Monday, January 21, 2013

146) PVC Tinker Toys

It always seems that the most popular things to play with in our house are things that were never meant to be toys. The measuring cups in the kitchen, shoes, laundry baskets, even cardboard boxes will be played with for weeks over toys, games and puzzles. I am sure we are not the only house that has this happen. So it was no surprise to me when the girls (ages 2 and 4) started playing with some PVC pipe parts I had for another project I was working on. They began by just picking up the pipes and connectors trying to put them together, but quickly discovered they could build things. Watching them play with the pieces I realized that the PVC pipes were really like an over sized set of tinker toys, a toy I loved as a kid. So I decided to make a set of PVC pipes and connectors specifically for the girls to play with.

We took a trip to the home improvement store and bought:
1x Kobalt Metal PVC Cutter (or you could use a hack saw if you have one)
All the pieces including the cutter cost less then $20.

Each of the contractor packs contains about 10 pieces. The most important thing (I discovered this the hard way) is to get what they call slip x slip contractor packs. Meaning that when you look inside the pieces they are smooth and are not threaded (the ones with the ridges.) These make it easy for the PVC to slip in and out. 
When we got home I used a tape measure to mark the 10ft poles into 18in, 12in and 6in segments. I then used the PVC cutting tool to cut the pipe on the marks. The PVC tool is very easy to use and pretty inexpensive. You can also cut the pipe with a hack saw but that takes a little longer and creates a lot of plastic shavings. I couldn't figure out at first how to use the PVC cutter so if you get it, you have to pull the handles apart with a little force to open it. Then place the mouth around the pipe and keep pressing down on the handles. The tool will then use a ratcheting mechanism to cut the pipe easily.

After I cut all the pieces I put them into a large plastic bin and turned them over to the girls. We have played with them quite a bit and discovered lots of fun possibilities.
- attach pieces to make a train or line to jump over
- make a marble run
- build an obstacle course to crawl under or climb over
- make a form and cover with a blanket to make a fort
I would love to hear what others come up with as they play...


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  4. Just checked the cost of PVC pipe and fittings. Wow - expensive. I remember when it was cheap.