Building a Keezer Collar

The keezer has been wired in order to control temperature.   The next step is to prep the freezer for Cornelius kegs.

The freezer that I am repurposing has a large hump for the compressor.  I have no clue why it needs such a big hump because the compressor area is actually quite empty.  My guess is that this freezer body design was a holdover as a smaller, more efficient compressor was cut into production.  The freezer was free, so I cannot really complain.

In order to fit two Cornelius kegs I needed to raise the lid of the freezer enough to accommodate a second keg sitting on the freezer hump.  This required a rise in height of approximately 6 inches.  I wanted a little flexibility, so I went with a collar constructed from 8” dimensional lumber.  As you know from high school shop class—for those of us lucky enough to have had shop class—dimensional lumber is not actually its stated size.  A 1×8 or 2×8 actually measures only 7 ¼ inches.  No big deal, because that height would easily accommodate my kegs.

The first stab that I took at building the keezer collar used a couple of scrap 2x8s that a friend gave me from a house he was building in the neighborhood.  The wood was pockmarked with the tracks from mountain pine beetles and they were hesitant to use them in a load bearing application.  I did not think that a lid from a 5.1 cubic foot freezer would be a problem.  Plus the wood had cool blue coloring from the mountain pine beetle infestation:

Janky Collar

The blue color is caused by a staining from the fungus carried by the mountain pine beetle infestation.  My thought was to stain the wood a natural color and let the color show through.  Unfortunately, as I cut the wood I noticed that not everything was true and there was a slight warping to the wood.  Once everything was screwed and glued together I thought that it might work with a little sanding and TLC.  However, the result was going to be too “janky” for my taste.

Plan B was to use dimensional aspen lumber to match the aspen and poplar trim that I have throughout my house.  I thought about using red oak to match some of my furniture I constructed, but the cost was going to be pretty high and the application was not about the wood.

The collar was cut and assembled in about an hour of work in the shop:

Unfinished Collar

As you can see from the construction I had to build a lip on the top of the collar to provide a good sealing surface for the freezer’s lid.  I used a 1×2 mounted along the inside edge to build this lip.  Instead of screws, which I used in the aborted 2×8 collar, I utilized regular, old yellow wood glue and brads nailed below the surface of the wood to secure the joints.

Instead of miter joints I utilized butt joints.  While a miter joint might have looked nicer—although in the finished product you will see that the stain hides the difference in grain—I wanted the additional strength provided by a well secured butt joint.  A miter joint only increases strength when there is a corresponding increase in the surface area to be glued, as in a picture frame mitered at 45 degree angles, and is commonly done for the aforementioned appearance improvement.  In a non-shear load application a glued and nailed butt joint will be more than strong enough.  Plus, the construction was much simpler because it did not exceed the capacity of my miter saw.

The collar was stained with several coats of dark brown American Chestnut:

Finished Collar

Aspen is not a heavily grained wood, but I like that a little bit of the grain peeks through the stain color.  I put several coats on to even out the splotchy nature of the wood and to give it a real rich look.  Set off against the white of the freezer it looks sharp.

To accommodate the tap shanks I drilled two 1 inch holes approximately 2 ½ inches off the center of the face and approximately 3 ½ inches from the top.  There was no science to the location of the shank holes outside of my eyeballing what “felt right.”  It’s probably going to reveal itself as an error in the future and I will be forced to make some more sawdust with version 3 of the collar.

Next up is installing the collar and setting up the dispensing equipment.  Brew on!

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One response to “Building a Keezer Collar

  1. Pingback: Finishing up the Keezer | My Green Misadventure

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