People looked at us kind of funny the first year we tapped the maple trees in our yard. We did look a little odd with soda bottles and milk jugs stuck on our trees, but why buy equipment when you can make it yourself at a fraction of the cost!?!?! Taps or "spiles" can be purchased online from $3 to $4 a piece. Now we use about 10-12 which would run as at least $36 just for the taps. Now add the cost of buckets, pails, etc..... well tapping your own trees can get a little pricey! But it doesn't have too!
How to make a tap:
First I used a pair of tin snips (use what ever you have like a hack saw) to cut 3" long pieces. This will give you about half in the tree and half sticking into the bottle. I then used a utility knife to whittle down one end so it will be easier to insert into the tree and hammer tight.
How to make your own "bucket":
We keep empty soda bottles and milk jugs as the tapping season nears, If we have tapped a tree before and know it is a good producer it will get a milk jug because they hold more.
All you have to do to get your bucket ready is to clean it well. Then use a knife to cut an X so the tap can slide in. Put some wire through the handle to attach to your nail and you have a sap bucket.
Now how much did that cost you? The jug was recycled, and if you do have to buy wire it is like $3 for a roll. I'd say that was a great deal if you ask me!
I know you can go online and buy starter kits that contain 3 taps and 3 bucket for around $87 dollars. We would need 4 kits and spend $348 not including shipping. If we had to pay that, we would never be able to afford to tap our trees. But by making our own equipment we spent a mear $10. That is a savings of $338 dollars, well worth my time and I am sure your! SO what are you waiting for.... hit the hardware store and wash those jugs, tapping time is coming!
For more tree tapping info check out our Making Maple Syrup tab on our blog