Introduction: Homebrew Wall Tap

Picture of 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

Picture of 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):

The frame:

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)

Rough draft:

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

Picture of 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"

Nailing

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.

Back Wall

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.

Pre-Finishing

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

Picture of Roughing Out the Wall Frame

Placement

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.

Misc.

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

Picture of Staining and Finishing

Staining

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.

Sealing

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.

Wall installation

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

Picture of 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.:

Hardware:

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

Picture of 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.

Enjoy!

Notes:

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.

Comments

dalesql (author)2015-04-09

Important safety warning for the soda pop faucet. Carbonated water is a weak acid, and if your beer faucet and fittings are chrome plated brass (which is common), the carbonated water will leach the copper out of the brass into the soda pop. This copper is toxic and over time can cause some nasty problems, especially in children. Soda pop fittings must be plastic or stainless steel. I don't understand the chemistry, but beer, even though it is carbonated, doesn't seem to do this.

That being said, if you are hooking it up for root beer for a couple of hours, and then moving back to beer, your exposure is low. But if you are leaving it charged with the root beer all the time, I suggest moving to a faucet designed for soda pop.

Love the project. Good quality woodworking, and a great gift for the whole family of beer lovers. I'm curious how you figured out where to drill the holes in the fridge without hitting any of the refrigerant lines.

tfrave (author)dalesql2015-04-10

I had worked on the fridge prior to it being converted into the official "Keg" fridge. The original thought was that it had lost the refrigerant because it was no longer getting cold... after I took off the back to begin working on it to try and salvage it I diagnosed the problem to a bad capacitor in the starter motor. I replaced that and it was working like a champ again. The fridge however has refridgerant coils located in the back of the system with a blower fan moving constanly. Similar to the cooler in a gas station or the like. Because of the design of the fridge I knew that there were no refrigerant lines located anywhere except the back of the cabinet.

Long story, but because I had worked on the fridge before I had a warm and fuzzy with where everything was located. That being said, don't drill if you don't know what is behind the fridge walls. If there is any doubt I have an infrared thermometer that will show the temperature of the surface... if there were lines, then the temperatures would reflect that.

sarsnavy05 (author)2015-04-09

Looks great!
Don't forget to balance the beverage lines to prevent excess foam.
I suppose the next step would be to run longer lines inside of the wall, so you aren't limited on where your refrigerator is kept.

tfrave (author)sarsnavy052015-04-09

Thanks!

One of the things that I will still have to double check on will be the beverage lines. I have heard that the 1/4" lines may be too big and allow bubbles to form on their way to the tap and I may need to get 3/16"... I am worried about doing too long of lines and having the lines warm before getting to the taps.

sarsnavy05 (author)tfrave2015-04-10

Here is one good resource... Best of luck!
http://www.mikesoltys.com/2012/09/17/determining-proper-hose-length-for-your-kegerator/

gumbytig (author)tfrave2015-04-10

oh and the 1/4" vs 3/16" issue. Both work fine. You need more length on a 1/4" line to get less foaming than on a 3/16". I run all 3/16" line and about 5-6 feet. The other thing that will reduce foaming is keeping your lines cold all the way to the tap. I think there's a chart somewhere about length of line vs co2 pressure vs size of line etc.

tfrave (author)gumbytig2015-04-10

Perfect. I'll look around for the chart. Thanks.

gumbytig (author)tfrave2015-04-10

if you house the lines in say 1" diameter pvc or larger and connect it closed system to the fridge, and then put a small computer fan to blow fridge air through the pipe and back to the fridge, you'll have something similar to what commercial tap towers do to keep lines cool for the short distance to the taps. Larger commercial setups, with a bigger distance from keg to tap, run chilled glycol lines with the beer line and wrap them in insulation until they get to the tower.

bpark1000 (author)2015-04-09

How do you keep this sanitary? During periods of disuse, the lines will warm up and the beer (or rootbeer) go stale. (I assume that in beer establishments they bank on continuous use, which keeps the lines cold, until the keg is empty, then flush the lines.)

gumbytig (author)bpark10002015-04-10

Most commercial setups are chilled right to the point where the faucet is. In some the beer is actually in a walk in cooler in the back and runs through a trough to the taps and is cooled by a glycol jacket that pumps cold glycol through the whole system. And I agree with tfrave about cleaning your lines every 1-3 months or in between kegs to keep things tasting right and sanitary.

tfrave (author)bpark10002015-04-09

One way is to flush the line is to put Star-San into the keg and run it through the line, then flush with water. Even with continuous use lines and taps should be cleaned at least every 3 months. Likewise, between beers would be a good time too. Not just for sanitary reasons, but for palatable reasons as well.

jackthursby (author)2015-04-09

That boy forgot to tilt the glass! spare the rod spoil the child.

tfrave (author)jackthursby2015-04-09

He's only 7... he's got time to learn. He loves using it though, so I guess he may become the go to bartender.

EmmettO (author)2015-04-09

When I first saw this, I thought it said "Homebrew Wall Trap." I then imagined the tap levers being electrified so that it would disable anyone that tried using them.

That needs to be your next instructable! :P

michael.stalenberg (author)2015-04-07

Great work! Wish I had a spot to do this to my keg fridge (and my wife would let me). Just a word of warning when you're drilling your fridge, be sure of where the coolant and radiator pipes are.0 Because if you drill through one of them you'll need a new fridge.

tomatoskins (author)2015-04-07

This is awesome! I really kinda want something like this now!

tfrave (author)tomatoskins2015-04-07

Thanks! I think it is just the first step. It was way less intimidating once I tore out the wall knowing that I had to finish it.

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