Introduction: Plastic Welding

Picture of Plastic Welding

I went cruising in the car, to see if there was anything worth having out of someone's skip. My eyes were peeled for any container I could use for potato growing. Down one alleyway I spied just what I was looking for, in shocking pink.

Unfortunately, the container had a 6 inch split, which might have still held soil but I wanted to make sure. The previous owner of the container regarded a broken plastic container as finished, threw it outside his house and probably bought another.

All too often, plastic items are thrown away just because they have a split in them. This is common amongst containers that are meant to carry water; buckets and watering cans.

When recycled these items will be shredded into pellets and melted into new plastic items, a waste of energy.

A far better way of recycling split plastic items is to renew them through plastic welding.

Instructable by

Step 1:

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All you need to plastic weld is a piece of metal with a handle that doesn't conduct heat. You are going to heat the metal in a flame to get it hot so your hand needs protection from the heat. I use a bradawl.

After 10 seconds or so in a flame the metal will be hot enough to weld with.

(Sorry for the paucity of photographs in this instructable but I only got the idea for the instrucatable just after I completed the task.)

Step 2:

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Hold the two edges of the plastic tightly together and make a few "tack welds" to keep the two sides of the split together. Draw the hot metal from one side of the split to the other. When the hot blade touches the plastic it will melt and can be drawn across the split. Don't dig deeply into the metal, just melt the surface of the plastic. After a few seconds the metal will have cooled so you will have to put it back into the flame for another 10 seconds.

After you have performed your tack welds you can then seal up the split with broader strokes up and down the split. Imagine buttering a piece of bread and move the plastic from both sides of the split, over and along. Don't let the metal sink into the plastic otherwise you will thin and weaken the plastic. You just want to get the surfaces of both sides to fuse together.

Step 3:

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When you have completed one side, do the other side to strengthen the weld. On completing both sides you will have something that is usable once again.

Step 4:

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And here is the completed container with a few drainage holes drilled in the bottom, some soil and eight seed potatoes buried inside. I could have bought one in a garden centre earlier in the day for 5 pounds. Admittedly, it would have been a nice deep green colour but still, that was 5 pounds too much for me to spend.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Have a Green Day!

James @


Woobiken (author)2010-03-12

Yoshhash asked if various types of plastics behave differently?  Yep!  Different melting temps and decomposition characteristics.  Thermoplastics love to stick to the skin and not let go until cooled!  Which probably is the main reason the art of plastic repair will forever be a "lost art".  Throw in the fact that Little Billy doesn't see a woodburning kit under the Christmas tree anymore due to liability,protectionism, and ignorance from the parents.  Well if I get a chance I'll do a little show & tell using a proper plastic welding iron which does have a variac and a feed assist thingamajig built into the "shoe" of the iron.  My welder has saved many hundreds of dollars for me and paid for itself with the first fix on my '72 El Camino.  

Crucio (author)2010-02-02

Very useful information; thank you for posting.  And good comments.  I like the soldering iron idea.

stephenniall (author)2009-12-29

ikea hampers i see

TheGoodLife (author)stephenniall2009-12-29

Is that what it is?

I hope people throw out some more, I have uses for them"

stephenniall (author)TheGoodLife2009-12-29

they're quite cheap at ikea !

lemonie (author)2009-03-20

The link refuses to load, but why have you added it to every step?


TheGoodLife (author)lemonie2009-03-20

I assume you are referring to

It is a link to my blog and has been working for many years.

I hope you enjoy reading it.

lemonie (author)TheGoodLife2009-03-20

I can't read it because it won't load for me, but why have you posted it in every step?


TheGoodLife (author)lemonie2009-03-20

Does it upset you that I have posted a link to my blog on every step?

lemonie (author)TheGoodLife2009-03-21

It makes the thing look spammy. You still haven't answered the original question - 7 times (now) on one page is excessive. (still won't load for me) L

jtobako (author)lemonie2009-03-23

Any chance that your browser won't load a hyphenated url? I think the over-posting of the personal web-page is part of a 'promote yourself' business package. I agree that it's excessive, but ANY hard sell tactic makes me think "what are they hiding..."

TheGoodLife (author)jtobako2009-03-23

This is all getting to be very tedious and this is the last I will say on the matter. You have clicked on the link and you will see it is a blog that sells nothing but an alternative lifestyle. There is nothing to hide on the blog other than one person's way of living life differently to you. If you don't like my blog, my lifestlye, this instructable or me personally then go and read another web page. If you do not like the format of my instructable then complain to the owner of the site rather than whining on this page like a little child.

jtobako (author)TheGoodLife2009-03-23

Nothing to do with content (but, boy, are you sensitive about it!), just the habit of self-promotion. And the comment section is about improving the instructable...

TheGoodLife (author)jtobako2009-03-23

On your two visits to this comment section you have not made any attempt to improve this instructable.

jtobako (author)TheGoodLife2009-03-24

I attempted to solve someone's problem accessing additional information recommended by the author (you). I made a comment that hard sell doesn't work well with me, implying that, like lemonie said, a reduced number of references to the same site would be more effective. I attempted to clarify that previous comment because you assumed that I was commenting on content when I was commenting on frequency. I attempted to assuage your anger at what I felt was a reasonable comment on how the instructable was written. While I haven't given any comment on the topic of the instructible, I have attempted to improve the chance that it would be taken seriously by a larger audience by commenting on it's structure. I really don't understand why you are taking it as a personal affront.

