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Old 01-02-2013, 09:52 PM   #1
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Default hole punching for heating elements

ok, so finally after too much time, i'm back to building my electric brewery. i'm using some scavenged controllers from work, and a big ass pump, also salvaged from work. i have 2 44 qt ss cajun kettles. i've got some 4500w ultra low watt density heating elements, and a greenlee punch borrowed from my uber-brewer neighbor. here's the deal though. the only punch he had is a 1.375" dia punch, and kal's instructions call for a 1.25" dia. has anyone tried to use a slightly larger punch? i don't want to go poking big holes in my pots, and have them leak. but at the same time the right size punch is going for $87! that's more than one of my pots, and i'm only planning on punching 4 holes. can i get away with this? anyone? or, is there another way? my neighbor is using keggles, that he drilled into with a step bit, but he's on propane, and only using 7/8" holes for his valves.

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Old 01-02-2013, 09:56 PM   #2
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No, 1-3/8 is too big for sure. Your best bet is Ebay for a 1.25 punch or get a bimetal hole saw instead. If I'm going out to 1.25, it's sometimes easier to rough cut it to 1" with a hole saw, then finish out with a step bit but your drill has to be a torque happy SOB for that.

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Old 01-02-2013, 09:58 PM   #3
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I did what Bobby was saying with the hole saw. My drill handled it fine enough, but yeah, it's a nice drill. Personally, I'd rather spend a hundred bucks on a nice drill than on a punch you'll use twice and be done with.

Just make sure you keep that hole saw bit as steady as possible, they like to dance!

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Old 01-02-2013, 10:35 PM   #4
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i've actually got a big delta floor standing 3/4hp drill press, plus a boat-load of clamps. i actually just had the idea of cutting a form to fit the inside of the pot, as a back-up, and then just cutting really slow with lots of oil into the pot with a holesaw. the form behind should keep it from tearing too badly right? i work in wood, and soft metals, i don't really have experience with stainless.

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Old 01-02-2013, 11:00 PM   #5
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I just used the cheap step bits from harbor freight on my keggles,high pressures low speed and oil.

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Old 01-03-2013, 12:20 AM   #6
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Use your drill press with a hole saw...easy as pie. No need for extensive blocking and clamps. Just get a second set of hands to hold her in place.

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Old 01-03-2013, 04:06 AM   #7
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I did exactly as you suggest. 1.25 hole saw in a drill press with a 2x4 as back up held in drill press vise and kettle clamped to the 2x4. It worked perfectly.

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Old 01-03-2013, 08:19 PM   #8
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I just used a big step bit and my really powerful hand drill with plenty of oil. Took about five minutes per hole.

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Old 01-03-2013, 08:34 PM   #9
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i'm going with the hole-saw. i've got a circle cutting jig for my band saw, so i'll carve out a backing block (it'll take 30min to glue up an cut), it'll give me better clamping on the drill press too, i like having a nicely secured part, when i'm standing right there.

i'll be starting a build thread soon. i'm horrible at taking pics of things in process. i promise to do better

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Old 01-04-2013, 06:03 PM   #10
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If there is a harbor freight near you, you can try their $20 metal knockout set. I used the 1 1/4 inch on my keggle and it worked just fine. Just need to make a hole for the bolt with a step bit.

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