Canning homebrew has changed the way I think about my beer and brewing process. Being able to transport my beers on-demand or give them to friends has only added to the joy of the hobby. I’ve been using the Oktober’s SL1 Can Seamer for the past several months and it’s one of my favorite pieces of equipment in my brewery. If you’re looking for more of an in-depth primer on canning homebrew, you should read my SL1 review first.
Oktober recently launched a brand new can seamer designed with the homebrewer in mind. The Oktober BenchMK Can Seamer features an all-new design that leverages a standard power drill to operate the unit. The simplified design and lack of a true built-in motor give the brewer the ability to professionally seam cans for under $500! Let’s dive into the details.
The BenchMK comes with everything you need to start canning besides aluminum cans, beer, and a cordless drill. The assembly is really simple and doesn’t require any tools other than the supplied Allen wrenches. The two biggest differences between the SL1 and the BenchMK are of course the lack of a built-in motor and a new splash guard. Other than that, all of the actual seaming components are the same.
The top of the seamer features a drill bit end that easily secures to the chuck of your standard power drill. Powering the drill spins the can, allowing the operator to seam the can with ease. The BenchMK feels very sturdy and is relatively heavy (14 pounds). The weight is necessary to keep the canner stable while operating. The BenchMK is more compact and lighter than the SL1, making it that much easier to maneuver. Since there isn’t an actual motor, the components that could actually FAIL are more limited. This is a huge plus for casual users.
Like the SL1, the seamer comes equipped with both 12 and 16 ounce can adapters that are easily removed/stacked for switching between 12 and 16-ounce cans on the fly.
The BenchMK can be operated with a very lightweight/budget cordless drill. Oktober sent me a $40 drill along with the unit for testing. While I have a larger cordless drill that I’m personally more familiar with, both work just fine and seam cans without any issues. Oktober claims you can seam hundreds of cans on a single battery charge. While I have not personally verified this, the actual drill operating time for each can is only about 4-5 seconds.
Operating the BenchMK
Operating the BenchMK can seamer is very easy. Attach the drill to the top bit and secure it tightly to lock it in place. The drill can be operated at any speed, but I find it works best around 300 rpm. The BenchMK will seam your can in two swift motions. The only thing to mention here is you only need a 2-second count in each of the two lever positions to successfully seam a can.
I thought holding the drill and seaming the can may be awkward, but it actually feels pretty natural. Once you’ve seamed a few cans, you’ll have a good feel for how much pressure you need to apply to the seamer to successfully crimp the lid. As I mentioned, I’m a seasoned SL1 user so the BenchMK feels a little different in terms of control. I’d compare it to driving a new car—it just takes time to get used to the steering and handling.
SL1 vs BenchMK: Which Should I Choose?
If you’re debating between either the SL1 or BenchMK, just note you’re looking at a $500+ difference in price (assuming you add the splash guard to the SL1). Operating the two seamers is very similar. While the design is slightly different, the actual seaming motion is exactly the same.
When evaluating seamers, I would think about the sheer volume of cans you’re looking to produce. The built-in motor on the SL1 is very convenient and makes operating the seamer a little more streamlined. If you’re someone who will be canning larger batches very regularly, I would probably lean towards the SL1. If you’re the hobby homebrewer looking to occasionally transport your beers, I would absolutely recommend the BenchMK. That’s not to say that the BenchMK is incapable of seaming hundreds of cans quick or efficiently, it’s just my personal preference.
The standard splash guard on the BenchMK is a really nice plus. I’ve never been overly worried about beer spraying, but I will say it’s nice to keep your work area and clothes a little cleaner. Thanks to the drill-powered motor, you don’t need an outlet to operate the seamer—this makes the unit that much more portable. Lastly, currently priced at $499, it’s a crazy bargain for anyone looking to start canning their homebrew!
The BenchMK is the most affordable motorized can seamer on the market, undercutting the closest competition by over 200$. The seamer’s plug-and-play setup and design make it incredibly easy to start running immediately. As someone who’s had hand’s-on experience with the SL1, the BenchMK feels a little more approachable. Coming in at half the price of the SL1, this unit is a complete no-brainer for homebrewers looking to can their beers. While you still need a drill to power the seamer, my assumption is *most* homebrewers engulfed in the hobby enough to start canning their brews, already own a drill for milling their grains.
The sheer idea of this product is a reflection of Oktober’s willingness and ability to innovate. I love how they set out to tackle the challenge of producing a more budget-friendly and simplified product that still delivers exceptional results. In my chats with the team, they’re always looking for ways to improve their products without cutting corners. As of writing, they’ve officially released a long-awaited splashguard that can be retrofitted to the SL1 unit. I’m hoping to get my hands on one soon so I can test it out!
Trust me when I tell you if you’re buying an Oktober product, you’re buying a quality product.