Dry-Fitting PVC for Easy Assembly/Disassembly

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Kaegen Lau

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Hi, I'm making a greenhouse frame with 3/4" Sch 40 PVC pipe, and I cannot figure out how to dry-fit these pipes into the fittings so that they are secure, but can easily be disassembled. I don't have any high-tech devices or power tools, so I'm really looking for a simple, low-tech way to solve my problem.

I've tried using metal files, diamond files, and Dremel sanding drums on the insides of the fittings, but they really come out uneven and I've already ruined a couple fittings so far.

I do have access to a miter saw: could cutting long slots in the ends of the pipes work? I'm hesitant to do anything to the main pipes, and I'm really not sure what any other options I might have.

Thank you, I greatly appreciate any advice!
 
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Jadnashua

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The socket of PVC fittings is tapered, so they are not designed to be dry fitted at all. They do make a fitting recovery tool that is designed to ream out the inside of a fitting that had a pipe cemented in so it can be reused, and those will leave the socket with straight sides. One brand is RamBit.

Depending on the load and what you're actually trying to accomplish, you might cement in threaded adapters to the fittings and the mates to the end of your pipes, but that may not work if you've got connections on both ends, as, I don't think they make left-handed threads for them. Depends on what you've got, how it needs to go together, and how strong the connection needs to be. YOu might be able to find a dowel you could insert into the pipe, then use a screw or bolt to go through it and the pipe or fitting to hold it in place.

PVC gets brittle as it ages, especially if it's exposed to UV, so take that into consideration.
 

Reach4

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I've tried using metal files, diamond files, and Dremel sanding drums on the insides of the fittings, but they really come out uneven and I've already ruined a couple fittings so far.
Rather than modifying the fittings, I would taper the pipes. Sandpaper could be used for a few, and a belt sander for many. Rotate as you gently press against the belt sander.

I do have access to a miter saw: could cutting long slots in the ends of the pipes work?
That sounds good to me. The blade width of a typical miter saw blade seems more that necessary. Also, I think a table saw might do this easier, but you probably don't have that. Since you can make a lot of experimental cuts from a 10 ft piece of pipe, you can find a good method.
 

Kaegen Lau

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Thank you, everyone, these are all excellent ideas; I do have some short lengths of extra pipe left over from cutting the sections I needed. I should definitely be able to make something work by trying all these options!:)

My greenhouse will be pretty small as it's 36"x36"x20", and just for indoor use. I have two extra 36" fluorescent T5 grow light fixtures not currently in use with my aquarium, and 6 mil mylar for the frame covering. There is one vertical supporting rod in the back of the frame, so the whole setup should probably be sturdy enough with 3/4" PVC. I hope full-spectrum T5 lights won't damage the PVC as much as sunlight, but then again, PVC is pretty inexpensive, and I could upgrade to longer lengths as my cacti grow.
 

Kaegen Lau

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Update:

Today, I first tried cutting four 1/2" long slots in the ends of a scrap piece and attaching it to a fitting. This worked absolutely perfectly, I'm astonished! The pipe fully reached the connection base on the inside of the fitting, was secure without any play, and could easily be inserted and removed.

The cuts were made with a miter saw, and are about 2 mm wide; the pipe end seems to work like a collet does on a rotary tool, and the fittings are like the collet nut.
 

Michael Young

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Hi, I'm making a greenhouse frame with 3/4" Sch 40 PVC pipe, and I cannot figure out how to dry-fit these pipes into the fittings so that they are secure, but can easily be disassembled. I don't have any high-tech devices or power tools, so I'm really looking for a simple, low-tech way to solve my problem.

I've tried using metal files, diamond files, and Dremel sanding drums on the insides of the fittings, but they really come out uneven and I've already ruined a couple fittings so far.

I do have access to a miter saw: could cutting long slots in the ends of the pipes work? I'm hesitant to do anything to the main pipes, and I'm really not sure what any other options I might have.

Thank you, I greatly appreciate any advice!

Um... not trying to be a smartass. But maybe buy a tape measure.
 
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