Category: Wheeled Mobility

PVC Wheelchair,(1 inch Pipe)

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PVC Wheelchair, (1 inch Pipe) is designed for use by individuals with limited upper and lower extremity mobility associated with cerebral palsy, dystonia or developmental delays.  It is not intended to support individuals weighing more than 200 pounds due to the structural integrity of the PVC, and bending of the axle. However, the axle can be modified to be larger, (this is recommended).

Technical Specifications: 

All of the PVC pipes and connector used to make this chair are 1-inch in size. The PVC was fortified using regular PVC cement that can be found at your local, Home depot, Lowe's, or Hardware store. Make sure to wear gloves when handling the PVC cement, have a well ventilated area when completing this project, and if your using a surface that you are unwilling to be covered with dripping PVC cement, it is suggested that you cover it with some sort of disposable material.


Clamps (of your choosing)
(optional) Hot glue gun, (if you wish to perform the extra step in the axle portion)
Mask (if you are indoors, and have a poorly ventilated area)
Gloves, (rubber or latex will do)
Paper towels or Rags, (to wipe away dripping PVC Cement)
Measuring tape
Misc. Materials:
Bike wheels,The author suggest using a mountain bike, but regular wheelchair wheels can be used as well. The only difference would be your method of attaching them my be different
Axle (to attach wheels to, for this demonstration the wheels were 3/8 inch diameter metal rod, so throughout the Instructable, it will be referenced to it as 3/8 of an inch, but yours may be any size desired.
PVC cement
Casters, The casters used were Everbilt 2 inch/50,8 millimeters, with an 80 pound capacity.

All PVC Needed:
18 - 2inch Pieces of PVC
2 - 3 1/2inch Pieces of PVC
6 - 4inch Pieces of PVC
2 - 23inch Pieces of PVC
9 - 18inch Pieces of PVC
2 - 19inch Pieces of PVC
2 -5inch Pieces of PVC
4 - 4 1/2inch Pieces of PVC
2 - 6inch Pieces of PVC
2 - 16inch Pieces of PVC
2 - 8inch Pieces of PVC
8 - 2 5/8inch Pieces of PVC
2 - 9inch Pieces of PVC

Materials needed for the back of the Wheelchair
6 - 2inch pieces of PVC
2 - 3 1/2inch pieces of PVC
6 - 4inch pieces of PVC
2 - 23inch pieces of PVC
3 - 18inch Pieces of PVC
2 - 19inch pieces of PVC, these will be bent with a PVC bender in order to achieve a slight angle to accommodate the back and provide a slight degree of comfort.

8 - Tee connecters
2 – 90 degree connecters
4 - Tee w/side outlet connecters
2 - 3 way connecters

Step 1: Assembling the Back of the Wheelchair
(complete all these steps for both sides)
First take the two 3 way connecters and connect them using an 18 inch piece of PVC (as seen in the picture). Make sure to have the connecter facing the right way or else you may need to repeat this process. After those are connected from the top of those add the 23-inch pieces and leave them the way they are for now. Then from the end that has nothing attached slip in a 2-foot piece of PVC and then slide a tee connecter facing upwards to the exposed side of the pipe. Squeeze this together so that no pipe is visible anymore. Once this is done you will need to add another 2-inch piece to the top of the tee connecter. After that put a 18-inch piece of pipe in between two Tee with the side outlet connecters and then slide this onto the exposed end of the pipe. Make sure once again that the connecters are facing the right way. Make sure they look exactly as they do in the picture. Once this is done add a 4-inch piece onto the top of the Tee with the side outlet connecters, then put regular tee connecters on top of that at a slight outward angle (the bent PVC will be placed there later). Then add the next tier using a 3 ½-inch piece and place the regular Tee connecters facing outwards as seen in the picture. The next step is to add the last 4-inch piece of pipe and then two more Tee connecters to the top, at the same angle as the ones below it so that they achieve the same angle.
Now for the cap, or top portion of the back, Add the last 4-inch piece to the top Tee connecters and cap those of with 90 degree connectors facing backwards. Using the last Tee connecters with the side outlets, attach them together with an 18 inch piece of PVC, and then slide them onto the top portion of the back of the chair. Lastly, stick the last 2-inch pipe in between Tee connecter with the side outlet and the 90 degree connecter to finish the back of the chair. The exposed portion of the back of the chair is where the handles will be placed later.

Step 2: Materials needed for Axle portion
1 -18inch Piece of PVC
2 - Tee connecters
1 - Axle, (Threaded or partially threaded Metal rod) mine happened to be 3/8 in diameter to allow for the bike wheels to attach.

