Upcycle Project: Cardboard Tap Handle

Though this upcycle project wasn’t intended to create something functional, I wanted to use it as a challenge to apply an aesthetic to what I want to create for my final project in this class, a beer tap handle.

Initially, I was inspired by some posts I’ve seen online of people using their failed 3D print scraps to create art, claiming there’s “no such thing as a filed print.”

“Mrs Nezbeth” from r/nofailedprints
https://www.reddit.com/r/nOfAileDPriNtS/comments/9g70ie/gimme_gold_mrs_nezbeth/

However, I realized that I didn’t have many failed prints and scraps left, as I recently threw out a full trash bags worth of them, so I had to find a new material. Luckily, I had lots of Blue Apron boxes I’ve been saving for reuse, so I decided that using them would be an easily available and abundant material.

I wanted to keep the aesthetic of an additive technique used to create the project like the 3D print aesthetic would have given, so I decide to use the cardboard as the layers of the piece glued together to achieve it.

I’ve seen some artists that use laser-cut pieces of cardboard glued together to create a 3D object, so I wanted to recreate that with my project.

To create the handle, I cut out lots of squares from the box, and began to glue them all together to create the base out of which I would shape the handle. The typical tap handle is about 10 inches tall, but I knew that this method wouldn’t create a very strong handle so I decided to keep it slightly shorter than that to prevent it from breaking by bending too much.

Once the glue set, I used a Dremel tool to do my shaping of the handle. Unfortunately, the cardboard didn’t cut away in a sculpting manner as much as I had expected, so it took some trial and error to be able to shape it well.

The final product turned out well, being able to get the ergonomic curve where you should grip in the middle of the handle that I wanted to portray in the shape. If I had to repeat this project, I would definitely change a few things. For one, I would use a much sturdier material that I could shape with the Dremel tool. I liked the idea of being able to shape it physically rather than just glue the pieces together, as it gave me more of a feel of control over my design. Using a more rigid material would also make it more functional and less fragile.

Overall, I enjoyed the creation process of this project, and I may do something in the future to create a handle with this aesthetic to it (possibly cast it in resin).

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9 Comments. Leave new

It’s so cool! I have never thought about making a 3D tap handle using a flat cardboard, it makes the tap very unique. However If I were you I’d probably use a water-resistant coating over the tap

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I like the aesthetic you have created with your project. Tap handles are all so different and brand based but your design gave it a different flare. Awesome design!

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Cardboard is an interesting material to have chosen for this but the final design is very well done, even though it is a bit fragile. Would you consider doing any laser cutting for the cutting of the cardboard in the future?

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Fatema Alhalal
February 13, 2019 8:46 pm

Interesting design and material! I liked when you said there is no failed 3D print, that’s motivating. I agree with the laser cutter method for future designs, good job!

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Chris, this is really cool. I wonder if the tap handle is strong enough? Perhaps you could stick a metal rod and thread it to the tap handle.
TinkerMill, the makerspace in Longmont, has made tap handles with welded and forged crafts like axes and daggers.

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Great project! I really like the look of the tap. Do you think you will make more, or a set of these? I think that would be really nice to have. Great job!

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Hadeel Al Gallaf
February 13, 2019 1:38 pm

I like how your final product looks raw and organic. However, have you thought of incorporating color? Or maybe aligning the cardboard to make a shape rather than just stacking them over each other? Or even using different types of scrap material for an abstract junk art. I would have like to see more creative elements to make your design different than any other ordinary design.

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I really enjoyed how this project idea leads into your final project. I definitely agree that a laser cut board would be a quick way to accomplish this if you were to do this again!

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Joshua Engmorris
February 13, 2019 1:36 pm

I like how you ended up going with a basic tap handle vs having some sort of shape on top. It gives it the same look as a normal wooden tap handle at first and it takes a second to realize that it’s made of cardboard. It would be really cool to see at a bar and then take a double take to realize it was cardboard. Gives is a nice homemade aesthetic.

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