Design Process

My bottle opener is inspired by F. Scott Fitzgerald. He is most famously known for The Great Gatsby, which was my favorite assigned reading from high schoolMy initial brainstorming ranged from an elegant brass letter opener to a glowing green ring. However, upon chatting with Craig, I realized I had fallen into the trap of vertical thinking. My initial designs focused on showcasing The Great Gatsby through obvious symbols such as art deco and the green light rather than tackling more abstract ideas. Thus, I challenged myself to revisit the drawing board and think more laterally.

My final design was a bottle opener that symbolized the life of the main character, Mr. Gatsby. He was born into a poor family in rural North Dakota as James Gatz. Upon meeting tycoon Dan Cody, he decided to change his name to Jay Gatsby and pursue a more lavish and extravagant lifestyle. In his pursuit of the “American Dream”, he hid behind many personas (such as being an Oxford man) to fit in with the old money elites. Only a few people (namely Gatsby, Nick Carraway, and the reader) know of the real Gatsby.


To illustrate this, I designed my bottle opener such that it starts with a simple, cube-like shape that morphs into a series of complex curved surfaces that each display a distorted reflection. When a user opens the bottle (with their right hand), they see their own “true reflection” on the flat side of the opener, while surrounding guests see the warped reflection on the other side of the bottle opener. Similar to Gatsby’s origin as James Gatz, the bottle opener itself is made out of a humble material, aluminum, but is polished to appear more impressive.

Manufacturing Process


    • 1″ x 3″ x 6″ Aluminum
    • 3″ Shell Mill
    • ¼” Flat End Mill
    • ⅛” Ball End Mill
    1. Square stock using a manual mill
    2. On Haas CNC, perform a facing operation to mill stock to required thickness
    3. Perform an adaptive cutting operation to map out the upper curved surface
    4. Contour the boundary down to 0.1″ above the model bottom
    5. Scallop all curves and fillets
    6. Contour the boundary until there is a 0.010″ web at the bottom of the part
    7. Remove the web using a band saw, vice grips, and files
    8. Finish the part using sand paper and polish

I edited my CAM file right before plugging it into the CNC. Unfortunately, I did not catch that the wrong tool was being used for my final operation, hence the large scratch that was left by the tool holder. Luckily, I was able to sand it out, but much frustration could have been avoided by triple checking my setup sheet and staying calm throughout the process.

I also learned that finding all of the tools (and updating the CAM file to match) takes a lot more time than expected. In the future, I hope to organize my tools in advance during an earlier shop session, so that I can more efficiently utilize my CNC time slot.

Cheers, old sport!



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