Step 3: Assembling Axel portion of the Wheelchair
Assembling the axle portion of the Wheelchair is quite easy.
First step is to drill a 3/8 (or whatever the size of your axle is) of an inch hole into the middle of each of the two Tee connecters (as seen in the pictures). Once this is complete you can move onto the next step.
Second step (optional): The author slipped a wooden dowel into the pipe and drilled a hole all the way through, (slightly bigger than 3/8-inch). Secure the inside with a hot glue gun. The author did this in hopes to reduce the bending, and increase the structural integrity of the axle compartment. The author recommends this step, but it is entirely optional and unneeded.
Third Step: is to put the two Tee connectors onto the end of the 18-inch pipe, (SPECIAL NOTE: Remember not to use PVC cement on the axle compartment or to any part of the chair. If you do, you many not be able to get it off again for any further maintenance or adjustment

Step 4: Materials needed for the Base (The rest of the chair)
5 - 18inch pieces of PVC (6 are pictured here but one is utilized in the axle portion)
2 - 5inch Pieces of PVC
4 - 4 1/2inch Pieces of PVC
2 -6inch Pieces of PVC
2 - 16inch Pieces of PVC
2 - 8inch Pieces of PVC
8 - 2 5/8inch pieces of PVC
12 - 2inch Pieces of PVC
8 - Tee Connecters,(10 are pictured here, but two are used for the axle portion)
4 - Tee w/side outlet connecters
4 – 45 degrees connecters
4 – 90 degrees connecters
2 - 4 way connecters
2 – Caps

Step 5: Assembling the base of the chair
Assembling the base of the chair is probably the most difficult component. Always make sure to recheck your chair with the images provided on the website. First, on the bottom layer your going to need to insert a 4 ½-inch piece on the bottom, and a 2 5/8-inch piece on the top layer as shown on the diagram (make sure that the only connective pipe pieces utilized on the top layer are the 2 5/8-inch pieces, the reason for the measurement being so specific is if you use any other length the actual seat portion will not fit). Next, locate the bottom slide of the axle portion that you previously built and exposed the end with the 4 ½-inch pipe. On the open end of the axle portion, add a 5-inch piece, (BUT REMEMBER TO NOT CEMENT THESE TOGETHER). Next, on the exposed end of the 6-inch piece slide a 45-degree connector on at the angle depicted. The next step is to join another 45-degree connector facing the opposite way. Connect these to 45-degree using a 2-inch piece of PVC, so that no PVC is visible once they have been connected. Then on the exposed end of the 45-degree of the connector add a 2-foot piece of PVC and slide a Tee connecter facing upwards onto the end. The last step for the bottom layer of the chair, is to add another 2-inch piece onto the end of the Tee connecter and slide a 4-way connector onto the end. The downward opening of the 4-way connector will be where the pipe that holds the supporting caster wheels will be. Now for the top layer, it is suggested that you build this separately as shown in the pictures provided. Utilize the 2 5/8-inch pieces of PVC and alternate them by sliding regular Tee connecters between them. Then once both sides have been completed cement 18-inch pieces between them at the same time, Please keep in mind, that once you have cemented one opening, you will not be able to cement another into that location. There should be one side that has a connecting piece of PVC exposed. This side should be facing forward, and you should slide a Tee connecter with the side outlet on the end. (Make sure it is facing the correct way). This Tee connecter with the side outlet piece should connect the bottom and top layer, using a 4 ½-inch piece. Now, for the top of Tee connecter with the side outlet connect, a regular Tee connecter to the top using a 2-inch piece and then on top of that connect a 90 degree piece facing backwards with a 5 ½-inch piece. This will constitute the armrest. Finish the armrest off with the 16-inch piece, which should line up with one of the Tee connectors in the back of the chair. Now, for the last piece of the base, add a 90-degree connecter to the Tee connecter on the front, and connect it to the 4-way piece on the bottom using the last of the PVC, the 8-inch pieces. The 90-degree should be connected to the Tee connecter using a 2-inch piece.

Step 6: Casters.
First, drill a hole in the cap to accommodate the bolt sticking out of the caster. Then slide the bolt into the cap, and secure it using a bolt on the other side. The one in the example happened to be a 3/8-inch diameter, so it was quite convenient.
The last step is to slide the cap onto the end of a 9-inch piece of PVC and slide that onto the bottom of the 4-way connecter.
The front holes on the chair in the 4-way connector can be utilized to make footrests if you so please as well.
Now you are done. Enjoy your new PVC wheelchair. You can add a cushion and maybe and a cupholder.


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PVC Wheelchair,(1 inch Pipe)