Intro: How to Make Cheap PVC Project Enclosures and Boxes
I love working with PVC. One of my favorite materials is the vinyl fence posts available at Home Depot and Lowes. It's easy to cut and turn into all kinds of things. The first thing I did with this material was to make project boxes. Here's how I do it.
Step 1: Making the Box
I used a 4"x4" PVC fence post for these boxes. I wanted a box that was 12"x4"x1.5". First, I cut a 12" section of the post. Next I used my table saw to score where I want to cut the PVC. This material is under inner pressure and will bind down on the blade if you cut it all the way through. This makes crooked, ugly cuts. I set the blade just below the surface of the PVC and ran it through the saw four times to create two 1.5" high boxes. I used the bench sander to clean up the cut edges.
Step 2: Adding the Ends
Now I needed to make ends for the box. Since the fence post material flexes inward slightly, I made wooden braces to hold the sides parallel. I cut a scrap piece of fence post into a 1.75" strip. I cut the strip into 4.25" lengths. I used PVC cement to attach the end pieces and taped them on until the cement cured. Later, I removed the tape and sanded the edge smooth on the bench sander. I left the wooden braces in while I sanded it for support and I removed them when I was done.
Step 3: Making the Bottom
I made the bottom from a scrap of 1/4" plywood. I cut it 3 5/8"x11 7/8" so it fit snugly into the box. I marked a hole 2" in from each end and drilled a pilot hole. I used 4 small screws to hold the bottom in the box. I added small felt pads to the bottom to protect surfaces.
Step 4: Finishing the Enclosure
Now that it's together, the enclosure can be drilled or cut to fit a wide range of components. I used graph paper to plan out the positions of the components. When I'm satisfied with the layout I tape the paper to the enclosure and drill each hole with a tiny drill to make pilot holes. Next I go through and drill each hole to it's actual size. When all the holes are drilled and sanded, the enclosure can be painted with appropriate paint.
These are great project enclosures. An 8' section of 4"x4" post costs $16, or $2 a foot. That means each of these 12"x4"x1.5" enclosures cost just over a dollar! That's probably the cheapest enclosure possible. PVC is also really easy to drill and cut.
Remember- money saved on materials means more money for tools!