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PVC Hacks

PVC plastic pipe is readily available, reasonably priced and ridiculously versatile. These ingenious hacks utilize this useful, DIY-friendly material.

Roll It!

You'd be amazed how easy it is to move heavy, awkward objects with three pieces of PVC pipe. Move playhouses, yard sheds, empty hot tubs and rocks weighing well over a ton with this trick. Use 4-in.-diameter 'Schedule 40' PVC, which is available from home centers. Here's how to do it: This technique works best on relatively flat ground. On mild slopes, you'll need a helper to shift pipes while you stabilize the load. Don't use this method on steeper slopes.

PVC Knife Holders

Carrying kitchen knives safely for picnics and camping trips is challenging. So one reader made knife containers out of PVC pipe and caps. He glued the cap on one end and marked the unglued cap with an 'X.' That way he always knows which end to open.

Make a Mattress Sling

Trying to wrestle a heavy, floppy mattress anywhere is tough. Many mattresses have handles, but they're not intended for carrying. They're actually made to help you position the mattress, so they're not very strong. Here's an easier way to carry a mattress: Make a simple rope sling that will give you and your helper a lot more control. Thread the rope through the mattress handles. Slip a 5-in. piece of 1-in. PVC pipe over the rope ends and then loop and tie each end to create a comfortable sling grip. Flip the mattress over so the sling is on the bottom and you're on your way.

Fishing Rod Organizer

We got sick and tired of our fishing rods getting tangled, so we came up with this easy fishing rod organizer. All you need is a length of 3-in.-diameter PVC pipe and a foam swimming pool noodle. Drill 1-in. holes spaced every 4 in. in the PVC pipe. Use a utility knife to cut slits in the foam noodle, spacing them 4 in. apart. Line up the pool noodle on the wall so that at least two of the slits sit over studs. Pull those slits apart, slide in a fender washer, and screw the noodle to the wall with 2-in. screws. Then screw the PVC pipe to the wall beneath it at a comfortable height and insert your fishing rods. Look Ma, no more tangles! Want some more garage organization ideas? Check out 27 Easy Ways to Organize Your Garage

String Pipe Cutter

Amaze your friends and mystify your neighbors by cutting PVC pipe with a string. It's a great trick to know if you have to cut pipe that's buried in a wall or some other tight spot. We used a mason's line to saw through 2-in. PVC pipe in less than a minute. Need to splice PVC pipe? Here's how!

Storage Pockets for Skinny Things

Saw off short pieces of 1-1/2-, 2- or 3-in. PVC plumbing pipe with 45-degree angles on one end. Screw them to a board to hold paint brushes, pencils, stir sticks and just about any other narrow paraphernalia in your shop. Mount them by drilling a 1/4-in. hole in the angled end, and then drive a 1-5/8-in. drywall screw through the hole into the board.

Vacuum Attachment Holder

Take one of your shop vacuum attachments to the home center and find a PVC tee that fits. Drill a hole in the tee large enough to accept a screwdriver, place a small plywood spacer behind it and screw it to the wall. Find out how to clean a clogged vacuum.

Bungee Cord Organizer

Elastic cords can quickly become a tangled mess. Find the one you need at a glance with this handy rack made from 3- or 4-in. PVC pipe. Just drill 1/2-in.-diameter holes in the pipe to match the slightly stretched lengths of your cords. Keep it in your trunk or shop, out of the reach of children. Check out this other genius bungee cord hack.

Accessorize Your Mower

If you keep a few tools handy while you mow, you can deal with stray weeds as you notice them—no need to hunt for them later. Short sections of PVC pipe taped to the mower's handle will hold tools and other necessities.

Fast, Inexpensive Table

Aunt Edna just called to tell you she's coming for the holidays (and bringing some nice people she met hanging around the bus station). Trouble is, you don't have enough table space. Don't worry; just run to the home center and get a 10-ft. length of 3-in. PVC pipe, four 3-in. toilet flanges and a hollow-core door. Hollow-core 'slabs' are 80 in. long and available from 28 to 36 in. wide. Cut the PVC to make legs and assemble the table as shown. And then check out our tips for finishing a table top. It's not a masterpiece, but under a tablecloth it looks fine. Plus it's light-weight and easy to disassemble and store until next year. Just remember that hollow-core doors aren't very strong; don't sit or stand on the table.

Cheap Storage Cylinders

Build cheap storage cylinders from PVC pipe, end caps, female adapters and cleanout plugs. Parts are available in an assortment of diameters at any hardware store or home center. Cut the pipe to length with a handsaw or chop saw. Glue an end cap to one end and a female adapter to the other pipe end with PVC cement. Twist in a threaded cleanout plug for a cap. If sealing isn't important, you can drill holes in the pipe to decrease the cylinder's weight. Use the cylinders to store and protect fishing rods, drill bits, cross-country skis, blueprints or anything long and skinny—you name it.

