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Simplest (?) Keggle Cutting Jig

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This might be the simplest jig for cutting the top off a sanke keg. It is just a 1-1/4" PVC coupler with a 1/2" channel cut out of it, then a hose clamp to hold the grinder. I also stick a piece of PVC pipe into the coupler which extends into the keg for more support. Couldn't be easier. I've cut 4 perfect holes with this setup. Tighten that clamp down tight.

The center tube (spear) can be removed before you begin. This involves 1) depressing the ball and ensuring there is no pressure in the keg (make GD sure you do this!), prying out the retaining ring, rotating the spear and sliding it out. A poster, later in this thread, suggests leaving the spear in so that when the hole is finished, the top doesn't drop (the spear holds the whole thing up). Good idea!

Plasma cutter user? This guy used this jig with his plasma.





Some more notes:

  1. If you intend on using a grinder with the same jig that I built, you'll need one with a handle mount on the back of the grinder head, not just on the sides. Some grinders (especially the cheap Harbor Freight ones) don't have this hole.
  2. Maybe this is obvious, but make sure to remove the spear first. At least make damn sure there's no pressure in there. Pressing a screwdriver into the ball will do that. If you need help getting the spear out, let me know.
  3. Take your time. Move around the keg in circles, slowly grinding a line in a circle around the keg. Don't expect the grinder to get through it right away... you need to keep etching that circle and eventually it will go through. If you try to force the cutting disk into the cut, it will shatter and you'll be replacing the disk. So, don't push down, just let the rotating wheel and the weight of the grinder do it. It won't take long.
  4. Wear protective eyewear and hearing protection. It is possible that the rotating grinding disk will fly apart. Cutting can be very very loud, especially right above the keg. Filling it with a few gallons of water can help reduce the noise a lot.
  5. After you cut the top off, clean up that edge with a flap disk for your new grinder. It will be sharp and believe me can cut your arm when you are cleaning it after a brewday.
  6. Don't ever use anything made of steel to cut or clean your keg, unless it is stainless. This includes iron wool, files, etc. They will embed iron into the SS and it WILL rust later.
  7. Barkeepers Friend does a great job cleaning the thing up.
  8. You might be curious what diameter the hole should be. I cut mine at about 12" and that's worked out great. IMO the larger the better. One thing to consider, though, is that you can buy replacement glass pot covers at kitchen stores (or online) pretty cheap, and you can cut the hole to match a pot cover. That would be pretty cool, but maybe only for the HLT and mash tun.

A few pics of the spear being removed...
  • Release pressure by using a tap, or a screwdriver, to depress that SS ball.
  • Remove the circular spring inside the coupling. If you have the right tool, this is easy. If not, pretty hard. You can make the tool by grinding down a screwdriver (what I did). Might be able to use a paint can opener too. There might be a small area that allows you to dig in behind the spring and pry it out.
  • Once the spring is out, it's just a matter of turning the whole spear assy until its flanges line up with the slots in the keg. It'll lift right out.







 

JoeMama

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DUDE! Holy cow this appears to be keggle cutting gold!

Prosted and subscribed!
Thanks for the heads up!
-Me
 

wilserbrewer

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That's nice and simple, I like it! I could never imagine building a jig as previously posted. Ok, you used three parts, would it work with w/ only the pipe and clamp?? I think it might??

I like the way you think:mug:
 
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passedpawn
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It will work with only the coupler/union and clamp (that's the way I did it the first 3 times.

The added piece of PVC pipe is unnecessary, but makes it a bit better. The neck of the keggle thins down and the PVC pipe fits perfectly into the thinner place. You'll see.

I did see those wooden jig pictures, but this seemed so much easier.

I had these pieces already in my scrap PVC bin.
 

wilserbrewer

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It will work with only the coupler/union and clamp (that's the way I did it the first 3 times.

The added piece of PVC pipe is unnecessary, but makes it a bit better. The neck of the keggle thins down and the PVC pipe fits perfectly into the thinner place. You'll see.
OK got it...the coupler rides in the first step, the pipe in the second...nice!
 

KillerKellers

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I love it! I just did 6 of them using 2x4's and a 2" hitch ball for the center piece.. and I think this is probably 100x easier. Nicely done =)
 

wormfishin

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wow, that is awesome, too bad I don't need to cut any kegs right now, I really want to try this out.
 

Scut_Monkey

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This is awesome. I just spent about an hour building this crappy jig that sucks and I'm not sure if it'll work well. Wife is sleeping so I can't really try it out right now. I think I'll stop by Home Depot tomorrow and build this instead. I have 3 kegs to cut so I mgiht as well build it right the first time.

Thanks for the great design.
 

Scut_Monkey

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Quick question. Can anyone tell me how important it is for the angle grinder to be completely perpendicular to the keg lid? As long as there is not a lot of side load on the cutting disc does it matter a whole lot?
 

KillerKellers

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Quick question. Can anyone tell me how important it is for the angle grinder to be completely perpendicular to the keg lid? As long as there is not a lot of side load on the cutting disc does it matter a whole lot?
You will tear through disks quicker.. but I found that things went faster when I took the guard off and went at it. You can go slow and a disk will last a keg or so... or go really fast (cut it in 2 - 3 rotations) and burn through a disk per keg. I did both, but if you just plan to buy a few extra disks, I like the quick route better =)
 

Bobby_M

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Very cool idea! It looks good to me. You can make the handle recess (the half circle cuts) by drilling through the pipe, both sides, with a 1" hole saw. Then cut the pipe at the center line. My only bit of warning on this is that you need to be careful when the lid cut is about to be complete. In other words, stop putting any weight on the pivot or the whole thing can fall into the keg. I made my jig so that part of it rested on the rolled edge of the keg for stability. You should add it to the wiki under "keggle".
 
