Yet another Keezer Build. But this one is Mine!

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prof25

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Hello all! Before story time, let's jump to the finished product:
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I've joined these forums just to share the work from my Keezer build early this summer. I bought a second-hand upright Keezer off CL a couple years back, and it just died on me over the winter. I gave it CPR, but it could not be resuscitated. I decided if I was going to get a new one, this time I was going to DIY, and I was going to need to upgrade.

So I got to work reading forums and blogs and watching YouTube videos etc. and formulated some plans. At the outset, I was cheap, looking for the best deal I could find on a used chest freezer. I found a 7.0 Cu ft Haier model on CL for $90. A great deal! (I think...). However, in hindsight, after I dropped... I'm afraid to calculate, let's say $1000 in additionals... to put this thing together, maybe it didn't make sense to cheap out on the freezer. Fingers crossed it will last for years.

Now maybe there's a lot out there with zero interest in reading details on another Keezer build. I understand. However, for the 3 of you that want to know the details, I'm going to try and give some. It will also be fun for me to try and re-enact the process.
So the greatest source of my inspiration came from YouTube, on a Dudes Brews channel:
You may be able to see some similarity between my final product and theirs. There's little hands where I live, and so I felt I needed a tower/coffin design and not just taps out of the side. And this guy's build, where it ended up reminiscent of a pub, just sold me. This was what I wanted. However, there weren't *complete* build plans down to the size of boards and all that. I just had to get into it and wing it to some extent, like most of us I guess.

I knew I wanted to increase from 2 kegs to 4-5 if possible, but I also have limited garage space, and the 7 cu ft seemed the most economical, so that's what I'd shopped for when I found the right one.
I followed the usual prescribed plan- build a collar. I went with cheap 2x6 boards, well maybe not the cheapest, I don't know. Big box boards. I just went to work building it without much planning.

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I had some metal L brackets handy, so I used those. I was working with my little battery powered circular saw at this point. Looks good to me. A lot will get covered up anyway.
I used some wood filler and silicone at the junctions, and some kind of industrial adhesive to glue it down to the main freezer compartment. liquid nails or the like.
I spray painted her black after this, well after building the collar and before gluing it down actually. A point where I could have done a way better job, but at some point I cared less about the final aesthetic here.

The freezer I bought came with cheap, small hinges, and one had in fact been broken and reattached a little wonky. I knew I was going to build a heavy tower and wanted to beef this up. I bought some Electrolux 29713200 Frigidaire hinges off amazon, ~$30 each. These have a strong spring in them. However, I spent a LOT of time thinking about how to attach them so that I'd get good strength. The lid material is just sheet metal with foam inside, so you can't just screw into that and get much bite. I could have built more wood onto the back of the lid so I could firmly attach to the wood... but in the end I bought some jacknuts and went with this. Jacknuts are for a blind attachment (also called rivet nuts and stuff like that) and I liked the idea, though I had to find the right place to order from, I got the wrong size first, I ran into several issues. Also, in the long run, maybe they're not the ideal fix. The problem with them is they tighten down nicely and give your screw something good to hold on to-- however, they can spin back there, and if they start, they're not going to stop. One of mine did this, and with much finagling, I finally got it to settle into a tight position where I hope to never touch it again. Anyway you can see the hinges here:
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I also had to drill new holes to place the hinges, the original hinges were attached to nuts on a steel plate back there, couldn't reuse same hole positions, couldn't drill through that plate easily, etc. so I moved em.

Okay, that out of the way. I should remind I owned 2 corny kegs. I put these in the floor of the Keezer and moved them around. It appeared to me I would be able to get 4 in there, but I couldn't be sure until the final test. Finally, I was hopeful, though not exactly planning it all out well, that I could get something else on the shelf. This is actually why it's taken me 2 months to post this. I needed to make that happen before I could report. Spoiler: It worked!

So collar built, hinges on, I started building the lid. You can see that in the picture above already actually. A sheet of inch thick plywood, and I glued some different cheaper edge pieces onto it to frame out the lid, then again, industrial adhesive to attach the plywood to the lid. You can also see in picture above I've already drilled holes for the lines to go through.

