If you have a kegerator or keezer, you likely started out with boring black plastic handles. These standard plastic handles are inexpensive and easy to find, which is why most brewers buy them initially. What if I told you that for even less money, you could build a custom wooden tap handle AND contribute to a good cause?? Interested?
Ok, lets get started. First you will need to grab a couple tools:
- Drill with 1/4- or 1/2-inch bit
The handle itself will be built from a wooden stair baluster… cool word, eh? “Baluster… baluster…” Anyways, these can be purchased at any major home improvement store for $7-$8/each. However, you can also find them at your local Habitat for Humanity ReStore for $2/each! A quick description of ReStore (from their website) –
Habitat for Humanity ReStores are nonprofit home improvement stores and donation centers that sell new and gently used furniture, home accessories, building materials, and appliances to the public at a fraction of the retail price. Habitat for Humanity ReStores are proudly owned and operated by local Habitat for Humanity affiliates, and proceeds are used to build homes, community, and hope locally and around the world.
These stores are great. They contribute to a good cause, and they have a wide variety of items for many different projects. Enter your zip code on the ReStore website to find the nearest location. Head over to the store and pick out as many balusters as you need for tap handles. These can range from ornately carved to basic square-cut wood.
Once you have selected your balusters, you will need to identify the section you plan to use for a tap handle. Ensure that the base of your tap handle will be large enough to drill a 1/4-inch (or 1/2-inch) hole. Mark the section and cut it out with your saw.
Next, you will need to drill a hole in the base of the handle to add a 3/8-inch threaded insert. If you drill a 1/4-inch hole, I do not recommend screwing the insert fully into the hole, as it will likely be too tight and break the wood. Use a dab of gorilla glue around the base of the insert, and then barely start the threads into the hole (using the coin to turn it). Finally, tap the insert lightly with a hammer to straighten it up. The insert should stick well in the edge of the hole once the glue dries. If you prefer to screw the insert fully into the hole on the tap handle, you will need to drill a 1/2-inch hole. This will now allow you to screw your new tap handle onto any standard US faucet.
There you have it! Baluster from ReStore ($2.00) + threaded insert ($0.47) = custom tap handle! These tap handles look awesome as-is, but feel free to further customize them as you see fit. Consider the following ideas:
I decided to paint my tap handles black to match the colors on my kegerator. If you’re even more artistically inclined, add actual designs to the handles. For example, using green paint to add hop vines around the handle for an IPA. I also think it is very cool to closely match a tap handle color to the SRM color of the beer it will be pouring. (Ex. Ebony Wood Stain for a Stout tap handle). If you decide to stain the handles, some sanding may be required.
Chalkboard or Dry Erase Stickers/Paint
Add chalkboard stickers or paint to the top portion of your handles, so that you can write the name of each beer onto them. I recommend using chalk markers for a much cleaner look. Fine lettering is difficult with standard chalk. Dry Erase stickers are also a great option, depending on the look you prefer.
Comment below to let me know how you’ve decided to customize your new tap handles!
Now that your kegerator is looking good, make sure to grab some cheap kegs to fill it up!
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