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If you're looking instructions on how to make a small copper still or if you're simply trying to find a small copper still for sale, you're in the right place. In this video we show you exactly how to build a 1 gallon still by building one from start to finish on video.
The entire build process is shown using time-lapse photography. In reality it took about 2 hours to build this 1 gallon copper still. If you would like to purchase the parts needed to build this exact still, check out the 1 gallon copper still kit in our online store.
Always use C-110 food grade copper when building a copper still. Note: all still parts sold by Clawhammer Supply are 100%, C-110 food grade copper.
Additionally, make sure you choose the correct solder and flux. Solder and flux do not come with Clawhammer kits since you'll need to buy those to assemble our still kits. Always use water soluble flux and lead free solder when building copper stills. If you don't use water soluble flux you're going to have a heck of a time getting the flux off of your still and if you don't use lead free solder then it's not going to be safe to distill anything with. So make sure you're using those two specific materials.
The very first step of the process is to bend the "teeth" at the bottom of the boiler so they are perpendicular to main body of the boiler. The circular boiler bottom will sit on the "ledge" you create by bending these teeth. The closer you get these to a 90 degree angle, the easier it will be to solder the bottom together.
Next, before soldering, make sure to sand or score every edge and then apply flux to every seam before you solder. If you don't do this you're going to have a really difficult time getting the solder to stick to the copper. This is a really important step, so don't skip it. If you do, you'll more than likely end up with a big mess. It's possible to fix, but it isn't easy. So always sand or score every part before soldering and always use flux.
So what I'm doing in this first part of the video is riveting all of the parts together. If you rivet everything first, it makes things go a little faster once you start soldering. Essentially, you can just roll with it once you get to that point.
One thing to note about the rivets is that they do not need to be smashed flat. Really all you need to do is get the rivets in the pre-drilled rivet holes and tap them a few times just so they balloon out enough to secure the copper together. The structural support for the still is actually provided by the solder itself. Riveting the parts make it easier to solder the still together. It also looks cool. So, that's why we use the rivets.
Soldering The Copper Still Boiler
I started soldering by sealing the boiler. Next I dropped the bottom in and soldered it to the boiler. After that, I move on to the vapor cone and then I solder the vapor cone to the boiler.Once the cone is soldered to the still boiler, solder the small "collar piece" into the top of the cone.
Note that the boiler, vapor cone, and the collar make up one part of the assembly. Nothing else gets soldered to this part of the still. The next step in the process is building the column assembly, which friction fits to the boiler, once it is all finished. Do not solder these two sections together or you won't be able to fill, empty, or clean the still.
Soldering The Copper Still Column
Next, assemble and solder the cap plate, the cap skirt, and the column, and the condenser parts.
Begin by soldering the cap skirt together. Next solder the cap plate into the cap skirt. After that solder the column into the cap plate. After that assemble and solder the condenser parts and attach them to the top of the column.
Finishing the Copper Still
There is really no way to build a copper still without making a mess of the parts. They always need cleaned and polished once they're built. I like to kill two birds with one stone by cleaning and polishing at the same time. To do this, I use 100 grit sandpaper. Sandpaper will take excess solder, and carbon deposits right off. It makes the still look nice and shiny too. If you want a mirror finish, feel free to buff the still after sanding. Just keep in mind that if you're actually going to use the still, it will be very difficult to keep it shiny. That's just the way things go!
This entire process is completed in detail, in much greater detail and in real time in our 7 video series on building stills. You can find a link to that series at the end of this video or on our website.
Here's a link to the 1 gallon copper still kit featured in this article.