Skill Level Intermediate
- Creating instructional media content can take a lot of expensive gear, but it doesn't have to. You can create a lot of your own gear such as headphone stands, backdrop frames, and even an entire recording booth with a few simple parts, and in this episode of Training Tips Weekly, I'm going to help you get started working with my favorite DIY building material: PVC. Now PVC pipe and fittings are an extremely affordable and flexible DIY building material. It's strong enough for simple non-weight-bearing projects, and it's readily available nearly everywhere.
It comes in a variety of standard sizes, and you'll find it in the plumbing section of your local hardware store. Working with PVC plumbing requires only three tools: something to measure your length of pipe with, something to mark your pipe with, and something to cut your pipe with. For measuring your pipe, grab any standard measuring tape. I prefer using a retractable tape measure with a tabbed end, so that I can hook the end onto the pipe, and get a little more accurate measurement. Now to mark your measurements, grab a permanent marker with a sturdy felt tip.
Pencils will also work in a pinch. To cut your pipe, you could use a simple hacksaw, but I find these to be a bit cumbersome. They make a mess and they take quite a bit of effort. Instead, look for a ratcheting PVC-cutting tool like this one. They can usually be found in the plumbing aisle, near the PVC pipe, or online, for between $10 and $20. I'd suggest looking for a cutter that has a safety latch or a locking mechanism, such as this simple metal loop at the bottom, to keep the cutter closed when you're not using it.
Now cutting PVC with a ratcheting cutter is really straightforward. Measure the pipe and mark it. Then release the safety latch and open the cutter jaws. Make sure the blade is to the top, and align your mark so that it's centered under the blade. Make sure your fingers are out of the way, and gently squeeze the cutter handle until the blade just touches the pipe, then double-check to make sure everything is still aligned, and then give it a squeeze. You may need to use both hands.
The cutter has a series of ratchet stops, so you should hear a click sound as the ratchet engages. You can then release the handle, get another grip, and squeeze again. It doesn't require very much force to cut right through the PVC pipe. Now these cutters are great because they make nice straight cuts, and are very accurate. When buying your PVC parts, choose one size and type of pipe to work with, and stock up on common fittings for that size. I find that 3/4-inch schedule 40 PVC pipe works the best for most applications in my studio.
The term schedule refers to the thickness of the pipe itself, and 3/4-inch refers to the inner diameter of the pipe. You'll also want to pick up some common fittings or connectors to keep on hand. Look for the contractor packs for the size pipe that you've selected. These usually contain 10 to 25 fittings per pack, making each fitting often cost only 15 to 50 cents each. To get your PVC construction kit started, pick up some 90-degree elbows, straight couplers, and T fittings.
You can either buy these parts as you need them for each project, or for about $40 you should be able to pick up about 60 feet of 3/4-inch schedule 40 pipe, 25 elbows, 25 couplers, and 20 Ts. That should be enough to make a wide range of projects for your own home studio. Next, cut your PVC pipe into common, standard lengths, so you have some ready-made parts on hand. The standard lengths that I keep on hand are two, four, and six-inch segments, as well as one, two, three, four, and five-foot-long pieces.
PVC pipe comes in standard lengths of 10 feet. And here's a bonus tip: if you drive a small, compact car, bring your measuring tape, marker, and cutter with you to the hardware store. You can then quickly make your first few cuts right in the parking lot to break the pipe down to more manageable lengths that'll fit in your car. Next, let's look at the fittings. These are the parts that will connect your pipe together as you create your projects. Since pipe fittings come in standard angles such 90, 45, and 180 degrees, it makes it really easy to create simple projects using these off-the-shelf parts.
To make finding the type of fittings you need easier, grab a couple of colored permanent markers, and scribble an outline of each fitting's angles on both sides. Then write the length of each piece of pipe on each end of the pipe to make laying out projects even faster. You can keep your fittings in a storage bin. The colored lines will then really help finding the parts that you're looking for a lot easier. Now any colors will do, just use a different color for each type of fitting you add to your collection.
Okay, you're ready to start building your projects. Press the pipe into the fittings and let your imagination run wild. If you played with blocks, Legos, Lincoln Logs, K'NEX, or any number of other creative construction toys as a child, then your imagination is probably already buzzing with ideas. There are way more projects that you can create, and problems you can solve with these simple PVC parts than I could ever list in a single video. For some additional inspiration, check out the Projects section of my website at chrismattia.com, where I'll walk you through some of the common projects that I've built in my home studio out of PVC.
Well, that's all for this week's episode. If you have a project that you've built out of PVC, then share it with us on social media using #TrainingTipsWeekly. If you have a topic that you'd like me to cover, then reach out to me on Twitter @csmattia, or here on LinkedIn. If you found this week's tip helpful, then don't forget to give it a like on LinkedIn Learning, and share it with your social media network. Now go out and create some great content for your learners, and I'll see you next week on Training Tips Weekly.
Q: Why can't I earn a Certificate of Completion for this course?
A: We publish a new tutorial or tutorials for this course on a regular basis. We are unable to offer a Certificate of Completion because it is an ever-evolving course that is not designed to be completed. Check back often for new movies.