How to Make Cheap PVC Project Enclosures and Boxes

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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!

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    44 Discussions

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    silvertank

    1 year ago

    Great idea! I have tons of scrap lumber around that would make excellent project boxes. Plus, wood can be treated for outdoor exposure. My plastic project boxes can't take too much Florida weather, but I bet wood can do it. Thanks!

    Also, for higher voltage projects I suggest using electrical junction boxes. They are cheap and easy to modify. Need a quick waterproof enclosure? Try a small section of PVC pipe with end caps.

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    RobertM547

    1 year ago

    Clever one!

    If you want simple to 3D print, customisable box check out http://catchit.pl/blog/modular-3d-printed-case-diy-project/

    There is a thingiverse link at the end of the post.

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    zencuke

    2 years ago

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. What a great idea. Even better than the low price is the ability to make exactly the size I want.I make things with PVC but didn't know square PVC existed.

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    Jgonzalezcfl79

    2 years ago

    Wow, you are a genius! Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing this! It annoys me how expensive project boxes are! Alright, gotta go to the hardware store. I'll see how mine turn out. Wish me luck!

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    rodknutson

    3 years ago

    Old tupperware cotainers work good too for cases. You can paint them too

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    JanisF

    3 years ago on Introduction

    First, I want to be clear, I don't want to discourage, disparage, or disencline this amazing maker movement or *any* maker. I just need to add to the conversation. I just made myself a new bumper sticker (yes it's on vinyl):

    Sticks & stones may break my bones, but polymers are forever.

    If there's a chance for folks to use consignment (previously owned) plastics, choose materials that will leave a footprint of a shorter duration, or just give thought to the entire product life cycle, it would pass on both a cleaner planet and a culture of greater respect to the kiddos (a few of whom will be president when you're retired). Thanks on behalf of us depressives who think the world is going to pot, the dump, whatever.

    I really like how this final project diverges so far from the intent of the manufactured product. Fence post, wha?

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    RobTurrentine

    3 years ago

    Did you see the ible about flattening out PVC? Very cool. Yours is great! Thanks for the idea.

    1 reply
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    waltboszRobTurrentine

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    Is this the one you are talking about? https://www.instructables.com/id/Recycle-Old-PVC-Into-Flat-Sheets/

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    SalM3

    3 years ago on Introduction

    4x4 PVC posts is brilliant!!!

    thank you,.

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    kwkstar

    3 years ago on Step 4

    Great Idea. I like the non conductive aspect of these enclosures. And Yes, What is this use for this enclosure that is pictured?

    1 reply
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    Chuck Stephenskwkstar

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    I use them primarily for synthesizers and other audio projects. The one
    in the picture is something I'm working on currently. It uses blinking
    LEDs and light sensors to control the pitch of two synthesizers. It uses
    simple CMOS logic chips to create patterns and simple musical loops.
    I'll be posting an instructable on it within the next couple of weeks.

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    wirepig

    3 years ago

    How about the sparkly pink, my daughter and i have been looking for sparkly already paint too paint her nerf gun with. We haven't had any luck so far.

    2 replies
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    Chuck Stephenswirepig

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    Rustoleum just rolled out a new line of glitter paints in a variety of colors. In my area Home Depot carries it. They are awesome! I start with an appropriate primer, add multiple light coats of glitter and top it off with a couple of coats of Rustoleum triple thick glaze. It comes out really nice and durable.

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    holgerm.murk

    3 years ago on Introduction

    This is great! Although for noise considerations, one should line the insides with foil.

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    marcpilot1

    3 years ago on Step 4

    I like it. The finished product is really cool. Its got knobs, switches and that color is nice too. What I'm curious about now is what are they for? Like, what is that particular one in the pic used for, with the knobs and switches?

    What are some ideas for use if I were to make one? I want to make 1 or 2 of this size but I also want to maybe make some different sizes. Possibly one for my letters and cards I get from my daughter and parents around Christmas and fathers day, birthdays and stuff. Maybe one for things I can hide stuff in and maybe one for remote controls!

    Anyway, I like it! Is there any ideas for what they can be used for? Thanks, Marc C.

    1 reply

    I use them primarily for synthesizers and other audio projects. The one in the picture is something I'm working on currently. It uses blinking LEDs and light sensors to control the pitch of two synthesizers. It uses simple CMOS logic chips to create patterns and simple musical loops. I'll be posting an instructable on it within the next couple of weeks.

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    smokie1969

    3 years ago

    I wish those PVC fence posts were available in Australia........you guys have all the cool stuff in the states! ?