If you have a keg, you know the joy of pouring your own home brew. And having a cool handle makes the experience all the better. But finding the right one can be tough or at least expensive.
So today, I’m making three custom DIY handles for cents on the dollar. I’m Trent Musho and this is the Bru Sho. Let’s make some DIY tap handles.
Even if you’re not a DIY-inclined person, I promise making your own tap handles isn’t rocket science. And really, there’s only one accessory to buy that can unlock endless possibilities.
The shape and look of the handle is completely up to you, but I’ll show you three examples that are basically free to make outside of the tools needed. Let’s jump in and start with what you’ll need to get making.
The key component to making a tap handle is the threaded insert that allows you to screw onto the faucet.
Just about every beer faucet out there has the same size screw which is 3/8 inch, 16 thread. 3/8 refers to the diameter of the screw and 16 is the TPI or teeth per inch.
Actually Animated Homebrew highlighted a product you can buy on Amazon or at a local big box store that’s the perfect size for this.
But typically, you’ll need to buy them in bulk which can cost a little more than we want to spend here. Luckily, there’s a solution for this. Most hardware stores sell these 3/8 inch 16 hex nuts, a pretty common item for something like 20 cents each. And since I’ll be making three custom taps today, I’ll only need to spend 60 cents.
The next thing you’ll need is a way to insert this nut into whatever you’re making a tap handle out of. I found that a 5/8 inch spade bit makes for the perfect size hole to fit the nut just right. These cost about $5, but if you don’t have one, you can always use the largest drill bit you have and work the drill around to size up the hole.
Just a heads up here, there’s going to be a few potentially inappropriate innuendos, so try and keep a clean, mind.
The last thing you’ll need is a way to secure the nut into the hole. Super glue is plenty strong and you can get that at your local dollar store. Or if you want a little more of a solid connection, I suggest some of this epoxy that has two parts and when they mix it solidifies and bonds just about any material you can imagine.
This one costs about $4. Once you have that stuff together, you’re ready to start making some taps. Let’s start with the stylish free option number one: natural wood.
Natural Wood Handle
The first step is finding a good piece of wood. Something that’s not too thick or too thin and when you hold it, it feels good in your hands. I like to find one with some interesting knots or characteristics. This one is actually a branch off of my orange tree.
Some driftwood would be awesome for this too. Now, if you need to cut it down a size, use your judgment and think about your tap situation. You don’t want it so big that it’ll block or be in the way of something or stick out too much. I’m cutting my piece down to about eight inches.
A power saw makes this easy, but a handsaw works just as fine. And once it’s cut, try to scrape off any bark as it’ll probably fall off later anyway. Then give it a good sand to get rid of the rough edges or stuck on pieces of bark. Starting with a higher grit sandpaper like 80 and ending with something like 220 grit will help it be smoother than a baby’s bottom.
You can then choose to keep the wood as is or stain it to your preferred color.
Now it’s time to add the nut. Start by drilling a 5/8 inch hole in the bottom. It helps to actually drill a little bit deeper than the size of the nut since the screw on the faucet extends beyond the height of the nut. Then insert the nut into the hole and secure it with super glue or epoxy.
Once the glue has dried, you can screw the handle onto the faucet and enjoy your new DIY tap handle.
And that’s just one option, you can make handles out of just about anything, from bottle caps to old tools, the possibilities are endless.
You can then choose to keep the wood as is, or stain it to your preferred color. Now, it’s time to add the nut. Start by drilling a 5/8 inch hole in the bottom. It helps to actually drill a little bit deeper than the size of the nut, since the screw on the faucet extends beyond the height of the nut.
The screw is about a half inch, so I put a piece of tape on the drill bit one inch from the tip to give it some extra wiggle room. It helps to clamp it down to keep your drill going in straight. Once you’ve got a good hole, test-fit the nut to make sure it works.
If you’re good, then add a bit of glue or epoxy and fix it in place. Just be careful not to get it all over your fingers, like me. It’s a pain to clean off.
