Is drilling stainless difficult?

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sarsnik

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We'd like to install a spigot and thermometer on an existing stainless steel bayou classic pot. For those who have drilled into stainless before, how difficult is it really? I've never drilled anything other than wood before, so I don't really know what to expect. Would it just be better to find someone to do this for me?

Thanks for your time
 

XR250rdr

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The drilling part shouldn't be too difficult.

How are you planning on sealing the connection?
 

bruin_ale

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Piece of cake as Malfet says. Use a punch to mark the spot you want to drill, then drill a pilot hole with a small bit, then step bit that hole until it's the size you want. Keep everything lubricated with cutting oil and go slowly to keep the heat (and subsequent wear and tear on the bit) down.

XR250, sealing these weldless connections is easy. Generally it's a silicone oring on one side compressed by a washer. Take a look at bargainfittings.com for good prices on weldless fittings.
 

DeafSmith

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I'll second the advice to keep the bit well oiled, low RPM, and keep steady pressure on the drill. Also, have someone else holding the pot firmly while you keep both hands on the drill because when the drill breaks thru it can try to twist sideways bending the lip of the hole (don't ask me how I know).
 

Conan

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Yup, pilot hole, go slow. I rarely use lube on thin stuff like a pot- too much trouble. Don't press too hard, either. The bit may catch and torque the pot. Kyle
 

XR250rdr

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XR250, sealing these weldless connections is easy. Generally it's a silicone oring on one side compressed by a washer. Take a look at bargainfittings.com for good prices on weldless fittings.
Nice. How long does the o-ring generally last?
 
OP
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sarsnik

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The drilling part shouldn't be too difficult.

How are you planning on sealing the connection?
I was going with weldless fittings. There are a few commercially available weldless brewpot fittings that I figured I'd use.

Should I expect to be drilling for 10 minutes? Or is it quicker than that.

Also, is a step bit worth getting? I figured I'd just buy a single bit rather than ruin a bunch from my collection since I've heard the bits wear out quickly.
 

JKoravos

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It's easy if you follow the advice above. It's also easy to screw up if you don't. I've seen some people majorly FUBAR drilling a hole in stainless when they didn't know what they were doing.
 

MalFet

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I was going with weldless fittings. There are a few commercially available weldless brewpot fittings that I figured I'd use.

Should I expect to be drilling for 10 minutes? Or is it quicker than that.

Also, is a step bit worth getting? I figured I'd just buy a single bit rather than ruin a bunch from my collection since I've heard the bits wear out quickly.
A single bit? How big of a hole are you planning to drill? You could manually step up through a dozen different bit sizes, but that would be tedious and would eat up your entire collection.

5-20 minutes, depending on how thick your pot is and how quickly you work. Take your time, though. Better to go too slow than too fast. You'll get a cleaner hole that way.
 

TheYoshi

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I drilled a bayou classic pot with a greenlee step bit and a bit of vegetable oil as lube. It was insanely easy.. lots of pressure, low RPM went through in maybe a minute, very easy to step the hole bigger after that.. maybe 2 minutes TOPS to make the pilot hole that I then used to punch a clean hole with my greenlee punch (which I highly recommend doing vs just drilling with the step bit)
 

TopherM

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I drilled a bayou classic pot with a greenlee step bit and a bit of vegetable oil as lube. It was insanely easy.. lots of pressure, low RPM went through in maybe a minute, very easy to step the hole bigger after that.. maybe 2 minutes TOPS to make the pilot hole that I then used to punch a clean hole with my greenlee punch (which I highly recommend doing vs just drilling with the step bit)
+1 I drilled the same pot in about 5 minutes with a pilot hole, a step bit, and dish soap as lubricant, then regular sandpaper to smooth out the hole. Perfect seal, no leaks.
 

CidahMastah

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I was going with weldless fittings. There are a few commercially available weldless brewpot fittings that I figured I'd use.

Should I expect to be drilling for 10 minutes? Or is it quicker than that.

Also, is a step bit worth getting? I figured I'd just buy a single bit rather than ruin a bunch from my collection since I've heard the bits wear out quickly.
you should just suck it up and buy a harbor freight step bit because they will make a cleaner hole for the larger holes. If you are drilling a 1/4 inch hole you can get away with using a single bit.

If you try to drill a 1 1/4 inch hole (like for an electrical element), your drill bit will bind up and you will either ruin your hole, break the bit, spin the pot or hurt yourself. The step bits allow you to take off layers of the stainless at a time and that is what will give you a clean hole.

