Gluing and Fastening PVC

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Lesson 3: Gluing and Fastening PVC
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Introduction: Gluing and Fastening PVC

Picture of Gluing and Fastening PVC

When it comes to joining pipe with fittings to create shapes and structures, you have options in the permanency of your connections. There isn't a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to joining pipe, and it largely depends on what you are trying to build, so it's important to know what your options are.

This lesson recommends a few processes to connect your PVC pipe for any kind of project, be it a temporary structure like this collapsible closet, or permanently connecting plumbing in your home or garden.


Dry Fit Your Design

If you need to erect your PVC project temporarily, or are prototyping a structure, you can join your structure without any glue or fasteners. When you dry fit pipe into joints, the structure relies on the compression from the PVC joint to hold the pipe in place.

PVC cement does not come unglued, so it's important to dry fit pipe before you bond pieces to see which parts and pipes may need adjustment.

This temporary compression method can be used for projects that need to collapse quickly, or that have pieces that need to be adjusted while in use. It also allows you to turn your PVC joints into reusable tinker-toys!

Occasionally, your pipe will do too good of a job staying together with the compression method. It's nice to have a dead blow hammer on hand so you can safely whack pipe joints apart when this happens.


Gluing

Picture of Gluing

PVC is glued together with a 2-step solvent cement process. The two solvents work together to create a strong chemical weld that can stand up to the pressure of flowing water. You have oodles of options when it comes to picking out solvents, so be sure to read the label. Also, each label' s color represents a different glue capability. Some glues are designed for use in high temperatures, and others bond to different kinds of plastics (ABS, CPVC, etc) - always be sure that your project material matches your cement.

Before you begin gluing make sure you have dry fitted all your parts and know how they need to be positioned. An easy way to make sure you are aligning all your parts correctly is to use a dry erase marker. A dry erase mark along the connection points, that spans from the joint to the pipe, will assure that your parts are cemented precisely. I usually also a number mark on both the pipe and joints that indicate the order of assembly.

Setup

Before you get started with using PVC cement, you really want to make sure you are wearing the right personal protection equipment and establish some safety ground rules. This stuff stinks, and you definitely don't want it on your skin or eyes.

Anytime you are using PVC cement, be sure you are wearing:

You'll need the following to complete the bond:

I prefer to set up a careful glue station on top of a towel and keep lots of rags or paper towels nearby just in case anything dribbles or spills.

Priming

The primer solvent etches the inside slot of the pipe fitting and the outside of the pipe. The purple primer stains, like really stains, so that's why I like to work with clear primer, but for the sake of this demo, I'll be using the purple primer.

Unscrew the cap carefully. Every time I've bought a new container of cement, the lids are on so tight that I've had to initially unscrew it using a vice grip. The liquid inside the container is not very viscous and can splash out easily. Go slow.

There is a brush in the cap of the primer. Use the brush to run a thin film of primer on the inside of the pipe joint as well as the outside of the pipe you are inserting into the joint. You only need to prime as deep as the pipe is plunging into the joint, usually the same distance as the outside diameter of the pipe (or right up to the mark you’ve made between the joint and pipe).

If it pools up and begins to drip, another pass of the brush or slightly turning the pipe should stop the primer from splashing onto your work surface.

The primer dries very quickly and the cement can be applied almost immediately after the primer has been brushed on.

Gluing

You don't want to apply a ton of glue, but a single viscous coat of cement on each side is necessary. The cement has a swab in the top of the bottle, just like the primer. Repeat the same application process as above, swabbing the outer diameter of your pipe and the inner diameter of the fitting before joining.

Matching the marks on your fitting and pipe ensures precise alignment of your parts.

It takes a couple of hours for curing to be complete, but your bonds are ready for pressure within 10 minutes of cementing.


Joints for Temporary Structures

Picture of Joints for Temporary Structures

I learned how to make strong temporary joints with PVC from this Instructable by trevormates. In this method, you use a wood screw as a locking pin to form strong but impermanent bonds, perfect for temporary structures and collapsible projects. In this example we use the following:

To prep your joint to become a temporary fitting, cement whichever parts or connections you want to be static first. After the cement has cured, dry fit the pipe to where you want to make temporary joints. I advise using a dead blow hammer for this part, making sure your pipe is as far into the fitting as it can get. Don't worry about banging your glued joints too hard, I assure you they will never come apart :)

Using a drill with a bit slightly smaller than the threads of your wood screws, drill a hole into the fitting where it meets the pipe.

Optionally, you can use a countersink bit to hide the head of the wood screw or use a button top screw if you want your screws to be more visible.

Photo from a shelving project, for more info, check out this instructable.

Using a screwdriver or screwdriver bit on a drill, drive the wood screw into the hole you just made.

If the pipe is feeling insecure with just one screw holding it in place, you can repeat the same process on the same fitting, using multiple shorter screws that won't bump into each other inside the pipe.


Quiz!

{
    "id": "quiz-1",
    "question": "Why is it important to dry-fit your PVC Pipe?", 
    "answers":[
        {
            "title": "To make sure your parts are oriented and cut correctly before cementing.",
            "correct": false
        },
        {
            "title": "To ensure your parts suit your design needs.",
            "correct": false
        },
       {
            "title": "All of the above.",
            "correct": true
        }

    ],
    "correctNotice": "That's correct",
    "incorrectNotice": "That's incorrect"
}
{
    "id": "quiz-2",
    "question": "PVC Cement forms a semi-permanent bond.",
    "answers":[
        {
            "title": "True.",
            "correct": false
        },
        {
            "title": "False.",
            "correct": true
        }

    ],
    "correctNotice": "That's correct, PVC Cement forms a chemical weld that can never come undone. Glue carefully. :D",
    "incorrectNotice": "That's incorrect"
}

Check out these clever Instructables that join and glue PVC pipe into all kinds of DIY goodness.


PVC Kayak Roof Rack/Carrier by Raybourne


Embark-A-Lounger by JON-A-TRON


PVC and Milk Basket Bike Basket by bonedoggie


Tomato Cage With PVC by goofy gal

Congrats on completing this gluing and fastening lesson! Next up we'll explore how to clean and paint your PVC and turn this dull material into some seriously awesome decor.

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