Copper Brewing Stand

The following is only meant to be a rough guide for the construction of the copper brewing stand I use. It is not meant to be a step by step tutorial, nor is it meant to be a substitute for your own ingenuity and imagination. I have compiled this data because of the large volume of questions I have received concerning my measurements for different sections of the stand. Make sure you double check all measurements as I do not accept responsibility for any errors. By all means, if you plan to build a stand like this, make sure you properly brace it so that it can be a safe and stable brewing environment. I have purposely offset the horizontal braces to increase stability. Do not take any shortcuts and remember that I assume no liability for anything that happens to you because you decided to build a stand like mine. Also, since the stand is made from rigid copper tubing, you can never mount a propane burner directly to the stand. The copper conducts heat too well and this could cause a hazardous condition. Make sure you take plenty of breaks while soldering as the spent gases from a soldering torch can be quite overwhelming on a project of this size. If you undertake a project like this, let me know of any modifications you have made and by all means send me a photo.

Preparation

Things you need to get started

  • A Soldering Torch
  • Solder (lead free plumbing solder)
  • Paste Plumbing Flux
  • 1/2″ Tubing Brushes
  • Metal Polish (Brasso or Flitz work well)
  • Gloves
  • Safety Glasses
  • 30 — 1/2″ copper “Tee” fittings
  • 8 — 90 degree 1/2″ copper fittings
  • 48 Feet of 1/2″ Rigid Copper Tubing (This should give 2 extra feet for adjustments)

Part I

The Shelves

The first step in the process is to construct the 2 shelves. Each shelf is comprised of 4 key components so you will need to prepare two sets of the following pieces:

  • 4 — 17 1/2″ pieces of 1/2″ rigid copper tubing (Designated C)
  • 6 — 2 3/4″ pieces of 1/2″ rigid copper tubing (Designated B)
  • 4 — 3 1/2″ pieces of 1/2″ rigid copper tubing (Designated A)
  • 8 — 1/2″ copper “Tee” fittings

Shelf DetailThe important part of the construction of the shelves is to try to keep them as square as possible. This will affect the way the entire stand sits so be careful here. I set mine on some concrete to keep the surface level. Also, make sure you use a tubing brush to clean the inside of the tee fittings and the outside of the rigid copper tubing. Use a little bit of flux around the inside of the fittings and heat until the solder flows freely. Slowly feed a little solder into the joint. You don’t need much solder because this project doesn’t require that the joint is leak free. It is only a structural component and the sloppier it is, the more solder you need to clean up if you want the area to look nice and clean. If you have never soldered pipe before, you might want to practice on a piece or two until you get the hang of it. Make sure you only focus the heat from your torch on the area to be soldered. You don’t want your hard work to fall apart because you overheated the area. Once you have built the two required shelves, the hard part is done. The rest of the components are only to keep the stand vertical, stable, and for mounting controls.

If you are concerned about your mash tank not remaining on the top shelf during a particularly rowdy brewing session, you could always add some raised rails during the construction. I haven’t found the need for such a modification but it might be a nice addition to add some peace of mind if you are a particularly clumsy person.

Part II

The Front Supports

Front DetailThe second step in creating this brewing stand is to construct the two front supports. Gather together the following components:

  • 2 — 2″ pieces of 1/2″ rigid copper tubing (Designated A)
  • 2 — 1 3/4″ pieces of 1/2″ rigid copper tubing (Designated B)
  • 2 — 28″ pieces of 1/2″ rigid copper tubing (Designated C)
  • 2 — 2 1/4″ pieces of 1/2″ rigid copper tubing (Designated D)
  • 2 — 1″ pieces of 1/2″ copper tubing to connect the leg section
  • 2 — 3″ pieces of 1/2″ rigid copper tubing (Designated E)
  • 1 — 18 1/2″ piece of 1/2″ rigid copper tubing (Designated F)
  • 4 — 1/2″ copper 90 degree fittings
  • 10 — 1/2″ copper “Tee” fittings

At this point, assemble everything as per the diagram. Wait to solder everything until the rear sections and sides are created. This will make it much easier to ensure everything is square before the solder starts flowing.

Part III

The Rear Supports

Rear DetailThe third step required for the stand construction involves creating the two rear supports. Get the following components ready and cut the 1/2″ rigid copper tubing to the following lengths:

  • 2 — 2″ pieces of 1/2″ rigid copper tubing (Designated A)
  • 2 — 3 3/4″ pieces of 1/2″ rigid copper tubing (Designated B)
  • 2 — 21 3/4″ pieces of 1/2″ rigid copper tubing (Designated C)
  • 2 — 3 3/4″ pieces of 1/2″ rigid copper tubing (Designated G)
  • 2 — 2 1/4″ pieces of 1/2″ rigid copper tubing (Designated D)
  • 2 — 1″ pieces of 1/2″ copper tubing to connect the leg section
  • 2 — 3″ pieces of 1/2″ rigid copper tubing (Designated E)
  • 2 — 18 1/2″ pieces of 1/2″ rigid copper tubing (Designated F)
  • 4 — 1/2″ copper 90 degree fittings
  • 12 — 1/2″ copper “Tee” fittings

Once the above items have been gathered, assemble them according to their layout in the diagram. Wait to solder them together until you have cut the pieces for the sides and have followed the rest of the directions.

Part IV

The Sides

The fourth step in the construction, is to gather together the materials for the sides of the stand:

  • 8 — 17 1/2″ pieces of 1/2″ rigid copper tubing

If you wish to have additional stability, you can always add more of these side pieces into your final design. Take this opportunity to assemble the entire stand without solder to make sure that all of your cuts are correct and the stand looks as if it will go together properly. Keep in mind that because you are using tubing, you can slide the tubes in and out of the fittings to adjust for square. This may be necessary due to the fact that the fittings vary in depth. You may even need to cut a little off the copper tubing to make these adjustments. Remember, since the stand is made from the copper tubing, you can always use a tubing cutter to cut the vertical pieces later in order to add additional horizontal supports if you deem it necessary.

Part V

Assembly

The assembly of the stand requires that the front section, back section, and side pieces be connected. What I found worked best for me, was to flux the pieces for a section at a time and then begin the soldering procedure. When one section was completed, I moved on to the next, all the while attempting to keep the stand as square as possible. My procedure began with the base and I worked my way up. Since solder likes to flow downward, I soldered all the top joints first and then turned each section over and soldered the joints on the other side. You may have a method that works better but this is what worked best for me. This procedure left a minimal amount of solder slop and allowed me to use very little effort to clean each joint.

When the entire stand has been completely assembled, make sure you thoroughly inspect each joint to make sure you didn’t miss any. At this point, it is your choice how far you want to take the joint cleaning. I used a Dremel tool and some tripoli abrasive wheels to clean away the excess solder in highly visible locations and didn’t worry about the other spots. I then used some Brasso on a paper towel to polish all of the copper pipe. When I was finished, I sprayed a coat of lacquer on the entire stand to avoid the possibility of corrosion in the future. Some people have even suggested rubbing the tubes with ScotchBrite pads to give a nice brushed look to the copper before spraying the stand with lacquer.

Part VI

Notes Regarding Attachment of Controls to the Stand

When attaching items to the stand, I used 1″ allen head cap screws. I drilled a hole through the item and completely through the copper pipe. I then tapped the hole for the appropriate cap screw I was using. After the screw has gone through the object and through the copper pipe, I put a nylon lined lock nut on the other side to make sure it could never back out on its own.

For attaching the water manifold, I used U-Bolts. This is perhaps not the most elegant solution but it appears to work very well. The manifold is very solid and doesn’t move at all when you open the ball valves.