You won't take 10 minutes for the actual drilling though - at least mine didn't. You are talking probably <3 minutes of drill time. But don't rush it or time it. Let the process define the time frame.
 

bblack7489

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+1 to basically all of the advice here.

There have been heated debates about whether or not a "good" step bit is worth it. I've drilled 8-10 holes in my two keg kettles with the cheap Harbor Freight bit, and I've never had a problem.

Go slowly. Use some sort of lubrication, and if it starts to smoke, stop drilling. Let it cool down, or cool it down with some more lube or a splash of water. Then get back to the drilling. Keep constant pressure on it while you're drilling.

It's highly doable.
 

CidahMastah

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+ 1 to the above and I used the bobby method for all my drilled holes and it worked great up to the 1 1/4 inch sized holes.

1. take an empty can of beans, or whatever and fill with motor oil or similar.
2. dip the bit and drill with firm pressure and medium RPM.
3. take brakes by swishing the bit in the oil can, then resume work.

the rest as noted above.
 
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+ 1 to the above and I used the bobby method for all my drilled holes and it worked great up to the 1 1/4 inch sized holes.

1. take an empty can of beans, or whatever and fill with motor oil or similar.
2. dip the bit and drill with firm pressure and medium RPM.
3. take brakes by swishing the bit in the oil can, then resume work.

the rest as noted above.
It's a helluva lot easier to just spray a shot of WD-40 every 10 seconds or so.

I've cut through 3/8" mild steel just fine using regular steel bits and plenty of WD-40. It's not cutting oil, and it can smoke easy, but it works.

M_C
 

CidahMastah

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It's a helluva lot easier to just spray a shot of WD-40 every 10 seconds or so.

I've cut through 3/8" mild steel just fine using regular steel bits and plenty of WD-40. It's not cutting oil, and it can smoke easy, but it works.

M_C
What is so difficult about dipping a bit in the oil?

You don't have to take your hands off the drill, you drill, dip, drill. easy peasy

Since motor oil is more viscous I would guess it coats better, then lubricates better. Though I am sure just about any oil works.
 

day_trippr

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All the recommendations to go slow and use drilling lube are spot on. Heat hardens stainless steel and is to be avoided. And if the oil is smoking the metal is already starting to harden.

I'd definitely recommend an appropriately sized step bit for anything much larger than a quarter inch diameter through SS. Using individual bits is ok except it allows for the human tendency to speed up the process and jump too many sizes along the way. Then all kinds of bad things can happen. The step bit is like a governor ;)

Cheers!
 

jcav

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The best advice I could give you is what many have already said. I found the main thing is to definitely use a punch to make a small dent and mark the center of your hole. This way the drill bit will not wander around and it will stay where you want to start your pilot hole. If you don't use a punch, nail, or something the bit will wander off target and your hole will not start exactly where you want it.

Drill your pilot hole with a small bit and then use a step bit, it will go through like butter and make the hole wider with no problem. Just remember to use oil, WD-40, or other lubricant and go slow and use a lot of pressure. If the metal gets hot and starts to smoke, stop and spray some water on it. Using to high an rpm will make the metal get hot very fast.

Go for it, have fun, and then grab a brew and marvel at your work!

John
 

bruin_ale

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before I found actual cutting oil I used vegetable oil with some success.. The benefit was it smelled like french fries when I was drilling :)

After the hole was the correct size, I go over it with a dremel to polish the edges. I'd say the holes I drilled were every bit as nice as the ones in Kal's electric brewery once they were polished up. Sure a knockout punch is easier and makes a cleaner hole initially, but if you're careful a step bit works just fine.
 

Bobby_M

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My recommendation to dip the entire bit into oil is for cooling it down, not just lubricating. I constantly catch grief for selling cheap China import bits after the user work hardens their keg. Whether you pay $10 or $50 for a step bit, spinning it fast without lubricating and cooling the bit will get you nowhere fast.

If you can get someone to trickle cold water on the bit as you go, it would be just as good as cutting oil IMHO because the cooling action is most important.

Once you get into the 1" + diameters, I really do prefer a single pass with a hole saw and then reaming to the next size with a step bit. Of course, that's plan B if you don't already have a set of conduit punches.
 

