and Glue PVC Pipe
by Brooks Owen
First, a Disclaimer
and a Safety Caution:
The following information is subject to the Terms
and Conditions page provided elsewhere at this site.
Please read it before continuing.
to Cut PVC Pipe
PVC Pipe Cutter,
• Miter Box (optional)
1. Always cut the longest
pieces first. That way, you’ll be able to use more of the
2. Mark the length to be cut
with a pencil.
3. Cut with a standard
PVC pipe cutter. The easiest to use is a simple
ratchet-style cutter available at most hardware stores.
4. Line up the pencil
mark with the pipe cutter blade, then cut on the inside edge of your mark.
Option: You can also cut the
pipe with a hack saw. To make a straight cut, place the
pipe into a miter box. Wedge a piece of scrap wood between
the pipe and the side of the miter box to brace it
securely. Then hold or fasten the miter box securely on a
solid work surface. Cut on the inside edge of your pencil
When done, remove any burrs
with a medium flat file or 80 to 100-grit sandpaper. Use a
rat-tail file or knife for the inside of the pipe, if
If you’re thinking
about cutting several of the same length of pipe,
consider building the PVC Pipe Cutting Jig found in my PVC
Bending, Cutting and Drilling Tools manual. It
can be made with scrap wood and will save you a lot of
time. In addition, you’ll be assured of the exact same
cut each time. The jig plan calls for using a power
miter saw. However, it can be altered to incorporate a
miter box so you can use your hack saw.
How to Cut Large
Diameter PVC Pipe
Caution: Be certain to
wear a proper protective dust mask or respirator
as you cut the pipe. You don't want to breath in
the fine PVC dust particulates, which can be
dangerous to your health.
to Glue PVC Pipe
Clear PVC Cement, or
• Polyurethane Glue
• PVC Primer
• Yellow Marking Pencil
Note: Gluing your project
with PVC cement is permanent after about 15 seconds. Make
sure your pipe is cut to the proper lengths and your item
is square before applying cement.
First, let me say this about
that. "Gluing" is not the proper term. Properly said, you
use cement to "solvent weld PVC pipe." But most of us
aren't plumbers. We don't care what "proper" is. The word
Gluing is more clear. We know what it means.
When building PVC projects,
sometimes in haste we glue fittings that end up facing
the wrong direction. Of course, this leads to ruined
fittings, delays and, essentially, having to start over.
It happens and it’s frustrating. So here's how I solved
1. After cutting the lengths
of pipe, "dry-fit" sections of your project as you
progress. Make sure the lengths are correct and the
fittings are facing the proper way. Use a carpenter’s
square to guide you, if need be.
Tip: If you find an inserted
pipe stubborn to remove, attach a vice-grip on the pipe
with the PVC fitting clamped in a bench vice, then
separate by twisting. Or, use two vice-grips. Place a
towel or rag over the teeth of the vice-grips to avoid
damaging the pipe.
Also, I use the jig in the
photo below. Simply slip the pipe and fitting onto a
wooden dowel, grip the pipe and give it a downward whack
or two. The fitting will pop right off.
Another method used by some
PVCers is to apply baby powder or hand lotion inside the
fittings. Be sure to re-clean the pipe before gluing.
When you’re certain the section you’re working on is
correct then, using a yellow marking pencil, draw a line
an inch, or so, along the pipe up and over each fitting.
This serves as an easy alignment guide. Now take the
section apart and lay out the pipe and fittings to prepare
for gluing. (The photo shows a regular pencil because
yellow didn't photo well.)
3. Swab a light
amount of glue to both the fitting and pipe using the
dauber that comes with the can, insert the pipe into the
fitting, twist slightly and line up the yellow markings.
PVC glue, also called cement, dries fast so you’ll have
to be quick. Hold it together for a few seconds. Then
wipe off any excess glue immediately with an old rag,
which will also remove the yellow line.
Note: since these are not
plumbing projects, I personally feel you do not have to
use PVC primer.
Tip: The gluing procedure I
just mentioned is the proper way to fasten pipe to
fitting. However, that said, I apply glue to the inside
the fitting only. In 30 years none of my PVC projects have
ever come apart. Applying glue to both parts is, to me,
overkill and wastes glue. Again, use your own judgment.
I mentioned that I swab
the inside of the fitting only. Why?
Because when you insert the pipe most of the glue flows
to the inside. If you swab the pipe instead, the glue
would ooze outwards toward your hands. My way is neater
4. Normally, the pipe slides
into the fittings easily. For those time when you’re not
certain if the pipe has seated against the fitting wall,
quickly and gently tap the opposite end of the pipe using
a hammer with a small block of scrap wood held against the
pipe, a dead-blow hammer or a wooden mallet.
5. Work in sections. For
example, when building a chair I assemble the left side
first then the right side. Finally, I secure the
connecting lengths of pipe to both sides.
6. If, when making a
PVC chair, you use sling material for the back and seat,
be careful not to glue one side of the project until
after you’ve attached the material to the frame. Then
fasten the unglued side with sheet metal screws.
But what if you don’t want to
use PVC glue? For some projects (example, doll furniture)
applying one tiny spot of super glue to the inside of the
fitting will do just fine. I don’t recommend it, however,
for projects that will get heavy use.
Also, I’ve had good luck with
polyurethane glues, which can give you plenty of time (up
to 4 hours) to adjust your project before it cures. So
far, the two projects for gardening I’ve tested have held
up well. Again, you don’t want to use it for heavy-use
projects like swing-sets, chairs, and so on.
By following these tips,
you'll be able to cut and glue your PVC projects just like
How to Assemble Your
Project with Screws
To glue, or not to glue? That
may be your question.
Well, there may be times when
you'd rather not permanently glue-up a PVC project. For
example, if you're making a "knock down" or temporary
item. So here's how to fasten together your project...
Tools and Materials Needed
#8 pan- or flat-head Phillips drive sheet metal screws
With the pipe correctly
inserted and seated drill a starter hole completely
through the fitting and pipe, about 1/2-inch in from the
end of the fitting. The hole must be smaller than the size
of the screws you'll use.
Then, drive the screws into
the pre-drilled hole through the fitting and into the
pipe. If needed for extra strength, set two screws
opposite each other.
For a smoother look, use a countersink bit to lower the
screw head. Screw in oval-head Phillips drive screws.
use screws if your project will be subjected to
movement or heavy torquing on a continuing basis. Screws
will eventually come loose, possibly causing damage.
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