What's the easiest and cheapest way to cut tops out of and holes into steel drums?
Air chisel if you have a compressor. I can take the top out in about 2 minutes with no filings and fairly safe edges. Take a hammer and pound down the sharp areas.
Sawsall cuts em like butter.
I use a jigsaw/saber saw. It takes a few minutes, but it's a smooth nice cut.
1985 Mercedes 300D, sold, Heat exchanger and injector line heaters, all single tank. 1997 E300D Benz ... biodiesel.
Sawzall is great. Drum de-headers are safer if there was anything flammable in the drum. I've used some nice deheaders and some cheaper ones that didn't work as well.
Angle grinders are pretty fun. I cut the bottom off a beer keg to be a centrifuge funnel with one.
Saftey goggle and gloves a must.
They were on sale a couple weeks ago at Harbor Freight for like $17.
I picked up an air 'nibbler' at HF to do some work with tin, tried that with a drum and works great, no worries of sparks or such, makes nice clean burr free cut. Now the bad parts, you have to drill a hole slightly larger than 1/2" for a starting place, it leaves about 1/4" along the side, and if cutting the side the weld seam is just a hair to thick (so if side cutting that is the place to drill your start hole).
If you can't dazzel them with brilliance, then baffel them with bullchit.
An ax or hatchet is the quickest if the intent is to steal the oil.
*smiles* Ya speakin from experience there Tim.... now we know who is the ringleader in the "Great Worldwide WVO Theft".
Just Kidding Tim, but your reply did give me a chuckle.
I just use a sharpened cold chisel and a hammer to cut tops out of drums. Would be a bit slow and dam noisy for theft purposes but for doing my own drums at home, 5 minutes isn't too long and it dosen't require any power tools.
You do need to tap down the sharp edges back onto the rim of the drum when you are finished.
As for cheap, most people would have a hammer already and cold chisels are cheap and easy to get and would do hundreds of drums with no further cost and you don't need power.
Thanks for all of the replies. It looks like the drums I have currently originally shipped with "VISI-SOL CONCENTRATE", apparently a windshield washer fluid concentrate which, according to google is 99.9% methanol, along with some coloring. (http://www.visi-sol.com/VISISOL.html)
Once the drums have aired out, will there be any remaining flammable residue I need to be concerned with? Or should it be safe to use a "spark-inducing" cutting method?
Fill it with water to the top and be on the safe side.
If you can't dazzel them with brilliance, then baffel them with bullchit.
LSS.COM SELLS DRUM DEHEADERS SAFE AND CLEAN TOP REMOVAL
actually a forklift is quickest also you look more official and no on ewould think of you as a thief
what size and shape holes did you need to cut into the sides?
for opening tops i side with using a chisel,
i prefer wood chisels. after a few lids you will develop a technique that will allow you to capitalize on the spring effect of the steel to eject the chisel after just striking it and quickly placing it for your next cut or "tear" just in time for the hammer to return...
what is the fastest? a plasma cutter. seek out your local job training center or high school weldshop, they will do it for free which will aslo make it the cheapest!
80's NA VWs & NA and turbo Benzes, '91 E350 7.3 IDI NA
various bicycles with trailers and gearing low enough to ride up a cliff ;-)
Harbor Freight angle grinders are worthless...
Assuming you are doing some hard grinding or wire brushing, within about 30 seconds they get too hot to handle.
I've got an older Makita that I really like. It does quite well, although I'd prefer the larger threads like the DeWalt.
And, while my HF grinder has let out the magic smoke... the Makita keeps on grinding.
At least find a brand you've heard of.
Makita & nothing else!!!
The added advantage is that by using an angle grinder with a zip-cut disc, when people are finished cutting, they can switch over to a regular grinding disc to deburr the sharp edges.
A word of safety advice for those inexperienced in metalwork.:
Wear LEATHER gloves & safety glasses & a face shield. As well, at least wear jeans and/or coveralls (no shorts & T-shirts!!!)
Grinders are both safe & dangerous, depending on how they are used. I use them almost every day. I break almost all the rules in how I configure & handle my grinder.
I removed the safety handle & customised the disc guard to narrow it to slightly less than the disc diameter, so that I can always get a good cutting/grinding edge with my grinder in tight confined areas in most positions.
Safety handles give people a false sense of safety. Kickbacks happen in a fraction of a second, so reacting to them is about speedy nerves & strategy, not brute strength. Reacting to a kickback is about seeing through your hands & always leaving the grinder a safe runway to release its energy into. This means resisting the grinders force only enough to slow its' launch speed by half, while guiding it safely offside rather than trying to outmuscle it by squaring off & getting my face split open (that almost happened once, thank God for my faceshield or I'd look like Frankenwelder)
I rarely get hurt because I'm so well aquanted with how the machine operates, I know exactly what will happen when...
