PVC Dish Rack





Introduction: PVC Dish Rack

About: I'm a refugee from Los Angeles, living in backwoods Puerto Rico for about 35 years now and loving it. I built my own home from discarded nylon fishnet and cement.

This is a drying rack for plates.  It is made of 6 inch diameter PVC pipe.  It is a simple and perhaps elegant solution to holding plates.  All it takes is a few saw cuts. 

Step 1: Marking Parallel Lines

You need to find and mark center lines and side edge lines for the half-cylinder you are going to cut out of the pipe.  The easiest way I have found to mark the pipe is to find a convenient door frame with a straight edge one can mark against as the pipe is held in an angle of the frame. 

Step 2: The Paper Pattern

Below is the paper pattern that I used in the evolution of my dish rack.  In retrospect, it would have been simpler to just sketch the pattern on the pipe, if I knew what I was doing.  I didn't.  You do.  Now that you see what has to be done, you can sketch it directly on the pipe and forget about a paper pattern, unless you want to mass produce these.   See the photo below for how to find the plate slot depth. 

To mark a circle around the pipe, for cutting it at 90 degrees, use a piece of paper with a straight edge and a pencil.  Wrap the paper around the pipe and line up the ends of the straight edge.  Mark the pipe along the edge of the paper. 

By marking and folding the paper you can get half-circumference distances, etc. 

I put the plates 2 1/2 inches apart, center to center and cut the plate holding slots 7/8 inch wide at their widest part. 

At the stage of the paper pattern, I suspected I wanted a crescent-shaped hole, but didn't know how to draw it at that point, so I did the pattern with rectangular holes and penciled in the crescent shapes later by eye.   After botching one hole, I got it right and copied it for the other holes.   The point at the bottom of the crescent shape helps hold the bottom of the plate firmly.  If the cut was rectangle shape, the bottom of the plate could shift, changing the angle at which it is held.  I wanted the holding angle to be the same on all the plates. 

Not all plates are the same shape, so you will have to customize your holes to fit the plates you will be using. 

Keep in mind that the plates lean forward some.  Because of that shift of center of gravity, I made the front of the plate holder a little longer than the back to avoid possible tip-overs if there was only one plate in front. 

Step 3: Tape the Pattern, Trace and Cut

Use center line marks on the pattern to line the pattern up with center line marks on the pipe.  Tape the pattern in place so that it doesn't shift while tracing.   (If you did your sketching layout directly on the pipe, you are that much ahead of the game.)

Trace the pattern.  I marked the curved line on the back side of the rectangles by eye.  You could, theoretically make that curved line cut with one straight saw cut, but I did most of them with two cuts.   The straight line side was easier to cut. 

A rigid back saw (miter box saw) is my favorite saw for this kind of cutting.   See the one I use in the photos below. 

Step 4: Side Cuts

I cut all of the plate holding holes while the pipe was still a full cylinder.  After the plate holes are cut, cut the section to length and do the side cuts.  File and scrape the rough edges and you are ready to load it up. 

PVC pipe always seems to come with manufacturer's information printed on it.  Sometimes, lacquer thinner and a little piece of toilet paper will clean the printing off.  Sometimes, it doesn't, depending on what inks are used.  I wish they would standardize the writing with easy to remove ink.  Not everybody uses this stuff for plumbing. 

To see how to make the glasses and silverware drying rack, see my other instructable:  https://www.instructables.com/id/Drying-Rack-for-Glasses-and-Silverware 



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    Just genius, I gonna make it, thanks!

    1 reply

    As far as I know, once the ingredients of PVC are polymerized, the PVC is not especially toxic. People touch it all the time, and drink water that comes through it. -- Vinyl-chloride, one of the ingredients of PVC (poly-vinyl chloride) is very toxic. The manufacturing stage is risky, I imagine. If PVC burns it releases toxic gasses. I find PVC to be a very good material, when treated properly.

    Stylish, efficient ,sleek, great design. This cannot only be used for drying dishes. But it can serve as a display for funky china , storage for cookies sheets and trays. I am thinking about this for my sewing room. I would use it to hold cutting mats and rulers and large stencils. Too cool.

    1 reply

    Wonderful Idea, I liked very much..Simple,Sweet..

    Looked at this instructable just to see how you made the nice long cut down the side of the PVC. Would have never thought to use a door frame. Nice job, very clever!

    This is a great idea. I'm got lots of the stuff lying around and am always looking for new ways to use it. Way to go!

    2 replies

    Glad you like it. Check out my other instructable, https://www.instructables.com/id/PVC-Its-Great-for-Inventions to get some more ideas for projects.

    This is the coolest thing I have seen in ages! Am going to prod hubby to make one for our travel trailer. It won't take up a lot of space when in use and will just slip out of sight under the sink when not in use! Total genius! :)

    This is genius!

    How do you get such a nice curved cut with a straight saw?

    1 reply

    Even the straight cut is a curved cut. :) The curved cut is just a straight cut that intersects the pipe at an angle. Start the cut at the top of the curve and aim to finish it at the two points of the crescent. I think you would need good aim to hit both points with one cut. I did mine in two cuts, from the center to one point and again from the center to the other point. -- If you have any scrap pipe, do a couple practice cuts to get a feel for it.

    You don't show how you did the lengthwise cut. Did you also use the miter saw for this?

    3 replies

    Yes, the miter saw is all you need to do the whole project (along with a file for the edges).

    Good deal. I'm looking into another project that requires halving 53" sections of 2" PVC lengthwise, and I'm trying to figure out the best way to go about it.

    A table saw works, too, if you've got one. The pipe tends to snap shut, though, closing the saw cut at the end of the cut, and can make a minor imperfection at that point. I'd probably stick to drawing the line in a door frame and cutting it with the miter saw.


    Just looking at the main picture I new how to do it!!!!!! Nice job any way!!

    Nice design... very clean, simple, etc.