Introduction: DIY Copper Cup From 3/4" Pipe

Picture of DIY Copper Cup From 3/4" Pipe

All the cool kids are drinking Moscow Mules. Traditionally, they're served in copper cups, but those can get pricey. We can make our own copper cups with nothing more than 3/4" copper pipe that you can find in any hardware store, or even scrap yard.

Step 1: Tools and Materials

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This project is pretty simple. I've never done any copper soldering or metal work before. I was able to use my 3rd and 4th cup I made at home. Here's what you'll need to get started:

  • Propane Torch
  • No. 5 Flux
  • Solder (Lead free for copper pipes)
  • Hacksaw or Sawzall
  • 2 pairs of pliers
  • Hammer
  • Large hose clamp
  • Screwdriver
  • Tin snips

It would also help to have a bench vise and a grinder, but they are not necessary.

Step 2: Split the Pipe

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Start by slicing your copper pipe down the middle with your hacksaw or sawzall. This cut needs to be extremely straight so take your time. I cut my pipe down to one 11" long piece and two 4" pieces.

Step 3: Pound Flat

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Split the pieces open with pliers and then pound it flat.

IMPORTANT: Fold over one long edge of the 11" piece to protect your lips from getting cut. See my YouTube video for more instruction.

Step 4: Wrap Copper Around a Form

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Find some sort of cup sized object you can use to wrap your copper around. Preferably steel. I used the wheel off of a floor jack. Use a large hose clamp to force the copper into shape.

Step 5: Bend Over the Bottom

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Bend over a small lip on the bottom of your cup to make a nice seam.

Step 6: Solder the Joint

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Leaving the hose clamp in place, solder the joint together with the torch.

Step 7: Remove the Form

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Use a hammer to remove your cup shell from the form. It should look like this. Notice the top edge has been completely folded over and the bottom edge has a small lip.

Step 8: Solder Bottom Together

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3/4" pipe does not open up wide enough to cover the whole bottom. You'll need to solder a seam between two pieces to make one large enough to cover the hole.

ALTERNATIVELY: You could use 1" copper pipe or find copper sheet metal. Neither were available locally in my area.

Step 9: Cut Out the Bottom Shape

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Mark and cut the bottom of your cup. I used tin snips to cut to the outside of my line, and then used the grinder to form a perfect circle.

Step 10: Solder Bottom

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Heat the outside of the cup while soldering the inside to attach the bottom to the shell. See my video for more instruction.

Step 11: Make a Handle

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I used a 3" piece of pipe folded over on itself for the handle. Shape with the hammer.

Step 12: Attach the Handle

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Attach the handle to the cup at the seam. Put the hose clamp back on the cup for this step in case you were to loosen the solder holding the shell together.

Step 13: Polish, Clean, and Enjoy!

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Use a wire brush to clean all of the flux, dirt and grime off of the cup. I used one that attached to my drill. Overall, I'm happy with these cups. They aren't perfect, but I learned a lot and they do their job. See my video for more instruction.


mcysr (author)2014-11-26

To those who may not be aware, copper is used extensively in North America for all house hold [potable] water, both hot and cold, and essentially all solder and flux sold, is lead free.

In house hold plumbing, the pipes are cleaned, at the joint, with a wire brush or sand paper, then fluxed and soldered. Typically, no further cleaning is done for domestic potable hot and cold water. There are tens of millions of houses with this type of plumbing.

Many plumbers continue to deride any use of any form of plastics in domestic water supply.

nurchi (author)mcysr2015-01-04

I want to emphasize the use of lead free solder, but would disagree with you, mcysr. Unfortunately, not all the solder is lead free.

Those buying, please double and triple check that the solder you buy is lead free.

I've seen leaded and lead free solder by the same manufacturer (similar packaging) on the same shelf in Home Depot, so read read read...

Bill WW (author)mcysr2014-11-28

Absolutely correct (IMHO).

Lead free solder is well established as the only solder to be used for potable water.

mikeandlauren (author)mcysr2014-11-26

Thank you! I feel like I'm taking crazy pills.

pjessing made it! (author)2016-09-16

I have seen your post for quite some time and yesterday I decided to try and make one. It came out pretty good. Thanks for the Instructable.

owatson (author)2016-02-10

Bare copper handrails will kill 98% of bacteria on them in 2 hours.

antagonizer (author)2014-12-08

There are exposure issues with using copper that can include liver damage, heart disease and alzheimers disease. Please read this before drinking from copper cups, especially acidic or hot liquids. It's the very reason they say you shouldn't drink from the hot water tap in your home.

imcp1024 (author)antagonizer2016-02-02

I always heard lead and aluminum were the ones that cause Alzheimer's . I'm sure the poo t is mute after applying a food grade coating or baking a glaze onto it.

hilojohn (author)2014-11-25

You also want to make sure that you don't use acid core solder.

animal lover (author)hilojohn2014-11-25

I don't know a lot about soldiering, but my brother does. He has lead solder. that would be bad to is if I were to try this out, right? I'm probably not going to make this; I just want to know.

