Prosthetic Leg Made With Common Household Materials




In third-world countries, it is hard to get good or even decent medical materials. What if you have been injured in a terrible accident where you lose a leg? It's either you sell your house or you have to be bound to a wheel chair for the rest of your life. This may allow those in those countries to make their life a little bit better.

Questions, Comments, Suggestions or Revisions, please post them so I can improve upon this instructable.

I'd like to give some thanks to stephenniall who gave me the great idea of using a foot shaped thing to hold the shoe in place.

Just wanted to say that if you like this instructable, think about voting for it in the Humana Health by Design Contest.
Thank you !! :)

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Step 1: Some Background on the Project Before We Get Started

Sitting at my house I first thought about how I could possibly support all of that weight, or at least how to keep the leg in place so it doesn't randomly fall off.  I also thought about how I would even position the leg on top of the device. I then realized that maybe a dome shaped object could be where the knee rests and there is some kind of device on it holding the prosthetic leg in place.  I set off looking for a tape measure to measure the diameter of my leg and find a funnel shape. My knee's diameter was 16 inches. I then looked around for a funnel shaped object and found out that an ordinary 2 Liter soda bottle would work nicely. I was then off to find the supporting objects and than it was off to building.

Step 2: Supplies and Precautions

You will need:
 * 2 Liter Soda bottle (I used Pepsi)
 * Old Shoe
 * 1" Schedule 40 PVC¹ (This stuff is insanely strong, i could put all of my body weight on it and it still didn't bend.)
* PVC Primer and cement  ( If you don't understand my instructions on how to cement PVC piping together there is a wealth of information on the internet to help you out. Here is a place that may help you with this.)
 * 90°,  2 socket, pipe elbow designed for 1" PVC pipe. (While your in the store remeber to check if it fits well on the 1" pipe)
 * End Coupler  for 1" PVC pipe (Make sure it's NOTThreaded)
 * 5 minute epoxy, or any strong epoxy like JB WELD
 * Duct tape(optional, you can use it to reinforce the glue points or you could use it also to round off the sharp edges on the cut bottle.)
 * 1/2 inch PVC Schedule 40, how much you need will depend on how big your shoe is.

¹(Later in the Instructable I will tell you how to figure out how much you need.)

 * Pipe cutter (You can use a hacksaw instead but the cut will be less smoother.)
 * Clamp (optional) (I didn't use one but you can to hold parts in place as they dry)
 * Scissors or XACTO knife


 * Read all warning labels on the glue, don't try to ingest it in any ways or inhale it.
 * Use precaution when using the scissors. They can easly wound and leave a scar on you.

Step 3: Making the Dome to Place Your Knee In

1. Take the soda bottle in your hand and either draw a line where the curve meets the straight edge or cut along the label
2. If you're having trouble cutting pinch the cutting edge so you can pierce it easier.
3. Cut fully around the line and set aside until later.
4. Discard all remains

Step 4: (Optional) Taking Out the Sharp Edges From the Bottle

Rip small pieces of duct tape and put them on the rim of the dome as shown in the pictures.

Step 5: Measure for the PVC Parts

Wherever the cut line was on the foot draw or put a line of tape on the other leg and measure there from that line to 1½ inches above the heel(You need to leave room for the elbow joint). (For example, If I had lost my right leg than I would take the line the surgeons cut on and draw it on my left leg and measure on my left leg.) This is one of your PVC measurements. Next, take your shoe of choice and measure from the heel of the shoe to the place where the shoes roof is just a smidgen over 1". You may have to trim down this piece a tiny bit.

Step 6: Cut the PVC

Take your pipe-cutter (or hacksaw) and just cut on the lines you marked from before. That's it for this step

Step 7: Assemble PVC Together

Were almost to the end, only a few more steps. This is pretty easy although it may look overwhelming at first. For those who know how to join PVC together and form a strong bond put the PVC pieces together so they look like it is in the first picture. 

                                          BEFORE DOING ANYTHING DRY FIT EVERYTHING

Everybody else, to put PVC together is kinda challenging. It is more difficult than just slapping glue on it and letting it dry. To glue together PVC you must buy two materials: Primer and Cement. They should look like pictures 2 and 3. They usually have an applicator of some sort inside of the can.

First in the process of gluing PVC together you need to take the primer and put a thin coat of it on the inside of the socket and on the outside of the pipe. Then, let it dry for around 10 seconds. Now, take the Cement and apply a thin coat on the inside of the socket and the outside of the pipe piece. Push the two pieces together and give them a 90 degree turn in both directions. This is called solenoid welding. Then let it dry for the recommended amount of time stated on the can.

Step 8: Making a Foot to Hold the Shoe's Place and Shape

To hold the shoe in place we will use the left over soda bottle and some 1/2 inch PVC. What we will do is cut 3 pieces of PVC to act like the toes holding the shoe in place. You can also swap out shoes as they get worn out.

First take the leftovers from the 2 Liter bottle and cut a piece that is as wide and as tall as your shoe when the roof hits the 1 inch PVC. Next cut the three pieces of PVC the length of from the end of the 1 inch PVC to the end of the shoe. Since shoes curve, these three pieces will vary in size and will probably look like in picture 2. Take the pieces and glue them in the way that your shoe curves. For example, if your making a leg for your left side the smallest piece should be on the left and vice versa. Remember to look and compare the pieces to your shoe to make sure they are in the right order before gluing.

