No matter which side of the spectrum you fall into, the fact is this – building your own still isn’t as hard as it may seem. Especially when you have a selection of the best moonshine still plans at your disposal, describing in detail where and how the different parts should be put together.
All it takes is a set of materials that can be sourced virtually anywhere and some soldering skills to go with. And if you put it all together and it doesn’t work quite the way it should – you’re 80% there. There’s plenty of resources (like this guide on how to make moonshine) to show you where you might have gone wrong.
Why should you build your own DIY still?
A great question indeed! Why wasting time and money to build something that can be ordered online with just a few clicks of the mouse? Well, there are actually several reasons why this option makes total sense:
First, it’s way cheaper to build your own still.
If you calculate the cost of materials used and compare it to the price you’d normally pay for a simple pot still, the difference is sure to induce some serious head-scratching. Because with a manufactured still, you’re paying for the final product, which comes with its share of overheads and added taxes. If you’re savvy enough to build the still yourself, why pay all that in the first place?
Second, it’s definitely more fun.
The “oh damn I scorched my finger while soldering the still pot” kind of fun. But fun still. If you like tinkering with stuff in the garage or the backyard every now and then, this project will definitely scratch your creative itch in a very rewarding way.
Third, it’s simply cool.
Making your own moonshine is cool. Making your own moonshine with a still you’ve actually built yourself is the level of cool that is only topped by having your own whiskey company. Which very few of us can brag about. So, yeah, building your own still is a more realistic option.
Not to mention that building your own still allows you to fine-tune the rig exactly to your specifications in terms of size, heat source, ease of maintenance, efficiency, and other variables. And this can make all the difference between an OK moonshine and hooch so good you’ll want the guys from ATF to rave all about it.
Reviews of Moonshine Still Plans
Now, the beautiful thing about the Internet is the fact that you can find just anything you’re interested in, both information and products. Moonshine stills are no exception. And while you can order a fully operational out-of-the-box still through a retailer, there’s also the option of using a detailed guide and building one on your own, which is cheaper and way more creative.
In this section of our article we’ll be going through some of the best moonshine still plans found online and reviewing them according to a set of very important factors, such as usefulness, information presentation, ease of use, materials required, knowledge and skills required, and several others.
Naturally, the best still plan would be the one that can be followed by a complete novice and result in a fully functional moonshine still. So let’s look through some of the most popular homemade still plans found on the web:
A rather detailed moonshine still plan based on an actual build done by the author of the blog. On the plus side – you get a very detailed walkthrough with a precise plan and each part in the built explained separately. But bear in mind that it’s a rather complex column still that is far from being compact and is definitely best suited for advanced moonshiners, not beginners.
- Based on a real build
- Very detailed schematic with each piece explained
- Relatively easy to source all the materials
- Column reflux still not suited for beginners
- Involves a lot of parts and items
- Could use a more detailed assembly instruction in pictures
At first glance, this plan may look rather short, but if you take the time to look through it in detail you’ll be surprised to learn that it has almost everything you need to build your own still. A detailed list of materials. Check. A general guideline for assembling the still. Check.
What’s also really good about this particular plan is that it features the most basic pot still with a thumper design that is compact, easy to build and is suitable even for those who never made a moonshine run. This is one of the best copper still plans even though it leaves a little to be desired. If you’re eager to build a still, a pot still should probably be your first!
- Pot still assembly plan
- Detailed materials list
- Assembly guideline by steps
- Could use a little more detail at each step
- Rather short for such an ambitious project
This is a great walkthrough guide of a basic pot still written by Bill Gurstelle over at Makezine. He includes a great list of components, measurements, and sizes of all the materials he uses. Many of the pictures show some great techniques for molding the copper and holding everything still while you solder and rivet things in place.
The diagrams he made and included also really help even the most novice DIY-er understand how each component is sized and fits together. His construction may not look as perfect as the quality moonshine stills you can purchase from a retailer, and yours may not either, but that’s okay! As long as you check your still for leaks (which he shows you how), that delicious shine will flow out all the same.
- Lengths/Size Measurements provided
- Demonstrations of construction techniques
- Lot of great tips
- Not a great condenser coil construction
- No thumper design
Despite featuring a column still design, this still plan is so good that even a novice can build one by following it. Besides, the Boka reflux design is considered one of the simplest and most stovetop-friendly out of all column still designs. And we really liked how detailed this particular plan, with pictures, video and even a tools needed list, which most other plans actually lack.
- Very detailed and easy to follow
- Materials list, tools needed list, and a detailed walkthrough
- Step-by-step structure that gets the thing done
- A rather simple design despite being a column still
- The column still design may still be a bit too sophisticated for beginners
For those of you who want their still to be really cool-looking and authentic, this moonshine still plan will definitely be the top pick. Featuring the traditional Kentucky pot still design, this plan has a detailed materials list, tools list and assembly walkthrough written in a very simple to understand way. The downside – you’ll need some precision soldering to do on this one.
