Project Log -- Beer Tap Handles Posted 06/20/2017

My dear old friend from college owns a microbrewery and asked me to work with her to develop a new model for her tap handles.  We worked through a few designs and eventually we arrived at the prototype below.  The remainder of this post documents the process of filling the first order for 3.

The process starts by cutting the stylized tree foliage from pre-dimensioned walnut stock.  We considered using ironwood, but sourcing and expense dictates we use walnut for now.  Each blank is hand cut on a jigsaw and then shaped using files and abrasives until the shape is satisfying.  Because they are hand carved, each handle is unique.  For that reason, each handle has a serial number.  THese are numbers 001, 002 and 003.  The prototype was designated "P" and will remain with me as a model for all future handles.
 The next step is to create the handle and trunk piece.  The blanks below will need to be turned to dimension on a lathe to fit the ferrule on one end and the foliage piece on the other.  The trunk carving is done after the handle has been turned.

Below I'm shaping one of the handles on the lathe.  This is one of my favorite things to do with wood.  Turning wood is therapeutic.

 Below are the assembled handles awaiting the first base coats of varnish.  After the base coats are dried, I carve the Logo.  This allows me to carve the logo and then fill it with dye and still be able to wipe it clean where I don't want it to stick.  If I move quickly it doesn't stain the base coats.  The prototype is on the left.

 Here all three are carved and one has been given the first top coat to seal in the logo.

 The finished handles ready to ship

She received them today and mounted one on her tap.  

If you find yourself near Northwest Indiana and in need of some truly great beer, brewed by a master brewer and really neat person.  Stop by the Ironwood Brewery and Tip one with Barb and Bruce.


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