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passedpawn
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Very cool idea! It looks good to me. You can make the handle recess (the half circle cuts) by drilling through the pipe, both sides, with a 1" hole saw. Then cut the pipe at the center line.
I cut the channel sides with a hack saw, then I grabbed the part I wanted to remove with a vice grip and rocked a couple of times. The chunk breaks right off. Your idea would work with pipe, but I used a coupler and they are only that long. It fit perfectly into the keg neck, so I would not change a thing.
 
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Nice simple solution, but I second Bobby's point. That whole thing will fall through with the lid.

Doesn't anyone just freehand? I freehanded mine and got a very smooth circle. I guess if you're cutting out a ton this may take longer, but I like the feeling of free hand work.
 

shortyjacobs

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Nice simple solution, but I second Bobby's point. That whole thing will fall through with the lid.

Doesn't anyone just freehand? I freehanded mine and got a very smooth circle. I guess if you're cutting out a ton this may take longer, but I like the feeling of free hand work.
I freehanded mine...with a battery powered recip saw, (was surprised at the oomph this thing has....it's a WORX I got off of Woot for 40 bucks.).

I have one "non-circular" bit from when I first started with a regular blade and realized I couldn't make it turn the corner....putting in a carbide grit blade allowed for a smooth circle for the rest though.


SUPER cool jig you made there though passedpawn! I like the simplicity!
 

Bobby_M

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Nice simple solution, but I second Bobby's point. That whole thing will fall through with the lid.

Doesn't anyone just freehand? I freehanded mine and got a very smooth circle. I guess if you're cutting out a ton this may take longer, but I like the feeling of free hand work.
If you're cutting more than one keg and actually want to use the tops for lids again, you'd want them to all be exactly the same size circle. That's the real benefit of a jig.
 

Scut_Monkey

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I decided to try the crappy jig that I made last night rather than build this. It worked out ok but this design would have saved me a lot of time in building the jig.

I don't mean to thread jack but I have a quick question as I just my keggle top 10 minutes ago. Is it ok to use a hand file to clean up the cut? I would assume it is but I don't know if this will cause rusting in the future.
 

Scut_Monkey

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I hit mine quickly with a file, and then some sand paper.
I used a dremel with a grinding bit and then sandpaper...worked great.
Thanks guys. I just finished it up with the file and then sandpaper. Worked great and a perfect circle. Also, built my Lil Sparky type hop bag so I'm ready to go for Sunday. A little brew while watching the Steelers kick the Vikings faces in!
 

OLDBREW

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unless you are doing a lot of kegs, I dont see why you would need a jig?

A string with a loop tied in it to fit over the couplers center well.

A tape measure to make a mark on the string for diameter, and a black magic marker to mark the sting and draw the circle on the keg.

The kegs rim and the back of your hand makes for a perfect guide for going around the mark lightly scoring it the first time around with the grinder.

After that the score mark and the rim keeps the grinding wheel in place.
 

Scut_Monkey

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unless you are doing a lot of kegs, I dont see why you would need a jig?

A string with a loop tied in it to fit over the couplers center well.

A tape measure to make a mark on the string for diameter, and a black magic marker to mark the sting and draw the circle on the keg.

The kegs rim and the back of your hand makes for a perfect guide for going around the mark lightly scoring it the first time around with the grinder.

After that the score mark and the rim keeps the grinding wheel in place.

Many people don't use a jig and get good results. I'm doing 3 kegs eventually so I figured I might as well build a jig. I'm not accustomed to using an angle grinder so I figured it would help with my lack of skills as well. In the end I wanted my keggle to look perfect so I decided a jig was the best way to guarantee this. But if you can do it without the jig go for it.
 

Bobby_M

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The jig makes it nearly impossible to screw up. The hole is a perfect circle and there are no oops gouges. Craftsmen work freehand and engineers use jigs and guides. Art vs. perfection I suppose. I can't draw a straight line.
 

shortyjacobs

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The jig makes it nearly impossible to screw up. The hole is a perfect circle and there are no oops gouges. Craftsmen work freehand and engineers use jigs and guides. Art vs. perfection I suppose. I can't draw a straight line.
<-------Lazy engineers don't use jigs or guides :eek:
 

Scut_Monkey

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I wasn't even able to draw a good circle with the string and marker method. I figured doing a similar thing with the angle grinder free hand would be less than ideal for my liking.
 

OLDBREW

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i used string on a plasma cutter and it wasnt exactly circular..

The kegs handled rim around the outer perimeter is solid and is what guides the tool. A string can stretch and a shakey hand doent help.

A large standard pot lid is 12" so I cut my holes that size.
A lid on a keggle is great for storing, maintaining heat, or getting liquid up to a boil faster.
 

mordantly

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i'm not rich enough to own a cutter. i had to trade some beer for the use of it. and i still need to make good on it. i told my friend id give him a case. now a year later i better give him a keg. :ban:

i cut a 12" orifice as well. yeah the stretch/bind factor was there. and keeping current on dimensional tolerancing, i had +/- .1 and it is within +/- .05 and thats ****in acceptable on a pot.
 
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unless you are doing a lot of kegs, I dont see why you would need a jig?

A string with a loop tied in it to fit over the couplers center well.

A tape measure to make a mark on the string for diameter, and a black magic marker to mark the sting and draw the circle on the keg.

The kegs rim and the back of your hand makes for a perfect guide for going around the mark lightly scoring it the first time around with the grinder.

After that the score mark and the rim keeps the grinding wheel in place.
You don't need a jig. I have done 4 kegs in the past 3 weeks. I'll probably do 2 more in the next couple of weeks. This jig makes it quick work. I f'ed my first one trying to do it freehand.
 
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