Ninzerbean (author)jtobako2009-12-27

Very well stated, I for one appreciate the time it took you to assuage this guys feelings, it IS important that this community show appreciation and guidance to others so that they stick around, share their great ideas but do so in the way we have become accustomed to. 

lemonie (author)jtobako2009-03-23

Never seems to transfer any data from, the URL above is fine up to that point. ? L

tecneeq (author)TheGoodLife2009-03-21

I think it's a bit spammy if it is on every step. ;)

Anyways, the blog works for me and seems to be perfectly ok to be linked here, no spam in sight. Still, i would recommend using the link once, maybe twice. Less is more, i guess :).

The 4th Doctor (author)2009-11-06

nice instructable, ill try this with my cruddy soldering iron  

more pics and this defiantly would have been featured

and why not some nice deep green spraypaint for that bucket, i guess that would cost about as much as that new bucket though  

If I run into something else to fix then more photos will be forthcoming.

I like the idea of using a soldering iron.

The tub is new but I didn't pay a penny for it. I guess someone used it to destruction on day one and then threw it out back.

with that last part i meant that you could spraypaint the bucket if you dont like the color

Woobiken (author)2009-10-29

 Well done!  One other little trick is to use a wet sponge on the backside of the area being worked.  Pretty much explains itself when the "Sog Factor" arises!

TheGoodLife (author)Woobiken2009-10-29

I never thought about over-cooking so a cooling sponge is a very good idea. Thank you.

Woobiken (author)TheGoodLife2009-10-29

 You bet!  Silly as it sounds but I fixed my ex-girlfriends laundry basket that looked similar to your project.  Don't be afraid to take an x-acto knife to tears in plastic and edge the two pieces at a 45 angle.  Then if you can scavenge a snippet of material from another area do so and then your in business!
Look for a multi-hot knife in the hardware stores if you haven't already seen them.  Cross between a solder iron / woodburner /  hot x-acto knife for around 10 bucks!  

By the way...I was checkin g out that blog of yours and i'm impressed!  I saw stuff on wind power that was interesting (tons of other stuff too!)  As I am trying to make a huge 800 pound AC Tachometer Generator do some magic!  Well it was a crapshoot of mine this summer...anyhow, Who's a good source to chat with on my little project?

Oh yeah!  First time I made any comments on this site and I look like "The"Shadow" !   I suppose a crazy picture of me would be more appropriate.

See Ya!

yoshhash (author)2009-06-11

great instructable. one question though- different plastics behave differently, right? Do you happen to know which ones are better suited for welding, or are they all the same? ps- personally, I see nothing wrong with putting a link on every page, even if it looks spammy- it's your own choice.

Dark Solar (author)2009-04-27

Excellent. I do the same (different technique, same results) with a heat gun and slit masks made from aluminum cans. Never even occured to me to do an Instructable on it....late to the game as usual.

TheGoodLife (author)Dark Solar2009-04-27

Why not do an instructable? It would be good to see an alternate method. I assume that with a heat gun you have a constant supply of heat whereas I am always having to reheat my bradawl every few seconds.

kbobash (author)2009-04-04

Thanks so much for this instructable...just fixed my kitchen compost can liner, which is a good thing since I can't find a replacement online!

TheGoodLife (author)kbobash2009-04-04

Your comment just put the icing on my day. I got some more tubs through Freecycle and planted more vegetable seed. Then I recharged my solar battery on this sunny day. And now, you have prevented some plastic from being thrown away. Wonderful.

Spaceman-Spliff (author)2009-04-03

good instructable, nice weld, terrible pink! :-)

Shocking pink. Still, beggars can't be choosers. It was there, on the roadside, and I needed it. The potatoes are growing nicely in it.

foobear (author)2009-03-21

Thanks for this tip, I had no clue

tecneeq (author)2009-03-21

Do potatoes grow in a bucket like that? It's not awfully much earth to build roots, i guess.

TheGoodLife (author)tecneeq2009-03-21

I have grown potatoes in containers for many years and also inside car tyres.


The potatoes develop above the seed potato. As the plant grows you add more earth to the tub until it is filled with earth.

With car tyres, you add another tyre and add earth. Three or four tyres to earth up.

It is much easier harvesting potatoes from containers because you know exactly where the potatoes are. In the ground, potatoes get lost and sprout up the following year.

Phil B (author)2009-03-20

Back when I was much younger my mother had a plastic pitcher. Somehow a hot fry pan came into contact with the pitcher and pushed a hole into the side about the size of the end of someone's finger. I cut a piece of plastic from the side of a container for dish soap. I used a soldering iron to attach a patch. It took a while to find and seal all of the leaks, but it worked.

TheGoodLife (author)Phil B2009-03-20

A soldering iron is a good idea. Constant heat and variable if you have one with a variac.

About This Instructable



Bio: Green, downsized, dropped out, lifehacking, office cubicle refugee
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