Waterjet Aluminum Tap Handle

About: I am an inventor. With a notion of utility that is irrationally broad, my work explores the full spectrum of practicality, whimsicality, and usefulness. For me, any novel creation is an invention. Some of...

Intro: Waterjet Aluminum Tap Handle

An old friend is opening a pub in Boston named Lulu's. Their cheapest beer on tap will vary, but will always be called the "Village Keg". I created a custom tap handle to help the less pocket-heavy patrons find their mark.

Step 1: Choose a Font

Tap handles are almost exclusively made with wood. I like metal! I chose a simple metal design for the handle: cursive script. I started by selecting several fonts that could work. I decided to use the middle font on the right. I then imported that font into Adobe Illustrator where I was able to push, pull, bend, extend and distort the lettering until it was all one connected shape. (You'll have to sort that part out yourself...)

Step 2: Waterjet Cut the Script

I wanted this handle to be plenty strong and look substantial, so I used half-inch aluminum.

Step 3: Create the Handle's Mounting Block

Tap handle's have a 3/8-16 tapped mounting hole. I didn't have any aluminum nuts lying around (who does?), so I created my own hardware. In the scrap bin, I happened to find some aluminum plate with a tapped hole of the right specs, so it didn't take much work. I cut out the hole and sanded down the rough edges.

Step 4: Amateur Hour

I ain't no aluminum guy. I'm just a dumb steel worker. This was my first TIG aluminum job. The Miller Dynasty TIG machine over at the Instructables shop might as well have been a rocket ship. And I might as well have been a blind-folded monkey pilot. I stopped just shy of destroying my parts and then found a TIG veteran for some pointers.

Notice that I screwed a bolt into the mounting hole. This was to minimize my chances of destroying the threads while welding.

Step 5: Phew!

That's more like it.

Step 6: Sandblasting

The particular piece of aluminum I used for the script had a near mirrored finish. I wanted satin. I sandblasted the piece to achieve a flat and uniform starting point. During this step I was sure to keep a bolt in the mounting hole to protect the threads.

Step 7: Finishing Touches

Straight off the waterjet, the handle is too sharp... to handle? After sandblasting, the edges are still too sharp. I used some sandpaper to knock them down by hand. A Dremel could do the trick too. Then, using a wire brush, I added luster to the front face. I brushed at a consistent angle (parallel to the angle of the italicized letters).

Step 8: That's a Wrap

Time to bring it down to the pub!



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    5 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    In regards to the comment about the handle weight causing the tap to leak constantly, welding the mount nut at a slight angle so the handle sits tilted back slightly may help prevent that problem.


    4 years ago

    That's bad as hell, man.


    4 years ago

    I tried an aluminum handle on my tap and the weight cause it to drip all the time.