PVC "Mouse Ear" Tool Clips

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About: Pay it Forward. You Get what you Give.

Intro: PVC "Mouse Ear" Tool Clips

Organize your garage or closet with these cheap and easy custom clips.  The "mouse-ear" design is adjustable and can hold multiple tools at the same time.  Stagger the clips to maximize your storage potential.

Step 1: Materials and Tools Aka "What You Need"

Materials Needed:
  • 3" schedule 40 PVC pipe
  • wood screws

 

Tools Needed:
  • Gloves
  • Saw
  • Heat Gun
  • Scissors
  • Drill
  • Drill Bit
  • Counter Sink

Step 2: Cut 3" PVC Into 5/8" Slices

Cut rings which are approximately 5/8" wide.  Using a six inch piece of pipe should yield about eight rings.  Remember the saw kerf will probably eat up about 1/8" of material.  The pipe illustrated is 6" long.  Also as shown in the illustration, this pipe has an approximate thickness of 1/4".   After you cutting several, it will look like a pile of shower rings.

A compound miter saw is really good for cutting consistent rings.  Other saws including hand saws could also be used.

Approximate Dimensions for a NOMINAL 3" PVC pipe:
  • outside diameter of 3.50  inches
  • internal diameter of 3.25 inches
  • thickness of 1/4"

 

Step 3: Heat Cut and Shape the PVC Rings

WORK WITH GOOD VENTILATION - fumes can be toxic!
WEAR GLOVES!  It can be done, but I do not recommend going sans-gloves.

Work with one ring at a time.  Heat up the ring with a heat gun until ring is easily bendable - almost limp.  But be careful not to burn the plastic.  Also avoid "toasting" the plastic.  Once warmed up, use scissors to snip open the ring. 

Periodically re-warm as working if needed.  Platic will cool and harden fairly quickly More like seconds vs minutes. 

While the ring is warm, lay on flat surface and re-shape the plastic into a "C" with curls on each end.  See photos and illustrations.   You can hold a bend it will stiffen as it cools.  If the shape is not quite right, re-warm and bend again. 

See video in next step for sample footage of "working" the PVC.

Step 4: Pictures of "Working" the PVC

Here are pictures and a video of "working" the PVC rings into the desired "mouse ear" shape.  Video in next step is really helpful in giving a feel for the process.  This is the first video I have included in an Instructable.  Unfortunately, our spokesmodel was unavailable at shooting time - so you are stuck with me...  :)

Step 5: Video - "Working" the PVC Into Shape

Step 6: Drill Mounting Holes and Attach With Screws

I did not take pictures or video of the drilling and mounting - but this illustration should be clear enough...  Note the drawing shows the PVC thinner than it really is.  Usually I would do a hand sketch - but I've been wanting to try out Sketchup.

Step 7: VIdeo - Finished PVC Clips in Action

In this video, you can see how easy and effective the PVC clips are. They give a nicely balanced snap when loading and unloading an item. I really like them and plan to adapt and integrate the elements of the design into other projects.

Step 8: NOTES

  The thicknes and width of the ring slices directly affect the amount of "spring" in the final clip.   The 3" pipe seems to be a very good selection for making the clips.  It is approximately 1/4" thick.  The strips were 5/8" wide.  Using strips wider than 5/8" became quickly too stiff for optimal function. 

If wanting to use wider strips, consider cutting some partial "Vents" in the rings.  This could weaken the spring enough to still be functional.  This might even be a useful design as a larger width could add stability to the hanging tool.  For example, less sway.  Although I don't see sway as any issue with the current 5/8" width.

Brittleness is something I have been watching.  I have used the clips through one winter season and experienced no problems so far.  However, our winter is fairly mild as average lows are in the mid 20s.  I did proactively test the clips ability to load/unload handles during colder periods (not just monitoring their ability to passively hold alone).  Small sampling of active cold tests we good.   Extreme cold and UV exposure may cause deterioration.   If some clips crack, they are cheap (and easy) enough to just replace when needed. 

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    35 Discussions

    I love the idea - while the broom holder may be ideal to hold tools up, I suppose this one will work better for tools that can rest on the ground. Thanks for sharing!

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    bobzjrDominic Bender

    Reply 1 year ago

    Actually - NONE of my hanging tools are touching the garage floor. They all hang nicely above and allow me to sweep the floor without obstruction.

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    Nomadsanity

    2 years ago

    PVC softens at 92 Celsius. You could just put the cut rings into boiling water to bring them to temp with zero risk of burning the plastic. The water might even capture some of the chemicals off-gassing from the plastic as it is heated. Double win?

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    Yonatan24Nomadsanity

    Reply 1 year ago

    PVC starts to decompose when the temperature reaches 140 °C (284 °F), with melting temperature starting around 160 °C (320 °F). According to Wikipedia

    Hmmm...

    Or does it only soften slightly?

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    bobzjrNomadsanity

    Reply 1 year ago

    That's a great idea. You could cut your rings and then do the further work in the kitchen. Thanks for suggestion.

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    shazni

    5 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for this! I will surely try to use it to hang all the brooms and mops! :-)...only as i don't have a heat gun...perhaps i can use the stove??...and no...heat guns are not freely available and they are not cheap....must try a hair blow-dryer and see

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    sewsamshazni

    Reply 1 year ago

    I happen to have heat "gun" used in scrapbooking. So a craft store like JoAnn's or Michaels might have it. Or if you know someone that has done or is doing scrapbooking, maybe you can borrow theirs. I haven't tried it on PVC pipes, but it gets really hot.

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    Sooner Aviatorshazni

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Hey all,
    A great way to heat PVC without noxious fumes or a chance or toasting it is to submerse it in really hot water. Not boiling, but maybe 150-200 degrees F. Insert the pieces one at a time, only takes a few (10-45) seconds, pull them out with tongs. Find the temp and time that works best for the size you're working with. Don't forget gloves!

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    bobzjrshazni

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Unfortunately, a traditional hair dryer will probably not work. They do not get hot enough. The stove might work - but be very careful! Also, I have seen people use a gas torch. Again, be very careful about fumes and fire. Good luck.

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    T0BY

    1 year ago

    Very clever idea.

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    bobzjr

    2 years ago

    UPDATE: In last 3+ years I have not experienced a single crack nor break among the clips. Our temps in these years have ranged from -17 to +105 approximate - I did not do a thorough research. May have been wider range than this.... As my clips are installed in a non-climate-controlled garage, I believe the temps may not prove to be a big problem...

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    W MichaelC

    3 years ago on Introduction

    I have a though - couldnt you use two rings of say 1 inch and mount them on a flat backing then cut a 1/4 inch gap on the left of the left ring and right of the right ring and achieve this without fumes or a heat gun?

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    bobzjrW MichaelC

    Reply 2 years ago

    GOOD IDEA! But I believe you may have more success with larger than 1" rings.

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    Lyman Bruce

    2 years ago

    Great idea! Thanks for sharing.

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    AlexLPD

    5 years ago on Step 7

    Very nice idea, thanks for sharing =)

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    racenrose

    5 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you for this. I have been looking at doing something and this will fit the ticket. Great job and very clear instructable to follow.