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General Category => Equipment and Software => Topic started by: tygo on October 07, 2010, 01:55:49 AM

Title: Cutting a hole in my kettle
Post by: tygo on October 07, 2010, 01:55:49 AM
I have a heavy duty 15 gallon stainless steel stockpot I use as my kettle and I'd like to cut a hole in it to add a ball valve.  What kind of equipment am I looking at here?  Is this something I can do with a special bit for my 18V cordless drill or am I looking at another power tool investment?
Title: Re: Cutting a hole in my kettle
Post by: dhacker on October 07, 2010, 02:04:21 AM
A step bit will do the job. Make a pilot hole with a sharp, small standard bit, then step it to the desired size. Medium pressure, not too fast.
Title: Re: Cutting a hole in my kettle
Post by: wiley on October 07, 2010, 02:14:12 AM
+1 on the step drill - http://www.harborfreight.com/2-piece-titanium-nitride-coated-high-speed-steel-step-drills-96275.html

$15 at Harbor Freight and you've got yourself the most versatile drill bit in the brewhouse - works great for making holes in kettles, shank holes and CO2 line holes in kegerators.

Cheers -
Title: Re: Cutting a hole in my kettle
Post by: euge on October 07, 2010, 04:09:31 AM
Make sure you get a big enough step-bit. It's 7/8"

It'll go fast as said before go easy cause it bites quick.
Title: Re: Cutting a hole in my kettle
Post by: tschmidlin on October 07, 2010, 04:12:54 AM
When you drill stainless, a few things to keep in mind . . .

A cobalt bit will work better.

For best results, you want to keep the bit and the material cool.  Water works well enough to keep things cool and won't mess with the metal.  Slower RPM will keep it cooler too.

A punch to make a starter divot will help keep the bit from running when you start.

It can be done without any of the above.  ;D
Title: Re: Cutting a hole in my kettle
Post by: bluesman on October 07, 2010, 10:42:16 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yH8q6XbiFeI
Title: Re: Cutting a hole in my kettle
Post by: Kit B on October 07, 2010, 01:28:20 PM
"Constant heavy pressure"...I disagree.
Constant pressure, but not heavy.
If you are gentle, your bit will do the work & last much longer.

Be sure to use a lot of cutting oil.
I did my two 60 qt kettles & it was much more intimidating than it should have been.
Just be sure you don't put the spigot up too high.
If you are going with weldless fittings, figure out how much clearance you need for a washer & go just a little beyond that.
Of course, if you're using a false bottom, that may create a different situation.
I only use braided line or an improvised bazooka screen, so that wasn't an issue, for me.
Still...I drilled both kettles about 1/2" too high.
Title: Re: Cutting a hole in my kettle
Post by: tygo on October 07, 2010, 05:03:55 PM
Thanks for all the info everyone.  This makes it a bit less intimidating.  I'm going to put in a kettle screen, not a false bottom.
Title: Re: Cutting a hole in my kettle
Post by: baynesbrew2 on October 07, 2010, 08:44:40 PM
you might think about putting something the inside the kettle to catch the metal shards. Makes clean much easier
Title: Re: Cutting a hole in my kettle
Post by: IHBHS on October 09, 2010, 08:22:50 AM
Do Not Use a Step Bit!!!!!!!  It is a waste of money as it will burn very easily going through stainless.  Spend the couple extra bucks the first time on a stainless rated hole saw.  You can usually get 4 to 5 holes out of each saw bit, which is better than a half a hole with a step bit.  A 7/8" hole is necessary for a 1/2" NPT Nipple to fit through properly.  Weldless fittings from MoreBeer work if you can get the thru wall fitting to seal properly.  I usually grab a 7/8" neoprene washer to do the job right.  It is worth it however to get the welded kits from them and pay your local welder a case of beer and have him weld it in.  Thanks Steve.
Title: Re: Cutting a hole in my kettle
Post by: jeffy on October 09, 2010, 10:23:09 AM
Do Not Use a Step Bit!!!!!!!  It is a waste of money as it will burn very easily going through stainless.  Spend the couple extra bucks the first time on a stainless rated hole saw.  You can usually get 4 to 5 holes out of each saw bit, which is better than a half a hole with a step bit.  A 7/8" hole is necessary for a 1/2" NPT Nipple to fit through properly.  Weldless fittings from MoreBeer work if you can get the thru wall fitting to seal properly.  I usually grab a 7/8" neoprene washer to do the job right.  It is worth it however to get the welded kits from them and pay your local welder a case of beer and have him weld it in.  Thanks Steve.
I have had great success with a step bit.  For me it worked like a charm and was easy to use on stainless.  Much easier than a hole saw IMO.
Title: Re: Cutting a hole in my kettle
Post by: dhacker on October 09, 2010, 12:17:42 PM
Do Not Use a Step Bit!!!!!!!  It is a waste of money as it will burn very easily going through stainless.  Spend the couple extra bucks the first time on a stainless rated hole saw.  You can usually get 4 to 5 holes out of each saw bit, which is better than a half a hole with a step bit.  A 7/8" hole is necessary for a 1/2" NPT Nipple to fit through properly.  Weldless fittings from MoreBeer work if you can get the thru wall fitting to seal properly.  I usually grab a 7/8" neoprene washer to do the job right.  It is worth it however to get the welded kits from them and pay your local welder a case of beer and have him weld it in.  Thanks Steve.
I have had great success with a step bit.  For me it worked like a charm and was easy to use on stainless.  Much easier than a hole saw IMO.

