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  1. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2007

    Default cheap is better

    i believe the best way to cut open an oil drum is to use some method that doesnt create sparks. I always cut them open with my cheapy little harbor freight air powered sheet metal shear. All it requires is a quarter inch pilot hole and an air line. very neat very clean and in some cases the oil in th drum helps the cut move a little faster. Ive made probably a hundred Q pits out of 55 gal tranny fluid drums and havent had one explode yet.

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  2. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Seattle, WA


    Thanks for all the responses.

    No sparks sounds like a good option. I don't have an air shear (I'd love to get one though) but I do have a jigsaw. I don't suppose that would be 100% spark free but I think after a good wash out with oil cutting soap it will be plenty safe.
    Thanks again. I'll be sure to post pics when it's up and running.

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    near rochester NY


    mill3rman3 lets see some pic's. i got a few barrels to play with.
    I don't have an air shear (I'd love to get one though)

    you could get a cheap nibbler at HF for this as the barrels are thin it should be fine. i got one that runs off a drill that has cut much thicker stuff.
    thanks for the help
    hope i helped

    feel free to shoot me an e-mail direct i have time to chat.
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  4. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2010

    Default When cutting vegetable oil drums....

    I, like yourself, needed to cut open an 55 gallon drum that contained vegetable oil (soybean oil in this case). Here is some of the pertinent information I gleaned reflecting what is mentionned on an MSDS sheet for Soybean and almond oil.

    First you need to know what is the flash point
    The flash point of a volatile liquid is the lowest temperature at which it can vaporize to form an ignitable mixture in air.
    For soybean oil, it's 367 F (186 oC) and almond oil, it's greater than 400 F (204 oC)
    (Compare this to 122 F (49 oC) for WD-40 - you'll hit the flashpoint on a scorching summer day)!!
    Thus, if you are planning on cutting an veg-oil drum in which the oil is heated to at least 367 F, it is likely that volatile vapours will be generated and that sparks could very well cause an explosion.

    "Sparks can reach temperatures between 520 to 570 degrees C, and in the
    case of steel, they are capable of reaching
    temperatures up to 1400 degrees C." From...

    With arc welding you'll likely generate temperatures of 6000 degrees celsius, with oxy-acetylene, about 3000 degrees celsius.

    As is obvious from the comparison mentionned earlier, vegetable oil, is not as easily combustible in normal conditions as WD-40.
    However, as we have seen from the information provided above, if the conditions are right, you could set off an explosion, yes, even with vegetable oil. (A student just died in a oil-drum-cutting exercise at a local highschool in Ottawa, Canada. I can't speculate, but from the information, this is not an accident, but a preventable occurence.)

    What I did to ensure the dangerous conditions were not met while cutting my vegetable oil drum were as follows..

    Pour out any remaining oil and discard it appropriately.
    Wash the veg-oil out with dishsoap and warm water (once or twice)
    Rinse several times.
    Cut-pilot holes with drill
    cut out desired shape with a Reciprocating saw (little or no sparks).
    Presto! you have your cut out veg-oil drum.
    I have even welded on such a prepared drum as well without incident.
    (But there was no oil to create vapours + the vapours would not have been confined as there was a gaping hole in the drum at this point)
    But again, I stress that this was with what I believe to be a properly prepared metal container that did not contain an extremely volatile liquid in the first place.

    Everything changes if you are dealing with something other than vegetable oil.
    Figure out how to do it properly or don't do it at all.

    Thanks, I hope this has helped someone.

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2010

    Default Flash point of almond oil

    Quote Originally Posted by dabar39 View Post
    Does anyone know what the flash point of almond oil is?

    Once you figure out if the oil is flammable, then we can tell you better how to do it. I really don't know if it is flammable or what the risk of explosion may be.

    When in doubt, don't do it.

    Look for alternate methods such as a sawsall or a jig saw.

    Sorry I can't be more help but I know nothing about the properties of almond oil and I'm not willing to take a guess when there is a risk of injury involved. Dave
    From the online MSDS sheet, it appears that the flashpoint of almond oil is near of greater than 400 F (204 degrees Celcius). I hope that helps!

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Kansas City

    Default I wouldn't do it.

    There are places that recycle 55gal drums, they steam clean them and then they heat them and hold them at high temp for a set period of time to burn out residuals. You can buy a drum from them for about $8 to $10 around here. Why cut a drum your not sure about when you can buy one of theres. I personally know of two guy killed by 55gal drums and one of them was just using the thing as a bench.

  7. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Kitchener, On, Ca


    An 18 year old student was killed in a blast in high school shop class. They were cutting open barrels to turn them into bbqs.

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Sep 2010


    Quote Originally Posted by PeterTrocewicz View Post
    An 18 year old student was killed in a blast in high school shop class. They were cutting open barrels to turn them into bbqs.
    Happened justr around the corner from my place. The drum had contained peppermint oil. Pleasant smell with deadly potential.

  9. #19


    hey man some pics or your setup plan for this would be a great place for me to start only difference is my barrel used to contain axle grease the up side is this eliminates cleaning because the grease is in a plastic liner the down side is i have to seal the end with the 2 bungs because it comes completely off. My idea was to make a grill/smoker and was looking for a way to accomplish this

  10. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2011


    I don't get the point of anyone cutting the barrels without taking both bungs out. Bung wrenches are cheap, compared to a barrel exploding.

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