My Kegerator - "How To"

How to build a kegerator out of a chest freezer

This page describes my process for building my four keg homebrew kegerator (large finished pic). Crucial inspiration came from:

  • http://www.zorpia.com/cgi/album.cgi?00092173
  • http://www.oregonbrewcrew.com/freezer/freezer.html
  • http://forum.northernbrewer.com/viewtopic.php?t=14079&start=0&postdays=0&postorder=asc
  • http://www.ryanellenburg.com/kegerator.htm

    Supplies and Ingredients:

    (Links generally go to vendors' product pages.)

  • Cedar 2x4x8 cedar (2 @ $4.95), pine 1x12x12 'top choice' (1 @19.48), mitre box, hole saw, L-brackets, wood screws, varnish, primer, rubber floor mat, paint from Home Depot
  • Freezer
  • Drip Tray
  • 4-inch shanks
  • Perlick Stainless Faucets
  • Faucet Locks
  • Temperature Controller
  • Tap Handles
  • Tubing, connectors, clamps, CONSULTING from Lolo Peak Winery, my LHBS

    What I did:

    Preamble: I am really not good with tools and "projects", and was somehow able to complete this without any significant disasters. Go slow, measure twice, plan plan plan, and then do.

    First step was to remove the lid from the freezer and take a good measurement of the exterior dimensions of the freezer itself. This was easy (8 metal screws), but watch out because the freezer hinges are spring loaded, which suprised me. I have not attached the lid to the collar because of this -- I am a little concerned that the spring tension might damage the wood collar. I am presuming I'll need to open the lid only occasionally, so it's no big deal to just pick it up and remove it for now.

    Once I had those exterior dimensions, I was able to make my first cuts on the cedar 2x4s. Rather than cut to length and then trim off the 45-degree angle, do the initial cut at 45-degrees (this was one of my first missteps due to lack of experience with this sort of thing). The $10 mitre box I bought at Home Depot made this a bit easier (and more accurate than my initial "eyeballing" technique), but it still felt junky and I bet a nice mitre saw would have been pleasure to use on this project.

    Once you have all four pieces cut to length with 45-degree angle ends, place them on the rim of the freezer to be sure you didn't completely miscalculate something (I did). They should match up to each other and the rim of the freezer nicely.

    Next step is to decide which of your two long pieces of cedar 2x4 is the front of the kegerator -- doesn't matter much since it'll be on the inside of the painted collar, but probably want to choose one which doesn't have any gnarly knots in the locations you need to drill through. Using your pre-drilled drip tray as a template, use your 1" hole saw ($10-$20 drill attachment from Home Depot) to drill the holes for your shanks. (Unbelievably, I chose a distance that seemed "about right" between the holes, drilled them, and THEN ordered the drip tray. Miraculously, the holes matched up almost perfectly!)

    Click any image to see the larger version.
    Drilling holes

    Next, I used an oil-based clear gloss varnish in a spray can (advice from Home Depot) on the 2x4s. Cedar is supposedly more moisture resistant than any other wood, but I wanted additional protection from mildew/yuck. The spray stuff is smelly, poisonous, and takes 24 hours to dry completely. Do this outside, you'll be glad you did (I didn't).

    Once all the 2x4s were dry, I attached them with L-brackets on the inner surface of the frame. This took some adjustment; when I first put it all together and tightened it down, the frame was so cockeyed that when placed on a flat surface, one corner was almost 2" up in the air. This was caused by my sloppy measuring and cutting, a cheap mitre box, and tightening each corner down independently. I was able to solve it (well enough) by loosening all the screws, having someone stand on both ends of the frame on a hard tile floor, and then tightening everything down.

    L-Brackets

    Next I measured and cut the four pieces for the outer portion of the collar. I used 1x12 shelving material which seemed to work fine. I made sure the front and back pieces were a good 1.5" wider than the front of the freezer. Oddly, the piece of wood was quite warped, so I needed to do a little planning regarding which direction I wanted the warp to lean, and decided the collar could be narrower at the top and wider below; this had implications for shaping the side pieces, which were consequently over an inch wider at the bottom than the top.

    I primed and painted the outer collar pieces to match our trim (requirement of SWMBO), and then began by screwing in the front and back pieces. Good strong plastic C-Clamps made this task easier -- I did it right on top of the freezer to be sure everything was going to fit. Here's how it looked with just the front and back attached:

    And a side view that really highlights the extent of the warp:

    Here's a view that shows my placement of the mounting screws. I used 1.5" wood screws, so they went through the approximately .75" thick outer collar and more than an inch into the 2x4 cedar inner collar.

    Next I installed the side panels of the outer collar. The end result is a 4-sided inner and outer collar (connected to each other with those wood screws) that can be easily lifted off the rim of the freezer and replaced. To improve the seal between the inner collar and the rim, I laid down some standard self-adhesive foam rubber weather stripping on the rim in two rows around the perimeter of the rim.

    Once I was happy with the collar assembly, I pushed the shanks through and tightened them down. The great folks at my local homebrew supply shop provided invaluable consulting on what I'd need for the internals of the system. Basically since I only have one small CO2 tank and regulator, I opted to use 3 gasline T-junctions to apply the same amount of pressure to all four kegs. Here's how it looks on the inside (note also the rubber floor mat to help avoid damaging the floor of the freezer when moving kegs).

    Once I installed the faucets, faucet locks, and tap handles, here's how it looks in its natural environment: