How To: Drill Hole For Element - Ss Keg

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Bentleigh Brau Haus
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Ferntree Gully - Melbourne
I want to build my HLT (out of a SS 50Lt Keg) but not sure how the hell i can drill a hole large enough to install the element... they are large like say 35mm+

how have others drilled large holes in the SS (a bugger to work with)
I used a good quality holesaw , drilled slow with cutting oil , was not a problem took 5 minutes.
Then welded in a bush
Pics show bush welded in

Was it welded with stainless arc rods, or tig?
Regardless the welds look pretty tidy!


Just remember to use a sharp tool and dont slacken the pressure when you are drilling and you will quickly complete the hole. The only reason that SS is a bitch is that it will work harden in about three revs of the drill if the tool is merely rubbing the workpiece.
Hey Batz. Did you drill a hole large enough for the socket/bush thing to sit inside of or does it mount flush on the outside of the keg? Looks like the first option on yours.

Doing it this way can you then use a screw-in fitting both sides? I would like to be able to do this on my boiler. Out to a ball valve and in to a pickup.

Also did you have a special hole saw for stainless or just a regular metal cutting one? The guy in the loacl HW store said that I would need to get a specialist part to do this - he had standard metal hole saws. I explained that I only wanted to cut one hole so didn't mind if it got wasted but he was insistent.
Drilled a hole to allow the bush to go inside , I used a standard but good quality hole saw "Rigid" brand very $$$

Drill and weld a 1/2" socket in your boiler then you can fit a value on the outside and a compression fitting for your pick-up inside , have pics of this somewhere

;) thats one thing us hands on tradesmen type blokes have over you comp savvy blokes.
that work wonders. ;) :lol: oh and fingers to adjust the gas settings and the right spark <_< and the TOOLS for the job.

oops being a bit of a tool here. :(

big d
I'd say tools and how to use them.
I know what I want, how I want it done, but don't have the tools or the skills to use them to get the desired outcome.
Where-as with computers if you #($& it up, you don't end up losing limbs, killing someone (usually) or ending up as a qualifier for the Darwin awards :lol:
But you can write some cool brewing software, or web interfaces to the brewy :D

i know you can write cool brew stuff doc but when it comes to manipulating shiny stainless steel stuff bower birds would be proud of i think us metal manipulators( batz and big d) win hands sure theres a few other manipulators i can add to the list.

cheers in beers
big d
Too true big d

When it comes to computers , I can turn mine on all by myself , after that I can be in a little trouble :huh: :blink:

Batz :ph34r:
big d said:
;) thats one thing us hands on tradesmen type blokes have over you comp savvy blokes.
that work wonders. ;)
They are not mutually exclusive ;)
When I mounted my elements (2 kettle elements in my HLT) I drilled a small pilot hole, then stepped it up to the biggest drill bit I owned (12-14mm, can't rememeber) then I just filed the hole out to the right size with a large rat tail (round) file. I just drew the right sized circle on the keg then kept filing until I go there. Then a little bit of trying and fitting until I got it in. It took a little while, maybe 30mins per hole but it was certainly cheaper than buying a bimetal hole saw-which I really should buy a set anyway.

It can be done, but the right tools will certainly make it easier and quicker. Oh to have a tool shed full of nice gear :rolleyes:

This is a timely topic for me...I have a keg ready to be drilled for use as a kettle.
I'm just working up the courage to have at it with the 7/8ths bi-metal hole saw, with built in arbor - US holesaw (Morse brand) which I bought from the local plumbing supplier for a small fortune who said it will do the job...once ;)

Is oil really needed? I have stuff all lubricant here (steady with the jokes you lot :D ) and other than taking some from the car's sump, would some sewing machine oil or WD-40 or Olive oil smeared across the keg surface do?

From what I've read off the net, a steady firm pressure with a lowish drill speed is the go to avoid tempering the steel - any other tips from you blackhanders would be appreciated :unsure:

Trough Lolly
Buy some cutting compound , your local hardware will have it , it's cheap and will save your holesaw.
Otherwise PM me and I'll do something for you with the clamps

steady steady wins the race tl.lubricant will help also.wd40 should do the trick but will smoke abit.if your in no hurry drill a bit then let things cool down then start again etc.should maximise the life of your hole saw and arbor.
good luck.
also if anyone needs to file a bit then a rotary burr can help alot although if you buy these they can be quite expensive.

big d
Batz said:
...Buy some cutting compound...
Dumb question time...
What the feck is cutting compound? Is it some sort of paste that you smear onto the keg before hooking in with the holesaw? Sorta like giving the holesaw a bit more traction for cutting with???

TL (Not a blackhander but silly enough to have a go! :rolleyes: )
Go with the bimetal hole drill and arbour , a 'Unibit'( it is like a lot of little steps ) is also very good for cutting thin metal .
I ued 'Tap Magic' cutting compound .

Just ensure the speed of your drill is less than 100 RPM .

If the stainless heats up with the friction it will become even harder to cut .

You may loose a few teeth on the bi metal drill in the processjust keep going slowly .

You would find it difficult with a conventional drill .

better if you can clamp it so you dont enlarge the hole more the the drill.

I found when it came to welding the stainless they can vary and one was a neat weld the other keg was not so good .bothe sealed nicely .

Neither of the welds looked as neat as Batz keg in the picture nice job.

Please no laughing.

For those of us who are clueless when it comes to welding, is possible to solder/braze a filtting onto a SS pot/keg?? If not why wouldn't it work. Is it because ithe join would not be strong enough or would it leak. Alternately, what about the weldless kits. Are these worth trying.



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