These steps will help you create a cheap, durable, fun, lightweight, and modular Halloween or costume chain prop.
This chain is constructed from one material, PVC piping. For the pictures you see above that is approximately 1.5 feet of tubing measuring in at about 45 inches long.
-pipe cutter/chop saw
-PVC pipe (i used 1 1/4" OD)
-think kerf saw
Step 1: Cutting Up Tube
I think the best selling point of this instructable is the cost effectiveness and scale of production.
In general for the two sizes of tubes I tried (1-1/4 and 1-1/2") the ratio is 3:1 and 4:1 respectively. Meaning for each inch of tubing used, four inches of chain will be created. Exciting!
Each link is 1/2" wide so with a 2 foot section of 1-1/4" tubing I will end up with ~48 links or about (24*3 = 72") inches of prop chain!
So to begin start cutting up a tube into 1/2" rings. I am using a pipe cutter here. These can be had on the internet or hardware store from 10 - 30 bucks depending on the throat. The throat being how large a diameter pipe can fit in the cutter. Make sure to buy a cutter that will accept your tubing! There are a lot of hand cutters that only go up to 7/8" or 1".
***NOTE if you have a friend or relative with a chop saw, or have a chop saw yourself try and get to use it. This step took me the longest time because I hand cut all of these. From start to stop cutting it took approximately an hour and my hands were sore! If you had a chop saw you could cut this process down to minutes.***
Step 2: Forming the Link
I used a small sauce pan to bring some water to just under boiling point. I've read in two different areas that the "melting point" or malleability point of PVC is like 170-190 degrees F. So with that in mind heat your water up slowly and bring the water to just before boiling. Drop each of your circle pieces in and wait for them to warm up.
During this process I checked on the links about 3 or 5 minutes to see if they had reached "squishy" level.
As demonstrated in the video below, you use a wooden stick or fork to remove each link from the water and squish it into the link form which is just a curved rectangle.
If you are trying to move through this project quickly just throw your completed squished links in the freezer to cool them back down. They will return back to their rigid state after cooling.
Step 3: Cutting Link
Now we need a way of attaching each of the links together. This will be done with a thin kerf saw. The kerf meaning the thickness of the blade itself. We want a thin blade to minimize the gap to make a seamless appearance.
I am using a Japanese style pull saw for this. It's a very thin blade that makes quick backstroke cuts.
I put each link in a vice or you can hold it securely on a workbench and make a cut through one of the edges of the link
Once you are complete with each cut, clean up all the rough edges with some sand paper.
Step 4: Painting
After making the slit in each of the links you are essentially done with the project. Now comes the customization; the paint job. I tried a combination of 3 different spray paints. The method I ended up using was a base coat of the Rustoleum Silver Metallic paint. Once the silver coat dried I then hit it with black spray paint. After applying the black spraint I let it sit for about 20 seconds and wiped it off with a rag. This left a nice worn silver look.
Step 5: Final Assembly
Assemble all of your links!