If You're Like Us, You Need These Clamshell Pack Life Hacks
Unless you come across the dreaded flip-top packaging, you probably won't live long. Its tough, rigid nature is great for manufacturers because it makes products easy to display, reduces shoplifting and reduces returns. On the other end of the sales spectrum, it's a nightmare for us consumers. It originated inside corporate meetings at Sam's Club or Costco as a way to reduce shrinkage (retail theft). Knowing how to open a clamshell package remains one of life's greatest mysteries.
Originally created as a protective case that could be easily opened, the flip-top pack ended up becoming something inhuman… sadistic even. While it served its purpose, it did so at the expense of consumer sanity.
We're here to help you fight back.
Method 1: How to open a clamshell package with a can opener
The method that really interests me is the can opener method. Yes, your plain old household can opener can be a godsend when it comes to opening clamshell packages. Admittedly, I was skeptical. But then I tried.
I kind of wish I had more clamshell packaging to open after that. Alas, I need to get on with my day. Four brand new batteries need charging and I have other new toys to play with.
Method 2: Makita 12V Max Multi-function Cutter
The Makita 12V Multi Cutter can cut almost anything. The flip cap proved no match for the swivel angle blade on this tool. We take it around town in several packages and are always happy with the results.
Metal snips or aviation snips that can cut through thin metal sheets are also suitable for plastic clamshell packaging. Simply work your way around the outer edge of the wrap, then pop the middle out as you release it. We've touched this tool too many times to remember. It works every time without making a mess – and without hurting you!
Method 4: How to open the clamshell package with a utility knife
This method dives into much more dangerous methods – so use good judgment and don't say we didn't warn you! Always keep away from yourself and always be aware of the position of the blade. Finally, if you're wondering how to open a clamshell package with a utility knife, be sure to only expose a small portion of the blade. Most utility knives will let you do this, and it can really help minimize damage if the blade slips or goes where it doesn't need to.
With a utility blade, we usually trace the outline of the tool until we can cut through it and the plastic can be easily peeled off. Be sure to watch your hand position when cutting, and don't put yourself in a position where the blade could come loose and cut your hand or fingers.
Method 5: Last resort – pocket knife
We actually hate this approach unless there's nothing else to do. You'll need a very sharp knife to work – in which case follow the directions above. The problem with pocket knives is that you can't minimize blade exposure. All or nothing.
I remember one time I didn't use my favorite EDC, the ZT 0707 knife. I had an unfortunate accident that bent the clip, but I didn't have time to fix it. So I'm stuck trying to open four brand new batteries without a knife. Did I mention I'm moving and don't know where my scissors are?
It was during this epic 15-minute battle between man and machine that I realized a trick that seemed to work. Insert the knife into the package, point first, but parallel to the plane of the package. Once the package is pierced, the blade is inside. Work around the wrap – keep the blade away from you at all times.
Eventually, you'll have enough sliced material that you can peel it back and safely remove the contents.
Bonus Method: Heavy Duty Shears
Some manufacturers, like Crescent Wiss, make heavy-duty scissors ("artisan scissors," as they call them) that snap through even the sturdiest clamshell packs. Our method of using these tools had us cut off the entire top. Next, run down each side to create a flap that can be pulled open and the contents removed.
However, don't try to do this with ordinary kitchen shears. You might bend or break them the first time you try clamshell wrappers.
If you've ever had sweat dripping from your brow and a few cuts on your hands from opening a few batteries, you're not alone. There is a better way! By following the steps above and avoiding the more dangerous methods as much as possible, you can become the flip master you've always dreamed of.
Try these flip-top life hacks for yourself. Let us know if they work for you (and at least one will work for you).
Then tell us if you start putting a can opener in your shop like we do… I have good proof that using your wife's can opener on tool products makes the lady unhappy – so buy you own it!
So, guys, when I see you in the kitchen area at my local Bed, Bath and Beyond, give me a two-finger salute on your right hand. That would be our signal that we are there for man stuff. Just don't do it in skinny jeans and holding a latte. That will immediately revoke your personnel card.