How to make super sexy tap handles.

Some more DIY action here at The Mostly Harmless Brewing Co.

With our recent keezer addition we kegged our first beer last weekend, an Oktoberfest Ale dubbed RAWKTOBERFEST!  We also brewed a Pumpkin Pie Ale that we hope will be our most awesome and highest ABV beer to date, estimated to hit ~9.5%.  With amazing brews like this coming along we needed some awesome tap handles to pull our pints from.

Disclaimer:  I am not a carpenter or wood finisherer.  There may be better methods to do this but this worked for me.  If you have a suggestion please feel free to leave it the comments.  Also, I probably should have taken some pics along the way but I didn’t, sorry.  I’ve just got a nice pic of the finished product but you’re smart guys and gals, if you figured out how to brew beer and make a keezer then I’d bet a dollar you can figure this out.

Super Sexy Tap Handles

Super Sexy Tap Handles

What you’re going to need.

  • Wood.  Pick whatever you like to use but just make sure it’s thick enough to install the threaded insert and not break.  I used maple for mine.
  • Threaded wood inserts.  Probably a 3/8″ x 16.  You can get a pack of 10 on Amazon for $6.37 with free shipping for Prime customers, that’s the best price I’ve found.
  • A saw.  I used a jigsaw, it got the job done but a tabletop scroll saw would be even better.
  • Screwdriver.  A thick flat tip for installing the threaded insert
  • Paint or stain of your choice
  • Wood glue
  • Foam brush
  • Plastic squeegee.
  • Lint free clean-up rags
  • Protective finish.  I used gloss spray polyurethane with good results.
  • Fine sandpaper.  I used 400 grit wet sanding pads, worked well for me.   It will depend on the quality of your lumber and your finish.
  • Optional: Pre-stain wood conditioner.  Good idea for woods like maple that tend to blotch when stained.

How to make this happen.

  • Decide on a shape and length for your tap handles and mark the outline on your lumber.
  • Cut that sucker out.
  • Sand it real good.  Get it as smooooth as you can as that’s going to help get a good finish.
  • Mark the center point of your tap base and drill the hole for the threaded insert.  The insert I used required a 1/2″ hole.
  • Install the threaded insert.  Be careful here, if the hole you drilled is too small the insert can break when you’re trying to screw it in.  Make sure to get this straight and centered when you install it.  Use an extra-wide flat head screwdriver.
  • Touch up any rough edges with your sandpaper.
  • Stuff a piece of paper into the threads before you start finishing the wood.
  • Optional step, use wood conditioner if you’re going to stain your handle.  Follow directions on the can.
  • Apply paint or stain.  I was going to stain these but wanted it darker than the stain I had so I used gloss black spray paint.  You’ll likely need a few coats to make it look nice.  Don’t get sloppy here.
  • My paint had a bit of the orange peel look to it.  After painting I sanded with wet 400 grit sanding pads and it smoothed out nicely.
  • Affix the label (if you’re putting a label on yours) with wood glue.   Put a very thin layer on with a brush, coat the entire area where the label will go.  Place the label and then use the squeegee to get out all excess glue, make sure to really squeegee it well.
  • Use a damp cloth to clean up the residue.  Make sure it’s not too wet or you’ll damage your label.
  • Chill out and have a beer and let this dry.
  • Apply your finish.  I used gloss spray poly and like the way mine came out.  You’ll need a few coats, just eyeball when it looks like you’ve got a nice layer on there.
  • Let it dry for a day or two
  • Polish the finish with wet sanding with super-fine sandpaper.
  • Install on your tap and party on.

And there you have it, handmade tap handles.  A pretty simple project that gives you a nice custom touch to your setup.  I can’t wait until our beers are ready to flow with these fancy tap handles, I’m sure they’re going to make the beer taste even better.

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2 thoughts on “How to make super sexy tap handles.

  1. Pingback: DIY: Stainless Steel Hop Spider | The Mostly Harmless Brewing Co.

  2. Pingback: Tragedy at the brewery. | The Mostly Harmless Brewing Co.

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