Spray Can Cutter
© Frank Ford 2008; Photos by FF

What with spray paint, spray lube and WD-40, I do generate a few empty spray cans.  Pasco Sam (Palo Alto Sanitation Company's mascot) tells me that I can no longer either recycle these cans nor stick them in the trash because they are "hazardous" and must be delivered to the proper HAZMAT disposal site.  Now, it's not just the contents, but the fact that these residual contents are under pressure.  So I asked whether they could be recycled if they were both empty and decapitated. "No problem," was the answer.


Clearly I needed a spray can guillotine.  Here's what I came up with -

I had a short section of I-beam that had been cut in half along the web, so I cut out about half of the remaining web, cut and bored a big hole, and made a blade out of the piece of the web by welding it edgewise to a piece of  1/4" x 1" cold rolled steel:

I added a pivot bolt and another hole for hanging.


I simply clamp the remaining piece of web in the bench vise and I'm good to go:


In goes the empty can:


And I swing the lever, puncturing it.  Of course a tiny bit of gas remains so there's a slight hiss as the blade pierces the side:

Nice and easy, the blade simply slices off the top of the can:


Ready for PASCO:

Back to Machining Index


More about PASCO:

Palo Alto Sanitation Company, due to be dissolved in 2009, was founded in 1957, and has been a real standout garbage collection service.  For better than 30 years, always courteous and in a good mood, and known as the "running garbies" the trash collectors ran 100 feet down my driveway to the back yard, pick up the cans, dump them into their rolling cans, and run back to the truck.  See, if they get their work done early, their work days are shorter.  Makes sense to me. A couple of years ago they upgraded to curbside rolling bins, single stream recycling and free compost pickup.

From the beginning, all the trucks and dumpsters have had these stickers on 'em, and most folks don't have any idea of what they mean:

Naturally, there's the motto, either "a neat garbage man," or "the dirty man who keeps  you clean,"  but, wait, there's more. . .

Turns out that the founder of PASCO was a huge fan of the Steve Allen TV show back when the company was being organized.  He particularly liked a regular guest, Louie Nye, whose signature line was a sort of dragged out falsetto, "Why not?"  He just put it there because it was his company and he could do as he liked.


I'm going to miss Pasco Sam. . .