Update: I put all of the keezer build posts in one place. There you will find pictures, parts lists, and links to all of my posts on building the keezer. Start there if you’re interested in building your own (and you should be…it’s sweet).
She’s done. Sorta.
There are still some finishing touches to be made on my new kegerator but the collar build was a success and beer is flowing. If you missed it, you can read about my kegerator plan here.
Since the kegerator is made from a chest freezer, most people would call it a keezer. The main part of building the keezer was building the keezer collar. I spent hours looking at examples all over the internet. There are tons of designs out there and from those I conceptualized what I wanted mine to look like.
With a plan and place and anxious to get started, I told my Dad what I wanted to accomplish. He hopped a flight from Virginia to Denver to help with the build. This wasn’t something he was going to miss. I’m good with a boil kettle, but he’s better with a hammer and I couldn’t have made something this beautiful without him.
Without further ado, here are the instructions that go with the video for building the keezer collar. I hope it helps homebrewers who want to build their own.
How it Works
A keezer collar gives you a way to build a kegerator without drilling through the freezer. Some of the benefits are:
- It gives you a place to mount your taps without drilling through the freezer.
- It gives you more room. With the collar, I can fit an extra corny keg on the inside shelf which I couldn’t fit before.
- If you keep your CO2 tank outside the freezer, you can drill holes in the collar to run your gas lines.
- You can mount other accessories like C02 manifolds, drip trays, and bottle openers. You could also put chalk paint on it to display your tap list.
- It looks badass.
There is an inner collar and an outer collar. The inner collar rests on the ledge of the freezer. The freezer’s lid is removed and reattached to the inner collar. The outer collar bolts to the inner collar. It is a couple inches taller than the inner collar, so it hangs down lower over the outside of the freezer.
Although no part of the collar is physically attached to the chest freezer, the outer collar hangs down low so it essentially locks the whole thing in place. If you tried to pull it off, the outer collar would bump into the freezer.
Type of wood for the collar
A trip through the lumber section at Home Depot may overwhelm you with all of the varieties of wood to choose from. Key things to consider are appearance, cost, and durability.
For the inner collar we went with untreated pine. It’s cheap, and since it’s on the inside appearance isn’t as much of an issue. For the outer collar we went with oak. Although much more expensive, oak looks simply fantastic. For all the work we’re putting into this thing I didn’t want it to look cheap. Plus, oak is much harder and more durable than pine. That’s important since it’s on the outside (this is a kegerator which means stumbling drunk people will be around it).
Attach the collar to the freezer or lid?
We rested it on the freezer as opposed to attaching it to the lid. Some people attach it to the lid because:
- They don’t want to whack (and possibly break) a shank or faucet with a full keg when lifting it over the collar. Attaching the collar to the lid gets everything out of the way when the freezer is open.
- They don’t want to lift kegs the extra distance over the collar.
It’s personal preference, but to me those reasons weren’t worth the extra effort it takes to attach it to the lid. To avoid #1, I just load from the side and am careful. As for #2, if I can’t lift a keg an extra 6 inches then I shouldn’t be lifting it at all.
Besides, the collar with all the attachments is pretty heavy and I don’t want to put the extra strain on the hinges which weren’t meant to bear the weight.
Kegerator Collar Parts
- 12 feet of 1×8 red oak – $45
- 14 feet of 2×6 pine – $9
- Red Mahogany Stain (1 jar) – $6
- Minwax Semi-Gloss Spar Varnish (1 spay can) – $8
- Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner (1 jar) – $6
- Sponge Rubber Weatherstrip – $4
- Brass Bolts (12 total) – $10
- Gusset Angle Brackets (4 total) -$4
- Wood Screws – $8
- Washers – $3
- Nuts – $3
- Total – $106
Building the Kegerator Collar
- Remove the freezer lid by unscrewing the hinges. Put a long nail or drill bit through the hole so the spring doesn’t let the hinge whack you in the face.
- Measure the front, back, and sides of the top of the freezer. These will be the dimensions for the pine inner collar.
- Using the measurements from step #2, measure and cut the pine.
- Attach the pine pieces together using the angle brackets and wood screws, creating butt joints. You’ll now have the fame of the collar.
