I can't believe how hard drilling a keg is

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Starderup

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I have been working on this thing for hours with a brand new titanium step bit. I am close, but my arms are so tired, I got to quit.
I have been oiling the bit about every 60 seconds.
I have tried slow and fast, and put all my weight on it. It is a Ryobi 3/8 drill, and it is about killing it.
The bit gets so hot that it is burning the oil. I finally decided that I don't care and kept going until I saw a ring of red around the hole.
I only stopped because I am exhausted.
 
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I've used bits from harbor frieght and from HD.

Harbor Freight bits get dull, but I get 5 holes out of them.

It's a lot of work. I use a normal 1/8" bit to get the hole started, then switch to the step.

After that, usually takes about 5 minutes. The largest diameters take the most time, as I'm sure you're aware.

If you are drilling a 7/8" hole, it shouldn't take that much time. If it is, there is a problem. You might consider getting a new bit.

If you are drilling a hole greater than 1", just keep at it. I've drilled 2 of those and they are bears.
 
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Starderup

Starderup

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I drilled a pilot hole, even thought the step bit instructions said it wasn't necessary. It took about a half hour for each step.
I read that you should drill slowly, but with a lot of pressure, and a lot of oil. Finally, I said f it and went all out and put all my weight on it.
The bit is showing signs of overheating. It was hot as a pistol, along with the keg.
I just can't figure this out. It is a brand new titanium coated bit.
 

Cpt_Kirks

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Yeah, it's a pain, but it shouldn't take that long. I drilled a hole in my boil keggle Thursday. I took my time, and it only took about 30 minutes.
 

Alemaker

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If you are drilling a 7/8" hole, it shouldn't take that much time. If it is, there is a problem. You might consider getting a new bit.

If you are drilling a hole greater than 1", just keep at it. I've drilled 2 of those and they are bears.
This is my experience. Anything up to 7/8" is easy. Beyond that, at least with the Harbor Freight bit I had, was a real bitch.
 

kklowell

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It has been a long time since I did a hole in a keg, but I know I did one with a cobalt bit and expanded it to the proper size with a die grinder , and that worked ok but did take some time. No more than 5-10 minutes though.
 

wyzazz

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Took me about 5 minutes with a Harbor Freight bit, no real pushing, only oiled once.
 

Rockit

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stainless can work harden easily. If you don't punch through on the first shot you're in for a challenge.

Medium speed, LOTS of pressure, lube.

Get a new bit.
 

SamuraiSquirrel

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I did a couple kegs using the step bit that I got from Bargain fittings. I just used my 3/8 cordless drill. Cut through it no problem. I used vegetable oil to lube it. I did four holes with it. Took ten minutes or less per hole.

Maybe I just got lucky.
 

shawnguinn

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I used a step drill, took it and the kegs to the driveway, and my daughter ran cold water over the bit and keg as I drilled and it was a breeze. This is after going through 2 step bits for 2 holes. When I ran water over it at a good flow it keep it cool, I sailed through 7 holes 1 bit, 10 minutes. I found out heat is not ur friend!!!!!!
 

dogtailale

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I used a step drill, took it and the kegs to the driveway, and my daughter ran cold water over the bit and keg as I drilled and it was a breeze. This is after going through 2 step bits for 2 holes. When I ran water over it at a good flow it keep it cool, I sailed through 7 holes 1 bit, 10 minutes. I found out heat is not ur friend!!!!!!

VERY true cooling & low speed 600 RPM
 

Berniep

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I used to have to drill off the heads of stainless screws quite often and found that one slip of the drill trigger can ruin the bit and make it almost impossible to drill out and most often had to resort to grinding them off. I learned that stainless is very susceptible to work hardening and once it does even the sharpest new bit wont touch it.
Sounds like your bit wasn't cutting in the first place. Start at really slow rpms If your bit goes around and doesn't produce shavings then it is not sharp or not made right. This happens to me a lot when buying cheap bits especially larger twist drill bits but I have seen it on step bits also.
 

Lonnie Mac

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I used to have to drill off the heads of stainless screws quite often and found that one slip of the drill trigger can ruin the bit and make it almost impossible to drill out and most often had to resort to grinding them off. I learned that stainless is very susceptible to work hardening and once it does even the sharpest new bit wont touch it.
Sounds like your bit wasn't cutting in the first place. Start at really slow rpms If your bit goes around and doesn't produce shavings then it is not sharp or not made right. This happens to me a lot when buying cheap bits especially larger twist drill bits but I have seen it on step bits also.
Work hardening is key here. Once the part is work hardened, might as well be trying to drill glass with a rubber drill bit in reverse.

Personally, I have only one unibit. I can't count how many holes I have drilled with that thing before I built Brutus, and that was another 10 or 15 holes in 1/8" SS, and several many projects since then. The key for me is vegetable oil, low and slow and LOTS of pressure.
 

bullinachinashop

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7/8 lennox hole saw with a small starter hole and oil. Low RPM
2-3 min. max with little effort.:D

Brew on.

Bull
 

BrewNinja1

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The harbor freight step bits are junk. I "tried" using one, after 30 minutes on the same hole I went and bought a unibit. 4 minutes later I was done. The subsequent holes didnt take more than 10 - 15 minutes (I did drill pilots).
 

