Introduction: Kid-Size Construction Kit From PVC Pipe

Picture of Kid-Size Construction Kit From PVC Pipe

   Make a kid-sized construction kit from PVC pipe and pipe fittings! All you (the adult) need to do is cut the pipe, and then turn it over to the kids. (Younger kids will need some help.) The children will be able to build the framework for playhouses, tunnels, etc. Throw a sheet or blanket over the frame and the kids will be playing for hours. There is even an instruction manual written for kids. The manual provides step-by-step instructions for over twenty construction projects in pictoral form. Alternatively, the kids can be creative and do their own thing.
   There have been thousands of Instructables already for projects made out of PVC pipe. However, this one is different due to its jumbo size and the kid-appropriate building instructions. For a smaller-scale kit see “PVC Pipe Multi Toy - Absolutely Simple".
   Now for the disclaimers: I consider this kit to be a reasonably safe for kids. There are no choke hazards, no glues, and no solvents. However, accidents can happen so please be careful. Adult supervision is required. For example, NO CLIMBING, NO SWORD FIGHTS, NO SUCKING ON THE PARTS, etc., etc. etc.

      [  ]   I accept full responsibility and will not hold the author or Instructables liable in any way.

      [  ]   I do not accept full responsibility.

   If you checked the first box … Thanks, please proceed!  ; o)
   If you checked the second box … Please stop here.

Step 1: Parts

Picture of Parts

Parts needed:
• 9 x 10 foot lengths of 1/2” PVC pipe. Note 1/2” PVC pipe is about 7/8” (22 mm) in outside diameter. It comes in two wall thicknesses. (See the second photo.) I prefer the thicker-walled version. It is stronger and less likely to break, but it is heavier and takes more effort to cut.
• 10 x 1/2” slip couplings (no threaded holes) – I call these “Is”. (See the third photo.)
• 4 x 1/2” slip right-angle elbows (no threaded holes) – I call these “Ls”. (See the third photo.)
• 10 x 1/2” slip Tees (no threaded holes) – I call these “Ts” (14 x are shown.). (See the third photo.)
• 12 x 1/2” slip side-outlet elbows (no threaded holes; these may be hard to find) – I call these “Ys”. (See the third photo.)
• 1 x large, 2’ x 3’ (60 cm x 90 cm), laundry bag for holding it all. (The longer pieces will stick out.)
• Optional: colored vinyl tape – red, blue, yellow, green – for tagging the pipe segments.

I bought all of these parts (except the laundry bag and the tape) at Lowes for under $40. Other building-supply stores should have the parts, too. You may have to look around to find the 1/2” side-outlet elbows.

All of this is for the jumbo-sized kit. You can get by with a smaller version of the kit. Use the Instruction Manual (Step 4) to pick the projects you want to do, and make a scaled-down parts list.

Tools needed:
• pipe cutter or hacksaw for cutting the pipe into segments (See Step 2)
• file or sandpaper for smoothing out the cut ends

Step 2: Cut the Pipe

Picture of Cut the Pipe

Cut the pipe into the following segments:
   • 6 x 48” (121.9 cm) – I call these “#4s”
   • 8 x 35.5” (90.2 cm) – I call these “#3s”
   • 12 x 23.5” (59.7 cm) – I call these “#2s”
   • 14 x 11.5” (29.2 cm) – I call these “#1s”
You can cut these from the 9 x 10-foot pipe lengths as follows:
4/3/3; 4/3/3; 4/3/3; 4/3/3; 4/2/2/2; 4/2/2/2; 2/2/2/2/2; 2/1/1/1/1/1/1/1/1; 1/1/1/1/1/1/–.
There will about 4 feet left over.
   Note that the #1s, #2s, and #3s are a little smaller than the expected fractional length of the #4s. This is so that when, for example, you join a #1 and a #3 together with a T, the width of the joining piece is compensated for.
   One way to cut PVC pipe is simply with a hacksaw. There several other ways. See the Instructable “PVC 101” for a great discourse of working with PVC pipe. I (unlike the author of “PVC 101”) strongly prefer using the type of pipe cutter that is designed for cutting copper pipe (see the second photo). This type of cutter takes only a little practice – you screw it on with the cutter on the mark; carefully inscribe a circle around the pipe (make a circle, not a spiral!); screw it slightly tighter; then repeat, around and around until you have cut through the pipe. With this inexpensive pipe-cutting tool, you can hit the marks spot-on, the cuts will be perfectly square, and there is absolutely no saw dust! A pliers-type pipe cutter would work, too, but the cuts won’t be as perfectly square. No matter how you cut the pipe, smooth the edges afterwards.
   Optional: Tag the pipe pieces by wrapping a band of colored vinyl tape around the middle of each. Use red for the 4s, blue for the 3s, yellow for the 2s, and green for the 1s. That way they will match the diagrams in the Instruction Manual.