I did also buy a foil tape to seal the inside of the collar, and then put some foamboard insulation inside of that.

Okay, I got to work on my coffin at this point. This is probably my main sort of regret- I was winging this on size, trying to be a little cheap and use what I had instead of buying all new material, etc. And in the end, I made this thing way larger than it needed to be. From the very first picture, comparing mine to others, especially to the inspiration at Dudes Brews, my whole setup is a little top-heavy. That said, nobody that has come by for a brew has complained one iota.
I built my collar using some cheap wood and MDF surround, learning as I went. I knew I was shooting for 5 taps. I think I read 2.75" between taps to be ideal, plus some symmetry on the edges, and I was starting at 16.5" wide. Somehow I landed on making it about a foot deep. Probably could have gotten away with half that. I wanted to make sure the taps were high enough even for a tall glass, and I didn't anticipate them coming from the very top of the tower, and somehow I landed on about 19" tall.

So I build:
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and there it is framed with the MDF. Somehow at this point it was already about 20" tall, 19" wide, 12" deep. Gratuitous. Oh well, press on.

I built a dolly for the whole thing so it would at least be easy to roll out from the wall and service.

I started attaching nicer pieces of oak, first on the sides of the lid, then on the top. Right about here I borrowed a friend's much nicer table saw, which totally made the project go from here on.
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I also put the oak on the top, sides and front of the tower. This is where the size of my tower just kept ballooning, adding more trim.
I basically just framed the edges of the lid with more nice oak, leaving a little overhang so there'd be a lip. Again I'm largely following the Dudes Brews plan. But they got beer labels and covered the inside surface with them and then epoxied over. I wasn't gonna do this but up until reaching this point, I did not know what my plan was. I had plenty of temptation to get to the finished working product and figure out what to do with that later. But as I got to this stage I was realizing how I'd screw down the tower and never want to take it off again and thereby put real limitations on what I could accomplish later in decorating that space.

This is where I had the only real kind of unique idea for the project. With this fancy table saw on loan, I took a look at some old boards a friend left me that I think used to be part of a bed or something, and decided to try cross-section cuts to show the end-grain. The difficulties were a) a number of pieces had some cracking, b) they weren't all perfect 90 degree angle straight pieces, c) I needed pretty uniform thickness, and just d) lots of cuts. But I pursued.
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I love the grain on those. It was tedious work making all the cuts, but at least it wasn't another outlay of $.
I got my drip tray in and had to make more careful cuts to work all around it.
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Finally I made the cuts I wanted, selected the best pieces, and glued them in (no clamping here, just glued down). Then I spent a lot of time with a sander.
There were still a lot of gaps due to those not-perfect square edges. I decided to try a polyurethane-sawdust fix, dripping the poly in and then applying sawdust on top, repeating as the poly filled and ran through the nooks. I figured I'd have plenty opportunity to just sand it all down after. That worked well, for the most part.
Only problem is of course when I went to stain, I never fully got rid of the poly that was on the edges, and at first I thought it looked awful:
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Also, unsurprisingly, end-grain is hard to stain really evenly. I should note that I never claimed to have *any* experience woodworking prior to this project. This is it, people.

I did some research on the best ways to make this look better here, and I tried at least a couple of things. I think I got the most mileage out of some wet sanding with fresh stain, trying to work a little more heavily where the poly kept the stain from really absorbing into the wood. The final product is still a little mottled, but I finally decided it just gives the whole thing character. Right?
It looks a little better here, I think:
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I'm still leaving a lot out. I used chalkboard paint on the front of the tower so I could write beer names there. I got a little surge protector and mounted it on the back so I could plug temperature regulator and freezer into this, and then just have the one cord from the extension cord to keep up with coming off the back. It also allowed me to get a bluetooth speaker plugged in and ready to go for garage drinking parties... I liked the idea early on of wheeling this thing out, sorta wherever, knowing all I need is an extension cord and I can party wherever. However, while I got pretty nice wheels, this thing is heavy and does not want to roll any further than it has to.

