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!

<p>Would this technique work on an acrylic plastic? The plastic casing in the image is what I would like to make look like wood</p>
<p>Nixie Tubes!!!! I love Nixie clocks etc. I have never tried this technique on plexi, however I don't know why it wouldn't work. It's worth an experiment. When I built an ATARI Punk Console, I built a case just like yours but covered it in printed wood texture paper with clear coat (to look like an old ATARI). </p><p>I have some plexi laying around... let me do some tests this weekend and get back to you. This may be a whole new level of versatility for this idea.</p>
Wow! I have surprised myself at this build! After realising that my cosplay staff was too thick (40mm), i started again with a 32mm pipe. 30 mins later..... and it was done!<br>After the paint is dry, i am going to apply a coat of lacquer to give it extra protection.<br>Thanks again.<br><br>PS.... follow this tutorial, you cant go wrong!
Hey. Awesome tutorial. I am in the middle of making a replica staff for cosplay weaponry. Although i have skimmed through the comments, i couldnt actually see how much paint you used on your digeridoo. My staff is 1.5m long and 40mm in diameter. How much paint do you think i may need?
<p>Hey NickD! Honestly, just wipe it on! Put a small dab on a rag and work it in. Reapply as it starts to thin out. If you're using oil color, a little goes a long way. Make sure you work it into the grooves as well... an easy way to do this is to rub the oil &quot;sideways&quot; into the groves... around the staff horizontally. But finish by wiping the oil rag vertically to simulate the grain of the wood. A regular size tube of oil paint (like the one pictured in my instructable) could make 10 staffs, maybe more. </p><p>Also... the more pressure you use in wiping it on, the thinner and lighter it will be. This can work in your favor by helping you achieve an organic look. Apply layers for darker tones. AND!!! If you use oil, give your paint a week to dry. Put it somewhere with moving air and try to hang it so it's not touching anything.</p><p>So, in the end, to cover your staff, you'll use about 1 teaspoon of oil paint. But i'm sure as soon as you start painting, you'll see exactly how much you'll want to use.</p><p>Good luck, let me know if you need more help. I'd love to see the staff when you're done!!</p>
A big thank you for this tutorial. My staff has turned out amazing! My cosplay friends are in awe of my quick and simple build! Now the boring bit of watching paint dry! After its dried out, ill apply a layer of lacquer to seal it. Ill post a pic of it shortly.
<p>can i use this outdoors? I want to make a bird feeder :) will the rain ruin it?</p>
Sure! There are a bunch of outdoor friendly spray protectors to apply to it. You could probably even choose between shiney and matte. Look for them in spray paint isle. Rust-Oleum makes a few.
Muito legal!!!!
<p>Excellent, I must try this one day.</p>
<p>Thank you! Let me know how it goes.</p>
<p>Very good your job, I love crafts</p>
<p>Thank you.</p>
<p>Excellent idea, I want to try, but have doubt, if it is ok with warm pipes? I want to color my heating pipes. What you think will it work?</p>
<p>I think it may be difficult to do this to pipes that you cannot remove. If you can take them down first, it would be easier. As far as color, I dont see a problem because PVC water pipes should not get too hot. They shouod not be used to bring hot water to a faucet. </p>
<p>Well done, may try the technique on a rain barrel (for irrigation)... not to be confused with a rain stick :) Faux-wood barrel with some PVC &quot;branches&quot; holding ivy should make it functional and aesthetically acceptable.</p>
<p>Great Idea!! My father has a beautiful backyard with a slightly unsightly rain barrel. I'd love to see this when you're done!! </p><p>ps... if you scroll dwon a bit, a girl named Karen made a rain stick...not to be confused with a rain barrel. : ) </p>
<p>Big on re-purposive so another idea is use a mechanically busted hot water heater and while interior tank is usually glass, exterior metal would need protective coating. For that thinking painting with wire brush recycled plastic milk cartons. 40 +/- gal. tank and MANY milk cartons (#2 HDPE heated to 350 F) would be the base to then apply your finishing technique.</p><p>BTW did note and appreciate Karen's rain stick idea.</p>
This is such a good idea! I've been wanting to make our tall metal floor lamps look like wood- do you think this would work on metal? :)
<p>I used wood stain and a graining tool to turn metal doors into faux wood doors so I would think the same could be done to a metal lamp.</p>
<p>How about a PVC sleeve over the metal tubing...?</p>
<p>PVC should be pretty robust at a few feet long. I'm actually making a small desk lamp right now to hold a stained glass lamp shade I'm working on (using PVC as the neck in a wood base). I think the sleeve idea is a good bet for taller floor lamps!! Let me know if you find a good way to attatch the socket assembly to the PVC. </p>
