Some tips for working with PVC pipe

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#1 purplevix on 12 years ago

PVC pipe is very handy for things like staff handles, and thanks to my dad (who works in construction, hello uber useful freebies! XD) I've collected a bit of knowledge about working with the stuff that I would like to pass on.

1. Selecting size
What I tend to do as far as judging size and length, is just to eyeball it. That tends to work well for me. Consider your other pieces, how it all needs to fit together, and select accordingly. Try to get some with thicker walls, because thinner walls will make it wobbly.

BE SURE YOU'RE WEARING GLOVES/MASK WHERE APPROPRIATE that is, if you can't do this stuff outside. But outside is definately recommended because not only is some of the stuff recommended a little fumy, it's messy too.

2. Prepping
Odds are good (almost 100%) that you'll need to paint it. But there's one pesky thing about PVC pipe. It has all that size and code number stuff printed on the side of it. You have two options (but first be sure any UPC codes/price tags are off your pipe):
a. Paint thinner
When my dad did this (because he's got those construction worker sandpaper hands and all, but gloves are recommended otherwise) it didn't work very well. But he said it used to just take it off like sidewalk chalk on the ground and a hose. So if you've got some older pipe, give it a try, but odds are good it won't work very well. It did come off, but it was slow. This is good if you don't want to violate the structural integrity of your pipe.

b. Sandpaper
This works great, and it's quick. Roll some sandpaper (I used 120 grit, one sheet about the size of a regular piece of computer paper) around your pipe, and just sand those numbers off. If it seems like you're not getting anywhere, move to a fresh spot on your paper. This method has an added benefit of being a sort of priming for your paint. Also, as you can imagine, it's a little messy, so do this outside if you can, you'll have white powder everywhere.

c. Primer
This is one I have not tried, but if you can find some sort of white enamel primer, then that could work too, but it'd require heavy coating.

3. Paint
Enamel paint would be best to put on it, according to my dad. It can grab onto the plastic in ways acrylic can't. There's one problem, though and since enamel paint is usually outdoor paint, color selection can be limited. If you need a color that you can't find in the available colors, you can try to have it mixed in the store (I think Lowe's and Sherwin-Williams do this, I'm sure others do too) or consider an enamel primer, and a different sort of paint. But ask the painting guy in the store first, he'd know what's best.

My paint is going on great, I still have some more coats in my future, though.

RECOMMENDED BRAND: Krylon Fusion - it's made just for plastics.

Last, I want to add that if anyone has anything they want to offer/correct me on, feel free to speak up.

Good luck all!

#2 Ikariya on 12 years ago

Excellent and thorough way to get a perfect handle every time ^_~.
Know anything about heating pvc to make shapes or flattening out the tubing to make pvc sheets?...or do i need a vacuum-form table for that...

#3 purplevix on 12 years ago

Ah, no, sorry. I'd experiment with my heat gun, but I dun have any scraps.

#4 Atrista on 12 years ago

Just a quick comment on painting, If you just need a flat color or a gradient, and not some sort of pattern that you would have to hand paint, Krylon Fusion spraypaint works wonders. It is a line of spraypaints intended for use on plastics. I used it to paint my Nirvana staff blue and it has a great finish and color.

#5 fightstar on 12 years ago

I was reading your post and got inspired. I thought of a 'way cool Ninja weapon', but I am having some difficulty with one piece. I want to make a staff out of PVC that can convert into two sticks. Basically, break apart in half with simple easy. I was thinking it needs to have a 'swtich' or 'connector' that is sturdy in staff form. Then can switch to duel wielding stick form with ease and quickness. Any ideas?

#6 SolarTempest on 12 years ago

The Krylon Fusion spraypaint is quite awesome. Works great on plastics when other paints just won't do (designed for plastics). We use it at my house to spray our house number on our recycle bins and garbage cans - sneaky neighbours keep stealing them... :untrust:

#7 purplevix on 12 years ago

[QUOTE=fightstar]I was reading your post and got inspired. I thought of a 'way cool Ninja weapon', but I am having some difficulty with one piece. I want to make a staff out of PVC that can convert into two sticks. Basically, break apart in half with simple easy. I was thinking it needs to have a 'swtich' or 'connector' that is sturdy in staff form. Then can switch to duel wielding stick form with ease and quickness. Any ideas?[/QUOTE]
Hmm... well, there are ways of connecting PVC to itself, with either a typica external coupling (very obvious and it'll look like, well, two pipes connected) and there are some threaded fittings you can get too. Look around that section of the hardware store, and see what you can find to work with.

I'll be running string through mine to make it collapsible, with a bit of a dowel rod with a hole drilled through the middle to make it detach and reattach to keep it within length restrictions.

#8 Miyu-chan on 12 years ago

[QUOTE=purplevix]I'll be running string through mine to make it collapsible, with a bit of a dowel rod with a hole drilled through the middle to make it detach and reattach to keep it within length restrictions.[/QUOTE]

Can you possibly explain this better, please? I don't fully understand what you mean. I'm making a staff out of PVC, and I need it to be able to collapse and fit in my suitcase, and then assemble and look like one piece.

#9 Pika Pika Queen on 12 years ago

Just an additional tip for painting: if for whatever reason, you can't get your hands on some kind of enamel paint, acrylic paint will work so long as you sand/prime it [i]and[/i] use a finish. (Using a finish is just a good idea in general, whether or not you're using enamel paint.) I had to use this method on several plastic items because I couldn't find enamel paint the colors I needed.

Great thread on PVC pipes. I love 'em; they're lightweight and durable, so essentially the perfect prop-making material. ^_^

#10 astillar on 12 years ago

#11 Miyu-chan on 12 years ago

That sounds perfect, Astillar. Thank you so much.

#12 fightstar on 12 years ago

purplevix, Thanks for the advice. I greatly appreciate it.

astillar, Pretty cool trick! Any advice for my PVC staff-to-sticks?

#13 Ikariya on 12 years ago

#14 astillar on 12 years ago

As long as the pvc is clean, there aren't any smell/fumes if you take the pvc out once it gets soft. If you leave it in there so long that it starts to brown, then you get a weird plasticy smell.
For handling, I usually just wear gardening gloves, which are thin terry cloth. I prefer using low-density pvc since it's lighter, easier to shape, and heats/cools fast. Solid pvc takes awhile to cool, so you might want to use weights or clamps to hold the pvc in its shape instead of holding it with your hands for 10-20 minutes.

#15 sailormoontm on 12 years ago

hey i need help from any sailor moon fans or anyone that's really good at makeing props. i'm trying to make sailor moon's moon septer from season 2 i have some pvc pipe that i was going to use as the base of the septer but then i need help with makeing the top can anyone help me? here are the few pictures i could find

[url]http://comunidades.msn.es/SailorStar...to&PhotoID=152[/url]
[url]http://www.gemele.com/sailormoon/weapons/index2.shtml[/url]
[url]http://www.sailorjupiter.com/LadyPluto/lp07-01-10.htm[/url]