My name is Chance, and in this Instructable, I will walk you through the process of making a desk/workbench out of nothing but PVC pipe, pegboard and 550 cord (braided nylon parachute cord). I was given a sort of TV cabinet/3 drawer dresser thingy when I was assigned to my barracks room. I quickly outgrew this and saw the need for something a bit more accommodating for all of my stuff, plus a workspace for my tinkering with electronics. I chose PVC because it is fairly cheap, sturdy and simple. PVC is like a big set of tinker-toys to me! I made it to the dimensions that I did simply because of my needs and the dimensions of my barracks room. You should choose dimensions that best suit your needs. I hope this is helpful to some of you and please keep in mind that this is my first Instructable.
Step 1: Materials and Tools List
What you will need to make it to my specifications:
5 – 10' lengths of 1.5” PVC pipe
8 – 1.5” 90 degree connectors
6 – 1.5” T-connectors
1 – 4' x 8' sheet of ¼” pegboard
1 – 6' length of angle iron (1/8” thick) with pre-drilled holes
4 – Bolts that will fit through the pegboard holes, with 1 washer and 1 nut each.
PVC primer and cement
2 cans of spray paint (if you only want one color) or 2 cans of one color and 1 can of your secondary color (if you want a color scheme similar to the one that I used).
200' of #550 cord. A different type of cord can be substituted, but make sure it will fit through the pegboard holes before you buy it!
A tape measure.
A fine tip permanent marker for marking your cuts.
Either a circular power saw.
A hacksaw with a miter-box for cutting the PVC flush (it's really hard to free-hand) and a handsaw for cutting the pegboard.
Either way, you will need a hack-saw for cutting the angle iron unless you have something else to cut it with.
A paper plate to keep the primer and glue from getting on your floor (yes, I learned the hard way...).
A drop-cloth for painting the PVC pipes and connectors.
Step 2: Step 1: Making the Desktop Frame
Step 1: Making the desktop frame
Before we start cutting, I would like to stress a couple points...
*Measure twice, cut once! Truer words were never spoken.
*It is very important to make flush cuts to ensure proper seating in the connectors.
*If you would like to make this to different dimensions, it's important to factor in 1.25 on each end of the pipe because that's how much seats on the inside of the connectors.
*If you are under 18, please use safety glasses and gloves and other appropriate protective equipment. If you are over 18, you are responsible for your own safety and you don't need a nanny.
*Also, PVC will give you a little room for inaccuracy, but not too much.
Nuff said, lets start cutting!
First, cut your first 10 footer at 50 and then hold it against the remaining pipe, making sure the ends are flush, and mark and cut the remaining piece to the same length. These will be the front and back sides of the desktop. You should be left with an approximately 20 piece of pipe.
*Optional: I took this piece and whittled the end down to a taper with a knife, and used it later on to twist the connectors to the correct angles, and to remove the connectors from the pieces of pipe after my initial fittings. It also works good for hammering connectors onto pipe without damaging them or marring the paint, once they are painted.
Next, grab your next 10 footer and cut two 25 pieces using the afore-mentioned method. You should have about 70 left on your pipe. These will be the sides of your desktop.
Now, join the pieces together with T-connectors on each corner and ensure that the frame is fairly square and that a 2' x 4' sheet of pegboard will fit with some room inside the frame. In the picture, I went ahead and connected the leg connectors, but you don't need to do this yet. It should look about like this though:
Step 3: Step 2: Making the Legs
For the legs, you will need to cut the following pieces of pipe:
4 - 28" pieces (you can make these longer or shorter depending on your surface height preference)
2 - 25" pieces (these will be parallel to the floor, supporting the legs)
4 - 2.5" pieces (to join two connectors with no space between them on each corner)
Now, join two of the 28" pieces to both ends of one of the 25" pipes using two 90 degree connectors, ensuring that the two legs end up parallel. Once you have done this, put a 90 on top of one leg and a T on the other, making sure that they both have holes facing to the same side.
Then, do the same thing with the other pieces, but reverse the top two connectors as they will need to mirror the first side. Now, hammer the 2.5" pieces of pipe into the connectors on top of the legs and join them to the desktop frame. It should look like this:
(Minus the paint. It's best to paint later to avoid scratching up your paint job.)
Step 4: Step 3 ???
Step 5: Step 4: Profit!
Sorry, I couldn't resist...
Step 6: Step 3: Making the Backboard Frame
This is probably the simplest step. Just cut two 42 pieces of pipe and one approx. 58.75 piece. Join them with two 90's and then into the two upward-facing holes in the two T's connected to the back two legs. If everything sizes up right, then take it all apart and you're ready for the next step: painting!
*Be sure that as you take it apart, to keep the scrap pipe separate from your good materials to avoid a mix-up. It's probably best to also keep the leg assemblies away from the desktop frame assembly and so on.
Step 7: Step 4: Painting the Components
This is fairly straight-forward, but time consuming. First, be sure to wipe your components clean right before you paint them. Because spray paint doesn't adhere to PVC too well, it's best to spray one light primer coat (it doesn't have to completely conceal the white of the pipe) and then a nice even finish coat.
I painted the connectors against a trash bag on the ground, but it is so windy here, that the trash bag kept folding over and hitting the freshly painted pieces. So I took some plastic hangers and cut the bottom in the middle, slid them on and painted them while holding them up. This works great for holding them up to dry too.
For the pipe, I ran 1 masking tape around both ends of each pipe before painting them. If you wear some gloves, you can spray them standing up while holding them. Just hold one end by the masking tape and the other against the ground, then carefully flip it upside down and get the other.
Let your LIGHT primer coat dry for about one hour, and then come back and apply your finish coat. It will take at least 3 hours for your finish coat to be dry enough to handle the pipes.
Step 8: Step 5: Final Assembly
While your PVC is drying, cut your 4' x 8' piece of pegboard to 40 x 58.5. The leftover piece will be scrap. It's best to try and make your cuts mid-way between the rows of holes.
Next, paint your pegboard and let it dry while you assemble the frame. Paint adheres to pegboard much better than PVC, so you can get it done in one coat.
*If you don't have a drop-cloth set up, then you might want to keep the primer and cement cans on a paper plate to contain pre-application drips.
Then, set your pieces up so that you can assemble them quickly without mixing them up. As you assemble the pieces, apply primer to the ends of the pipes (it takes about 5 seconds to dry) and then apply a light coat of cement. Make sure that you prime and cement the insides of the connectors as well. I found it easiest to assemble the desktop frame first, then the legs and last, the back. Allow it all to dry for about 3 hours or so before you put much weight on it.
Next, we'll lash the pegboard to the frame.
Step 9: Step 6: Lashing the Pegboard to the Frame
Once everything is dry, it's time to lash the pegboard to the frame. I found it easiest to set the frame on it's side and start at the top. I didn't measure the length of cord that I used for each side or really come up with much of a plan for this step, so you may be better off coming up with your own method.
I started off by finding the midpoint of my 550 cord and making a loop through the center-most hole in the edge of the pegboard. Then, it's just the meticulous process of looping the cord around the frame and through the next hole, over and over again. The best way to find the approximate length you'll need is (once you have the first side hung) to measure the distance needed to go from each hole around the frame and to the next hole, then multiply it by how many holes there are. I started by guestimating the length for the first edge and lacing it by standing it up as depicted below.
An alternative method I thought of after the fact was to use drywall screws to screw the pegboard directly to the top. Oh well, this way looks kinda cool.
On the backboard, I used the pre-drilled angle iron as a support for the bottom edge. I bolted it to the pegboard in 4 places.
Well, you should be done now. I'd appreciate any feedback (sustains, improves).