Build sturdy furnishings
with PVC pipe and a few tricks.
By Larry Cotton and Phil Bowie
Humble PVC drain pipe is cheap, widely available, easy to work
with, and almost endlessly useful for making everything from
patio furniture to elegant sculptures.
Here are four family-friendly projects that
use 3"- or 4"-ID (inside diameter) PVC pipe.
In a weekend you can easily make all four: a
kids’ table with a dry-erase top and matching
stool, a two-faced clock to help you remember friends in another time zone, a hanging
planter, and an accent lamp that seems to
float on light.
You can make them with handheld tools,
but bench tools such as a band saw or table
saw with a fine-toothed blade work best for
making square and accurate cuts. PVC also
bends easily when heated in boiling water,
which opens up all kinds of new shapes and
If cutting pipe from a 10' length, ask a friend
to help support it. Use a face mask and ear
protection for cutting and sanding.
Fill any dings with automotive body filler
and/or glaze. Then sand the pipe parts with
180-grit sandpaper, prime, and paint. If you
want to skip the primer, there are new spray
paints that adhere directly to plastic.
Larry Cotton is a semi-retired power-tool designer and part-time community college math instructor. He loves music and
musical instruments, computers, birds, electronics, furniture
design, and his wife — not necessarily in that order.
Phil Bowie is a lifelong freelance magazine writer with three
suspense novels in print. He’s on the web at philbowie.com.
WARNING: PVC pipe tends to roll while cutting
on a table saw, so hold it firmly and cut slowly. Gripper
gloves help. For cutting off sections on a table saw, set
the blade just slightly higher than the pipe wall thickness.
Don’t use a ruler or tape to set blade height; instead,
make trial cuts in a scrap of wood and measure the cuts.
Always wear eye protection when using power saws.
SET UP: p. 99
MAKE IT: p. 100
96 Make: makezine.com/30