- Detailed materials and tools list
- Easy to follow assembly walkthrough
- Authentic tradition design that looks cool
- Convenient volume for home operation
- Requires some advanced soldering to work
- You’ll need to cut the copper parts for the pot as well
The simplest moonshine still plan you’ll probably find on the web. Requires the simplest materials that can be sourced in an average kitchen, no soldering or even drilling required! Yes, it’s actually a MacGyver kind of solution for being able to distill something when there’s no still in sight. But the funniest part is that it gets the job done!
- Can be built using the simplest items found in a typical kitchen
- No advanced assembly needed
- Takes only a few minutes to put together
- Can make distillation happen
- Not a still per se, just a temporary solution
- Safety and efficiency doubtful at best
When it comes to building something as sophisticated as a reflux column still you’d want to have a detailed walkthrough for the project. And this plan is exactly what it is and even more. Besides providing the obvious tools and materials needed, and detailed instructions on what to do with all this mess. You also get some really good recommendations and explanations along the way. May still be a bit too complicated for a newcomer though.
- Very detailed materials and tools needed section
- Comprehensive instructions on how to put it all together
- Helpful recommendations and explanations of various aspects of the still
- Column still design that is bulky and not novice-friendly
- May be a bit too complicated to carry out for those lacking the necessary skills
Despite focusing on a really simple design that hardly compares to a full-fledged still, this plan provides one of the most detailed walkthroughs of the assembly process complete with pictures of each step. And we certainly love such an approach that even a complete novice can follow easily. Oh, if only they’d made such a great effort for something that’s actually a proper moonshine still…
- One of the most detailed walkthroughs out there
- Very simple design that uses common materials and tools
- Easy to assemble, no soldering required
- Hardly a proper still, just a simple solution that allows distillation
A slightly different beast then the rest of the plans we came across, this site actually offers pre-cut still assembly kits for sale. Yes, you’ll have to do some soldiering to put it all together. But for the price you pay, you get all the materials and parts in the box. Just make sure to have a Propane torch and pliers at hand and you’re good to go. The only downside – you have to make the purchase in order to get a detailed instructional video.
- Traditional and simple pot still design
- Comes with all the parts necessary to build the still
- Detailed instructional video is provided with the kit
- You have to buy the kit in order to get any kind of instructions
There are simple moonshine still plans and there are full-fledged e-books on how to build your own still. And this definitely falls into the latter category. That can actually be downloaded as a single PDF file. The level of detail here is unmatched, and you will definitely learn a lot about distilling in general once you go through it a couple of times. However, if you’re looking for a detailed step-by-step instruction you may want to look elsewhere.
- A full-fledged e-book on how to build moonshine stills
- Great explanation of the various aspects of building a still
- May seem too lengthy for some
- Lacks an actual step-by-step build instruction
Instructables never disappoints when it comes to funny-written instructions on a broad variety of topics, and this guide is no exception. However, that’s the biggest problem with it – it’s a guide and not a proper still build plan. All the aspects of building and operating a still are explained in a general, theoretical way so that a novice could understand the basic principles. Still build instructions – not so much.
- Great approach to explaining the basics of building a still
- Funny to read and easy to follow
- Not a proper build plan but a general guide
- Nothing new for someone who already did their theoretical reading on stills and distillation
This multi-part instructional video by Clawhammer Supply is a great example of a video guide on how to build your own still. It may take some time to watch all the parts, but on the other hand, you can actually see all the parts and materials processed and assembled into a fully functional moonshine still. And this is definitely awesome!
- Watch all the steps in detail with comprehensive explanations
- Easy to follow instruction that can be used as a reference for your own build
- Takes a lot of time to watch through all the parts
- May not be quite suitable to those who are more used to written guides
The Best Plan for a DIY Still
As you can see, there are many resources you can use to build your own moonshine stills and plans to implement. Unfortunately, none of them are quite “Build a moonshine still step by step”.
While some are more useful than others; if you have some spare time we’d recommend to look through all of them at once. Why? Because it will give you a much better understanding of how a moonshine still operates and maybe give you some inspiration on how to build a moonshine still that will be tailored to your needs.
Ready to Learn How to Build a Moonshine Still?
If we had to pick the best moonshine still plan, we’d go with:
We spoke with Clawhammer recently about these DIY kits and confirmed that they don’t provide any written instructions in the kits. That being said, many buyers have had no issues assembling the kits themselves with the video series from #11 in this post.
And, if you’re having difficulty, or want to know exactly what equipment you’ll need, you can always give them a call.
Clawhammer is a large and reputable company that is very willing to help out their customers. Check out the reviews for yourself!
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