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.

This versatile and attractive plant holder holds a standard 4″ flowerpot in a variety of ways. You can set the pot in either end and use the holder upside down or right side up. In either position, you can hang it, or just place it on any surface.

The Plant Holder is part of a series of four family-friendly projects that use 3″- or 4″-ID (inside diameter) PVC pipe. In a weekend you can easily make all four: a hanging planter, an accent lamp that seems to float on light, a two-faced clock to help you remember friends in another time zone, and a kids’ table with a dry-erase top and matching stool.

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 design possibilities.

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.

Project Steps

Cut and drill the pipe.

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.

Cut an 8″ length of 4″-ID pipe and mark 8 evenly spaced spots 3″ from one end to drill holes.

To space the holes, wrap a strip of paper around the pipe and mark a line across both ends. Hold the strip in front of a light to align the marks and fold the strip in half. Then fold in half twice more. Mark the pipe at the fold lines.

Using a spade bit, drill eight ¾” holes.

Mark and cut the slots.

Draw lines from each hole to the pipe end. Then cut the slots with a handheld jigsaw.

Bend the legs.

Boil 3½” of water in a large cooking pot. Using gloves, immerse the slotted pipe end until the legs become very pliable. Bend the legs out away from the body a bit.

Remove the pipe from the water, then while keeping the pipe perpendicular, push the legs down onto a cookie sheet. The legs will splay out. Allow to cool for a minute. Repeat if you need to correct any faults.

Fit a flowerpot and paint.

Some pots fit the holder better if you chamfer the inside top edge. Use the pot itself as a backing surface for coarse sandpaper.

Spray it a bright color or leave it white. Attach monofilament line to each leg for hanging.


For more PVC creations, check out these projects!

This project first appeared in MAKE Volume 30, page 96.