Step 3: Comments

   In this PVC construction kit, everything holds together by friction. The holes in the pipe fittings are actually slightly conical not cylindrical. The fit gets tighter as the pipe segment goes in.
   If the fits are too tight, which is likely at the start, try the following: re-smooth the ends of your pipe segments, and lubricate the ends by rubbing them with paraffin, candle wax, bee’s wax, soap, or even Vaselene.
   If the fits become too loose, try wrapping the ends with one or two turns of 3/4” vinyl tape.

Step 4: The Instruction Manual

Picture of The Instruction Manual

   Here I show you a few pages from the Instruction Manual and give you the whole document in Word and in PDF form so you can print it out. At the start of each page, there is a schematic diagram of the finished product, a list of the pieces needed, and a difficulty rating. Next there are three or four step-by-step diagrams for how to proceed. The pipe segemtents are color-coded: red for the #4s, blue for the #3s, yellow for the #2s, and green for the #1s. The letters, I, L, T, and Y, indicate what type of joint goes where. I have tried not to over-instruct; e.g. the builder will have to figure out the proper orientations of each joint.

Step 5: Enjoy!

Picture of Enjoy!


SteveM396 (author)2017-06-20

Such a great idea! Please send me the manual!

Thanks in advance.

DHagen (author)2014-04-08

Thanks for the liking this. The manual was made in MS Word using the Draw tools. I couldn't down load the file, now (new policy?). Send me an email, and I will send you a copy of the master file, which you can add to.

JanaS48 (author)DHagen2017-01-18

Making this for my little builder. I would greatly appreciate the manual. When you have a moment please email to Thank you in advance.

KerriK5 (author)DHagen2016-12-31

this looks great! I've collected all the pipe and cut to the specifications, would you email me the manual please? I'd love to start building tomorrow with my kids!

Simplydesirae (author)DHagen2016-12-22

Doing this for my nieces this Christmas. I'd love to include the instructions. Thanks for all the hard work.

Cjlhoste (author)DHagen2016-12-11

Hi. This is lovely - am making 3 sets for my sons for christmas. Can you please email me the manual?
Thanks so much!

TarynC2 (author)DHagen2016-04-18

Thank you for creating this! You have saved me so much money and given my family so much joy! Could you please send the manual? Thank you!

vadema1220 (author)DHagen2015-11-23

Love this, want to do this for my grands for Christmas, could I get the manual? I would rather not post my email on line so is there a way I could message it to you?

DianaO5 (author)DHagen2015-11-22

Please send me the

Thank you!

mrtrailer (author)DHagen2014-12-20

I don't see an email address. How can I get a copy of the manual? This project is amazing! Thank you!

Margot long (author)2016-12-10

this looks great! I know he kids are going to love it! Please send me a copy of the manual.

I am really looking forward to watching the kids put this together.

jim58davis (author)2016-12-07

i just made it. Bought most of the parts at Home Depot and they cut the pipe. I need the manual. How do I get it.

hasacks (author)2016-12-05

this is great! could you please email me the manual as well? thank you!! my kids are going to love this!!

zimmermj (author)2016-12-05

This is very cool. I just cut all the pieces yesterday. Going to give it to my 6 year old nephew for Christmas. Could you please e-mail the instruction manual to me at Thank you

ZhaoanL (author)2016-11-14

This is awesome. Could you please send a copy of the manual to ? Thank you!

bvrooster (author)2016-07-25

I would love to have the manual for my 6 year old grandson. Please email to Thank you, Thank you!