I ended up putting lid support hinges on both sides that lock out, so I could open the lid, lock it open, and not fear all that weight crashing on my head.
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These are sorta installed backward. They're meant to go inside a chest and attach to the lid, but that would have attached to plastic and foam in my case. So I put them on the outside, shimmed out a little as you can see so that the hinge would clear that little lip at the transition to the black part. Again, -1 for aesthetics, but +2 for functionality. I'm really glad I did this and am not using 2x4s to hold the lid up while I work.

Here's a decently big screwup. Once the tower was all built and I drilled holes, I basically decided to spread them as far as I could. I was having a bit of a hard time "seeing" how the spacing on the front of the box equated to where the holes were in the back, and I got in too big of a hurry. I think I ended up spacing the taps 3 or 3.25" apart, but then I realized my error on the backside.
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The holes were too close to those thick planks. After some consideration, I just went after it with a hole saw, and in the end I made this work. The final state of this is a little better than what can be seen here, I'm able to get the nuts on these edge taps nice and tight just fine. But, it was kinda ugly to get there. I should note here that I insulated the tower, and like many others, I was leaving open the option of circulating fans at some point. However, it all feels really unnecessary in the end. The beer is cold down below, but this tower portion is never really cold. I'm sure that means the very first sip of beer isn't that cold, but I'm pouring pints and it's all good. I could add the fans, but it ain't broke.

Okay let's show the inner workings finally. After purchasing 2 more kegs and one more pin-lock keg refitted as a ball lock so it's a bit shorter, I finally proved that I can actually get this thing working with 5 kegs.
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It's a tight squeeze.. may or may not be advisable. I don't actually drink that quickly as a general rule, so my hope is now with 5 kegs on tap, not going all in on just one, it will be a while before I need to do more work. But yeah, because of the lid, and it only opening so far (again I didn't want it to open too far and put real strain on those hinges in back), these kinda have to go in in a certain order. The last keg in has to be the one front left. So yeah, if you have plenty of space, why wouldn't you get a 15 cu ft freezer even if you only want it to hold 5 kegs? But I'm quite proud that I made this happen. And so lucky that the height of the short keg worked out okay.
I only have a 5 lb CO2 cylinder in there, seems okay for now, but I'm sure I'm going to need more frequent replacement. Sadly, my current regulator doesn't even display cylinder pressure remaining, so it's a surprise when I run out. Gonna fix that soon. Maybe I can fit a 10 lb too. Or have a backup on hand. Those things are kinda expensive to me though.

If you have read this far, many kudos for your endurance and interest level. Happy to attempt to answer any questions. Hope maybe it inspires the next guy. It was a fun project and I'm pleased with the results.
 

Transamguy77

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That is a nice piece you made there! And for someone who has no real wood working skills that’s pretty awesome! My only question is how do you get full kegs in there with a half open lid?

Edit: I did read the whole post 😁
 
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prof25

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Thank you much.
Getting the kegs in (or out), save the last one, isn't actually too bad. You can see in the one photo the angle and position that I lock it open in. Basically everything goes in with some angle, and for the ones in the back, that's not bad at all. The ones in the front have to make use of angling from the side a little. I'm gonna rub the lid a little getting them in and out and probably have black marks all over it before it's all over, but, it works.

I suppose it would be kind of nice to have some kind of impermanent (but easily re-attachable) lid support hinge so I could open it wider on occasion, but I was really concerned about that weight on top and what would happen if it went back too far. I saw somewhere else where someone built a shelf on the wall behind to support that weight, seemed too complicated. Maybe there's other ways.
 
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prof25

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Well not exactly. Getting the ones in the back involves angling them toward the front so they come through that space where a keg in front would be. So 2 have to go to the back that way, then the front ones. It’s funny how this makes you realize how complicated like packing arrangements can be. I couldn’t mathematically prove to myself given the diameters of the cylinders and the length and width of floor of freezer that they could fit. I know anyone who has considered this before has realized the same. Dealing with the lid is similar in that it’s hard to predict and calculate exactly what angles will be tolerable. Guess and check.
 
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