Saturday, April 21, 2018

Using PVC For Toys

This is a copy from my post in the Community Forum on using PVC.  Some of this will apply to any tubing, Not just PVC. If you want to see the whole thread click here.

Wooden Toy Space Ship Using PVC Tubing
Wooden Toy Space Ship Using PVC Tubing 
My one safety concern about using PVC pipe is the size of the hole. No round hole in any toy should be small enough that a finger can get stuck in it. If a child gets their finger stuck in a round hole it can cut off the blood circulation and possibly cause the loss of a finger. Kids are going to put their fingers in a hole. If PVC pipe or any small tubing is used on a toy there needs to be a plug in the hole so it is not deep enough for a child to get their fingers caught in it.  This means that the pipe/tubing must to large or short to get a finger caught or filled with a plug.  I got this from the testing document published by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. I have almost stopped using round holes in toys because of this.

I would not hesitate to use PVC a toy if I had a suitable safe use for it that wood wasn't good for. One of my grandson's favorite toys is a bucket full of short 3/4 inch PVC pipe and a bunch of fittings. I made this for him after watching him fascinated with some PVC pieces he found in my Aquarium junk box. He is four now and has been playing with these since he was two. PVC has sharp edges but this is easy to fix with a bit of sandpaper. He doesn't put them in his mouth. Never has that I know of. Is it safe? All of our water flows through PVC.

Working with PVC provides some challenges. It's slippery so you need to be extra careful to hold it securely. You can cut it with a saw but I don't do this unless it is too big for the  PVC cutter. The PVC chips go everywhere when cutting it with a miter saw. There must be son static electricity. The PVC chips stick to everything. PVC Bends easily when warm. If you heat it enough it can be bent to just about any shape you want. I have made handles out of it by heating in the pipe an oven and bending it to shape on a form. Once it is cooled it will retain the shape.

PVC cutting tools are cheap. Harbor Freight sells one that works well so long as you are careful to keep everything straight and square while you are cutting. The Harbor Freight blades are soft and the edge bends quite easily, With careful use, it works well.  It costs $6.99 for the Harbor Freight tool. Better quality tools run in the $35 range.

Gluing PVC to PVC requires a solvent-based glue. It cures very fast you only have a few seconds of working time. With PVC pipe, I like to dry fit and mark all the parts so I know where to align them. A Sharpie pen works great for this. I have never tried it but I don't think PVC would work well with wood glues. You will probably need to use epoxy to glue it to wood.

Will I use PVC for making toys? Probably not. Using PVC would add complexity to the build. More parts mean it takes longer to build and costs more. If you're selling your toys you will need to sell it for a higher price. There might be some reason to use it but I today I can't think of one.