A guy killed himself when he foolishly twisted his grinder while his zip-cut disc was still embedded in a cut groove. The disc blew apart & a flying chunk severed his femoral artery. He bled to death before any of his coworkers even noticed that he has collapsed.
A word about cutting accurrately with a zip-cut disc:
Instead of trying to follow mt cut line mark, I first ride the disc over the cut line to change it from a surface mark to a shallow groove. I then make a second pass digging a little deeper, a third pass deeper still etc. If I try to dig through the entire thickness of the steel I'm cutting in one pass, any minor misalignments are magnified further down the length of the cut because it's very hard to change direction during a full depth cut.
I don't press the disc through the full thickness of the steel until I feel that the disc easilly follows the shallow groove I abraded over the original cut line. Drums are very thin walled, but still, after plunging through, a shallow groove will be easier to follow than a surface mark.
I agree, Makita rules. I have been using the same 4 inch Makita hand grinder for over 20 years now, the only maintanance I have done is to open it up every couple years and add grease to the gears and clean and dry lube the weird internal power switch slider rod, still running on the original set of brushes. Makita has a couple of lines of these grinders, one has an aluminum gear house, one has a plastic gear house, mine is aluminum and I don't have any experiance with the plastic one.
Safty -- Yep, I also break all the safty rules, the side handle never got installed and the safty guard got tossed completely, allows for easy metal shaping but it can also bite you hard, I have had the grinder hang up and jump out of my hand MANY times, lukily the power switch on this old grinder has to be held in the "on" position so the grinder shuts down once it jumps out of your hand. I have still ground up the front of many sets of shirts and pants, got WAY too close to "junior" a couple times, even ground a 1/4 inch deep by 3 inch long grove in my left calf once, took a few stitches to clog that one up. -- BE CAREFUL.
Shallow groving of the cut line is the same technique that I use. I have tried all the verious thicknesses of cutoff disks, the thin ones evaporate way too fast (1/32 inch thich disks are ABSOLUTELY useless, the 1/16 thick ones are almost as useless), I now use 1/8 inch thick cutoff disks exclusively.
3/8 disk mounting shaft diameter - This is what my old 4 inch makita grinder has but 4 1/2, or even larger, cutoff disks cut faster and last a lot longer, and cost about the same as 4 inch disks. One good thing that I have found about some of the cheap Chinese grinders is that they may have disk mounting flanges that can be used as 3/8-to-5/8 inch disk hole adapters. I burnt up a cheap 8 dollar grinder in the first few minutes of use, I was looking to salvage the gear house for something when I noticed that the 5/8 inch disk mounting flange was only slipped over the shaft, it dropped directly over the Makita 4 inch disk mounting flange and allowed direct mounting of 4 inch or 4 1/2 inch disks with 5/8 center holes, I have used the larger disks ever since and the grinder is still going strong. I also save the remnants from my 14 inch diameter chop-saw disks, they end up about 5 to 5 1/2 inches in diameter and work fine on the Makita grinder by using an adapter washer to center the disk. HF sells a card containing thin adapter washers for table saw blades, one of these washers has a 5/8 inch I.D. and a 1 inch O.D., works great for the chop saw disks.
Ebay sells U.S. shipped chinese 4 1/2 inch diameter by 1/8 inch thick cutoff disks in bulk quantities of 50 or 100 for 50 cents each including shipping (Ebay store), these work great and last as long or longer than much more expensive disks.
4 1/2 inch disks with 5/8 inch center holes are not as available as with 7/8 inch holes but I have bought them from this seller, I have not yet found an adapter washer that fits the 7/8 inch center holes, many 4 inch disks have the 5/8 inch center holes. I have used a couple hundred of these a year for the last several years. (search "cutoff wheels" on ebay, "wheels" seems to find more sales than "disks"?)
Wow, you ARE a gentleman, Tim!
They say to only push lightly & let the grinder do all the work, but I'm on a schedule.
I almost stand on my grinder. I know they say it's hard on the motor etc, but I gotta make the boss enough money in a shift to justify paying my what I expect to be paid, so the Makita gets treated like it owes me money (it does).
The disc guard, I leave on, but severely reduce it's profile. I pare back the sides of the guard to expose about 1/2" of each side of a 5" disc so I can cut/grind from the side, not just the front.
I also shorten the depth of the guard to allow me to lay the disc flat on any surface to grind. That way, I don't gotta switch over to a soft pad to do a smooth surface. I ground down my disc lock nut to just below the profile (thickness) of a mounted disc, so it won't interfere with laying the disc flat for flat grinding. This removes the little raised rim used for securing zip-cut discs, so an extra lock nut is required for zip cutting.
Good money saving idea, man.
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