Introduction: PVC "Mouse Ear" Tool Clips

Picture of PVC "Mouse Ear" Tool Clips

Organize your garage or closet with these cheap and easy custom clips.  The "mouse-ear" design is adjustable and can hold multiple tools at the same time.  Stagger the clips to maximize your storage potential.

Step 1: Materials and Tools Aka "What You Need"

Picture of Materials and Tools Aka "What You Need"
Materials Needed:
  • 3" schedule 40 PVC pipe
  • wood screws


Tools Needed:
  • Gloves
  • Saw
  • Heat Gun
  • Scissors
  • Drill
  • Drill Bit
  • Counter Sink

Step 2: Cut 3" PVC Into 5/8" Slices

Picture of Cut 3" PVC Into 5/8" Slices
Cut rings which are approximately 5/8" wide.  Using a six inch piece of pipe should yield about eight rings.  Remember the saw kerf will probably eat up about 1/8" of material.  The pipe illustrated is 6" long.  Also as shown in the illustration, this pipe has an approximate thickness of 1/4".   After you cutting several, it will look like a pile of shower rings.

A compound miter saw is really good for cutting consistent rings.  Other saws including hand saws could also be used.

Approximate Dimensions for a NOMINAL 3" PVC pipe:
  • outside diameter of 3.50  inches
  • internal diameter of 3.25 inches
  • thickness of 1/4"


Step 3: Heat Cut and Shape the PVC Rings

Picture of Heat Cut and Shape the PVC Rings

WORK WITH GOOD VENTILATION - fumes can be toxic!
WEAR GLOVES!  It can be done, but I do not recommend going sans-gloves.

Work with one ring at a time.  Heat up the ring with a heat gun until ring is easily bendable - almost limp.  But be careful not to burn the plastic.  Also avoid "toasting" the plastic.  Once warmed up, use scissors to snip open the ring. 

Periodically re-warm as working if needed.  Platic will cool and harden fairly quickly More like seconds vs minutes. 

While the ring is warm, lay on flat surface and re-shape the plastic into a "C" with curls on each end.  See photos and illustrations.   You can hold a bend it will stiffen as it cools.  If the shape is not quite right, re-warm and bend again. 

See video in next step for sample footage of "working" the PVC.

Step 4: Pictures of "Working" the PVC

Picture of Pictures of "Working" the PVC

Here are pictures and a video of "working" the PVC rings into the desired "mouse ear" shape.  Video in next step is really helpful in giving a feel for the process.  This is the first video I have included in an Instructable.  Unfortunately, our spokesmodel was unavailable at shooting time - so you are stuck with me...  :)

Step 5: Video - "Working" the PVC Into Shape

Step 6: Drill Mounting Holes and Attach With Screws

Picture of Drill Mounting Holes and Attach With Screws

I did not take pictures or video of the drilling and mounting - but this illustration should be clear enough...  Note the drawing shows the PVC thinner than it really is.  Usually I would do a hand sketch - but I've been wanting to try out Sketchup.

Step 7: VIdeo - Finished PVC Clips in Action

In this video, you can see how easy and effective the PVC clips are. They give a nicely balanced snap when loading and unloading an item. I really like them and plan to adapt and integrate the elements of the design into other projects.

Step 8: NOTES

Picture of NOTES

  The thicknes and width of the ring slices directly affect the amount of "spring" in the final clip.   The 3" pipe seems to be a very good selection for making the clips.  It is approximately 1/4" thick.  The strips were 5/8" wide.  Using strips wider than 5/8" became quickly too stiff for optimal function. 

If wanting to use wider strips, consider cutting some partial "Vents" in the rings.  This could weaken the spring enough to still be functional.  This might even be a useful design as a larger width could add stability to the hanging tool.  For example, less sway.  Although I don't see sway as any issue with the current 5/8" width.

Brittleness is something I have been watching.  I have used the clips through one winter season and experienced no problems so far.  However, our winter is fairly mild as average lows are in the mid 20s.  I did proactively test the clips ability to load/unload handles during colder periods (not just monitoring their ability to passively hold alone).  Small sampling of active cold tests we good.   Extreme cold and UV exposure may cause deterioration.   If some clips crack, they are cheap (and easy) enough to just replace when needed. 


Dominic Bender (author)2013-04-17

I love the idea - while the broom holder may be ideal to hold tools up, I suppose this one will work better for tools that can rest on the ground. Thanks for sharing!

bobzjr (author)Dominic Bender2017-06-08

Actually - NONE of my hanging tools are touching the garage floor. They all hang nicely above and allow me to sweep the floor without obstruction.

Nomadsanity (author)2016-09-17

PVC softens at 92 Celsius. You could just put the cut rings into boiling water to bring them to temp with zero risk of burning the plastic. The water might even capture some of the chemicals off-gassing from the plastic as it is heated. Double win?

Yonatan24 (author)Nomadsanity2017-02-01

PVC starts to decompose when the temperature reaches 140 °C (284 °F), with melting temperature starting around 160 °C (320 °F). According to Wikipedia


Or does it only soften slightly?

bobzjr (author)Nomadsanity2016-11-04

That's a great idea. You could cut your rings and then do the further work in the kitchen. Thanks for suggestion.

shazni (author)2013-04-18

Thanks for this! I will surely try to use it to hang all the brooms and mops! :-)...only as i don't have a heat gun...perhaps i can use the stove??...and no...heat guns are not freely available and they are not cheap....must try a hair blow-dryer and see

sewsam (author)shazni2017-01-17

I happen to have heat "gun" used in scrapbooking. So a craft store like JoAnn's or Michaels might have it. Or if you know someone that has done or is doing scrapbooking, maybe you can borrow theirs. I haven't tried it on PVC pipes, but it gets really hot.

