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Revvy 07-03-2012 03:26 PM

(Not Quite) Ugly Junk, Graphically Changeable Tap Handles

When trying to come up with tap handles I wanted something that I could change whenever I changed a beer. But the only alternatives seemed to be the blackboard/white board style.

I wanted something a little more graphically appealing (plus my handwriting sucks,) and something that I could express my creativity in label design as well.

I was looking at various tap designs and other display ideas on the web and stumbled upon “Top Loader” plastic sports and collector card sleeves. So I decided to incorporate that into my design.

They’re available in the toy department of any big box store, where the collectable card sets are.


The typical collector card size is 2.5” w X 3.5”L, and the sleeves themselves measure 3” X 4”.

The first thing I did was made up a bunch of labels in photoshop the size of baseball cards. Since I’ve always been a fan of pinups, both vintage and modern, I decided to make that the overall theme of my labels. Though a few of my older recipes I used other graphics.






I also made a few for empty taps.


(More graphics in my gallery, and on my facebook page.)

Revvy 07-03-2012 03:28 PM

The materials for the build are;


Some of them I bought at Home Depot, some at Michael’s Art Supply Store, and Some were from a hobby shop specializing in model train and dollhouse building. I’ll indicate where with the codes HD, MA & HS, respectively.

1) Replacement Table Legs for the actual tap handle (HD.)
2) Hobby /Craft Plywood x 4 x 12 for backing of card holders The actual width of this is really determined by the thickness of any trim you might be using. (HS,MA)
3) Hobby/Craft Plywood x 3x24 to raise the backing due to thickness of Trim Molding. (HS,MA)
4) Dollhouse Trim Molding. 12” for each tap handle. (HS)
5) 3/8 x 16 thread “T-nuts” for the insert to screw the tap handle onto the tap itself. (HD)
6) (Optional) Hardwood “wheels” (MS)
7) Self-Adhesive Magnetic Tape (MS and Meyer’s )
8) 2” Mending Plates, 2 per tap handle (HD)

The Plywood;

The Trim;
(There are a few different types of trims available, you can even use half rounds. )

The “T” Nuts;

2” “Mending Plates;”

There are two types of Self Adhesive Magnetic Tape, the kind found at most stores like Michael’s and Home Depot is fairly thick and comes in a roll.


But after running out, I found this even thinner version in the arts and craft section of Meyer’s (Walmart sells it also)


Also needed.; Saw to cut wood, a miter box to cut trim (I used an exacto miter box with mini sawblade) stain, wood glue, a glue like Gorilla Glue to bond any metallic parts to wood, wood putty to fill cracks, Johnson Paste Wax and a buffing wheel for a drill, or a cloth to polish the handle (optional,) a vice to hold things while sawing, various grits of sand paper to smooth the wood.

Revvy 07-03-2012 03:30 PM

The first thing I did was to cut down the chair leg to a size I wanted. In the case of mine, I simple sawed off the squared section at the bottom.


I then marked out the part I wanted to cut away to be able to seat the backing board onto the handle.


And I cut it away.

The complete handle;


But it turned out, when I dry fitted the frame to the handle; I didn’t like how the bottom of the frame sat on the notched out piece of the handle, especially with the trim in place. In retrospect I would have cut the handle higher, leaving that rounded part intact.


So I picked up a couple of wooden wheels, and cut them in half.


I glued those in position. http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e3...o/9650dd41.jpg

And filled any cracks with wood putty;


Revvy 07-03-2012 03:32 PM

Next I assembled the backing board for the graphics.

I measured the width of my trim to determine actually how long my board had to be, and determined that mine had to be 4 “ long.

I measured out and cut the miters for my trim pieces.


And glued the trim in place;


Since the trim was so thick I decided to prop the top loaders up by inserting another piece of wood in the frame. You don’t have to if your trim is shallow or you don’t mind having to dig a nail into the frame to get the graphic. I just found it easier to put a piece of wood in.



I glued the frames in place and filled any more cracks with putty.


The final step before staining is to mount the “T-Nut” on the underside of the taps.

I located the center of the base and drilled a 3/8” hole about 1/2” into the base. The I screwed the “T-Nut” onto the beer tap, and marked where the front of the nut fell. That way it would be in the right position when the tap was screwed back on.

I used some Gorilla Glue to mount it and tapped the nut in place. (If using the foaming kind of Gorilla Glue, keep and eye on it to make sure that the foaming glue doesn’t get up into the threaded area. I found that if it does, a Q-tip with some mineral spirits worked great to clean the glue out.


Next I gave them a good sanding with progressively finer grits of sand paper until they were smooth and any the filler putty was even. I the applied 3 coats of Miniwax Stain and Poly the same Walnut shade as I planned for my Keezer collar, sanding with ultra-fine grit paper between coats.

When the stain was dry I applied a thick coat of Johnson’s Paste Wax, and then when the wax clouded I buffed it with a buffing wheel on my drill. I did this for my keezer collar as well. This is optional. I think it gives it a depth of shine, and has an old timey English Pub feel to the wood.



Revvy 07-03-2012 03:33 PM

The final step was to glue the 2 mending plates to each backing board. I measured ” from the top and bottom of the frame and attached them with more Gorilla Glue.Then after knowing the location of the metal plates, I applied the magnetic tape to the back of each of the top loader encased graphics.


And the tap handles are ready to be installed on the keezer collar when plumbing is complete.


As you can see, the label cards store nicely in a Tupperware style container. But once the keezer is built, I am going to frame a piece of sheet metal and hang it above the keezer where I can display my handle graphics in nice way. That way I can keep them were I can see them, and show off my graphic skills. (I’ll post a picture of the frame when I have it finished.

Finally. You don’t need to make fancy tap handles to utilize the Baseball Card Holders/Magnets. You can just make up your graphic and stick them right on the lid of the keezer behind, or below the taps. This would be especially effective for through the door kegorators in stand up refrigerators. Just stick the magnetic cards right on the fridge above the taps. You could even display your graphic cards on another part of the fridge or freezer.

Hope this thread gives you some ideas for your own tap handles, and sparks some graphic creativity.
If you have any questions, let me know.


HawksBrewer 07-03-2012 03:36 PM

What is this that my eyes hath just seen? Is this NON-UGLY JUNK??!?! My head literally just exploded.

oscar127 07-03-2012 03:46 PM

Looks great

pannell77 07-03-2012 03:50 PM

looks great man, love the idea of changeable inserts. what was the cost for the materials?

Revvy 07-03-2012 03:55 PM


Originally Posted by pannell77 (Post 4221976)
looks great man, love the idea of changeable inserts. what was the cost for the materials?

I don't know, I bought this stuff while buying stuff needed for the keezer build. But I don't think it was all that much. I think the most expensive part were the legs which might have been between 4-5 dollars apiece. Probably cost a total of 35.00 to make all three.

Heck you could probably garbage pick an old table or chair and you'd have some nicely turned legs.

Homercidal 07-03-2012 04:39 PM


Ok, who actually built this for you?

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