Note: I submitted the above definition as an alternative to the existing bitchy one. It has since been accepted and you can vote for whichever definition you prefer.
It is easy to find, easy to work with, strong, light weight, and comes in a range of sizes with all sorts of connective fittings to choose from. It is a grown man’s erecter set. Oh, and the pipe and fittings also come in handy for fixing sprinkler problems too!
I first started building with PVC when I was rigging my fishing kayak. The guys on the kayak fishing forums have made pretty much anything you can imagine from PVC and pool noodles, including truck and trailer racks for hauling kayaks and carts for taking them to and from the water. I ended up making a light mast and a set of small stowable stands that keep the kayak off the concrete launch ramp I use.
Once I started using PVC to rig my kayak I realized how useful it was for any sort of building project. I’m always tinkering with something or the other, so it comes in quite handy. Most recently I needed a way to stabilize my HD video recorder. The thing is really nice and small, but it doesn’t have optical stabilization so you have to hold it very steady especially if zooming. I use a tripod when practical and a monopod whenever a tripod is too much. The monopod works great at stabilizing side to side and up and down motion, even if I keep it in it’s shortest form and use it as a sort of handle for the video recorder. Unfortunately the monopod doesn’t help with rotational motion. I noticed this when I took zoomed video of our daughter sitting on Santa’s lap last year.
This year I decided to plan ahead and started thinking about how I could add a short arm on the monopod. Here is what I came up with using some 1/2 inch PVC pipe and fittings, some hose clamps, and some Krylon multi surface paint:
The paint cured just in time to take videos of our daughter in her Halloween costume. It worked perfectly, even without the leg portion extended. This is my new favorite way to take videos. I used a threaded connector to attach the handle and when I bring the arm up it tightens up exactly the way I wanted it to. It really helps keep the camera steady while allowing me to move around freely.
All of this is a very good thing, because if you put a five year old in a Super Girl costume, she’s going to run!
See Also: Share your own feats of mangineering.