Make PVC Look Like Wood

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Introduction: Make PVC Look Like Wood

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I came up with this simple trick to give PVC pipe a realistic wood texture when I built a few plastic didgeridoos a couple of years ago. It would also work for theater, home decor or backyard tiki-bars! Send an invite if you build that last one.

Step 1: What You'll Need.

- PVC, Any size you want.

- Heavy Metal File. Mine has Rasp and Double Cut sides. An 8-inch file like this costs $9 at any hardware store.

- 100 Grit Sandpaper

- Artist Oil Paint. You can use acrylic, but it may chip off unless you seal it.

Other Materials:

- Wire Brush, for clearing the file's teeth of PVC.

- Dust Mask, to prevent PVC dust from getting in your lungs.

Step 2: Sand the PVC.

SAFETY REMINDER: Wear a dust mask for this step!!

Remove the shiny coating and ink print on the PVC face with the sandpaper. If the Ink is giving you trouble, give IT some trouble... with acetone. Your PVC should have a nice matte finish.

Step 3: File Away!

Use the rasp side of the file to shred the PVC surface. Pull the file in many directions to give it an organic look. If the file's teeth get clogged, use a wire brush to quickly clear them.

CAUTION: This step will make sharp ridges on the surface of the PVC. Try not to slide your knuckles along the pipe until you have smoothed it out.

Once you're happy with the texture, use the double cut (smoother side) of the file to remove the shavings and sharp ridges on the PVC. Give the plastic a few extra rubs with the sandpaper.

Step 4: Add Some Color.

Find a nice oil color you like for your PVC wood. Wipe it on with a rag, making sure to work it into all the new grooves. You can use some faux finish techniques for extra texture, blotting the paint on in irregular patterns instead of bush strokes. Let it dry. That's it!

Step 5: Going Further...

As I stated above, I used this technique to make a few didgeridoos. If you like this idea, there are many Instructables on making one. You just need PVC and bees wax for a mouth piece.

I would be happy to answer any questions you may have. Enjoy!

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610 Comments

What if you used a paint and rust stripper wire wheel - like a Roto to put in the grooves? I don't know if it would work but if it works it might save some knuckles.

YEAH!! This came up a while ago and seemed like a good idea. After some experimentation however, the results yielded just a very sanded surface with no wood texture. The wires don't dig deep enough into the PVC to make the wood texture. They also make scrapings too close to each other to differentiate between "gouge and not gouge" if that makes sense.

I would LOVE to see a method that makes the rasp file obsolete, at least to help those who want to apply this method to bigger scale projects. For now though, maybe some good work gloves.

And as I type this... I just need to say that all of this is completely based on personal style and preference for the result you want. Everything in this Instructable is open for experimentation, change and evolution... the hallmark of Open Source. I love seeing how others have changed things and gotten great results. So please go forth and experiment! Thanks for reading. : )

Just rub it back and forth on the pavement or a concrete driveway before bending and staining.

Use a very heavy rotary brush with thick wires and randomly change the pressure so you can vary the effects. It also works good to make new wood look like old weathered wood. Remember, on PVC don't use a high speed as that will melt the plastic and ruin the effect. Here's an example of fresh hardware wood made into antique. You can see the cross section is bright new wood. This is good if you need structural strength you can't get with real wood that is old and rotted. On PVC if you want a real weathered and deep grained look, make some long gashes with a rotary grinder bit like a Dremel (again LOW SPEED)

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Very nice.

this is a great hack... I will be using this to make curtain rods....

This is a set of instructions. What makes it a "hack"? I wish people would stop using "hack" already

I dislike the new direction to Pre Heat the oven. Cant we just heat the oven? They never say how long to per heat before heating the oven.

Cyber vernacular aside, I have always thought of "hack" as a way of using materials and methods that go against a predetermined or obvious path for those particular ingredients. It's a fairly broad term, or at least has been in my interactions with it and those who use it. I'm currious to know how you feel about it.

I have a fundamental problem with "trendy" vernacular that has come to be known as something else before the trendy so called definition was attached to it. HACK to me defines someone who doesn't think for themselves and follows without question whatever is dictated to them (such as 'party hack' in political terms). Trendy terms rankle me in general because of their lack of creativity and originality. That sums up the reason why "HACK" bothers me. I guess it is too arcane to call a shortcut or helpful hint what they are anymore, so I guess someone who pulls a word out of their bum and attaches a new & improved definition to it is 'hip'.