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Old 02-25-2013, 06:45 AM   #1
Apr 2011
Rohnert Park, California
Posts: 34
Liked 8 Times on 5 Posts

First and foremost, this is my first thread and it so happens to be a DIY for a Copper Manifold. This guide should hopefully walk you through the necessary steps to construct a perfectly fitted manifold into the 62-qt Igloo Cooler.

I wanted to start all-grain brewing but didn't have the cash for a stainless steel MLT and thought that a cooler mash tun would work perfectly. I was able to find the cooler at Costco for $42.99 (it's the model that has MaxCold 6 day technology and most importantly, a dip in the bottom for the spigot!). I purchased this model because I wanted to maximize the amount of wort that would drain into my kettle instead of being stuck with an inch or two left in the MLT. I also found out that this cooler holds the temperture very well. After an hour at 155 it lost only 0.5.

I used 3/4" copper pipe inside of the cooler in order to fill a decent amount of space at the bottom. However, the bulk head and ball valve assembly are 1/2" so I needed to reduce the diamater down to that size (with a reducer tee) in order to make it work. I find that it fits together very nicely and makes for a great manifold.

Equipment List

3/4" Copper Pipe:
  • 6" x5
  • 5" x4
  • 2 1/2" x2
  • 90 Elbows x4
  • Tees x4

1/2" Copper Pipe:
  • 2 3/8" x1

Special Tee:
  • 3/4" x 3/4" x 1/2" Reducer Tee x1

  • Gloves
  • Sandpaper
  • Hack Saw
  • Miter Box
  • Tape Measure
  • Pipe Cutter
  • Battery Cleaner
  • Sharpie

Step 1: Cutting the Pipes

Assuming you purchased your 3/4" copper pipe at your local hardware store in bulk you will need to begin cutting the necessary lengths. My tools might seem primitive and there are many electric tools out there that will do this job faster/better but I wanted to do everything by hand instead of having to purchase something I didn't have. This is a good time to put on your gloves to prevent copper slivers finding their way into your skin. Using the Pipe Cutter, measure the lengths needed and rotate it around the pipe slowly, tightening along the way. It only takes about 20 seconds to cut through all the way.

Step 2: Measuring the Slits

After all your pieces have been cut to length you will now need to measure your slits. Start off by measuring about 1" from the edge of each pipe and mark it with your sharpie. This will become your first slit. Each additional mark (slit) will be every 3/8" apart along the middle of the pipe. Do not cut slits into the 1/2" piece as it will be connecting your manifold to the the bulk head.

Step 3: Cutting the Slits

There are many ways to do this, some ways easier than others, some ways more dangerous. I chose the long but very safe and easy way. If you haven't used a Miter Box before, you will want to screw it onto a surface that will not move. Place your copper pipe into the box and align one of your sharpie marks with the straight edge and apply the stoppers to prevent the pipe from moving. With the hack saw, you will want to use a 1/32" metal cutting blade to make your slits. Start off slowly and proceed about 1/3 - 1/2 of the way into the pipe. Remember, these slits will be facing downwards in your mash tun as to prevent grains from clogging your manifold.

This process will take time. Be patient and have a 6-pack by your side along with a good friend to trade off this tedious task.

Step 4: Sanding the Pipes

Now that you are probably all worn out, you will need to sand and polish all of these copper pipes. You will notice many burrs along the inside of each pipe as well as some roughness around each slit. I started off by using a battery cleaner, which just so happened to have a fitting for 3/4" pipes. As shown in the picture below, I rotated each pipe through the center hole, which had many metal filings and it removed the outside burrs right away along with polishing everything up nicely. For the inside of the pipe, I used 3M Metal Sandpaper with the coarse one first. I tore off a piece and wrapped it around a 1/2" dowel in order to slide it through to remove any unneccesary burrs. After using the coarse sandpaper on each pipe, I did the same thing with the fine sandpaper. You might notice that the slits will hold many burrs that can be hard to get to, just slide some sandpaper into each one to break them free.

Step 5: Assemble the Manifold

You might want to assemble the manifold prior to cutting the slits to make sure everything fits properly, but it wouldn't have fit my 5 step process very well, so I saved it until the end. Assemble the manifold as described in the picture below. Everything should fit nicely together and be tight enough to prevent the pipes from just slipping in and out. I chose not to solder them together as it would be very tough to clean and/or remove from the cooler. However, given that this copper manifold is a perfect fit, the cooler dimensions with hold everything in place without falling apart during the mash.

