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Experiments in Manliness: I’m Building Something with My Hands


As many of you may know, I am not a self-proclaimed handyman. Quite the opposite in fact.

So the fact that I voluntarily elected to try my hand at craftsmanship would come as a surprise to us all (myself included).

I decided to engage in some woodworking to build a “keezer” (the mash up of “keg” and “freezer”). A keezer is a converted chest freezer that allows the owner to chill kegs of beer and hook them up to beer faucets so you can enjoy delicious cold beer anytime you want… and not take up precious fridge space that your wife would otherwise use for her soy milk and other low-fat, low-calorie foods.

That’s how I pitched the idea to my wife. A keezer would allow me to keep my beer (both homemade beer and purchased) in the garage so my wife could have more room in the fridge. No longer would she have to contend for fridge space against my 2-3 growlers that I keep in rotation. She could have all the room she wanted for salads and other garden vegetables she eats on the daily.

Needless the say my last experiment in manliness included building some dilapidated shelves in our garage. Apparently the use of a level when constructing shelves does not necessarily equate to those shelves actually being level. Quite the opposite in fact. It’s amazing that I have two college degrees and yet, simple things like woodworking and trivial tasks around the house get the best of me.

So when I decided to engage in making the keezer, I was intent on taking my time and making this look Bob Vila professional.

No steps would be skipped. I even wore a flannel shirt and grew a beard (again) while building it. I thought, “maybe if I look like Bob Vila, I’ll somehow harness his pure manliness and raw handyman ability to make a keezer that could be featured in Southern Living”.

But I realized something while I was building the keezer; if the payout for all of my hard work is something that fuels one of my vices (alcoholism), I will put a SHIT ton of time and effort into it. On the contrary, if it’s something that just needs to be done around the house that I don’t receive some kind of gratification for (benefits me directly), I simply don’t give AF about it (curtains, shelves, fixing damages to the wall, etc.).

I also realized that try as hard as he did, the “training” my father imparted to me in the fine art of home repair just didn’t sink in. I was probably too preoccupied with how bad it sucked installing insulation around the house. The only lesson I learned about installing insulations is how bad it sucks to touch fiberglass insulation with your bare skin. NO AMOUNT OF SCRUBBING WILL MAKE THE BURNING STOP.

I also didn’t really pay attention to how to put up and properly repair drywall. That’s really surprising considering how much damage to the drywall I did in my father’s house growing up… damage he has promised to pay forward to my house when he is senile and “unaware of what he is doing”.

I also really don’t know shit about putting curtains up around the house. I kind of just drill holes in the drywall, install the curtain rods and curtains, and say silent prayers that they’ll actually stay up and won’t come crashing down in the middle of the night. My prayers thus far have gone answered, but I know of one particular curtain rod in our house where gravity is slowly winning the battle against it.

Needless to say, I rely on cheap labor to do all repairs in our house. Although it costs money to hire a handyman, in the long run it saves me time in attempting to complete a project… only to need a handyman to come fix the mess of things I’ve made. And come to think of it, it saves me money when I’d have to buy the same materials a second time to have the job done correctly.

If it weren’t for the detailed instructions available on the interwebz, I wouldn’t have the foggiest on what to do. I’d be forced to continue bottling my beer for all eternity. Thanks to a $150 Best Buy gift card, a wise and timely response to a Craigslist ad (for kegging supplies, not anonymous homosexual sex), a Home Depot gift card, and a little bit of pillaging of my daughter’s college fund, I had everything I needed to complete my project. Well… except for time.

Time is hard to come by when you’re busy working and taking care of a two-year old. But so far I’ve managed to find a way to sneak into the garage to do small tasks that eventually accumulated to a finished product. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so I guess I’m doing as the Romans do? I’m not entirely sure. ALL I KNOW IS I WANT TO DRINK SOME BEER RIGHT MEOW.

I just completed the project this past weekend. In no short order these are the things that I’ve done thus far with my project:

(1) Accurately measured board length
(2) Accurately cut wooden boards to length
(3) Successfully put the boards together in a manner that is not dilapidated or non-functional
(4) Sanded the boards to a fine surface
(5) Pre-stain conditioned the boards to allow optimum absorption of the stain
(6) Stained the boards [The best part about staining wood is that if you mess up, you can always add more stain to cover your mistakes.]
(7) Applied a varnish to the stained wood to lock in all that wood-stained goodness
(8) Disassembled a draft tower and salvaged it for parts
(9) Assembled all connections between CO2 tank, kegs, and faucets
(10) Installed faucet shanks and faucets
(11) Attach wooden collar to chest freezer
(12) Use clear silicone caulk in wooden joints for additional insulation
(13) Install temperature override [The last thing I want is frozen beer. That’s the ultimate sign of a screw up.]
(14) Attach weather stripping between wooden collar and chest freezer lid
(15) Attach chest freezer lid to wooden collar

But I still have a few things left to do. Here are those things:

(1) Clean and sanitize kegs
(2) Make sweet, delicious beer
(3) Put finished beer in kegs
(4) Drink beer in kegs
(5) Get drunk
(6) Pass out

(7) Shit pants to the dismay of my wife

I think I made Bob Vila proud, especially since I plan on drinking the beer in the same Bob Vila costume I was wearing when I made the keezer. I assume getting drunk in a flannel shirt is like a MILLION times better than just getting regular drunk. I’d feel like a lumberjack drinking all that beer. In fact, I’d say that when I pour my first beer from my keezer, I’m going to prop one foot up on a large log and hold a swing ax with the other hand just to feel the sheer manliness coursing through my veins. [Of course, the beer mug may be so large I will need both hands to steady it as I guzzle down it’s cold, delicious contents.] NOTHING is more manly than a lumberjack. Which explains why my paper towel of choice is Brawny. Lance the Lumberjack sold me. ALL OTHER PAPER TOWELS ARE FOR SISSY BOYS.

Here are some pictures of the work I’ve completed to date. More pictures to come later while I’m ravishing all the beer inside it (aka, tapping party).
My father would be so proud… if he didn’t already disown me for my previous blog posts.

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