Recycle Old PVC Into Flat Sheets




Introduction: Recycle Old PVC Into Flat Sheets

About: Come spend some time in the shop. I'm a hobbyist woodworker and professional computer geek in Northern California. I guess my projects will vary widely, and I have no clue what I plan to make next...

When you think about PVC, you're probably like me, and consider it as a tube. Well, it's pretty easy to get it into flat material for the shop. I flattened a 4" piece of schedule 40 PVC in about 20 minutes. You just need a heat gun and a flat surface.

Odds are, you've got loads of the stuff sitting around the house. Why not recycle it into something useful?

Step 1: Pipe Cutting

To cut the pipe I used my band saw, it's perfect for odd shapes that would be very un-safe to cut on a table saw or miter saw. Don't have a band saw?

Just break out your hand saw. PVC cuts easily with a hand saw or hack saw, and while it might take a bit longer, is totally doable.

Step 2: Heating

So I used a heat gun and was able to flatten this sheet in about 10 minutes. I've already gotten a good deal of feed back on this, and would like to pass it on to you.

1. Heat PVC in a well ventilated area (or any plastic for that matter)

2. Don't heat it on a non-insulated surface. The cold surface of my table saw, was working against me the whole time. Just put a sheet of drywall or plywood underneath it.

3. Clamp it flat. I only had it in clamps for 20 minutes or so. and it came out pretty flat!

Step 3: Dyeing PVC

PVC comes in two colors, white and covered in dirt.

Well not anymore. There was a great how-to from Make: a while back with a great trick for dyeing PVC. Using clear primer and adding colors. You can now have PVC all colors of the rainbow! Which really makes this material much more interesting.

Stain PVC Any Color:

Step 4: Make Something.

Honestly, that's all there is to it. PVC is easily worked with woodworking tools.

You can cut it on the band saw, turn it on the lathe, bend it to form an arch or use glue it up as part of a larger project.

For me, I ended up cutting a Hawkeye logo out on the CNC. He was the only purple clad super hero that came to mind, except for maybe the Hulks under-roos....

2 People Made This Project!


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56 Discussions

Love this idea!

Having flat sections of PVC available as a material really opens up a lot of possibilities for workshop engineers. This is definitely in my arsenal now. Thanks!

17 replies

Oh my gosh you're the TIREBALL guy!! I'm glad you like it, I've been enjoying your Instructables!

Ha, thanks!

I'm not THE tireball guy though. Technically that's one of my neighbors, who I got the idea from. But for our purposes here, that title works just fine.

. . . As far as I'm concerned, you're the "Pint Lock" guy! :)

PVC comes in two colors, white and covered in dirt. <--- Best line I have seen in an instructable yet!

It's a good material to be familiar with. Missing the mulch plate for your push mower? No problem. :)


Ooh, very nice!

I've made a few things by heating and reshaping pipe, but never thought to lay them out flat like this. There so much potential!

Here's a fully articulate pvc ball joint I made. (Actually made about 20, used for Halloween prop dummies and stuff!)


LOVE that ball joint!!! Wow, now this has inspired me with an idea for building my own life-sized rendition of a Mazinger-Z shogun warrior figure (with some articulation) like this 80cm tall figure shown here...


That's awesome!! I'm going to have to keep that in mind for the future. I'm assuming you bored a hole in the golf ball to fit the pipe into?

Yes, that's 1/2 pipe glued into the ball, bushed to 3/4 coupling. The other half is made from 1 1/4 pipe cut and molded to the ball with a 3/4 coupling glued in the other end (was wrapped with scrap fabric to make a tight fit, then glued in).

Bolt and wing nut to tighten, and inside the cups I contact cemented in bits of rubber drawer liner from HF, to aid in gripping the ball.

There's quite a bit more to it, and I actually snapped photos along the way... but haven't gotten around to doing tutorial on them. Probably before next halloween I'll get to it.

Sorry kludge, for hijacking! You started this though, and I think we're mostly on theme! ;)

Plumbers have been known, in an emergency, to heat the ends of pvc pipe to soften them and expand to fit the next section using the exhaust of their truck. The emergency usually revolves around not having another coupling on hand and the clock say it's "beer- thirty" time, let's get outta here.

PVC foam sheet is available, and comes in colors, but can sometimes be hard to come by. It is a little softer and easier to work than pipe.

That is a very simple process for a great outcome! Thanks for sharing!

Great instructable. As an aside to coloring the PVC I have an idea that may or may not work. When doing woodworking I wanted to stain various pieces bright colors but found that the commercially available stains were too pricey for my budget. In talking to various people in the industry I learned that you can buy any color of acrylic art paint and mix it with 100% denatured alcohol or oil and apply to wood to get whatever color stain you wanted. I tried it and it worked beautifully. Since PVC is soluble with acetone and so is acrylic paint the same trick should work for PVC. Due to fast evaporation rate of acetone I would imagine timeliness in application would be key. I'll give it a go when I have necessary ingredients and time. If anyone tries it please post. Thanks for instructable. Also, wear gloves unless you want your fingers to be purple as well.