- Measure the cuts for the oak. You can make butt joints like you did with the pine, or make 45° miter joints like we did. The miters look nicer but they are tougher to make. You’ll want to use a miter saw for these. Measure the oak so that it fits snug around the pine.
- Cut the oak.
- Clamp the oak to the pine, making sure the tops are flush. The oak is taller so it will hang ~ 2 inches below the pine. We put the oak on the front and the sides. Since it’s pretty expensive we didn’t bother with the back where no one will see it.
- Mark where you want the bolts to go that will attach the oak to the pine. We put 2 bolts about five inches from each end and a couple of inches apart, in the upper area of the oak. With 2 bolts on each end of the oak boards, and 3 boards total, we used 12 bolts.
- Drill the holes and insert the bolts. Secure them with the washers and nuts.
- Put the freezer lid on top of the collar, position it so it’s centered, then reattached the hinges using the wood screws. This time the hinges will be connected to the collar, not the freezer.
- Measure and mark the holes for the taps. This one is going to vary depending on the size of your freezer, number of taps, and preference. We used my 19″ drip tray as a guide and kept the outer taps within that length. We spaced them 4 1/2 inches from each other and positioned them slightly above the midline on the front oak board.
- Drill the holes for the taps. This was tough because we were drilling through an inch of oak which is hardwood, plus 2 inches of pine. We used a Forstner drill bit for this. You could also use a spade bit. Make sure you’re drilling the correct size hole for the shank you’re using. We drilled 3/4 inch holes.
- Insert the shanks to make sure they fit. Ours didn’t quite fit at first so we had to loosen them up a little with the drill.
- The drilling, cutting, and bolting of the collar is done at this point. Remove the lid and get the collar ready to stain.
- Stain the wood. We used the Minwax conditioner to make sure everything spread and absorbed evenly. That dried quickly, then we applied the red mahagony stain. That was left to dry for 24 hrs, then we applied a semi-gloss spar varnish for a little shine.
- When the semi-gloss dries (a few hours), put the weatherstripping on the bottom of the pine. This will ensure a good seal between the collar and the freezer.
- Place the collar on the freezer and inject clear silicone caulk into the gaps between the inside and outside collars. This will insulate the unit and also makes it looks nicer. Wait for the silicone to dry.
- Reattach the lid.
- Attach the shanks and faucets.
- Attach any other accessories. I added a 4-way CO2 manifold to the back of the collar on the inside. I’m going to attach my drip tray soon.
For photos of the build, click here.
If you’re wondering about the rest of the keezer – the taps, gas lines, shanks, drip tray etc…..don’t worry, I’m going to do a post on that eventually. Because it’s not entirely done I am going to hold off, but since the collar is such a major portion of it I thought it’d be best to do a dedicated post.
When the entire thing is done I’ll post about it and include the total cost.
Definitely let me know if you have questions. There were a lot of little steps and I’m sure I missed something. Cheers.
There are a lot of questions that I answer in the comments but with 140 of them (and counting) and I know it’s a pain in the ass to wade through them all. So here are the most frequent questions I get and their answers. If these still don’t answer your questions, leave a comment and I’ll to get to it. If I don’t, bug me until I do!
Is the collar secured to the freezer? Do you worry about it falling off?
No and hell no.
What did you do about the cord that turns on the light inside the lid?
The cord is stays plugged in. It’s long enough that it can reach from the lid to the bottom of the chest freezer, even with the collar installed. See the picture.
What model chest freezer do you have?
It’s am 8.8 cu. ft. Kenmore Model #: 16949. I paid $347.92 at Sears in 2011.
How many kegs can you fit in it?
I can fit 5 5-gallon cornies plus a 3 gallon corny & CO2 tank on the compressor hump.
Why didn’t you insulate it?
I finally did! See here: http://billybrew.com/insulating-the-keezer-collar
Does the fan run constantly?
Yes. Here’s that blog post for reference: http://billybrew.com/keezer-updates
Where did you get those metal caps for the holes in the collar?
Ace Hardware. They are called metal hole plugs. I have a picture of the box on my keezer build page.
What about the alarm on the freezer?
Mine has an On/Off switch so I just turned it off. Not sure about other models.