I am making this instructable because I was about to buy some of these 3.5 gallon fermenting buckets online for about $15 + shipping. Good thing I didn't because I was able to go to home depot and make them for half the price.
I mainly use 6.5 gallon glass carboys because I make large 10 gallon batches of beer but sometimes making 3 gallons inside the house is nice. These are also convenient to clean when making all fruit wines that usually have large chunks.
Step 1: Food Safe Plastic
I know many people out there are concerned about the plastic being food safe like the ones at your local home brew shop. The plastic buckets that I purchased are the same type of plastic.
HDPE (high density polyethylene) is used in milk, juice and water containers in order to take advantage of its excellent protective barrier properties. Its chemical resistance properties also make it well suited for items such as containers for household chemicals and detergents. Most five gallon food buckets are made from HDPE. Examples: Milk bottles, shopping bags.
There had been extensive discussion on your favorite home brew forums on this very topic. I personally feel that it is safe but if you do not want to use this plastic that is completely up to you.
Step 2: List of Materials and Tools
To make a plastic bucket you will need:
-- a plastic bucket (I used a 3.5 gallon)
-- a plastic bucket lid (5 gallon fits on my bucket. I also purchased one with a gasket)
-- a rubber grommet (3/8 in)
-- power drill
-- drill bits
Step 3: Building
To build this bucket all you really have to do is drill a hole in the bucket so that it will accept the grommet. To do this first drill a small pilot hole to guide the larger drill bit. I used a 1/8 then made a larger hole with a 7/16 bit. The 7/16 bit was still slightly small so I reamed it out with a knife until I got a snug fit when the airlock was on there. Learn from my mistake and do not force the airlock into the hole if it is too small. I ripped my first grommet.
Step 4: Finished Bucket
This is the finished product. I decided to make two of these. It only takes a few minutes to make. I know that it is not rocket science but sometimes if this simple information is not out there, people will not even try to make it themselves.
Step 5: Brewing Something
I initially did not put this step in but if you are new to home brewing you might want a few recipes to get you started. The recipes will be very crude but they will work. If you want better instructions there are many good instructables on brewing wine or beer. You can use any yeast to brew beer but I recommend using brewers yeast. Bread yeast is easy to find but gives a distinctive bread/yeast flavor that is not pleasant when brewing. I have many recipes on brewing beer, wine and soda on my pinterest if you are interested http://www.pinterest.com/xmobisx/
For all these recipes you should sanitize all equipment that will be in contact with the ingredients.
Basic Mead Recipe
-- 10 pounds of honey
-- 2 gallons of water
-- Handful of raisins
Place 2 gallons of water into a large pot and heat until boiling. Once the water comes to a boil turn off the heat and add the honey. Mix well until all the honey is dissolved. Let this mixture cool until it is below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the mixture has cooled place it into the bucket with the yeast. Place the lid on the Bucket and attack airlock. Let this sit for a month. Once the month is up you can bottle it. The longer the wine ages the better it will taste.
Basic Fruit Juice Wine
-- 3 gallons of fruit juice( 100% juice without preservatives)
-- 4 pounds of sugar (white, brown, granulated...any)
-- handful of raisins
Place juice into bucket and add yeast. Then attach lid with airlock and let sit for at least a month. After a month it should be ready to bottle. The longer it ages in the bottles the better it will taste.