PVC pipe is a versatile material that finds its way into all manner of projects. Whether you’re building furniture, making art, or even just plumbing your sink, here are a few techniques that will ensure that your project is a success.
Because PVC pipe is round, it tends to roll when drilling or cutting, so it’s best to secure the pipe in a vise. You can also clamp the pipe to your tabletop in a V-shaped channel cut into a piece of wood, often called a V-block.
Because PVC is a soft plastic, you can use both wood and metal drill bits to make small holes, and spade bits can be used for larger holes. To keep the drill bit from slipping, make a small divot in the pipe using a hammer and nail or center punch.
The easiest way to cut smaller-diameter PVC pipe is with a PVC ratchet cutter. This tool can be purchased for as little as $10, and makes light work of cutting smaller (1½” diameter or less) pipe.
For cutting larger diameter pipe, use a hacksaw.
TIP: Don’t have a hacksaw or PVC cutter? Wrap a piece of string around the pipe and hold one end in each hand. Pull the string tight, and pull the ends back and forth in a sawing motion. The friction of the string against the pipe will cut right through it.
To make strong, sealed joints, use PVC primer and PVC cement. The primer cleans and prepares the PVC surface, and the cement uses a solvent to weld the PVC together. You can often find the primer and cement packaged together at your local hardware store.
CAUTION: If you’re using PVC in a high-pressure project such as a potato cannon, proceed with extreme caution! In general, most PVC pipe is not rated for high pressures or rapid pressure changes. Take every safety precaution to protect yourself, and when in doubt, consult a professional.