Sawdustguy

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I did a couple kegs using the step bit that I got from Bargain fittings. I just used my 3/8 cordless drill. Cut through it no problem. I used vegetable oil to lube it. I did four holes with it. Took ten minutes or less per hole.

Maybe I just got lucky.
Make sure you really clean the vegtable oil off the keg and your bit. In a day or two it will turn rancid and stink to high heaven. Bee's wax is a better lubricant.
 
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Starderup

Starderup

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It was a brand new bit. I think it got hardened. I finally got it done today, but it was more like grinding/melting than drilling.
I did start out slow, but my experience was nothing like your guys. I probably sat on that thing for about an hour.
Now it leaks, but I think it just needs to be cleaned up on the inside.
 
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Starderup

Starderup

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I cleaned up the hole, and it feels smooth to the touch inside and out. I used pipe thread tape, and the other new gasket.
No matter what I do, I still get a slow drip. Any suggestions?
 

jtrainer

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Weld the coupler in place... :)

work hardening of SS due to high heat during the drilling process sucks. Lots of cool lubricant needed constantly while drilling..
 
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Starderup

Starderup

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Weld the coupler in place... :)

work hardening of SS due to high heat during the drilling process sucks. Lots of cool lubricant needed constantly while drilling..
Yeah, I thought about that. I will need to find someone that can weld, and no sense welding a weldless fitting. I am thinking I will buy another fitting providing I can find someone that can do stainless.
 

shawnguinn

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i looked in phone book for a welding comp. and called them. they tig welded it for 10 per coupling. I couldnt get a good seal as well with weldless. weld those things in and forget about it and worry about ur beer!!!!!
 

OHIOSTEVE

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next time take it to the welder and have him cut the hole with a plasma cutter.
 

Cpt_Kirks

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The harbor freight step bits are junk. I "tried" using one, after 30 minutes on the same hole I went and bought a unibit. 4 minutes later I was done. The subsequent holes didnt take more than 10 - 15 minutes (I did drill pilots).
Really?

I've done four holes with my Harbor Freight bit, and it still works fine.

I don't let it get hot, at the first hint of smoke, I stop and oil it up. I'd rather it take a little time than ruin the bit.
 

stockwes

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Last nite I drilled 12 holes in my kettles all using the same harbor freight step bit. I used lots of some high temp turbine oil I found in my garage... The whole process took Bout an hour. I drilled a pilot that was 1/4 inch. I think the lube was the key that helped. Good luck on future projects.
 

Zamial

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I've done four holes with my Harbor Freight bit, and it still works fine.

I don't let it get hot, at the first hint of smoke, I stop and oil it up. I'd rather it take a little time than ruin the bit.
This is my story as well.

I used SLOW speed (Think very short bursts almost like a quick pulse), after each "step" I removed the bit and used "non-stick cooking spray" as lube on the hole and the bit to allow for proper cooling and LOTS of pressure. The pressure actually kept the bit from turning to fast IMO.

Unfortunately, if you get the hole to hot (You should be able to touch it and not burn your hand at any point) you are done.

I have done 5 holes with the same HF step drill in stainless and even more holes in nonstainless projects.
 

RDatsun

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I always use water to cool with and plenty of it, do pilot hole 1st and put some a$$ behind it with water try keep SS as cool as you can . Good bits help and shouldnt have any probs what so ever . Be careful with alot pressure drill wants to catch as you go threw SS and twist in hands espc. with big drills . If you have a great helper son/daughter have em ****** it while drilling. Try a water bottle w/ hole in middle and steady stream works well.bout 1/8th
 

ScubaSteve

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Pam works great. I put my whole weight on the drill,laying my chest on it with my arms in close and go SLOW. Let the bit slowly carve the metal and you'll see long shreds coming off. Go have a beer and listen to some tunes...if it overheats your screwed.
 
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Starderup

Starderup

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Pam works great. I put my whole weight on the drill,laying my chest on it with my arms in close and go SLOW. Let the bit slowly carve the metal and you'll see long shreds coming off. Go have a beer and listen to some tunes...if it overheats your screwed.
That's what happened. I got screwed. I stopped about fifty times to oil it, but didn't realize the effect of the heat. Anyway, it is done. I used the second gasket on the outside, and no leak.
Live and learn.
 

jakecpunut

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you can start watching at like 3:00 to see what type of bit i used.. took less than a minute to drill it out using lubricant.

 
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Bobby_M

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I've made up to 10 13/16" holes in various kegs with the same cheap china import step bit and it's no problem. Fill up a 3 oz taster cup with any oil you can find, synthetic 10w30, canola, whatever. Dunk the bit, drill one step. Dunk, next step, dunk. It's not all about lubrication but also cooling.
 

Scut_Monkey

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Glad I found this thread. I have to start drilling my keggles and don't want to use a million step bits. I currently have a cheap bit from HF. I really don't want to buy $100 in tooling to drill 6 holes if I don't have to.
 

bendavanza

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A step bit should be cutting ribbons out of the hole, and if the bit is turned slowly with your weight on it, it works like magic.
 

Bobby_M

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Agreed. If the bit spins twice and it's not obviously shaving metal away, you're not applying enough pressure. I think the biggest problem people have is using a drill that doesn't have enough low speed torque. That's where a Dewalt XRP on "low" comes in.
 
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