opening 2.2lb cans of VanSon

Ok now that VanSon is only selling the 2.2lb cans (and before I start buying ink from elsewhere) does anybody have a go-to “easy” way to open these cans? I can get into them but only after a wrestling match and a string of carefully selected expletives.

Log in to reply   15 replies so far

There is a key that will open these cans, but I don’t know if Van Son gives them away, the way smaller ink companies gave away cheap putty knives as ink knives. But those thick putty knives can be used the same way as the key:
place it between the lip of the lid and the nearby ridge around the can, and twist. There is a knack to it, moving around the can until the lid is free. It gets easier after the vacuum is broken.
A bottle opener will work once but you’ll never get the lid to seal again.

Thanks, all. I’ll try and find one of those keys. Bottle opener was used and yes, it bends the lid. Claw end of a hammer is my go-to now but I knew there was a better way to do it.

One more, that has been/is being used still,! Traditional Wood Turners chisel, (they come in a very diverse range of contours and sizes) for example approximately 1 and 3/4” crescent (chisel) configuration, matches the *Radius* of a 2lb. can lid well. 3 Taps at 120 degrees invariably does the trick without deforming the lid, not foolproof but, better than all the straight blade chisels, screwdrivers, pallet knives etc, etc.

VanSon sent me a key as well as a new top to replace the one I mangled gratis.

“Oh hey we won’t sell you small cans anymore, but here’s a key and a replacement”

Could you post a picture of the key Van Son sent you? I would be interested to see it. Thanks…..

In the above link:

double posting


My girlfriend was purging some old canning supplies and asked me if I had any use for a couple of old jar wrenches that she had. They are perfect for opening stubborn cans of ink. The older ones are built much better than the newer ones and have a rubber gripper that holds the lid well. I not sure how they would work on really crusty cans but they work well on some cans that I haven’t used in over a year.
Whistle Pig Press

image: image.jpg


Howdy everyone, and let me just first say that as a beginner/rookie/newbie to letterpress, I have found the community to be very friendly, resourceful and funny at times here at Briar Press, thank you all.

As a side note, I found an ink supplier near me who make their ink and has it available in 1# cans! The owner, Randy, is super personal and willing to help in any way.

So, while I do not know enough about ink yet to speak to nuances of its characteristics, etc., I like people who are fair and friendly and know stuff that I do not.

Here is his info if you are interested in smaller qty containers or an alternate resource:

Randall Cole
Prestige Printing Ink
2430 Ludelle Street
Fort Worth, Texas 76105
Phone: (817) 531 - 2736
Fax: (817) 535 1954
email: [email protected]


I’m using a paint can opener key. Using it as a wedge, working my way around the can turning the opener slightly to get a little lift without warping the can. Once I got the hang of it, I’m able to open the cans very quickly and with an absolute minimum of expletives! The tool from Van Son looks interesting but this works for me.

Also you can use a flat head screwdriver (or chisel but you may damage chisel). The trick is twisting not prying. So you put the flat head tip between the lid and base (perpendicular to the can and parallel to the lid) then twist the handle. Then move a little ways along the lid and repeat.

I have been opening these cans of ink for several years now and I use a very big flat head screw driver like csiepser sez to do. Set the can on a flat base and insert the screw driver and give a gentle twist to the right (clockwise) and revolve the can and twist again with the screwdriver. We do this so as not to damage the lid or the can. That way when you replace the lid you can use the butt of the screwdriver to reseat the lid back on the can with a coupla good whacks. This discussion seemed funny at first but a damaged ink can would be bad news if it cost you $60 bucks for the ink!