You're making a cup that you will presumably be drinking from. Lead from the solder can leach into the liquid you are drinking. That is why you do NOT want to use solder that contains lead.

veeguy (author)hilojohn2014-11-27

Acid core solder is just fine as long as you clean off the acid flux residue after construction.

gareth.collier.1985 (author)2015-12-28

I made one for fun and rather soldering two flat bits together for the base I just made the 'cup' an oval to fit the 22mm pipe I flattened out.
Looks great and will be making more.

DavidM30 (author)2014-11-25

How did you avoid hammer marks while flattening out your copper pieces?

kaddigart (author)DavidM302015-04-26

You could use any type of hammer if you use a block of wood. Push it as flat as possible, put the block on it, whack away. A piece of 2x4 would be ideal to absorb all hammer marks, and maybe some pent up aggression as well.

Untreated copper can be toxic, so make sure to clean these well and don't use them to heat anything.

mikeandlauren (author)DavidM302014-11-25

I'm not really sure, this was my first copper project. Maybe the type of hammer I used?

bettina-sisr (author)2014-12-26

I should be embarrassed for asking this because I live in N. Idaho and I have a daughter going to University in Moscow...but what is a "Moscow Mule", and why is drunk from a copper cup? Btw Nice inst, but omg you really can't solder! LOL (don't freak out anyone, I am saying it WITH him, not against him, ya know as a joke)

SPECTACULAR Instructable! AND you had fun doing it! Wife approved too!

Metalworking is a cool art and I hope you continue to make more things and share them here on!. And great first Ible as well.

Wired_Mist (author)2014-12-04

Dang, those look pretty cool !

Awesome job on the Vid btw, "Terrible craftsmanship did not stop me from puting it on" Right On ! XD Have you tried a clear coat to keep the copper from tarnishing?

cbaines1 (author)2014-11-30

Nice, I like that a lot. Plus your wife is super hot!!!

Doughboy1890 (author)2014-11-28

please read this before trying this:

Bill WW (author)2014-11-28

Nice work Mike (Lauren?).

I love working with copper, and will give your project a try. I like the way you use 3/4" pipe, splitting and flattening. When I started reading and saw the 3/4" copper pipe, I thought "gee, what a tiny cup!". But you had a great idea, sheet copper is not readily available.

shambuda2000 (author)2014-11-24

Great Instructable! My only advice would be to specify lead-free solder and flux. Some of the older stuff still has lead in it.

veeguy (author)shambuda20002014-11-27

READ people! If you have time to critisize it, you should use some of that time to READ IT and UNDERSTAND it!

shambuda2000 (author)veeguy2014-11-27

Hmm, so much for the be nice policy. I commented 3 days ago. I only felt the need to comment because only mentioned the solder in a tiny blurb. I don't want to argue with you. I wasn't attacking you in any way. I genuinely thought you did a good job. Happy Thanksgiving.

moosescat (author)shambuda20002014-11-25

This concern about lead has been covered in the original parts list AND in many comments.

He most definitely DID specify Lead Free Pipe Solder.

Sapper (author)2014-11-24

I hope that you used silver solder and not lead based?

stoobers (author)Sapper2014-11-25

Silver solder melts too hot for this. Maybe you mean tin solder.

Sapper (author)stoobers2014-11-25

Nope. pretty sure I meant to say what I said. Silver solder is not too hot for this application. I do not mean lead/tin solder or any other lead based product. Using a product containing lead was what I was cautioning about. The Tin solder that you refer to is a low melting point solder that contains lead ( about 50/50) which would make it unsafe for use in a drinking vessel. You need to use silver solder so that you don't poison yourself.

veeguy (author)Sapper2014-11-27

The solder he spec'd was LEAD FREE for copper pipes. Its a LEAD FREE solder specifically for plumbing water supply in the USA. There is NO lead in it to comply with NSF rules. Silver solder *could* be used although it would cost more and be more difficult to do for most amateurs.

spark master (author)Sapper2014-11-25

he tells us to use LEAD FREE SOLDER. Unless the solder has been in grampa's tool box for a hundred years, the solder for drinking water supplies is lead in USA.

pavel123 (author)2014-11-25

Good job but there is plumbum and it is poison. Plumbum lead the disappearance of Rome. I would use it as a planter :-).

veeguy (author)pavel1232014-11-27

Plumbum is lead and the author *clearly* called out for LEAD FREE solder (which is TIN based) in the materials list. If you are going to criticise someone's -[excellent]- Instructable, at least take the time to read it (and hopefully understand what you are reading) first.

robbadooz (author)2014-11-26

Wonderful idea!! Thanks! Can you imagine what else you can make from copper pipe?

