Author Topic: Cutting a hole in my kettle  (Read 2039 times)

Offline tygo

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Cutting a hole in my kettle
« on: October 06, 2010, 06:55:49 PM »
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?
Clint
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Fermenting: Wit
On Tap: Lucifer's Hammer Golden Strong Ale, Dopplebock, Old Fuzzynut's Ale

Offline dhacker

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Re: Cutting a hole in my kettle
« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2010, 07:04:21 PM »
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.
Just brew it...

Offline wiley

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Re: Cutting a hole in my kettle
« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2010, 07:14:12 PM »
+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 -

Offline euge

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Re: Cutting a hole in my kettle
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2010, 09:09:31 PM »
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.
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Cutting a hole in my kettle
« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2010, 09:12:54 PM »
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
Tom Schmidlin

Offline bluesman

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Re: Cutting a hole in my kettle
« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2010, 03:42:16 AM »
Ron Price

Offline Kit B

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Re: Cutting a hole in my kettle
« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2010, 06:28:20 AM »
"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.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2010, 06:33:39 AM by Kit B »
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Offline tygo

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Re: Cutting a hole in my kettle
« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2010, 10:03:55 AM »
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.
Clint
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Fermenting: Wit
On Tap: Lucifer's Hammer Golden Strong Ale, Dopplebock, Old Fuzzynut's Ale

Offline baynesbrew2

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Re: Cutting a hole in my kettle
« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2010, 01:44:40 PM »
you might think about putting something the inside the kettle to catch the metal shards. Makes clean much easier

Offline IHBHS

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Re: Cutting a hole in my kettle
« Reply #9 on: October 09, 2010, 01:22:50 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.
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Offline jeffy

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Re: Cutting a hole in my kettle
« Reply #10 on: October 09, 2010, 03:23:09 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.
Jeff Gladish, Tampa (989.3, 175.1 Apparent Rennarian)
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Offline dhacker

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Re: Cutting a hole in my kettle
« Reply #11 on: October 09, 2010, 05:17:42 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.

Yep . . Step bits work great for drilling holes in stainless pots.
Just brew it...

Offline narvin

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Re: Cutting a hole in my kettle
« Reply #12 on: October 09, 2010, 07:43:09 AM »
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.
Please do not reply if your an evil alien!
Thanks
Chris S.

Offline richardt

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Re: Cutting a hole in my kettle
« Reply #13 on: October 09, 2010, 02:52:52 PM »
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.

Offline beerocd

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Re: Cutting a hole in my kettle
« Reply #14 on: October 09, 2010, 03:27:46 PM »
I use high tech lubricant when I cut....

The moral majority, is neither.