An oil filter cutter that works without making a mess

As do all good mechanics, we recommend that during every oil change, the filter be cut open and inspected for metal flakes. But we admit that this is easier said than done.

The filter cans are made of tough metal that still tends to bend and squash under the pressure of a can cutter. In the March, 1997 issue of Aviation Consumer, we reviewed six can cutters, none of which were perfect.

But now weve found one that is. Sacramento Sky Ranch is offering a new can cutter that consists of two parts, an open cylinder to hold the can and a beefy cutter that zips through the metal like a knife through butter.

We thought the best thing about this cutter is that the cylinder bolts permanently to a work surface, providing a stable way to hold the can. Clamping them in a vise rarely works, since the vise either deforms the can or fails to grip the hex nut securely enough to hold it against the cutting force. Deform the can even a little and getting the paper element out is a chore.

The Sky Ranch design has a hex-shaped socket that grips the filter nut and holds the can upright. So if theres any residual oil in the can, it stays in the can instead of running all over you and the bench.

The cutter self-centers and slices open the can near the beefy part of the base, where its less likely to deform. Slip out the paper element, have a look and youre done. Very slick.

You can buy the cutter ($65) or the can holder ($25) separately, so if you already have decent cutter, heres a neater way to clamp it for cutting. Contact Sky Ranch at 916-421-7672.