11 Common Beer Tap Handle Questions

This article will outline everything you need to know about beer tap handles. We have set out to find and answer all of the tap handle questions that we can find. Here it is. If you have any questions that are not covered in this article please let us know in the comments. We would love to add more if it helps out our tap beer loving audience!

  1. How does a tap handle work?
  2. Why do tap handles stick?
  3. Are tap handles universal?
  4. How do you install and align a tap handle?
  5. How to change a tap handle?
  6. What are the parts of a tap handle?
  7. How far apart should tap handles be?
  8. What are the typical dimensions of a tap handle?
  9. What are tap handles made out of?
  10. Where to find tap handles?
  11. How do you store tap handles?

How does a tap handle work?

Tap handles work as a lever. When the handle is pulled forward the internal lever moves backwards.  The internal lever moves the valve shaft, sometimes called the plunger backwards as well.  This allows beer to flow through the spout.  This drawing below (sorry for the rough sketch) diagrams the different parts of a tap faucet system to better visualize the inner workings of the tap faucet.

Why do tap handles stick?

A sticky tap handle has nothing to do with the handle.  A sticky handle happens when beer that dries in the faucet.  When beer comes out of the faucet it leaves trace amounts on the inside.  If the faucet sits unused for a day or two beer can dry around the valve shaft making it sticky and hard to move.  Read more about the stuck handles in our article “sticky tap handles; what’s the problem and how to fix it.”

Are tap handles Universal?

No, tap handles are not universal. However, handles made in the United states will be the same nationwide.  Any handle created for the US will have a ⅜”-16 UNC thread.  This means that the thread will measure ⅜” with 16 threads per inch. Handles made for overseas consumption will have an European metric thread of 10×1.5mm.  The two styles of tap handle are not interchangeable. 

How do you install and align a tap handle?

To attach a tap handle to the faucet you will start by screwing the locking nut onto the base of the faucet thread.  Then screw on the tap handle, screw it on until it is tight, then adjust the handle (unscrew it) so it faces the correct way.  Now unscrew the locking nut until it sits tightly against the tap handle.  The handle should now be secure.

How do you change a tap handle? 

Yes you can change your tap handle. When you purchase a new handle make sure it is a ⅜”-16 UNC tap handle, that is standard in the United States. To change a the handle, loosen the locking nut then unscrew the tap handle.  You can now install your new handle by screwing it onto the faucet thread. Check out the graphic above for installation instructions.

What are the parts of a tap handle?

A tap handle is a simple unit.  It consists of a handle, or lever and a connecting part. There are two connector options for US tap handles.  A ferrule, which is an external connector that screws onto the faucet bolt, or a thread insert.  A thread insert is an internal connector that screws onto the faucet bolt.  Internal thread inserts are often found in wood handles, or custom made handles. To make a custom tap handle you need to purchase the insert, they are available for cheap on amazon.

 US tap handles will fit a standard ⅜”-16 UNC faucet. If you are interested in a european metric standard handle, you can purchase it.  You will  just need to also get an adaptor. These adaptors are cheap and are available at kegcaptap.com

How far apart should tap handles be placed?

In bar settings tap handles are 3” apart.  Handles only need to be far enough away from one another to easily pull the handle forward without getting entangled in the neighboring handle. A standard handle will not exceed 2 ¾ inches in width to accommodate the 3” gap standard in bars.

What is the typical dimensions of a tap handle?

A standard tap handle will not exceed 2 ¾” inches in width. This width is to ensure that it fits nicely into a bar tap system where taps are 3 inches apart. You can expect a typical handle to stand 10-12 inches in height and weigh less than 1 lb.

What are tap handles made out of?

Tap handles come in a variety of different sizes and shapes, as well as in varying materials and colors.  One of the most popular materials is resin, a strong customizable plastic.  Other tap handles are made of metal, acrylic, ceramic or even wood. Let’s look a little deeper at each of these materials.

Resin – Resin is another word for hard plastic.  These handles are durable, easy to make and cheap to reproduce. Resin handles are often used for commercial tap handles that need to be mass produced. These handles can be made into different shapes with varying colors, creating one of a kind tap handles.

Metal – Metal tap handles are becoming more popular.  They can cut and engrave the metal using lasers. Metal offers a very durable product with a masculine feel.

Acrylic – Acrylic tap handles are often called injection molded handles.  These handles offer many of the benefits of a resin handle. They are durable, and easy to make.  They come in varying sizes, designs and colors. 

Wood – Wood tap handles are not as customizable as resin or acrylic handles.  But what they lack in customization they makeup for in their natural look and elegance.  These handles are usually sealed with a urethane that gives it a durability rivalved by other tap handles.

Ceramic – Ceramic tap handles are another popular style.  These handles provide quality and beauty.  These handles are not as durable as resin or acrylic handles but offer a beautiful finish unique to ceramic.

Where do you find tap handles?

If you are looking for brewery specific tap handles, you will have to search.  Breweries do not sell handles to the general public.  In your search we recommend ebay, especially the ebay store beercanman19632.  This store has over 1,000 collectable brewery distributed taps.   

If you are looking for a single customizable tap handle we recommend Esty.  Esty is full of artists that create one of a kind items perfect for your home bar. You can also check out our list of the most unique tap handles for sale on the internet.

If you want a tap handle that is 100% unique you can make your handle. You can make a tap handle out of anything.  All you need is a thread insert, available on amazon or at any hardware store.  You will want to first locate the center of the base of your handle.  Next, you will need to find a ⅝” bit, a 1/2” forstner drill bit and a hanger bolt.  This video on youtube does a great job walking your through making your own tap handle. 

How do you store tap handles?

When you have tap handles not in use you can throw them in a drawer for safe keeping.  Or, you can display them with a handle display.  The tap handle display shown below is sold on Esty.  It offers seven faucet threads to display your handles when they are not in use.  Are you handy? Would you rather build a tap handle display?  All you need is a few hanger bolts to fashion your own display.

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