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Cutting down kitchen taps

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The original long reach tap on the bottom and the cut down version above. Not the easiest job in the world but if you’re after a short reach tap for your galley you may not have much choice.

Once I had decided to go down the pressurised water system route on my boat I was then faced with the problem of what taps to use. The choice of taps out there is simply massive. We narrowed the choice by deciding what tap features were important to us. We wanted a mixer tap so we could have hot and cold water.

Many mixer taps come in two parts but as I hate making holes I wanted a mixer tap that only required one hole to fit. As well as a mixer tap we wanted a pull out shower head that could also act as a tap. Now we were reducing the choice nicely but no matter how hard we looked we simply couldn’t find what we wanted in the size we wanted.

Although taps look different they are pretty much standardised in design and size. For example, the reach of most pull out mixer taps is about 200mm. This is far too much for our little boat. It might be fine in a house where you have a huge kitchen sink but they look frankly ridiculous placed over a small boat sink.

No matter how I searched I could not find anyone who made a single hole mixer with a pull out shower/tap in a size with a short reach. The other problem is cost. For some reason taps can cost hundreds of pounds. Since we needed two, one for the galley and one for the head it could cost as much as £500 just for two taps which seems a bit excessive to me.

Are these expensive taps any better? I looked into it and it appears not. It seems to me that you are mostly paying for the style. Even the cheapest taps have a reliable mechanism. In any case, regardless of the price there was still nothing that we liked or felt could be modified easily.

In the end we decided to buy the cheapest mixer taps we could find on the assumption that one day, we might find what we were looking for and could change them when we did. Also I had an idea to cut down the pull out section and if I made a mess of it I’d rather do so with a cheap tap and not an expensive one!

As it happens it was a good move buying the cheap taps. It’s been over 5 years since we fitted them and they have been totally reliable, working smoothly and never dripping. What more can you ask for from a tap? The model we chose is the most common tap on the market, you can find them anywhere.

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If your tap has a black plastic screw end then you can probably cut it down successfully. Sometimes, really cheap versions are moulded in one piece but they are easy to identify as the threads are also chromed.

The first thing I did was see if I could cut the pull out section down. I was in luck. The version that we bought has a chrome finish but the part that screws into the flexible chromed hose was black plastic suggesting that it is a separate part that could possibly be removed. I have seen other versions that are chromed all the way along and these are one piece units that cannot be successfully cut down.

The main tap is made of chromed metal but the pull out section is actually plastic although it is chromed. So if you find yourself in the same situation as us then here’s how you can cut down and modify the pull out tap.

First, decide where you want to cut the tap and place tape around it. The tape reduces the chance of scratching the surface should you slip while cutting. Since the tap is more or less the same diameter all the way along you can cut it just about anywhere you like.

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Place tape over the tap where you intend to cut to protect the chrome finish. The plastic cuts easily with a hacksaw.

Once the tap is cut in half, make sure then end is square and clean by running it up and down a sheet of 80 grit sandpaper. Then before you remove the tape, with a piece of 200 grit sandpaper (or there about) lightly sand the sharp edge. Do not round it off as the chrome is very thin, just sand it lightly. Then remove the tape.

At the cut off end, cut the tap again about 15mm from the start of the black plastic insert. Then cut shallow slots all the way around as shown. Then using a small and sharp screwdriver, force the point between the chrome and the insert. Normally, a small section will come away. Repeat until all the plastic has been removed and you are left with just the insert.

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With the hacksaw, cut vertical slots down as far as the black plastic.

Now with a sharp knife, cut away the ridge so that it is smooth all the way around. Do not cut off the small guide that locates in the tap base as that will be needed so that the tap sits without turning in the tap base. Then sand the surface even with some 80 grit sandpaper. You don’t want a sandpaper too fine as you want to create a nice key for the glue.

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Using a small and sharp screwdriver, force the chrome plastic away from the black insert.

Now try and fit the insert back into the tap. It probably won’t fit so using a narrow sharp knife, enlarge the inside of the tap. Do this gradually and keep trying the insert until it goes in as far as the small guide.

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Here is the black plastic insert after the ridge has been cut away and the insert sanded with 80 grit ready for inserting back into the tap.

Now glue it in place with plenty of PVC glue. That’s it. Job done. I know it’s a lot of hassle but if you want a short reach pull out mixer tap then you may not have much choice. The good thing about these taps is that they are not expensive. I bought 4 from grandtaps.co.uk and cut them all down at the same time.

The one annoying thing about these and most other similar taps is that it seems impossible to buy any spares for them. After time the rubber perishes and the spray pattern becomes very poor. Also the rubber cap that covers the button that selects the spout or the spray gets very stiff. It is amazing that you can’t buy just a few simple parts to refurbish these taps but instead you have to buy the entire assembly. This is quite sad really in this day and age especially when the parts simply unscrew. If you could buy spares they could be changed in moments.

So, a fairly long winded way to get a short reach tap on the boat but at least it is possible!

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