- A corkscrew is a tool for drawing stopping corks from wine bottles. Generally, it comprises a pointed metallic helix attached to a handle. The user grips the handle and screws the metal point through the cork, entwining the cork and corkscrew so that moving one moves the other. Corkscrews are necessary because corks themselves, being small and smooth, are difficult to grip and (elegantly) remove. The handle of the corkscrew, often a horizontal bar of wood attached to the screw, allows for a fine, commanding grip making removal of the stopper relatively easy. Many corkscrew handles incorporate levers that further increase the amount of force that can be applied outwards upon the cork.
Its design was derived from the gun worm which was a device used by musketmen to remove unspent charges from a musket's barrel in a similar fashion. Corks are largely associated with wine bottles, although they are being replaced with other alternative closures such as screwcaps.
In 1795, the first corkscrew patent ever was granted to the Reverend Samuell Henshall, in England. The clergyman affixed a simple disk, now known as the Henshall Button, between the worm and the shank. The disk prevents the worm from going too deep into the cork, forces the cork to turn with the turning of the crosspiece, and thus breaks the adhesion between the cork and the neck of the bottle. The disk is designed and manufactured slightly concave on the underside, which compresses the top of the cork and helps keep it from breaking apart.