Yep . . Step bits work great for drilling holes in stainless pots.
Title: Re: Cutting a hole in my kettle
Post by: narvin on October 09, 2010, 02:43:09 PM
Use a step bit!  Keep it slow and don't use heavy pressure... let the tool do he work.  I use garden hose water to keep it cool an lubricated.
Title: Re: Cutting a hole in my kettle
Post by: richardt on October 09, 2010, 09:52:52 PM
http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=1079.15 (http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=1079.15)

Check out the AHA search feature for "drilling SS Kettle".  There are a lot of good links and pictures.

No experience with a hole saw (seems like that'd be better for flat surfaces)--Step Bit makes more sense and works well.
It also deburrs for you if you lightly press the bit on both sides of the hole (inside and outside)--no need for dremels or sandpaper.  Doesn't get easier than that.
Title: Re: Cutting a hole in my kettle
Post by: beerocd on October 09, 2010, 10:27:46 PM
I use high tech lubricant when I cut....

(http://www.pam4you.com/images/pages/products/olive_oil/olive_can.jpg)
Title: Re: Cutting a hole in my kettle
Post by: tygo on October 10, 2010, 01:48:36 AM
I use high tech lubricant when I cut....

Perfect.  I think I can handle that  ;)
Title: Re: Cutting a hole in my kettle
Post by: tygo on November 03, 2010, 01:39:31 AM
So my 18V cordless drill was not up to the task.  The step bit worked great up until I got to about 7/16 inches and then didn't have the torque to continue.  Looks like I've got the positioning perfectly though.  My dad is coming down this weekend for the kid's birthday party and bringing drill reinforcements so I think I'll be able to finish the project then.
Title: Re: Cutting a hole in my kettle
Post by: dhacker on November 03, 2010, 11:25:50 AM
So my 18V cordless drill was not up to the task.  The step bit worked great up until I got to about 7/16 inches and then didn't have the torque to continue.

Really?? I'm VERY surprised. I used an old 12v Makita cordless to step drill holes in my 10 gallon Polarware pot, and it didn't hesitate to bore right through.
Title: Re: Cutting a hole in my kettle
Post by: jeffy on November 03, 2010, 12:10:07 PM
So my 18V cordless drill was not up to the task.  The step bit worked great up until I got to about 7/16 inches and then didn't have the torque to continue.

Really?? I'm VERY surprised. I used an old 12v Makita cordless to step drill holes in my 10 gallon Polarware pot, and it didn't hesitate to bore right through.
Kinda sounds like he was out of battery.  'Happens to me a lot with cordless drills and rechargeable stuff.
Title: Re: Cutting a hole in my kettle
Post by: tygo on November 03, 2010, 12:13:49 PM

Kinda sounds like he was out of battery.  'Happens to me a lot with cordless drills and rechargeable stuff.

Even with a full charge it didn't work.  Just doesn't have enough torque.
Title: Re: Cutting a hole in my kettle
Post by: tschmidlin on November 03, 2010, 04:21:27 PM

Kinda sounds like he was out of battery.  'Happens to me a lot with cordless drills and rechargeable stuff.

Even with a full charge it didn't work.  Just doesn't have enough torque.
I don't know about your drill, but my DeWalt lets you set the torque so you don't put your screws too deeply into boards.  If you set it to the "drill" setting then it will use all of the torque available.  At times when drilling the bit will just stop while the motor whines a bit.  If I crank it up to drill then it works fine.

Maybe that's not the problem, but it's worth a check anyway.   :)
Title: Re: Cutting a hole in my kettle
Post by: tygo on November 03, 2010, 05:10:18 PM
Yeah, I've got variable settings on mine as well.  I had to ramp it up through the settings as the hole got bigger but I'm at the max setting now and it still jams up.  It's a black and decker cordless.  It works well for general household drilling tasks and drives the grainmill just fine.  I just don't think it's quite up to this particular task.
Title: Re: Cutting a hole in my kettle
Post by: narvin on November 06, 2010, 01:51:27 AM
Are you pushing too hard?  I drilled a hole in my 20 gallon kettle with my 12 volt cordless Black and Decker and a step bit I got online for 10 bucks.  The drill would occasionally sieze up, but reversing and pressing gently would get it going again.  Let the tool do the work!
Title: Re: Cutting a hole in my kettle
Post by: tygo on November 06, 2010, 02:06:16 AM
I don't think so.  That technique worked to get me where I'm at now.  But I've tried multiple times now with a fully charged drill and varying levels of pressure.  This is a really heavy duty kettle.  It's heavy as hell.  My 10 gallon pot is stainless steel but pretty thin.  I could drill a 1.5 inch hole in that thing no problem.  I'm pretty sure I've just hit the max torque for my drill.  We'll see this weekend when I try it with a more powerful corded drill.
Title: Re: Cutting a hole in my kettle
Post by: tygo on November 11, 2010, 05:23:53 AM
And done:

(http://i.imgur.com/CpdTR.jpg)

Thanks to everyone who provided guidance.  The new kettle gets thrown into the fire on Monday for a double brew day.

Title: Re: Cutting a hole in my kettle
Post by: euge on November 11, 2010, 05:47:33 AM
And done:

(http://i.imgur.com/CpdTR.jpg)

Thanks to everyone who provided guidance.  The new kettle gets thrown into the fire on Monday for a double brew day.



Looks good!
Title: Re: Cutting a hole in my kettle
Post by: bluesman on November 11, 2010, 12:55:05 PM
Nice work tygo.  Looks great!

I have to do the same thing to three Blichmann kettles for my new brewstand.
This thread has been reassuring.