How to bend PVC pipe

This post is not so much a project, but a technique for building things with PVC. Bending your PVC pipe can help you to create a better looking project as well as save you money on supplies.  Instead of buying angled joiner pieces to make bends in your projects, you can often just bend your PVC pipes to the exact angle you want. This saves you money by eliminating joiner pieces as well as saving you time because you will not have to glue your pieces together with messy and sometimes hard to work with PVC glue or epoxy.  Another benefit of bending your pipes is that it looks much cleaner than bulky glued together joints.  Perhaps the greatest benefit of bending your own PVC pipes is that you can bend them to any angle you desire, instead of being limited by what angled connectors you can get.  So read on to see how you can easily incorporate custom bends into your PVC projects in the future.

Materials Needed to Bend PVC Pipe

  • your pipe that you intend to bend
  • some sand
  • a heat gun or if you are lucky you may be able to get away with a quality blow dryer  if it gets hot enough
  • some kind of jig if you intend to bend your pipes to a specific angle or shape

 

How to Bend PVC pipe

Putting a custom bend in a length of PVC is really pretty simple. They key is to fill the pipe with sand before bending to prevent kinking.  Simply tape off one end of the pipe and fill it with sand. Pretty much any old sand will do. This gives the pipe some support as it is heated and bent and will prevent it from kinking as shown in the video below.

Once you have filled your pipe with sand you can begin heating the area where you want the bend to be. It may take a few minutes of constant heat for the PVC to become soft enough to bend. You do not want to rush this step and burn the PVC!  Take your time slowly heating the area of the bend. When it is hot enough, slowly make your bend. You can use a block of wood or something to bend your pipe around for a more uniform bend, or you can also just bend it free hand if your bend does not need to be precise. I have found that for a nice rounded bend a bucket or some other cylindrical object works well to bend the pipe around.

When your pipe is bent to your desired angle you can let it cool and then dump the sand out. Make sure you don’t remove the sand until it is cool or you risk your bend collapsing or deforming.  And that’s all there is to it.  We recommend that you try a few practice bends on some scrap pieces to get a feel for how your particular diameter pipe will bend before trying for real.

The below video gives a quick overview and example of bending a piece of 3/4″ PVC pipe. For a nice visual representation  of the steps above it is worth the 90 second watch.

You will find that for many projects it is much easier, quicker, and better looking to just bend your pieces instead of joining them with angled joints. Just remember for load bearing PVC structures that your bend might not be as strong as a properly fitted and glued joint.

As always, we love to hear from you and see your latest projects, so drop us a line from the Contact page and show us what you’ve been up to. It might make it to our featured readers project page. Or if you have an PVC project that you would like to see us cover, let us know.