Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > DIY Projects > Kettles, Mash Tuns, & Hot Liquor Tanks > using a hole saw to drill a pot
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Old 12-07-2009, 03:41 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by passedpawn View Post
Drilling the hole for a electrical element with a step bit is a hard job. Be prepared. I used cutting oil and a harbor freight bit. I've done two and it took at least 15 minutes (maybe more) for the first and longer for the second (the bit was a bit worn by then.

I have cut largish (1.5") holes in metal with a hole saw. It goes much faster. I think this is a much less precise hole and there is the potential for warpage and other aberrations, especially at the moment the hole saw breaks through. I might try it on a keggle, but not on a nice Blichmann pot. No way.
for a UniBit (step bit) the best bet is to get a good bit (i would suggest Irwin). I use them on a daily basis at work, and it takes less than 3 minutes to drill a 1 7/8 hold through 1/4 inch thick steel. It's all in having a high quality bit. We've gotten cheap ones before to save a few bucks, they are poor quality, don't cut well and don't last. The down side is the Irwin bits can be quite expensive if its for only a few uses, so i can understand a decision to get a cheap bit and dealing with the time exchange.

I would, use the uni-bit over a hole saw though. Having used both extensively, the uni-bit gets a much more precise diameter. Hole saws are welded together down one side if you look closely. That weld can (and often does) throw a very small off-round effect to the bit, and when you're trying to get a precision hole, that small amount can make a big difference.


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Old 12-07-2009, 03:43 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by BargainFittings View Post
You can call around to the tool rental places (home depot and others) and rent a conduit punch. You still have to drill a small center hole but you end up with a very clean punch out for your element.

Knockout punches are for flat surfaces. The side of a pot is curved. Better off just drilling with a holesaw.


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Old 12-07-2009, 03:51 AM   #13
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is there any reason not to use a bi-metal hole saw to drill a pot? i see most of the posts here mention using a step bit (which i used for the first two holes on my pot), but i gotta drill a 1" hole and i figure why not use a hole saw to save some time?
I always use a bimetal hole saw to drill pots, and use a 18 volt hand held to power the job. The process takes less than a minute. Use cutting oil, push hard, and have no fear...
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Old 12-07-2009, 04:27 AM   #14
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Low RPMs, high pressure and cutting oil. A hole saw should be fine if sharp. Make sure you're cutting and not rubbing.
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Old 12-07-2009, 07:14 AM   #15
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+1 on low rpm, high pressure.

I just drilled a keggle today, not a pot. Took about 30 seconds of high pressure low rpm with hole saw.

I'm not too concerned about a perfect hole. I drill the hole then dremel it to make the it just large enough to fit the nipple through with minimal to no resistance. I've done 5 now and not a leaker yet using weldless.
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Old 12-07-2009, 07:25 AM   #16
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Better take a tape measure to it. I'm betting that it will require a 1 3/8 hole.
did they teach this in the school of inaccuracies?

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For me a step drill worked best and easiest. I burned up a hole saw.Cut several with a step drill and its still good.
did you use a quality cutting lubricant?
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Old 12-07-2009, 11:29 AM   #17
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Knockout punches are for flat surfaces. The side of a pot is curved. Better off just drilling with a holesaw.
Did not think about that. I've seen some posts saying it works if you position the cutting edge up and down so it cuts in at the same time.

I personally have not punched or drill the bigger element holes in stainless but it would seem the step bits and hole saws would work the same no matter how large you a hole you are drilling.
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Old 12-07-2009, 01:10 PM   #18
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My boil kettle is made from 3/16" stainless. I drilled 4) 1" holes in it in about 10 minutes. The hole saw worked great. I drilled 12 holes in my kettles with the same hole saw and was still sharp. I used Marvel Mistery Oil for the cutting.
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Old 12-07-2009, 01:48 PM   #19
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I've used both hole saws and step bits and I think steps are great for perfect holes. Even if I were going to go with a 1.25" hole, I'd go to 1" first with a hole saw, then use the step to make it larger. If you have to live with the hole saw cut only, undersize the hole by 1/8" because the bit does walk a bit and create a slightly larger oblong hole. Use a file or dremel to clean it up.
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Old 12-07-2009, 08:18 PM   #20
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I've used both hole saws and step bits and I think steps are great for perfect holes. Even if I were going to go with a 1.25" hole, I'd go to 1" first with a hole saw, then use the step to make it larger. If you have to live with the hole saw cut only, undersize the hole by 1/8" because the bit does walk a bit and create a slightly larger oblong hole. Use a file or dremel to clean it up.
Great advice.


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