PVC Hammer Holder

Next time you're nailing, do it in style with this sturdy but stylish hammer holder. To make one, use a hacksaw or band saw to cut away one side of a 6-in.-long piece of 2-in. PVC pipe, leaving 2 in. at the bottom to drop the hammer into. To create belt slots, drill 1/4-in. holes in two lines and clean out the waste between the holes with a rattail file. That's it—drop in the hammer and enjoy its easy-to-reach location. Once you've got all that done, get to work trying out the hammer hacks no one ever thought to tell you.

Get a Grip

Get a better grip on your straight-handled shovel by epoxying a 1-in. PVC tee to the end.

Oil Recovery System

If you're environmentally concerned and try to completely drain oil containers when servicing vehicles and lawn equipment, then you'll like this PVC hack. This oil recovery system is made up of 1-in. PVC pipe and assorted 1-in. PVC fittings. Cut 1-in. PVC pipe into 3-in. and 6-in. lengths and glue everything together with PVC cement as shown. Build the oil recovery system as large as needed. Use pipe straps to mount it to the wall, placing it high enough off the floor so a gallon jug with a funnel can slide underneath to catch the last of the oil. Ever been too embarrassed to ask what motor oil actually does? Go ahead and quietly find the answer here with no one around. 

PVC Sanding Files

Stick sandpaper to cutoff pieces of PVC water pipe with spray-on adhesive and you'll be able to sand concave curves to perfection. PVC pipe is labeled by inside diameter; here's an index for the outside diameter of useful pipe sizes.
  • 1/2-in. i.d. = 7/8-in. o.d.
  • 3/4-in. i.d. = 1-in. o.d.
  • 1-in. i.d. = 1-1/4-in. o.d.
  • 1-1/4-in. i.d. = 1-5/8-in. o.d.
  • 1-1/2-in. i.d. = 1-7/8-in. o.d.
To apply sandpaper to the pipe, spray both the paper and the pipe with a generous layer of adhesive. Let both surfaces dry several minutes before joining them. Use two grits on each pipe—80-grit for sculpting a precise radius, and 100- or 120-grit for finish sanding. When the sandpaper's worn out, just pull it off, spray fresh adhesive on a new strip and go back to having fun. Check out these other genius sanding tips.

Hide Valuables in Fake Pipes

Put in a fake PVC pipe complete with a cleanout plug somewhere in your basement. Unscrew the plug and there are the goods. Find out the first place burglars look and other secrets they won't tell you.

PVC Curling Iron Holsters

Hate the messy look of curling irons lying on the vanity or the toilet tank? Here's a tip for you. Use hook-and-loop tape to attach 5-in. lengths of 2-in.- diameter PVC pipe to the vanity door to hold the curling irons. Do the same thing with 3-in. pieces of 1-1/2-in.-diameter pipe to hold the cords. Just measure your curling irons to see how long your “holsters” need to be. Let your curling irons cool before you stow them away.

Overhead Storage in the Garage

Stow bulky items overhead by cementing together a simple rack from 2-in. PVC pipes and fittings. Bolt the straight pipe to the ceiling joists to support heavy loads, and screw the angled pieces from the 'wye' connectors into the cross brace to stabilize the whole rack. The PVC's smooth surface makes for easy loading and unloading.

Pegboard Cubbyholes

Here's a tool storage technique for all those slender tools and shop accessories. Cut short lengths of PVC pipe (1-1/2- and 2-in.-diameter pipes work well for most items) and slide them over pegboard hooks. Then load them up with files, hacksaw blades, zip ties, pencils, stir sticks...you get the skinny. Build this compact pegboard storage container in an afternoon.

Gift Wrap Rack

Here's a terrific way to keep rolls of wrapping paper and ribbon handy, dust-free and unwrinkled. Simply glue a bunch of 30-in.-long pieces of 3-in. PVC waste pipe with all-purpose PVC glue. The rack can sit right on your worktable and you can store it underneath or in a closet. Learn more about working with PVC plastic pipe here.

Caulk Tube Nest

Before I made this caulk nest for my shop, the tubes rolled all over the shelves like slippery logs. To build one, cut 10-in.-long pieces of 2-in. PVC pipe and glue them side to side with PVC cement. To get straight glue lines, use the print along the side of the pipe as a guide. As you glue, hold the pieces together for 60 seconds with hand pressure or a clamp until the glue sets. Be sure to apply the glue only in a well-ventilated area. Glue on one tube at a time to fit the available space. That's it— your caulk tubes are now organized.

Long-Reach Vacuum

A PVC pipe connected to a vacuum hose lets you reach up to high spots or into narrow crannies, so you can suck up those cobwebs around skylights or exterminate dust bunnies behind radiators. A 10-ft. piece of PVC pipe is inexpensive. Here's another vacuum attachment hack. In the plumbing aisle, you'll also find PVC and rubber 'reducer' couplings that let you connect your vacuum hose to a different-size pipe.

