Harvesting cork for gaskets

Occasionally, I repair a piston filler pen that needs a new cork gasket (like this oneand this one). One place to find cork is at the top of a wine bottle. However, normally, when you use a corkscrew to get the cork out of the bottle, you punch a winding hole down through the cork, which ruins it…

So, I use a magical device called a “butler’s friend” – so-called because it allows you to remove a cork from a wine bottle without puncturing it (which means you could, in theory, remove the cork, have a tipple, top up the bottle with some water, and replace the cork – and your boss would be none-the-wiser…)

The photo series below shows how this is used. The only three things to know is that:

  1. You push the blades in next to the cork by rocking it back and forth
  2. To remove the cork, you twist and pull.
  3. It’s smart to hold the blades against the cork with your fingers when you get to the top, otherwise you could chip the top of the bottle when the blades spring back open.


Push the blades down into the neck of the bottle on either side of the cork. Rocking the handle slightly helps.


When you get to the bottom, twist the handle while pulling the cork upwards.


When you get to the top, hold the blades tightly to the cork to avoid chipping the glass when the blades reach the top.   


The cork, out of the bottle, in one piece, and without punctures. Ready for slicing.

So now, I’m looking for piston fillers to repair so that I have an excuse to drink more wine (like I need an excuse…)

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