Covo (author)2014-11-25

A great project that i would love to try. Where does one obtain a "wheel off of a floor jack"? (it appears to be a key item for this project.) Can one make a wood form? ...perhaps out of a hard wood like oak?

mikeandlauren (author)Covo2014-11-26

I was initially going to make one out of wood. It would probably work better than steel.

Mihsin (author)2014-11-26

You're funny, your lady is cute, but your cups are not so great looking. They look rather antique. Maybe No. 12 will look better.

Best regards

mikeandlauren (author)Mihsin2014-11-26

Haha, thanks? I guess I agree with you....

Nandadevi (author)2014-11-26

hmmmm. It's neat to bang on things and use fire. But you could just pick up a 2 or 3" copper pipe cap for about $4-$6.

mikeandlauren (author)Nandadevi2014-11-26

Not sure where you can buy a 3" pipe cap for $4-6 dollars. Everywhere I see is $18-30 which is more expensive than just buying a pre-made cup.

johnip4 (author)2014-11-24

AFAIK acidic food or drink from a copper dish can kill you. I believe copper cooking pots are tinned on the inside for this reason. Pure copper is used for some specific recipes though. Make sure to do some research and be safe.

BoilingLeadBath (author)johnip42014-11-24

Per my understanding, the LD50 of copper is on the order of a gram, (EPA limit in drinking water is a conservative 1.3mg/L), and so isn't a concern unless you are cooking or storing acidic contents in copper.

So not serving hot acidic beverages in the copper cup would probably be a reasonable precaution. (Who wants to put hot beverages in a copper cup, anyways? Ouch!)

The LD50 of copper is 30mg/Kg in rats. An LD50 is the level that kills 50% of a sample of rats, this does translate to about a gram of copper sulphate to have an LD50 in average weight humans. BUT it takes a lot less to make you feel sick. Various authorities have limited copper in drinking water to 1-2 mg/litre (that's 1-2 parts per million):

My recipe for a Moscow mule has lime juice and ginger beer both are acidic (tartaric and citric).

While andecdotal accounts are usually poor science the following are personal observations that can be verified:

When I was a kid we had a metal food processor that had been chrome plated over copper (typical for chome), the chrome inside wore out, we threw it away when a batch of citrus fruit (cumquats) came out green. (This was COLD fruit BTW.)

Here in Australia copper domestic plumbing was (is?) reserved only for hot water services. When we moved to a new building at work the labs had been plumbed entirely in copper. A few people got copperiedus (sick from copper poisoning) from drinking COLD water straight from the new plumbing. In the later case it was from trace residues of flux with copper in it.

> LD50 may be gram-level, but you'll get sick from less
Err, yes, of course. Oops.

You are suggesting, then, that a reasonable measure of caution would be:
1) Exercising due care to clean the cup after manufacture, to include soaking in water to remove soluble copper compounds from manufacturing and scouring to remove (relatively reactive) copper oxides.
2) Only using the cup for non-acidic contents.

Rapturee (author)2014-11-25

excellent job! :{)

rimar2000 (author)2014-11-24

Very good job. But I am a 70 years old man, and I like to give advices to those who do not ask them:

When you flatten the copper pipe, you hammer too hard. Try to make it more gently to avoid crushing and mark the tube. Using as a basis a hardwood or semi, you'll get better results.

4leggedman (author)rimar20002014-11-25

Rimar is right. I also use wooden hammers. And after you're done with the soldering, soak the work for half an hour in a 1/9 to 3/7 solution of sulfuric acid. Be aware that this solution is made by gently pouring (one to three parts of) acid into (seven to nine parts of) water and not -never- the other way around: acids hate to be wetted and protest heftily... Never quench your work in this solution or dangerous fumes will emanate. This process will clean the flux residues and the stains from the annealing process.

4leggedman (author)4leggedman2014-11-25

Forgot the last step: use gloves, rinse carefully.

About This Instructable




Bio: We are Mike and Lauren. We make videos on YouTube about money, travel, homesteading, and DIY.
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