Build a Toolbox Draft Beer Dispenser

Hide your precious treasure in a rolling tool chest

There are times in life when you are presented with a lot of idle hours and a beer project is the perfect way to pass the time. There have been many custom kegerator and draft beer dispenser projects that I have seen, but the rolling toolbox draft beer dispenser is a new take on these classic designs. I first noticed this design at the Metropolitan Brewing Company in Chicago. They transformed a rolling toolbox into a popup beer faucet system to use when they needed a portable dispenser.

Rolling toolboxes are available for a low price from a few different industrial supply warehousers such as Harbor Freight and these can be used as a basis for creating such a hidden treasure as the rolling tool cabinet draft beer dispenser. {Check for toolbox deals}

The first thing you want to do if you are transforming a toolbox is to determine whether you want to build into it an ice powered beer cooling mechanism, like a jockey box, or to make a clandestine kegerator out of said toolbox. The kegerator option is exceedingly difficult compared to the modifications needed to make a 'Jockey Box' or 'Coolerater'. First, I'll go over some basic modifications that will need to be made for either design.

To create a believable imitation tool box draft beer dispenser, you will have to have access to a number of tools, including:

• Angle Grinder with cut off discs

• Mig Welder & proper safety equipment

• Wrenches, screwdrivers, and a socket set (depending on the type of rolling tool box that you have available for the conversion)

• Circular saw and measuring tools for woodworking

Determining how much room you are going to need will greatly affect the kind of draft beer dispenser you are going to build. Most rolling tool boxes will only have enough room for one or maybe two soda kegs, and not enough room for a Sanke keg. This is the first limitation you will have to deal with and it has a lot to do with the kind of tool box you have available for the project and the kind of draft beer equipment that you use. If the rolling toolbox does not have enough room, even with the drawers and impeding surfaces removed, the best option to go with is to modify a kegerator by making a tool box facade with parts cut out of the tool box.

Whether you choose to modifying a kegerator to make it resemble the toolbox or to modify the tool box into a jockey box / coolerator, you will have to seriously disassemble the toolbox in order to make the modification fit. It is certainly possible to use the rolling toolbox to create a facade for a kegerator or to remove the front of the toolbox and the drawers in order to make a false-front for the jockey box. Either way, this involves disassembling the tool box to make cuts.

Next, you have to remove the drawer mechanism from the tool box and also remove the drawers from the front drawer panel (where the handle is). This will most likely involve the use of an angle grinder with a cut off disk. A cutting torch can also do the job, but it is more likely to burn and mar the paint, showing the modification. Cutting and welding can also do this as well, so if you expect to have a nice paint job you might want to plan on re-painting most, if not all, of the unit before you are done.

When the drawers are cut down, you will need to mount the drawers onto the metal panel that they were designed to run in and out of. If you are making the beer cooler design then this panel will be turned into a false panel with the drawers welded in place. If you are making a false front for a kegerator, you will do the same, but additionally, this panel will mount on the door of the kegerator.

Mods for Rolling Tool Box Facade for Kegerator

Mounting the false panel is best done with bolts or threaded rod that is welded to the back of the false shelves, although liquid nails can also do the job, if applied to the drawer front and then held in place with pressure for a few hours. The trouble with the liquid nails is that if someone pulls at the drawer hard enough, it can rip off. The bolts will have to be welded and then marked for drilling through the kegerator door. The door of the kegerator is the one part of it that you can drill through with impunity - in most cases. There is seldom anything but insulation inside this door.

With bolts, the drawer will not pull off, but the kegerator door will open unless latched, or, preferably, locked. A hasp lock is easiest to install, but you also may be able to install one of the tool box drawer locks for that purpose.

Don't forget to mount the roller bottom of the rolling tool box underneath the kegerator. I recommend using self tapping metal screws to do this, but always be aware of where coolant lines and coolant heat exchanges run through the kegerator before drilling holes into it or screwing into it. The slightest nick to the coolant lines may damage your kegerator severely.

The best way to top off your kegerator's facade is to modify your draft tower so that it pops out of the tool box. The beer spigot can also be modified to run into a stainless steel compressed air blower, and mounted on the side or under the top lid of the tool box. For this modification, you may need to paint your beer line with a flexible, rubberized black paint to make it into a convincing air hose.

Mods for Rolling Tool Box Coolerator

The coolerator mod is actually harder, in many ways, than building a facade for a kegerator that is already functioning. Building the coolerator involves building insulation into the toolbox - this can be done with 1/2" solid foam insulation, but it will work best if lined with 1/4" Luan plywood that is painted. You will also want to put in some kind of cooler or plastic bin that will be easily removable. This bin will contain a copper or beer line coil and then be filled with ice. The beer will flow through this icing area in order to be cooled, and then flow to the beer tap.

Christian Lavender is a father, husband, computer geek, homebrewer and founder of and in Austin, TX.

Related Kegerator Projects :
Build A Kegerator Hop Filter -- Adding a hop filter to your draft beer system will intensify your brew's flavor.
Cool a Draft Tower with Computer Fans -- A fun project for those of you who are geekily inclined.
Adding Double or Triple Tap Tower -- Learn how to add a double or triple tap tower to your kegerator.