150 Gallon Cypress fermentation tank

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Project by pel1961 posted 03-24-2015 04:13 AM 3173 views 5 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

First post. Hope you enjoy. Not many photos, I was too busy making sawdust.

This is a project I did for my neighbor on Main Street in Crestview, FL (Peaden Brothers Distillery). They were just getting started with their business and had purchased a 150 gallon mash fermentation tank from a company and paid a lot of money for it. It wasn’t very attractive, was made quite cheaply, was warped, and it leaked. I’ve never attempted anything like this before, but felt pretty sure I could do a better job, so I offered to build one for them, since the business was in the growing stage and they were still on a tight budget.

Starting with some beautiful cypress planks from a local lumber yard, I went to work with my trusty Shopsmith and it wasn’t long, I was staring at a table full of mitered staves. Now what? It was a bit tricky holding them all together until I could get a tiedown strap ratcheted down to hold them. Once I had all three metal straps on and tightened, it was perfectly round and solid. After I had it mounted on the base, I removed the metal straps and painted them, stained the outside of the tank, put it all back together, filled it with water to swell the wood to make it leak free.

After a day of soaking, and a few well placed taps of a mallet, not a drop leaked anywhere. I delivered it to the Distillery where is has been in use and has fermented countless gallons of corn mash for Moonshine. Their original “purchased” tank has suffered two major failures (only in use for a year) and I will be repairing it. One of the metal bands snapped (rusted through) and the the drain pipe fell off and 100 gallons of hot water (at cooking temperature) gushed out the bottom. Luckily, nobody was burned.

I will soon be building a new 260 gallon fermentation tank and as business grows, who knows, I may have to attempt a 500 gallon tank.

-- Paul, Crestview, FL

16 comments so far

View Ken90712's profile


17614 posts in 3427 days

#1 posted 03-24-2015 09:50 AM

What a great build, well done.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View SirIrb's profile


1239 posts in 1469 days

#2 posted 03-24-2015 12:22 PM

Really nice.
Now when you start making the sides curved like a keg let me know how you make the staves. That has been bothering me since I first saw the latest Jack Daniels commercial.

-- Don't blame me, I voted for no one.

View Joe Andrews's profile

Joe Andrews

69 posts in 2238 days

#3 posted 03-24-2015 01:53 PM

Very nice work, Paul! I see you are in Crestview, also. I live on the south side off Antioch Rd. Do you have a decent local source for hardwood besides Lowes?

View pel1961's profile


12 posts in 1399 days

#4 posted 03-24-2015 02:43 PM

Thanks for the comments. It was a fun build. Joe Andrews – Lowes, Crestview Wholesale, and Wilson Lumber on Hwy 90 in East Milton have been my lumber sources.

-- Paul, Crestview, FL

View Bluepine38's profile


3380 posts in 3324 days

#5 posted 03-24-2015 03:47 PM

The old preferred container for fermentation was copper, one of the Firefox books gave a good description
of how to build one, and was what Grandfather used, but if this works, I can not argue against it. very good
workmanship. Thank you for sharing.

-- As ever, Gus-the 80 yr young apprentice carpenter

View pel1961's profile


12 posts in 1399 days

#6 posted 03-24-2015 04:20 PM

Bluepine38, when I was doing some research, I found that cypress tanks have actually been used for fermentation for a very long time. Maker’s Mark still uses cypress tanks that are over 100 years old. Thank you for your comments.

-- Paul, Crestview, FL

View Randy_ATX's profile


881 posts in 2680 days

#7 posted 03-24-2015 04:28 PM

This is great! Are the sides of the lumber ripped at 90 degrees or do you have a slight angle on them?

-- Randy -- Austin, TX by way of Northwest (Woodville), OH

View pel1961's profile


12 posts in 1399 days

#8 posted 03-24-2015 04:43 PM

Randy_ATX, all of the staves are beveled on both sides. A lot of careful ripping, but it made for a watertight fit, with no glue or sealant. Thanks.

-- Paul, Crestview, FL

View Luddite's profile


213 posts in 1477 days

#9 posted 03-24-2015 05:00 PM

Beautiful! Did you use splines or just flat joined? How is bottom attached?

Thanks for sharing.

-- T Loftus -- Just on the edge of common sense

View TimberMagic's profile


114 posts in 1417 days

#10 posted 03-24-2015 05:27 PM

Nice work. I’m not sure I could ever get one of those built correctly. I find getting picture frames built to fit together perfectly a real accomplishment!

-- Lee

View pel1961's profile


12 posts in 1399 days

#11 posted 03-24-2015 05:37 PM

Luddite – The staves are all butt joined on the sides and dadoed for the bottom. The dados were cut for a really tight fit.


-- Paul, Crestview, FL

View CB_Cohick's profile


487 posts in 1489 days

#12 posted 03-24-2015 09:05 PM

Amazing job! I am struggling with trying to figure out how to make a nearly round trash can, and you built a beer making machine! I am always in awe of the skill displayed on this forum.

-- Chris - Would work, but I'm too busy reading about woodwork.

View exelectrician's profile


2328 posts in 2666 days

#13 posted 03-24-2015 10:23 PM

You are now, what is known in the trade, as a ” Cooper”

Well done.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View Matt Vredenburg's profile

Matt Vredenburg

192 posts in 3653 days

#14 posted 03-25-2015 12:26 AM

Well done. I love it. Did you purchase the banding or did you make or have it made for you?

-- Matt, Arizona

View pel1961's profile


12 posts in 1399 days

#15 posted 03-25-2015 12:47 AM

Matt V – I purchased the galvanized banding and 3/4” square steel tube at a local hardware store. The design was trial and error, but finally got something that has worked very well. I will be building a larger tank soon, but I think this banding should still do the trick. My neighbors are waiting, they have a lot of moonshine to make. :) Thanks for the comments.

-- Paul, Crestview, FL

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