MichelleS176 (author)2016-06-27

This is going to be so much fun! Can you please send me the manual at, please :)


GarryandConnieO (author)2016-03-15

Hello; I would like to make this for my grandson....he is obsessed with pipes in the home, especially toilet, and where the water is going, he calls them tunnels. I am also a Kindergarten teacher, and stumbled on your site, and would love to receive the manual for this project...what a hit! my email address is

KaraK7 (author)2016-02-28

Would someone be willing to e-mail me a copy of the manual? Planning to use this with a preschool class this week!

KathyN22 (author)2016-02-27

I'd love the full manual too. Thank you.

EricaR15 (author)2016-02-02

Do we have to pay a monthly or annual fee to get the manual? I would like to get this kit for my son for Easter but don't want to have to pay for a subscription for a one-time use. Is there a fee for just the manual for this kit? Thanks

SzyenS (author)2016-01-28

can you email me the manual?

BridgettM3 (author)2016-01-04

Can you email me the instructions?

2twos4u (author)2015-12-28

Please email me the PDF

Thank you!

MaiaB3 (author)2015-12-28

Can you also send me a manual

KristinaH16 (author)2015-12-23

Can you please send me the PDF instructions? Thanks!

JulieM89 (author)2015-12-22

I would dearly love the manual. I'm afraid I went ahead and made this for my daughter for Christmas without realizing the manual wasn't available to download! Please send it to Thank you so much!

AmandaW47 (author)2015-12-22

This is AWESOME!!! Will you please send me a copy of the file to Thank you so much!

RandyD15 (author)2015-11-25

Good stuff! Please send file to Thank you.

BrianneH1 (author)2015-11-25

I would love a copy to make this for my children for Christmas!

Peachpittssilva (author)2015-11-24

I would love a copy of the file too. Please send to

mcbrides05 (author)2015-11-12

I am so excited to make this for my kids. If you could send me the file I would love it. Thanks in advance.

AnniaH1 (author)2015-10-17

I love this project and made it for my nieces and nephews. However, I am unable to print the diagrams. I was wondering if you could send me the file to my email. This would help them get started. Thanks!

Joefangmann (author)2015-06-07

thanks for putting this together and sharing. Is there any way to incorporate the dimensions of the pipes in the PDF document?

eric.hansotte (author)2015-03-24

I made it this past Christmas for my two boys 3 and 7. I had wanted to do something like this for awhile and had finally started in on designing my own when I saw you did the work already, complete with a color coded length system and building plans. What a time saver! Thanks. We've had lots of fun with it already. The 7 year old can follow your plans easily and has made most of them on his own. The only issue is that with some of the more sticky fittings the kids don't have the strength to insert the pipe fully or remove it when stuck. I had deburred and soaped all the pipe ends as you suggested (the most time consuming part of project), which helps a lot but some are still stubborn.

kristie.ghioni made it! (author)2014-12-25

This was a hit, and they will get a ton of use out of it this summer. Thanks again

kristie.ghioni made it! (author)2014-12-25

This was a hit, and they will get a ton of use out of it this summer. Thanks again

kristie.ghioni made it! (author)2014-12-14

My DH made this for the grandkids for Christmas, thank you for creating this and the manual, they will learn so much while playing and having fun. We are using pipe insulation in 6" pieces to hold the sheets to the structure thinking it will be easier for the kids to use, I'll let you know. Pictures to follow when they open it and start plying with it. Such and awesome tutorial, the instructions are so clear and the manual is just great.

mnoll1 (author)2014-05-17

Thank so much for this! I will be making this today for my daughter's birthday present. I am so excited to get started and see her reaction to the gift. The manual is EXCELLENT! I would have never came up with all those configurations on my own. Thanks again!

ErebusBat (author)2014-04-06

I love this idea! I am going to make this for my 3.5yo son to start building and exploring. How did you make the manual? I think it would be great to be able to add to it.

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