Making It Work with What You Have – PVC Pipe Projects

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As Boyds. we make it work all the time. Last spring was no exception. When the schools shut down, there was no notice. In just a few days, we were all together in my home office space. One large room with no walls or privacy, plus tons of distractions in the background.

The stores were closed. Any that were open had limited stock. Shipping anything directly to us would be delayed all because of COVID. Funds became limited when Dad stopped working. We had to adapt quickly and find a solution that wouldn’t break the bank. With a couple of sheets stitched together and some PVC pipes and fittings, I thought we did pretty good putting together a quick partition! It’s not the best looking, but it works!

The PVC Partition Project

Around the house, we had some leftover 3/4 PVC pipes from a previous project and some old sheets. I did a quick sketch of what I needed. I wasn’t too worried about being exact for the lengths since this is just sitting in an open space. However I did need to make sure everything fits.

The short side had to be long enough to fit comfortably with the chair. The total length could not be longer than the full size sheets we were using (75″ long). The height of the partition shouldn’t be too much longer than the width of the sheet (54″ wide). A queen size sheet would have been better, but I was using what I had. Main thing the parallel pieces needed to be the same length. I also had to keep in mind that the elbows added a bit of length.

For the PVC pieces, whatever I didn’t have I ordered online from Home Depot and did curbside pick-up so I didn’t have to wait in line just to get in the store. This was mainly the elbows.

The cost to buy all the pieces still would have been a bargain. 3/4 inch PVC pipe – 10 feet long, costs $1.34 a piece! The elbows are $0.49 each.

  • 3/4 in x 10 ft PVC pipe   >>>   4 x $1.34 = $5.36
  • 3/4 in PVC elbow fitting   >>>   8 x $0.49 = $3.92
  • spare sheets (or fabric if you have it)
  • cable ties



Putting It Together

I do recommend one tool. It’s a whole lot faster and easier than trying to do this with a hacksaw. I happened to buy a PVC pipe cutter last year for our Halloween project and have never regretted it! I got a bigger size so I can cut larger pipes and invested in this tool knowing we would be using it a lot. It’s super easy to use. Just mark your length and pump the handle until it closes in on the pipe.

CAUTION: As it’s cutting through the pipe, go slowly. You want a clean cut with no cracks… trust me, I speak from experience! I cracked one and needed to get another piece!

I didn’t glue or screw the partition together. To me the partition is only temporary. I wanted to be able to take this apart and reuse the pieces later on.

I stitched two sheets together with vertical channels for the pipe. This makes the fabric “hinge” so the partition will stay together… bent it stands on it’s own. We keep it folded it flat against a wall when it’s not being used.

Since the sheet is not wide enough to create a top channel, I cheated a bit and used some Velcro cable ties to secure the sheet to the pipe across the top. I did say this isn’t the best looking project! This is a make it work moment and primarily for function.

After a while we realized it was too long and cumbersome in our small place and we needed to make it better.

PVC Projects Part 2

Dad had the brilliant idea to turn our partition into a trifold. It was easy to do since it was already together and I had stitched all the channels. I just cut the pipes on the top a bottom (a little extra to account for the elbows). Then I added two more vertical pieces and 4 more elbows. With two hinges it’s now easier to put away and doesn’t stick out so much!

We actually took it a bit further to make a better study space and created a side desk to go with the partition since there’s not much room on the existing desk for books.

We had the top off an old coffee table. The legs already broke off so we repurposed it into a taller desk with PVC legs. This project needed two standard elbows, six 3-way elbows, some conduit hangers, and Gorilla glue. It took a bit more time and effort because I had to special order the conduit hangers from Zoro. Since this is a desk and will carry more load, we did drill holes and screw through the fittings into the pipes for security. I still want to be able to take this apart when we’re done, but this will make sure it doesn’t fall apart during class!

Again, this is not the strongest or the best, but it serves the purpose in our makeshift home school! Keep this in mind if you need some quick inexpensive shelving… a little bit of organization goes a long way!