As I mentioned in Making a Keezer: Part 1, you will need to build a collar for your chest freezer using basic woodworking skills. A collar is needed to convert a chest freezer into a kegerator so you don’t have to drill holes through the freezer’s body, potentially damaging coolant lines and destroying the freezer. The collar is a basic frame made out of wood that gets installed between the body and the lid of your freezer. To do this, you will need to remove the lid, install the collar, and reattach the lid to the collar itself. After it’s installed, you’ll have an area of wood that you can safely drill holes for your beer shanks and also have an area you can secure items to, like the CO2 distributor.
For my collar, I decided to go with mahogany. Why you ask? Because it was sitting in my garage begging to be used. It’s also extremely durable and hard. It has a reddish color to it and it should look really nice against the black body of the chest freezer I bought from Sears. I measured the dimensions of the rubber seal on the freezer’s lid for the two lengths I would need for the collar. Instead of cutting the boards at 90 degrees, I decided to make it a little fancier and cut them at 45 so the collar would have a seam in each corner (like a picture frame). I drilled out all the holes I would need and even drilled a hole for a retro thermometer. Then, I built a few corner supports and mounted them on the inside of each seam. After everything was assembled, I went out to my favorite store (Lowe’s) and bought some spar varnish. Spar varnish is made for marine vessels. It has a glossy finish and protects the wood from moisture, which is needed because the inside of the collar will be exposed to high humidity levels. I let it dry overnight and was happy with a single coat of varnish.
Once everything was dry, I removed the hinges of the freezer. Be careful! These hinges are spring-loaded and will knock your teeth out if you let them. Once the lid was off, I applied a bead of black silicone to the bottom edge of the collar and placed it on top of the body of the freezer. Then, I went around the inside perimeter of the collar with some more silicone to ensure I had an airtight seal. Let that dry for a day and screw the lid’s hinges to the new collar. I had to fill the extra space between the hinges and the collar with some washers. I’m not overly impressed with the way it looks, but it’s in the back and out of sight. I also mounted the temperature control unit to the back using one of the screw holes from the original hinge location. Voila! Now all you need to do is hook everything up!