Introduction: Homebrew Wall Tap
My dad has been homebrewing for the last few years, and has recently begun kegging his beer. The plan was, to put together a way for him to share his beer in a more "dignified" manner. Over Christmas break, my siblings and I made the plan to make and install a wall tap for him, as a surprise birthday present.
The following is my process of making and installing a two tap faucet to serve his home brewed beer (and root beer for the kids).
Note: He already had all of the kegging materials, so I am skipping over that part of the materials.
Step 1: Rough Outline and Ordering Parts
The first step was to acquire all of the parts needed so I could get this together while he was out of town for the weekend.
Parts needed (this is for a two tap system, if you only plan on doing one, then divide by two):
8' 1 x 6 board
20" x 48" 3/4 " laminated board/ or pre-sanded plywood
12' of trim (I got 2 8' trim pieces so I had room to screw up)
1 Can of stain
1 Can of polyurethane (I used Spar Urethane since I know that it holds up outside in the rain, I'm sure you can use either kind)
Hardware (Ordered from Northern Brewer the prices were about the same from everywhere, but it had a flat rate shipping and everything was at one place(Bonus, everything arrived in less than 24 hours from ordering!)):
2 Beer Faucet ($25 ea)
2 Beer Shank Chrome plated 3"x3/16" bore ($15 ea) (you could use a smaller size maybe the 2 1/2")
2 Beer Shank Wing Nut ($5 ea)
1 12" Countertop Drip Tray ($30 ea (this one seems expensive but it is necessary for the inevitable drippage) dimensions are 12" wide x 5" deep x 1" high (for some reason the website does not give these dimensions)).
10' Precut 1/4" beverage tubing ($10)
2 Tail Piece 1/4" ($.33 ea)
2 Black Neoprene Beer Shank Washer ($1 ea)
1 Faucet wrench ($5 ea (you can go without one, but it makes installation/removal for cleaning so much easier and you will not scratch the chrome plating))
2 Tap Handle Inserts ($2.50 ea (you can make your own handles, or buy premade, this way was a bit cheaper, in case he wanted to swap out the handles that he already had.
2 Ball lock keg connectors ($6 ea)
4 Hose clamps 1/2" ($? I had these in a box from Harbor Freight $6 for 40)
I sketched out the plans to run it by my brother and sister to make sure it looked good to them. The tentative plan was that the inside would be 12 1/8" (to accommodate the drip tray, with the polyurethane on the inside of the wood frame) with the additional width of the wood it would measure to be about 13 1/2" (enough to fit between wall studs, with some room to shim it into place).
Step 2: Make the Frame
Getting lumber to size
My first step was to rip my lumber to size. If you have a table saw this will make things a little tighter of fit, if you do not, it is not necessary.
I ripped my 1 x 6 down to 5" exactly to fit the drip tray.
My laminate lumber I cut down to 13 5/8" wide by 31 1/2" high (my opening was 12 1/8" x 30" allowing for the overlap of the board on the back to give the frame support).
Next I cut my 1 x 6 to length:
2 @ 13 5/8" and
2 @ 30"
I nailed each board on the ends (through the 13 5/8" pieces) with a pneumatic finishing nailer (if you use finishing nails, pre-drill holes so you do not split the wood). Each of the nail holes will be located in the wall, so you do not need to use a punch and putty to make them pretty.
Before you nail the laminate (plywood) lumber to the back of the frame, measure out the spacing for the beer shank.
I made my beer shanks located 13 3/4" up and 4 1/4" from each side (this put them 13 inches from the bottom of the frame and 3.5 inches from the sides to accommodate for spacing and large mugs).
When you drill the holes into the back piece of wood, make sure you begin drilling on the finished side of the wood, so it does not "chip out" the wood, in addition, make sure you are drilling down into a scrap piece of wood to reduce the chances of it "chipping."
The beer shank requires a hole about 1" big, I used a 15/16" bit to keep everything nice and tight.
Nail the back of the board onto the frame using finishing nails, double check that your drip tray fits as well as your beer shanks. If everything looks good, sand down the edges to make sure everything is nice and square, with a finished edge, then move on to the next step.