Sooner Aviator (author)shazni2013-04-18

Hey all,
A great way to heat PVC without noxious fumes or a chance or toasting it is to submerse it in really hot water. Not boiling, but maybe 150-200 degrees F. Insert the pieces one at a time, only takes a few (10-45) seconds, pull them out with tongs. Find the temp and time that works best for the size you're working with. Don't forget gloves!

bobzjr (author)Sooner Aviator2013-04-18

Thanks - that sounds really interesting. I never thought of the hot water method.

shazni (author)Sooner Aviator2013-04-18

Thanks loads! :-)

bobzjr (author)shazni2013-04-18

Unfortunately, a traditional hair dryer will probably not work. They do not get hot enough. The stove might work - but be very careful! Also, I have seen people use a gas torch. Again, be very careful about fumes and fire. Good luck.

T0BY (author)2016-12-08

Very clever idea.

bobzjr (author)2016-09-14

UPDATE: In last 3+ years I have not experienced a single crack nor break among the clips. Our temps in these years have ranged from -17 to +105 approximate - I did not do a thorough research. May have been wider range than this.... As my clips are installed in a non-climate-controlled garage, I believe the temps may not prove to be a big problem...

W MichaelC (author)2015-05-10

I have a though - couldnt you use two rings of say 1 inch and mount them on a flat backing then cut a 1/4 inch gap on the left of the left ring and right of the right ring and achieve this without fumes or a heat gun?

bobzjr (author)W MichaelC2016-09-14

GOOD IDEA! But I believe you may have more success with larger than 1" rings.

Lyman Bruce (author)2016-08-06

Great idea! Thanks for sharing.

vaycon (author)2015-03-31

great idea

AlexLPD (author)2013-07-01

Very nice idea, thanks for sharing =)

keepintouch (author)2013-05-15

Great and creative

racenrose (author)2013-04-26

Thank you for this. I have been looking at doing something and this will fit the ticket. Great job and very clear instructable to follow.

pfred2 (author)2013-04-17

Great job! Normal PVC hot boxes use what appear to be electric stove elements. Not that you should go baking PVC in your kitchen stove mind you, but if something similar could be tossed together for shop use it would probably work well.

I would also worry about using those clips in extremely cold weather too. PVC gets pretty brittle when it is cold so maybe not a good idea to hang a snow shovel from them in season?

Mindmapper1 (author)pfred22013-04-23

Beware of heating PVC as it can easily give off chlorine gas which can kill! I like the idea of this 'ible though. It is possible to form around a suitable jig plastic facia or window cill material which will work just as well and in the UK can often be obtained from scrap bins at replacement window companies.

pfred2 (author)Mindmapper12013-04-23

We used to douse PVC pipe in PVC glue and set it on fire so we could bend it in ditches. We didn't always have a hot box with us, or the electricity to run it either. That probably gave off some fumes too what do you think?

envirolutionary (author)2013-04-19

Btw draft folder is my nemesis, if only this were my job!

envirolutionary (author)2013-04-19

Great job, way to set the bar !

flavrt (author)2013-04-18

Brilliant concept + innovative use of tools and materials + thoughtful description and clear illustrations + testing = epic Instructable.

Well done and congratulations.

bobzjr (author)flavrt2013-04-18

Thanks for the kind comments - you are motivating me to move along with the 16 projects I have in the "Draft" folder.

flavrt (author)bobzjr2013-04-18

"you are motivating me to move along … "

Of course my comments are always self-serving in that way.

I never realized that PVC could be thermo reshaped. Creating parts with flats turns these tubes a whole new raw material for me. Once solid again, parts could be deglazed, sanded, and decorated. Obviously nobody should use it structurally. But from your experience, does it seem sturdy enough to craft wall-mounted hooks for things like pot lids and towels?

bobzjr (author)flavrt2013-04-19

Keep in mind that PVC pipe is not your only source of moldable plastic. Another easy PVC source is plastic guttering. Switch gears and look at 2 liter plastic soda bottles. You'll soon feel an urge to dumpster dive. The recycling bin may become your new raw material pile. :)

bobzjr (author)flavrt2013-04-19

Oh yes - good answer here... I believe PVC strength will continue to be quite good in scenarios you describe. LOTS of great possibilities!

Also of note - you should check out Shapelock or Instamorph.
I believe those are about the same product. I have used Shapelock and have been very pleased with it. Those products are REALLY useful. Check this stuff out.

Also Sugru is touted widely here on instructables. It is not the same but can als be really useful. I have not yet used Sugru (but plan to soon).

luridhue (author)2013-04-18

Hello Shazni, what country do you live in? I would, with your permission, like to see about sending you a heat gun (if I can afford the postage). Michael

oldmicah (author)2013-04-17

Looks great. I don't have one yet, but I'm going to get a heat gun. Thanks for laying out the steps and the sketchup part worked well. Many thanks!

bobzjr (author)oldmicah2013-04-17

Thanks for the comments. Of note, you can get heat guns at very low price at a popular tool discounter Harb*** Fre****. If you do get one at that store, be sure to save your receipt as some of their guns are notorious for breaking down. However, they are very good about exchanging for another etc if you have your receipt. I speak from experience.

MidnightMaker (author)2013-04-17

This is a good idea. Thanks for sharing

mikaleda (author)2013-04-17

Very cool, this will help get the garage organized. Thanks for sharing.

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