Odds-and-Ends Storage

Fill a sturdy cardboard box with sawed-off shipping tubes or scraps of larger PVC pipe. Then use it to store and organize all those short pieces of molding, pipe and dowels.

Quick-Draw Table Saw Accessories

Keep your table saw's miter gauge and push stick within easy reach with a couple of sections of 1-1/2-in. PVC pipe bolted or zip-tied to a convenient spot on the frame under the table. Attach the miter gauge holster using the existing frame bolts, or drill holes in the legs for machine screws. For the push stick holster, we drilled a couple of sets of matching holes about an inch apart on the pipe and tautly zip-tied it to the leg.

PVC Dust Catcher

Vacuum dust and chips right at the source! Bolt a 2-in. pot magnet (available at home centers and hardware stores) to a 4-in. x 2-in. PVC pipe reducer and position it near the sander, saw, router or lathe that's making a dust storm in your shop. A 2-in. shop vacuum hose 'press-fits' nicely in the 2-in. reducer end, and the pot magnet ferociously grips any metal surface.

If the working surface near the dust source is wood, screw a blank steel electrical box cover to the surface to hold the dust chute on target. Find many more tips on using your shop vacuum for workshop dust collection in this guide.

PVC Storage Hangers

It's true—we love PVC pipe. Or let's say we appreciate the way it inspires and accommodates tool and hardware storage. Here's the latest PVC gem. Cut 2-in. pieces of 3-in. PVC and saw away a 2-in. section so it looks like Pac Man. (Remember Pac Man?) Drill screw holes and attach the hangers to studs or shop walls. Space pairs for convenient horizontal storage of longer tools such as levels and glue clamps, and use single segments for ropes, electrical cords or anything else that you want securely stored yet easily accessible. Try this tip and you'll learn never to be peeved by leftover PVC.

PVC Pipe Clamp Rack

Are your pipe clamps missing in action right when you need them? Never again, thanks to this slick snap-in, snap-out storage rack, made from PVC pipe. For 1/2-in.-diameter iron pipe, use 3/4-in. PVC, and for 3/4-in.-diameter pipe use 1-in. PVC. To make the rack, cut 2-in. lengths of PVC, and with a hacksaw or band saw, slice them lengthwise about 3/16 in. past the diameter's center line. This creates the gripping action to firmly hold the heavy iron pipe. Drill and countersink two holes in each PVC piece, then space and screw them along a pair of 2-in.-wide boards. Attach the upper board to your shop wall and snap a pipe clamp in either end to position the lower board for screwing to the wall. Plus: 28 secret clamping tricks from woodworkers.

PVC Tool Pockets

Holster your screwdrivers, chisels, files and other hand tools in 3-in.-long pieces of 1/2- and 3/4-in. PVC pipe. Cut away the upper open section with a hacksaw or band saw, drill a hole, screw the piece on a board, and drop in the tools. If you're using a band saw, slice off the cutaway section from a long length before cutting off the 3-in. holster.

Panpipe Tool Storage

While this tool storage device may look like a variation on the Pan flute of Greek mythology, it's actually a great place to store tools that easily get lost—like chisels, files, pencils, scroll saw blades and hobby knives. For the fatter tools, use PVC cement to join short pieces of 1-1/4-in. PVC pipe side to side into a panpipe design, then add pieces of 1/2-in.pipe along the front of the flute for skinnier tools. Build a simple case around the pipes to create a floor and a back for hanging on a shop wall.

Pipe Clamp Holder

Store bar and pipe clamps right under your workbench where they'll always be close at hand. Just screw sections of 4-in.-diameter PVC pipe under your workbench and slide the clamps into the pipe.

Staining Spindles

Check out this speedy method for staining a whole staircase's worth of spindles.

Cut a 2-in.-diameter PVC pipe 6 in. longer than the spindles you're staining, wash it thoroughly and glue a cap on one end with PVC cement. Drill or saw a 2-1/2-in. hole in one end of a scrap board and screw the board to a sawhorse to support the pipe. Twist a small screw hook into each spindle end and a screw eye into a 6-in. dowel handle.

To stain, suspend a spindle in the pipe and fill the pipe until the spindle is submerged. Wear a garden glove over a plastic glove and pull up the spindle while wiping off the excess stain. Then hang the spindles on a knotted rope to dry. Add small amounts of stain to the tube each time to compensate for what gets used.

No-Ladder Gutter Cleaner

This gutter cleaner is inexpensive, takes about 10 minutes to make and will help you avoid ladder climbing. Buy 3/4-in. PVC pipe, two elbows, a garden hose coupling and a cap at a local home center. Drill 1/16-in. holes in the cap as shown. Make the handle long enough to comfortably reach your gutters, and cement the parts together with PVC glue.

I-Spy Rain Gutter

Here's a quick and easy way to eyeball rain gutters for possible clogs—before the next downpour causes an overflow. Cut a 60-degree angle on the end of a piece of PVC pipe and tape a hand mirror to the angled end. Hoist the mirror above the gutter to spot leaves and mini jams.