharp edges.

Then I buy one, use it for day, and put it in the bottom drawer to gather dust, never to be seen/used again.


Because every single one of the pretenders are much harder to use, requiring much more force to turn the handle.

That's because in addition to cutting, they have to compress the metal to create a safe edge.

They also generally make you turn the handle parallel to the ground, making you work without the aid of gravity.

I spent $24.95 for a Kuhn-Rikon opener billed as being "built like a Swiss watch."



But still too hard to use.

OXO came out with a version, and put in a kind of transmission gear that lets you turn the handle vertically like the Swing-A-Way.


No good: still too hard to turn.

So every few years, as I did just now, I drop $5.95 for a new Swing-A-Way and just suck up the occasional cut.

I suppose I could clean the old opener, but that gunk that gets in and behind the gears really doesn't come completely off no matter how hard I try with a toothpick.

I see now that Zyliss, the Swiss manufacturer of all things kitchen-related,


has just come out with a safety-lid version, for $14.95.

I think this dog is just not gonna hunt here anymore: I'm passing.

Of interest is that Cook's Illustrated magazine, the only objective source in the world for reviews on things food-related (they accept no advertising) reviewed a whole slew of can-openers and came to the same conclusion as I did.

September 1, 2004 at 12:01 PM | Permalink


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I find the best way to open a can is to turn the opener until the entire lid is cut and then remove it with a butter knife. I have a starfrit and it works good but it cuts the top lips off the cans so the top of the can is sharp, I do find it easier thent he key or opening cans of ham though. I think the benefit of this design is it's manual which is simpler and less apt to wear out then the electric ones.

Posted by: Brett | Sep 12, 2008 10:25:54 PM

I have a Swing A Way that has been with me for 36 years; the handles are made out of wood, it could be a classic. Since I live in South America I ask a friend to bring two new ones; one for my beach apartment and other to my newly weed daughter. She call me yesterday and said " Mom, you told me that this can opener was for ever, but it broked" This is a fact, but i think that if the broken one is carried to the store it could be replaced, free, for a new one; is that possible?, is just the sense of quality a reliability that is important for me to hold on.

Posted by: Maruja Romero | Apr 22, 2008 8:28:25 PM

I love my swing away, I got it at a yard sale!! How ever I do face a little wish. An electric swing away. Is there any such thing? I would prefer that the durability and easy to use factors to be standaed issued on this wish of mine -that I don't even know if it exists. No, I am not lazy. I have weak wrists and a family of 8 to feed. I open like 6 cans of vegetables on a daily basis. When I make chili I use like a case a beans, soups, sauces and juices-the whole meal comes from a can.

Posted by: Julie proper | Jun 1, 2007 12:18:29 AM

I have a model 3300 swing a way. I've had it for 43 years. Needless to say it has been the best. Does anyone know if it is still available. I would be interested in purchasing two. Thank you . barbara

Posted by: barbara dame | Sep 20, 2006 9:59:36 AM

Well I own a Swing-A-Way, I think it is a classis. Certainly does look like the photo.

I can across this page while searcging for a better opener. Problem with my SwinG-A-Way is that it rolls off of the can edge making me have to re pearce the lid inanother location and making the whole process all the more difficult.

Bought a Farberware and all was well until the lousey thing first started puching the knob off of the shaft then the lip tractor (part that carries the opener around the can somehow started slipping rendering the opener worthless.

So I am still searching for a reliable, above all things, can opener. What a pain!

Posted by: ken | Sep 11, 2005 11:34:59 AM

I agree with your take on "worlds best can opener." It works fine for me, and I had the same problems with one that cuts through the side of the can to remove the top lid. But my wife wants a new electric can opener. When I started to look at what's available, I found info re "Krups Open Master Can Opener 404" which says it is bladeless, and works by "uncrimping" the lid rather than cutting into the metal anywhere. Thought I'd ask whether you had heard of this, or had tried it. Unless you are aware of problems with this approach, I think "this dog" (me) might just hunt there one more time.

Any comments?

Posted by: Ray Carter | Jan 13, 2005 8:08:19 PM

This is the stuff, man: http://starkist.com/products/pouch.html It's awesome.

They also have flavored tuna, which makes an excellent meal -- just add a fork. http://starkist.com/products/creations.html

Posted by: Phillip Winn | Sep 3, 2004 3:21:34 PM

You still use *cans* for tuna? Clearly you have not pondered the significance of tuna in foil bags, no draining required!

And before you point out that it costs more, I suggest that you weigh the tuna from a can *after* draining. Cooks Illustrated did, and found that tuna-in-a-bag is actually cheaper per drained ounce.

Posted by: Phillip Winn | Sep 3, 2004 3:18:00 PM

Actually I have a can opener from "The Pampered Chef", which removes tops quite nicely. However I still use my swing away (never heard of that term before) when opening and draining cans of tuna.

Posted by: Matthew Brent | Sep 2, 2004 9:55:06 PM

The best can opener ever was at my parents house -- it was a wall-mounted electric with the magnet for the lids. Every so often it was a chore to take the vinegar & clean off the wheels.

I have 3 of the Swing Away in my drawer right now.

Posted by: Liz Ditz | Sep 2, 2004 12:56:33 AM

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