CidahMastah

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Once you get into the 1" + diameters, I really do prefer a single pass with a hole saw and then reaming to the next size with a step bit. Of course, that's plan B if you don't already have a set of conduit punches.
+1

I used the harbor freight cheap bits on 2 holes at two different times. The conduit punch hole (conduit punch 1 1/8 to step drill to 1 1/4) was obviously MUCH easier than the whole I started with a 5/8 pilot hole (5/8 pilot hole to step drill to 1 1/4. They both worked well, but I wish my neighbor had been around for me to borrow that punch for the second hole.
 

horseinmay

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I was going with weldless fittings. There are a few commercially available weldless brewpot fittings that I figured I'd use.

Should I expect to be drilling for 10 minutes? Or is it quicker than that.

Also, is a step bit worth getting? I figured I'd just buy a single bit rather than ruin a bunch from my collection since I've heard the bits wear out quickly.

It's more like 3 minutes. Yes, the step bit is essential. Use oil.
 

mikeal

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CidahMastah

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Those are the ones. I figured if they were good for 10 gauge mild steel, it might work on 18 gauge stainless.
One guy in the reviews said he used them on a stainless sink and it worked great. My guess would be you might run into a poor cut (can be fixed by a round bastard or similar) or limited "good" cuts. i.e. buying them to use on a few pots will be totally within their reach.

If I were you I would test the punch on a thin piece of metal first to ensure the sizing is correct too. Just to make sure it doesn't cut too big. You may just want to use the punch a size down from what you need, and get a bit to bring you to the actual hole size. The step bits will work well, but you have to get on them and go slow. With my HF step bits I have drilled ~9 holes ranging in size up to 1 1/4. So I bet even the cheap punches will work.

Keep in mind conduit punches don't punch actual sizing. If I remember right they run a little small.

Bits alone will get you there, no matter what the hole size in minutes if you have a good heavy duty low torque variable speed drill. So while the p[punches are nice, they aren't necessary.
 

H-ost

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WOW. I wish i saw this thread 2 days ago when i was drilling into my sanke keg. It took about 45min to an hour to get through it but after reading, i realize its because i was going balls out with the strongest drill i had. I also had no experience drilling into SS so when i saw the steel glowing and smoking, it just frustrated me more and I pushed as hard as I could (i knew something wasnt right....). I used the larger sized step bit from bargainfittings.com and a good amount of cutting grease. After using a dremel to clean it up the hole is smooth and functional but it has about 3/4 inch brown halo from all of the heat hehe.
 

CidahMastah

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If you let it heat like that (while you are giving the pot hell via your drill) you are actually hardening the work, thus making any cutting harder, and potentially ruining your drill bit (or significantly dulling it). 45minutes is insane and I am surprised you didn't break the bit. Literally no more than 5-7 minutes for a 1 1/4 inch hole with plenty of rests and cooling the bit in oil dips.

Hey at least no you know:D
 

HopsJunkie

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All I can really add here is this: Don't use motor oil, for the love of all things homebrew. Remember you're gonna drink what comes out of there later. Use the veggie oil cause it's easy and you can eat it. The bonus is that the smell will make you hungry.
 

CidahMastah

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All I can really add here is this: Don't use motor oil, for the love of all things homebrew. Remember you're gonna drink what comes out of there later. Use the veggie oil cause it's easy and you can eat it. The bonus is that the smell will make you hungry.
I disagree. As long as you clean it, I don't think it matters. I used motor oil and it worked great. I was sure to wash it very thoroughly before using and never had any issues.

I know lots of folks who have done the same and aside from that strange appendage growing out of my forehead.... no ill effects.
 

HopsJunkie

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Well, we'll agree to disagree, but based on my background in restaurants and kitchens, I'm going to stick with something food safe, because I don't even have to think about it.

BTW, how's that forehead arm/appendage/branch treating you? I hear those are great if you're brewing alone. Maybe hold your beer while you stir the mash?
 

TopherM

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I used dish soap as a lube, as recommended by my buddy who owns a fabrication shop, and it worked perfectly.
 

CanadianQuaffer

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How about drilling a 7/8" hole in an aluminum pot? Is a step bit necessary for aluminum or can I get away with a hole saw or regualr drill bit, if either is made for metal?

Cheers,

Nick
 

day_trippr

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Even on "soft" aluminum, I definitely wouldn't try it with a 7/8" twist bit. A hole saw or step bit at slow speed with steady hands would be much less likely to tear up the pot...

Cheers!
 

fright101

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^^ true. Two flutes on a regular drill require much more control than the single flute step bit (recommended for sheetmetal) Two flutes will tend to climb the drill and end in loss of control...not to mention a possible irregular hole shape. Hole saw or step bit would work better.
 

CidahMastah

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with the price of the HF step bits being what they are... just grab one and hedge your bet against something that is proven to work IMO
 
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