Introduction: PVC Target Stand
This is an inexpensive and simple to make target stand that breaks down flat for easy transportation. It's made out of 1-1/2" PVC pipe, with 1x2 furring strips for the uprights, and a base that's filled with wet sand to keep it from tipping over. You can staple a cardboard backer to the uprights, or staple larger targets to them directly. Furring strips are cheap enough (just a little more than a buck apiece) that it won't be a big deal when you eventually need to replace them.
The only tools required are a tape measure, a wood saw of some kind to cut the furring strips, and something to cut PVC pipe; e.g. a hacksaw, PVC cutter, miter saw, or whatever.
Although the pictures and text in this instructable are mine, this design was originally published in an article by Richard Johnson on his website GunsHolstersAndGear.com.
To build one stand you'll need:
- One 10' length of 1-1/2" PVC pipe
- One 2' length of 1-1/2" PVC pipe
- Four 1-1/2" sanitary tees (you can use regular, all-hub tees too, but they're more expensive)
- Two 1-1/2" elbows
- Two 1-1/2" caps
- Four 1-1/2" plastic test caps
- Two 1x2 furring strips
- PVC primer and cement
Not counting the sand, primer, and cement, the total cost for each stand is only a little over $20. Obviously a little more if you don't have sand, primer, or cement already on hand. If you plan to build more than one stand, it'll be cheaper if you multiply 12 by the number of stands you're building, and buy enough 10' lengths to give you that many feet. For example, if you're building three stands, three times twelve is 36 feet, so you'd buy four 10' pieces of pipe (and no 2' lengths).
Step 1: A Primer on Working With PVC
PVC pipe is easy to cut with any power tools intended to cut wood, like a miter saw. Alternatively, it's also commonly cut with a hacksaw, though I personally find it next to impossible to make a straight cut in PVC with a hacksaw. If you're a die-hard tool junky there are tools made specifically for cutting PVC, but I don't see any point in buying one if you already have a miter saw.
PVC is joined using solvent-based primer and cement to essentially melt and weld two PVC surfaces together. Once cemented together, PVC joints are permanent and irreversible. In addition, once you insert a pipe into a fitting they will "grab" each other within a few seconds, which means if you need to adjust the angle between two parts you're joining you have to do it fast. Cans of primer and cement have daubers built into their caps for applying them (picture 1).
The basic procedure for cementing PVC is simple:
- Make sure the mating surfaces are clean and free of debris.
- Coat both mating surfaces with purple primer. This means the inside surface of the fitting (picture 2), and the outside edge and end of the pipe going into it (picture 3). This is reversed when installing the test caps, since in that case the cap is inserted into the pipe.
- Let the primer dry. The solvent in the primer flashes off fast, so this only takes a minute or two.
- Coat the inside of the fitting with cement.
- Immediately insert the pipe into the fitting and quickly adjust its position, as necessary. Again, any adjustments need to made very quickly.
- If you have multiple parts to join, like with this project, assembly will go much faster if you prime everything before you start (picture 4). By the time you're done priming, the first parts will be dry and ready to join.
- PVC primer is very drippy, and will stain anything it touches. Because of this, cover any work surfaces you don't want stained, and consider wearing old clothes. It'll stain your hands too, but unless you're a professional hand model, I wouldn't worry about that. It'll wash off within a couple of days.
Step 2: Cut Pipe
Cut your pipe into eight 16" pieces. Using a stop so you can make repeatable cuts without having to measure each one will save you some time. In the picture I'm using a 5 gallon bucket with a 50lb bag of sand in it.
Step 3: Install Test Caps
Install the test caps on four lengths of the pipe, and set aside.
Step 4: Assemble the Upright Section
While we give the newly cemented test caps a little time to set up, we'll go ahead and build the upright section...
- Cement a piece of pipe into the side outlet of a tee.
- Cement the side outlet of a second tee onto the other end of the pipe, and immediately press the assembly down on a flat surface to ensure that the tees are in the same plane. (picture 1)
- Cement another piece of pipe into one end of each tee. (picture 2)
IMPORTANT: The only downside of using sanitary tees in this project, instead of regular tees, is that sanitary tees are NOT SYMMETRICAL (the side outlet is closer to one end than the other). This means that when using them in pairs like this it is IMPERATIVE that they be oriented in the same direction. If you install a tee in the opposite orientation from its mate, you will not be able to assemble your stand properly.
Step 5: Fill Capped Sections With Sand
Wet your sand, trowel it into the capped pipes, and set them aside. Tap the end of the pipe on ground periodically as you fill it to tamp the sand down.
Step 6: Assemble Back Legs
Cement caps onto the open ends of two of the sand-filled pipes.
Step 7: Assemble Front Base Section
- Cement an elbow to the open end of both of the remaining sand-filled pieces.
- Cement an empty pipe section to the other side of one of the elbows.
- Fill the empty pipe section with sand.
- Cement the open end of the pipe into the other elbow, and immediately press the assembly down on a flat surface to ensure all of the parts are in the same plane.
Step 8: Finish Assembling the Base
- Cement a sanitary tee to one end of the front base section, with the side outlet of the tee facing up. Hold the tee tight against a scrap piece of 2x4 as you insert the pipe into it, to ensure that the side outlet is perfectly vertical. (picture 1)
- Repeat step 1 on the other side with the last sanitary tee. As always, make sure both tees are oriented in the same direction.
- Cement a back leg into the other end of both tees. (picture 2)
Step 9: Assemble the Completed Stand
- Slip the ends of the upright section into the openings in the tees in the base.
- Cut the furring strips down to 6' long, and slip them down into the the uprights. If your furring strips are still fairly "wet" (have a high moisture content), it may take a little effort to get them in. Once they've dried out more, they'll slip in with no effort..
That's it, you're done!