<p>If your lamps where made from thin aluminum and you used very heavy equipment, you could probably texture the metal, but painting it to finish the wood texture is another thing. Could you swap out the metal with PVC tubing of similar size? (That might take some work.) It juts might be tricky to do this with metal. Maybe... an angle grinder for making the texture, use a metal primer and then paint in a few colors. But all that is just a guess off my head! Let me know about the metal you want to do this to. Maybe I'll have more ideas. </p>
<p>this is awesome I am amaze to see the result I can wait to try it thanks</p>
<p>Thank you. Let me know how it turns out!!</p>
<p>I'm ready to try this on our ultra boring, old, cheap, stock, 6-panel, 80s, 'composite' bedroom doors. But are they plastic? Will this work??</p>
<p>I made a beautiful rain stick with these easy to understand instructions. THanks for sharing</p>
<p>That looks awesome!!! How's it sound? Could you post a vid with audio maybe?? Pleeeeease???</p>
<p>Thanks, It sounds Great!!! I will try to make a short video. How do I post it ?</p>
<p>Hmm... yeah, I didnt think that through. I dont think you can, just photos. Well, if you ever throw it to youtube or facebook, send me a link. Otherwise, Thanks for reading! I'm glad it worked for you!! Great job again.</p>
<p>Everyone that sees this rain stick can't believe it was made from a PVC pipe. It looks just like wood. It was so much fun to make and thanks again for the wonderful instructions. If I make a video, I'll make sure you see it somehow :)</p>
<p>You're welcome! Hey, how about a mini-ible!? What did you use as the inside spokes, loose material and caps of the rain stick? Just curious. </p>
<p>A Mini-ible .... I love it !!! </p><p>I drilled completely through a 3-foot long PVC pipe (more than a hundred times) and pushed bamboo kabob skewers through the holes. Most were a bit loose so I glued them with wood glue. A bit messy but it worked. Clipped the excess length and re-glued if necessary. Then I lightly sanded the entire pipe with an electric sander until smooth. As you instructed, marred the surface with a wood file then sanded lightly and painted it with Burnt Umber oil paint. After it dried 24 hours later, I filled the pipe with 1 1/2 cups of rice, peas and beans until I liked the sound. I also added about 50 2-inch long bamboo kabob skewers to the mix to help slow down the progression of the rice, peas and beans. Capped both ends with corks that I found at the local craft store. </p><p>I hope this helps. It was a very easy project and I might even make a few more :) </p>
<p>Karen - good idea :-). One question : did you position the skewers so that they were attached on both sides of the pipe. Or just one hole that you pushed the sewer through. Seems like one hole would offer better sound, but 2 holes would be more secure. I can experiment, but I am just curious what technique you employed. Thanks!</p>
<p>Hi FastF4, I drilled completely through the pipe and pushed the skewer through both sides of the pipe. It does make it more secure that way. If you make one, please post it up. I would love to see it :) :) </p>
<p>Thank you for taking the trouble to reply Karen. Useful to know. I might try both approaches just to see. And I thought maybe I would try a BASS rainstick. Have to visit my local HD and see what they have for pipe. Your idea to add 2&quot; pieces of skewers is brilliant.</p>
<p>Your welcome. The 2&quot; pieces help to slow the bean down and it sounds wonderful. Please post a pic if ya make one :)</p>
<p>make that 'skewer' not sewer ;-)</p>
<p>That's Fantastic! You really should write this up and post it! You got all the pics done and everything. (I like your drill press btw, I'm eyeing up a few I want for my maker-space.) Thank you so much for letting me know about this!! </p>
<p>Your welcome. I've been wanting a drill press and found this one for fairly cheep $70</p>
Gracias, genial.
<p>Muito Legal! Adorei isso!</p>
<p>Muito obrigado!</p>
<p>I used the exact paint you used - it's still not dry yet but here's a WIP pic. </p>
<p>Is that a hilt at the end? Like a sword? Love it! You did a great job!! Thanks for sahring!!!</p>
<p>Thanks! </p><p>It's a spear with a joint in the middle for disassembly (and transportation). I plan to wrap the middle with and cover the joint with a suede-like fabric. </p>
<p>(tenth time is the charm)</p><p>I'll upload another pic (if my computer lets me) of the dried piece. <br>Thanks again! </p><p>Thanks </p>
It totally works!<br>I'm thrilled. Thanks so much!<br>(the site has failed to upload my pic - after multiple attempts, I've quit trying)

About This Instructable




Bio: I live in suburban Pennsylvania with my wife and puppy. I pass the time building robots, photographing microbes and directing live TV. I enjoy learning ... More »
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