Step 9: Glue Dome on Top of the PVC

Take the PVC and put the epoxy in a thin layer around the top where the two parts meet. Then take the dome and put the epoxy around the top of the cap area where it meets the PVC. The finished product will be delicate until it dries so wrap some duct tape around it to keep it intact. When it dries, the bond will be like steel.

(For those who don't know how to use JB-Weld, it is quite easy. All you have to do is take the two tubes and mix and equal amount of each and apply to the object you want to bond.)

Step 10: How to Hold It on to Your Body

To hold the leg in place to your body you could either :a. tape it on your leg, or b. drill two holes in the dome and attach a string and hook it to a belt.

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    16 Discussions

    This is quite resourceful...clearly a winner. Not quite the best prosthetic on the market, but in a third world country, probably the best available.


    10 months ago

    I used this to make a peg leg (with an old leg from a table and some pieces of leather) for a friend who lost his leg to diabetes... I couldn't figure out how to make it fit correctly and stay on his leg properly, the soda bottle was a great idea! Thank you!


    3 years ago

    i did it. It was a school project I am in 4th grade. It works really well and is very light

    The duct tape just reinforces the JB Weld joint. The JB weld will hold together for quite a long time. The PVC won't move because I Epoxied it down in step 9

     Oh yeah Sorry I must've gone past that a little . How about adding one of those Fake feet that you put in a shoe for it to keep its shape . That way you would be able to change shoes!

     Ahh Cool I love the idea of pvc pipe as a foot . That makes the project Very cheap . I might have to build One It'd be handy To have three legs ! If i get it finished tonight or tomorrow ill Post pictures!

     Update to myself (lol) . I have just bent the pvc Pipe Using a Hob and Because i didnt fill it with sand It has cracked ! I have to go to the shop tomorrow to buy some more pvc pipe and To get a 90 degree Fitting. I might try bending again as i have an idea To give the wearer His Heel Movement Back .


    5 years ago

    oh my gosh...hilarious! as a below knee amputee myself I can laugh. ur idea rocks. let me tell u before I got insurance to afford a prosthetic I had many ideas being worked out myself. I think tho that to keep it on maybe try using one of those elastic knee braces over the whole of the knee up the thigh. much better support. good job. very creative.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    That is an incredible idea. The only problem that I have discovered about Instructables is how jealous it can make people of other peoples' amazing instuctables. This, Sir/Madam is one of those amazing Instructables. I am in awe.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Um---sorta! Kinda the same basic idea of how my pros leg works---or doesn't.

    Can tell you that the socket ie the soda bottle is way too shallow to be used. And actual below the knee amputee like moi actually does NOT walk using their "leg" or "stump" we walk using a ridge built into and hidden by the socket that hooks UNDER the kneecap.

    Now if you could get something in there to FLEX the "ankle"----I imagine it would be awkward and stiff to try and walk on a completely UNbendy ankle. I can't do the twist the ankle manouver ---and in fact can't do the twist the knee part well either! which makes getting on a motorcycle um interesting.

    But the basic idea of a "peg leg"-- which is what your ible is-- for a third world app is interesting.
    An actual amp ALSO uses a liner made of---well mine and others I have seen are some sort of silicone. So maybe the Oogru some one made here could be used. This acts as a shock absorber AND on mine holds a locking PIN which extends into a ratcheting receiver and HOLDS the leg to the liner. Others use a "suspension sleeve" which goes on the OUTSIDE of the leg socket and slides up over the leg and GRIPS it.

    This is less secure and actually my first leg got knocked OFF while held on this way on a steep and twisty bike ride.

    Other systems use air to inflate these liners and grab the leg.

    There is a design for a SODA BOTTLE PROSTHETIC ARM out there somewhere which uses the soda bottle cap to attach tools and utensils too and can be swapped out endlessly. And for free!

    And there is a guy on ebay selling hugely expensive "plans" on how to build a leg---the "book" runs you something like $200!!!!!! But an actual pros leg runs about $20,000 for a BASIC set up. And if you can get ahold of one---either find some one with an old one or get one off of ebay etc---you will see that for a below the knee model there is NOT that much tech involved.

    Mine cost that much and consists of a plastic inner molded socket which extends from the end of the limb to slightly above the knee---approx 11" and I am 5'2" tall. This has a carbon fiber outer shell. The pylon--the pipe part---is steel and titanium. The foot is steel---spring steel of some sort---and is covered by a foot "looking" shell.

    Some girls I know have used screws to hold on sandals etc. A wooden "foot" would work too with an ankle hinge.

    Taping to your leg? Not even. Would eat your skin instantly esp in third world conditions and let in nasty bugs. Tying it to your belt might work but it would be loose.

    Go look on ebay and see what pics people have of actual legs---and yes they DO sell them. Some go to South Africa where most people don't HAVE health insurance and there is a thriving "gray market" in used parts to make new ones or fix 'em up.

    Good basic idea tho!


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Just wondering if you have anyway of testing this because I am almost positive that anything other than straight vertical forces would break the pvc "shin" off of the bottle neck. 150ish lbs is way more than a small amount of jbweld and some ducttape can hold.

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    JB weld has been proven to be able to hold up to, like, 2000 pounds. I don't think it will be a problem