Step 3: Roughing Out the Wall Frame
Next you need to figure out where you would like to place your Beer Tap.
Because the space I was working in was limited I was not able to work around the studs in the wall. I measured 40" from the ground to make the base of the frame fit into (this allowed the taps to be around 54" above the ground to keep the kids from "accidentally" pulling the handles and losing your hard made beverage.
I used my frame as a template to use a pencil and sketch where the holes needed to be cut. After double checking with a tape measure, and level, that the opening would be the correct size, I used an oscillating multi-tool to cut out the opening. Before cutting through to the back side I inserted the wooden frame to ensure that it was the correct size, then I cut through to the back wall. I double checked the fit of the frame and then it was on to staining and finishing.
Not shown, I put in a 2 x 4 support system into the opening in the drywall so I had something to shim against and nail into.
Step 4: Staining and Finishing
I began by staining the frame as well as cutting the trim pieces, and setting up a "cloths line" to allow the trim pieces to dry without resting on the ground. I made sure that I stained the cut edges of the trim, that way if there were any gaps in the edges it would be less visible.
After letting the stain dry I began to coat everything in polyurethane. I ended up doing 3 coats of Poly, in between each coat (after letting it dry completely) sand with 220 grit sandpaper to allow the next coat to make a good bond.
This part takes the longest, depending on your weather, you should allow about 8 hours in between coats (usually your first coat takes the longest since the wood itself may hold the moisture). I did my first coat and then waited overnight before sanding and putting on my second coat.
After making sure it completely dry I placed it into the wall. Using a level I placed shims to make sure everything was straight, then nailed it into place using a finishing nailer. Making sure that my trim was centered completely, I nailed it into place making sure all of the remaining trim pieces went in aligned with the outer edges of the frame.
Step 5: Fridge and Hardware
Note-Make sure everything gets sanitized before installing, you can do it later but it just causes you to do these steps over again.:
Install the Beer Shanks into the "Beer tap insert" (what we just made), and tighten into place with a crescent wrench. Place the Beer Faucets into the the Beer Shanks and tighten with the Faucet Wrench, attach the tap handles, make sure they are alligned vertically and everything on the front now looks nice and finished. On to the back where all the important stuff is located.
Locate where the beer shanks leave the wall and mark on your fridge where holes will need to be drilled. The closer that they are marked the less chance they have to warm up on their way to your mug. I was able to position mine with less than 2 inches, so I did not feel the need to insulate my lines, but if you would like you can get some pipe insulation to cover that gap.
After measuring how long I needed my tubing to be, I just cut it into 3 equal lengths. Two for now, and one just in case for later.
Using a 1/2" drill bit drill a hole into the fridge to insert your (sanitized) 1/4" tubing. I made two holes for both taps instead of one larger hole so I did not have to use something to fill the empty space in the hole where the cold air would come out.
On one end of the tubing (that is outside of the fridge) put on the Beer Shank Wingnut, the 1/4" tailpiece, and a hose clamp and tighten into place. Place on the Beer Shank Washer and tighten onto the Beer Shank. Repeat for the other side.
Inside of the fridge, take the other end of the tubing and attach to the Ball Lock Keg Connectors. Tighten the hose clamp and you are almost ready.
Step 6: Finishing Up
Before hooking up to the beverage of choice, I filled a keg with water to do one last flush of the lines, to ensure all of the sanitizing liquid had been removed and the beer tastes like it is supposed to. This also allowed me to double check that all of my connections were tight and when I finally hooked up the CO2 I would not have a huge mess.
Some things that I have made adjustments to since taking the pictures, I made root beer for my kids (his Grand kids) and I had heard that the flavors from root beer permeate the tubing. Because of this I installed a separate tube specifically for root beer/soda by drilling an extra hole in the fridge. I had to get an extra 1/4" tail piece, washer, and ball lock connector (this way I do not have to remove it every time it switches between beer and root beer). I also have made a port in the fridge to store the CO2 container on the outside to make more room for the kegs as well as any bottled beer that he has made.
The spacing on the taps allows the ability to put in most standard 1/2 gal growlers, and the 17" above the tap faucet fits almost all tap handles that are currently available to buy online.