Waterjet Aluminum Tap Handle

Introduction: 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...

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

    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.

    That's bad as hell, man.

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