Step 3: Drill Holes

Great work so far! At this point, you should have a clean, circular cut in the top of each of your newly acquired kegs. Now you will need to drill holes, which will allow you to install valves. All three brewing vessels will require valves to allow water and wort to flow through during the brewing process. Let’s gather the supplies to make this happen:

Ok, a quick warning about drill bits. You may have an old set of drill bits that you’re thinking of using… bad plan! I highly recommend the very specific 1/8-inch titanium drill bit linked above. I tried (and broke) 4 other types of drill bits while trying to build my first set of brewing vessels. The titanium bit above is made to cut through metal, and it will make your life so much easier! Let’s get going!

  1. Pick a spot above the weld on the lower portion of the keg. I recommend selecting a spot directly between two of the “vents” on the keg skirt. Start at the weld line, and look above until the side of the keg flattens out.   Give yourself at least a half-inch of flat space, and make a mark with the sharpie.
  1. Safety gear! Thumbs up!photo 1-1
  1. Grab your drill and insert the 1/8-inch titanium bit. Start with a medium speed, and apply medium pressure directly downward on the sharpie mark. Continue to apply pressure and increase the speed as necessary. The bit should cut through the steel with relative ease to create a nice pilot hole.Step 3 Pilot Hole
  1. Switch to your step bit. Apply a bit of oil to the step bit with a towel. This will extend the life of your bit significantly. Place the point of the bit into the pilot hole and use the same medium speed with firm downward pressure. The bit should start to widen the hole. Stop periodically to re-apply oil to the bit. If you get stuck, reverse the drill bit direction to get free.Step 3 Step Bit
  2. Use the ½-inch pipe nipple to determine the appropriate hole size. Pause periodically to check if the pipe will fit into the hole. You want a snug fit, so be sure not to over-drill the hole! This could lead to leaking during brew day.IMG_5465

Once the pipe nipple fits cleanly through the hole, you can pat yourself on the back. You’ve completed step 3! You can drill additional holes for a thermometer and sight glass if you desire. I recommend these holes be at the same height on the keg as the valve hole you just drilled. For now, you will likely only need one hole. The others can be added later, and I will add instructions to pimp your kettle in the future. For now, take a beer break… or continue on to Step 4.

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