Oh, and avoid getting any inside the nut on the threads, otherwise, you won’t be able to screw it on. Let it cure for a few hours, and then boom, you’ve got a cool custom wood tap handle.
Chalkboard Tap Handle
Number two, custom chalkboard tap. The benefit of this one is you can actually label what’s on tap. It’s kind of similar, but instead of finding wood in your yard, you’ll need to find some small piece of lumber.
Hopefully, you have some scrap pieces lying around, otherwise head over to the local hardware store and find a small, inexpensive piece of wood, similar in shape to this, preferably greater than an inch thick, so the nut can fit in. If not, you can always glue two pieces together, like I’m doing.
And if you want to splurge on zebrawood or purple heart, be my guest. Also, while you’re there, pick up some chalkboard paint.
Hopefully, they have a small pint or even a sample for a few bucks, since you only need a tiny bit. I found this one at Dollar Tree, believe it or not.
Back at home, cut the wood to your preferred size. I’m again going for about eight inches. Then give it another good sanding for your handsake, but also to help that paint go on smooth. And honestly, without the paint, it looks pretty good, but let’s take it up a notch.
Once it’s sanded, pick a side and paint on the chalkboard paint. And if you want to be fancy, use a bit of painters tape to create a border. And I know this is going to look like we’re destroying everything, don’t worry about it. We don’t make mistakes, we have happy accidents.
Once that’s dry, just repeat the steps for adding the nut as the last one. Now just use some chalk or chalk pen to write whatever you’ve got on tap and add it to the faucet.
One tip is to keep that chalkboard paint in your closet because I found that it needs a new application every year or so to keep it looking sharp.
Yeast Tube Handle
Number three, yeast tube. I love this one. You may have seen it on Pinterest or on Instagram, but it’s a great way to reuse these old white lab yeast tubes and display some ingredients to give your guests an idea of what might be inside. Credit goes to the Burtis Brewery Blog for the idea.
The tough part might be finding these yeast tubes since White Labs is pretty much switched to the plastic packs these days, but some more unique strains can still be found using them. This super high gravity yeast, for example, is still in the tube.
But, as commenter Theron pointed out, these vials are actually blanks for 2-liter plastic bottles, so they can be found sold in bulk online. But finding the White Lab’s yeast file gives you a zero waste option.
Once you’ve used the yeast, take off the label, it comes off pretty easily. Then, we need to make a hole for the nut to go in. This time, I’ll be using a drill bit that just perfectly fits inside the nut and then I’ll drill into the cap from the inside with a sacrificial piece of wood below to get a clean hole.
You may need to move your drill around to size up the hole slightly and just double-check that it fits onto your faucet tap.
Next, affix the nut to the inside of the cap. Here, I’m using a hot glue gun, which does work, but the bond is not as strong as epoxy. So, if you have that, I recommend it over hot glue. Either way, just be sure not to get any on the threads of the cap, or else it won’t go on right.
Also, don’t worry if you mess up here, the cap is just a two-liter bottle cap, so you can always go out and get a new one if needed. Once the glue is hardened, you can now add in your ingredient of choice, a pale malt for lighter beer, some roasted malt for a style, or how about some hops for your IPA?
Get creative with it. You really can fill it with whatever you like. One key tip on all of these is to use the collar, which is the part just below the tap, to tighten down and make sure the handle is secure, since there aren’t as many threads for it to hang onto. And that’s pretty much it to making your own tap handles.
So, what kind of tap handles will you be making? Did you get any good ideas from these examples? Really, once you have the hex nut, your options for tap handles are endless.
So, you’ll start walking around thinking, ‘I can make a tap handle of that, or out of that, or even that, well maybe not that.’ If you do make a tap handle, I’d love to see your pictures.
Send me some pics on Instagram at the brew show or head over to the discord and drop them in the show your brewery threat. Thanks for watching, happy pouring, and cheers!