Whether you’re a home-brewing beer aficionado or simply like a good DIY challenge, making your own homemade tap handles is a fun project to add to your bucket list. Depending on your motivations and the kind of person you are (i.e. level of perfectionism), you can either take a bare-basic rustic approach or go all out with extreme detail. We won’t judge you either way, so let’s explore both.
The Lazy – Er – Rustic Way
What You Will Need
- Repurposed Wood. The best part about using repurposed wood is that you’re essentially recycling something and putting it to good use, so pat yourself on the back if you’ve chosen the lazy way. The easiest thing we’ve found to use is a wooden pallet, so if you have one laying around, this will work beautifully.
- Brass Insert. Thanks to some talented YouTubers, we learned that you can buy inexpensive brass inserts on Amazon.
- A Drill. This one is probably self-explanatory, but you’ll need something to make a hole in the piece of repurposed wood.
- A Saw. You can use a handsaw or a table saw, or any kind you feel comfortable with.
What To Do
1. You want to start by cutting some 2×2 wood pieces into five-inch sections.
2. Next, you’ll want to drill a hole into each piece, ideally using a wide drill bit, at least one half-inch.
3. The last step is to put in the brass insert.
4. You can buy a bit to fit the brass handles for a more secure fit as an additional option.
Here is a step-by-step video of what the process generally looks like.
Basic doesn’t have to mean boring. If you want your simple beer tap handles to look sleek without putting in too much work, an easy way to achieve this is to sand the wood. For decorative purposes, consider buying some chalkboard paint to easily write your beer label (or anything else) on your finished piece. The beauty of DIY projects is that you can adapt them and make them your own, so feel free to get creative here with how you choose to paint the handles.
The Detailed Way
If you’re very enthusiastic about a DIY tap handle and want to truly savor (pun not intended) every step of the process, you will approach a more complex approach involving more fancy woodworking tools.
What You Will Need
- Resin and Wood blanks. What makes these different from using regular wood for this project is that they’re so messy. The upside, however, is that they will be easier to saw into equal pieces.
- A Band Saw. As with most DIY projects, you can use any saw of your choosing, but because of the mess involved, a band saw will make your life a lot easier.
- A Drill. Choose your drill according to the size of your insert.
- Inserts. Any insert you buy online will do, but a standard size is ideal ( ⅜”-16 UNC).
- Epoxy. This is crucial because it will help you guide the insert more gracefully into the drill hole without breaking the resin.
- A Lathe. You’ll use this for rotating each would-be tap handle.
- A Turning Tool Kit. You’ll need this to finish up the diameter of each piece on the lathe.
What To Do
1. The first step is to cut your blanks evenly into square pieces.
2. Mark the center on each square piece with a pencil and ruler to ensure you put the threaded insert into the correct spot.
3. Use a power drill to make a hole at the marked center of each piece.
4. Pour Epoxy into the holes you’ve made, and put in the inserts afterward.
5. Allow about an hour for the Epoxy to cure (harden).
6. Begin the turning process by using your lathe and turning tools. Make sure the blanks fit tightly into place.
7. Next, you will want to use a square-tipped tool to shape the sides of your handle. Alternatively, you can use a CAD template pushed up against the handle to carefully match the sides.
8. When you are satisfied with the shape of your wooden handles, it’s time to sand them down and make them smooth.
9. The final step is to use several finish coats (five or six) to add some gloss factor to your handles.
For a video guide, check out this one.
Cheers, you’re ready to enjoy your new smooth beer tap handles!
What Thread Size Is a Beer Tap Handle?
In the US, the standard size is ⅜”-16 UNC threads.
How Big Can a Wood Tap Handle Be?
The average height for a beer tap handle is 12 inches, but they can be as short as 3 or 4 inches. Regarding width, you want to stick to 2.875” or less.
Can I Change the Brew Name Without Changing the Tap Handles?
Yes! Changing out the label and using the same handles is becoming increasingly popular. To do this, you’ll need either laminated water-proof decals or metal plates that snap into position. Another easy option is simply to use magnets that stick to the tap itself.
What Materials Can a Tap Handle Be?
The truth is you can use any material for tap handles: they can be made out of metal, acrylic, wood, resin, or a combination of materials. The easiest to work with at home, however, are wood and resin.
How Do You Attach a Beer Tap Handle?
You can easily attach a beer tap handle by screwing it onto the beer faucet lever and turning clockwise.
Why Is Draft Beer Better?
Part of the motivation behind making your own beer taps is getting a fresher taste. Even in a glass bottle, beer can be exposed to oxygen and light, which change the flavor.