Take that 1/2" copper pipe piece that you cut earlier and fit that into the stainless steel bulkhead. It should fit snug. This is where you will be attaching the reducer tee so that your 3/4" pipe reduces to 1/2" to flow out of the MLT.


  • 62-qt Igloo Cooler $42.99
  • SS Weldless Ball Valve Assembly $31.99
  • Copper Tees $1.19/ea
  • Copper 90's $1.54/ea
  • Redicer Tee $3.19
  • Copper Pipe $10.49/10ft piece

Total: $99.58

I hope my steps and pictures help anyone looking to build a copper manifold for their cooler. Enjoy!
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amie Likes This 
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Old 02-25-2013, 06:58 AM   #2
Apr 2011
Rohnert Park, California
Posts: 34
Liked 8 Times on 5 Posts

This is a great thread that shows the pictures of this Igloo Cooler

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Old 04-06-2013, 09:41 PM   #3
amie's Avatar
Feb 2013
Toronto, Ontario
Posts: 68
Liked 21 Times on 10 Posts

That is a nice-looking manifold! Have you tested it out yet? Have you made any modifications or is there anything you would have changed?

I just picked up the exact same cooler from Costco, so your tutorial is going to come in very handy when I start building our mash tun.
The Royal Pelican Home Brewing Concern
Est. 2013 -- "Is it ready yet?"

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Old 04-06-2013, 11:05 PM   #4
Jan 2012
Glocester, Rhode Island
Posts: 149
Liked 3 Times on 2 Posts

Nice work. Mine is very similar with the copper pipe. I also used a hack saw, this gave me the 1/32" gap i was looking for. A dremel tool works but had a personal issue with the cuts not being perpendicular to the pipe.

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Old 04-08-2013, 04:21 AM   #5
Apr 2011
Rohnert Park, California
Posts: 34
Liked 8 Times on 5 Posts

Originally Posted by amie View Post
That is a nice-looking manifold! Have you tested it out yet? Have you made any modifications or is there anything you would have changed?

I just picked up the exact same cooler from Costco, so your tutorial is going to come in very handy when I start building our mash tun.
I brewed again today with the igloo and copper manifold and it turned out great. Dead Ringer IPA from Northern Brewer.

It keeps all but a bit of the grain out of the kettle so I always pour my first runnings into a jug and slowly pour back over the grain bed. I only have to do this once to have it run clear. So, to your question, no, I wouldn't change a thing except for the amount of time it took me to hacksaw every slice into the copper pipe. ButI guess all the hard work paid off as I'm sitting with 20 gallons of beer right now and I brewed it all from scratch. .

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Old 04-08-2013, 05:15 AM   #6
Mar 2011
Calgary, Alberta
Posts: 156
Liked 15 Times on 11 Posts

Nice looking manifold! I did something similar and I used a jig saw with a metal blade. I pre measured on a long stick of copper where each piece would be cut, then clamped both ends onto a scrap piece of plywood set on some saw horses. I then could blow through all the slits in about 20 min with minimal effort. When your done the slits you can go back and do the final cut for each piece.

If you do this, make sure to take the width of the blade into account when you measure the cuts or your going to be an inch short at the end, or each piece will be a 1/4" short, depending on how you measure. Also take into account how much space each end of the cuts needs for the fittings. I found it easiest to actually mark each slit.

Just my 2 cents.

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Old 11-29-2016, 03:15 AM   #7
Nov 2010
Tampa, FL
Posts: 321
Liked 1 Times on 1 Posts

you still around?

what components did you use to make the bulkhead pass through?
did you have to modify the cooler at all to get the pipe through the bulkhead?

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Old 11-29-2016, 05:53 AM   #8
501irishred's Avatar
Oct 2012
Benton, Arkansas
Posts: 1,258
Liked 133 Times on 106 Posts

Not sure how the OP did the job, but there are bulkheads that make the job simple.
ie Just use a piece of tubing to connect the manifold.
Whiskey's too rough, champagne costs too much, vodka puts my mouth in gear
This little refrain should help me explain as a matter of fact I like beer - Tom T Hall

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Old 11-30-2016, 02:02 AM   #9
Apr 2011
Rohnert Park, California
Posts: 34
Liked 8 Times on 5 Posts

After removing the cooler valve assembly the bulkhead simply fit inside that space and I used a washer and gasket to seal it. The 1/2" copper pipe in the last photo posted slipped into the ball valve perfectly and didn't have a gap. I posted the ball valve assembly in my parts list, which is designed for cooler conversions and most likely purchased from

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