Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Beat the Heat with a Cheap, Indestructible Water Table

pretty severe heat wave is gripping most of the east coast about now.  With the help of some other internet sites, I modified a design for a kid's water table that makes a great, cheap way to have hours of fun and stay cool at the same time.

Total cost: about $30
Time to assemble: about 2 hours, maybe less with this guide
Tools needed: a jigsaw.  You could probably do it with a hacksaw, but it would take a lot longer.

   - 2 ten-foot lengths of 1" diameter PVC pipe
   - 8 1" T-fittings
   - 8 1" 90-degree elbows
   - A 41 quart Sterilite tub.

Other tubs are certainly usable, but they would change the dimensions from what I'm about to describe. The 41 quart tubs are great for water tables, moon sand, regular sand ... the possibilities are endless.

Unless you own a pickup truck, it's unlikely that ten-foot sections of PVC pipe are going to fit in your car.  Have the store cut each ten-foot section for you at the 54.5" mark.  That way, it'll more easily fit in your car and it saves you a cut at home.  See the below figure for where to make the cuts:

It really helps to make two lines on the PVC pipe as you're marking it for cutting; it gives you a better line to follow when you're cutting.

Here are the pieces, mostly cut:

It helped me to label, with a piece of masking tape, the 11 and 14.5" pieces.  They're close enough that they're easy to confuse.  The 11" pieces make the legs, and the 14.5" pieces make the "ends" that hold up the tub.

Lastly, don't throw away the spare pieces.  We need to cut them into 8 small pieces (total), each 1.5" long.  These will act as little connectors between the T-fittings and the elbows.  You can see some of them jutting out of the T-fittings here, and 6 others stacked on-end:

Theoretically, there's supposed to be 1" of overlap between a fitting (like a T or an elbow) and a pipe, meaning the little connectors could theoretically be 2" long.  But friction really works against you when cramming PVC together, and 1.5" is plenty of overlap.

Assemble everything together, and have fun with your new water table!!!

Some notes:

  • You could glue the PVC together for added stability and permanence.  But as it is, it's rock-solid and I like the possibility of taking it apart someday.
  • The 11" legs are just barely tall enough.  You could go to 12 or 13 inches and it might be better for bigger kids.
  • If you're really fancy, you could cut the 11" legs about 1/3 of the way up and add in another 4 T-fittings, thus giving you some ends that could make a shelf for storing stuff.  Maybe I'll do that as a modification in a few weeks...
  • The setup was sturdy enough to easily support Beth lying in the tub (before we filled it with water), and she weighs about 28 pounds now.

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