Make a torus out of PVC tubing

A torus is a circular tube. You might want to make one as part of a toy or ornament, for a school science project, or, as in my case, as part of a prototype to test an invention. Bending metal tubing requires a completely different process to bending PVC (plastic) tubing. There are at least three reasons why you would prefer PVC over metal.

  • PVC is lighter
  • PVC is cheaper
  • PVC does not interfere with magnets

    There might be easier methods, but the method i'm going to describe worked the best for me. I am using a tube of 25mm outer diameter with 'walls' 2mm thick. The diameter of the torus in relation to the tube diameter is rather small. That is, i need to bend the tube a lot. This caused problems which i had to solve...

    Step 1:

    Make a torus out of PVC tubing
    Make a torus out of PVC tubing

    Printed on the tube is "25mm".

    To make a torus of diameter D, the tube at the end of the whole process will be D times pi. For instance, i want a torus with average diameter 230mm, so the length of the tube (circumference of the torus) will be 230 times 3.1416 = 723mm. So you need a piece of wood (the "mould") at least as thick as your tube diameter (e.g., d = 25mm) and big enough for you to make a hole in it, where the hole is D + d.

    The problem is that if you try to bend the whole length of the tube (e.g., L = 723mm) to form the torus in one go, the ends of the tube will probably deform due to the heat (see later), and if you use a piece of tube even slightly too long, you'll have overlap in the mould and the torus will be deformed. The solution: make two crescents. The length of tubing to make the crescents is L/2 + 100mm. L/2 is half the circumference and 100mm is an extra piece which you'll cut off later to get rid of the deformed ends.

    Step 2:

    Make a torus out of PVC tubing
    Make a torus out of PVC tubing
    Make a torus out of PVC tubing

    You will need

  • thick gloves to prevent you burning your hands,
  • electrical/insulation tape to seal the tube ends,
  • sea sand or fine salt to heat up and pour into the tubes,
  • a funnel (i made one out of two pieces of A4 size paper; make the top opening nice and big and the bottom opening the right size for your tube diam.),
  • a pan to put the sand/salt in to put in the oven,
  • a spring which can fit snugly inside the tube and which is at least as long as a crescent (L/2 + 100mm) and
  • an oven.

    Tips:

  • I wore two pairs of gloves, one over the other.
  • It takes two people to do this, one to hold the tube and one to pour the sand in.

    Step 3:

    Make a torus out of PVC tubing
    Make a torus out of PVC tubing

    These are the steps:

  • Cut two equal lengths of tubing for the two crescents (L/2 + 100mm, e.g., 723/2 + 100 = 461.5mm).
  • Seal one end of each tube with insulation tape. Have some tape ready to close the other ends later on.
  • Put the pan containing the sand\salt in the oven.
  • Set the oven heat to 230 degrees Celsius / 446 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Let the sand heat up for 30 minutes.
  • Put the spring into the first (second) piece of tube.
  • Put on your gloves.
  • Take out the pan from the oven. Careful; it is VERY hot.
  • Spoon some sand into the tube thru the funnel. My 461mm tube took only 3 and a half scoops (the spring takes some space).
  • The tube will become limp in about 10 seconds.
  • Seal the other end of the tube.
  • Guide the now flexible tube into the wooden mould.
  • Make sure the tube is pressing neatly against the sides of the wood in the hole.
  • Hold the tube in place for 2 or 3 minutes.
  • Now leave the tube there. Don't remove it from the mould for approx. 10 minutes, else the spring will want to straighten the tube.
  • Place the pan in the oven again.
  • Come back after 10 minutes, remove the crescent and repeat from point 6 with the second piece of tube.
  • Switch off the oven.

    Step 4:

    Make a torus out of PVC tubing
    Make a torus out of PVC tubing

    You'll find that the ends of the crescents are deformed due to handling. From each end, cut off half of what was added (i.e., 100mm/2 = 50mm). Now you should have two half circles. Glue them together with "PVC cement" to get your torus!

    PS. See www.facebook.com/RENSlifter

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