How to Bend
bend looks neater? Smoother? More professional?
After you've mastered the basics of making PVC
projects, here's how to form PVC pipe into the
shape you want. Actually, it's pretty easy once
you learn the way I've been doing it. No need to
spend hundreds of dollars on specialized PVC
pipe bending equipment... everything necessary
to get set up should cost less than $35!
how not to bend PVC pipe.
Now, the right
or 3/4-inch PVC Pipe
practice, cut a length of 3/4-inch diameter
(1/2-inch works as well) PVC pipe, about 3 feet
long, then lay it on a flat surface... garage
floor, sheet of plywood or whatever. (Read "Is
Working with PVC Safe?")
Turn the heat gun on high, place the "business
end" about an inch, or thereabouts, from the
section of pipe you want to heat. (If you get
too close, you'll likely burn the pipe.) Slowly
turn the pipe and move the heat gun back and
forth 3 or 4 inches in each direction.
Be sure to wear a good pair of leather gloves
and work in a well-ventilated area.
You'll see that, in just a minute or so, the
pipe becomes malleable. Turn off the heat gun,
pick up the pipe and slowly curve it to the
the pipe kinks in the photo below? Not
So Here are Three
Sand. Use clean sand that you can get from most
any hardware store. Or pick up a small bucketful
of sand from a yard and garden shop, from the
beach, or wherever.
Next, fit a PVC
cap onto one end of the pipe, fill it with sand
and tamp it down (I use a wooden dowel). Then
place another cap on the opposite end.
Do not glue the caps to the pipe.
the pipe as described above. The sand evenly
distributes the heat and will keep it from
kinking. Bend the pipe, then let it cool for a
couple of minutes.
No Sand... Bad
You can speed-up the cooling process by wiping a
wet sponge on the pipe.
Pull the pipe just a smidge beyond the desired
radius. Because of the recovery characteristics
of PVC, the pipe will often "spring back"
slightly after cooling.
Instead of sand, you can insert a spring, such
as the Pipe
Viper. For large diameter pipe, I insert
a used garage door spring. I acquired a couple
of them free that were discarded by a garage
Follow the directions above.
Attach a wire, or small chain, at one of the
spring to aid in removal after the pipe cools.
Recently, I tested a nifty tool called PVC
BendIt®. If you do a lot of bending – and
don't mind spending a bit of money –
you'll find this little beauty indispensable.
Take a look at the bends I easily made in the
1/2-inch and 1-inch pipe. Each bend took about
One of the things I like about the BendIt
device is you don't need to insert sand or a
spring when bending, which makes it easier and
quicker to bend the pipe.
You should check
it out. And tell 'em Brooks sent you.
(No, I don't get a commission. It's just a cool
tool to own.)
thing to know is how to get the same radius each
time you bend the pipe when you make duplicate
projects. Or, for example, the same curve for
arms of a chair.
For that, you’ll need to build a simple bending
jig. Cut a sheet of plywood into a 3-foot
square. (Depending on your project, the square
can be bigger, or smaller.) On the plywood,
pencil in the radius you want to bend. Then,
hammer in a few nails along the line.
Prepare the pipe as before, heat and, when
ready, place the pipe alongside the nails and
bend. Repeat to make as many duplicates of the
bend as you need.
Hammer a nail on the opposite "side" of the pipe
at each end to hold the bend in place while it
To make a more permanent jig, cut a few short
lengths (three inches, or so) of 3/8-inch
diameter wooden dowels.
Draw a two-inch grid pattern on the plywood,
then drill holes at each intersection. Tap the
dowels into the holes. You can then move them
around for various radii. The tighter the grid
pattern you draw, say one-inch instead of
two-inch, the more variation you can achieve.
Here’s one more way to make a PVC pipe bending
On the left-over sheet of plywood, draw your
radius and cut it out with a jig saw. You can
make several different curves with the rest of
the plywood. Then nail the piece to the 3-foot
square sheet of plywood, heat the pipe and bend.
Again, tap in a nail at each end of the pipe to
hold the bend in place while it cools.
PVC Pipe Made
Easier... Much Easier
To make bending easier, quicker and to get all
kinds of radii, I've come up with an
simple-to-build bending jig that utilizes a "peg
system." And it's pretty slick.
The tool can be
made with scraps. But, if you have to purchase
the materials, the cost should be under $20.
I've put full color photos and directions into a
manual that details exactly how to make the jig
in just a couple of hours. You can read
more about it here.
Anyway, with a bit of practice, you'll soon be
bending plastic pipe into all kinds of shapes.
imagine what you can do with PVC
The possibilities are endless!