How to Turn PVC Pipe into a Socket Wrench
All you need is an appropriately-sized piece of PVC pipe, a pipe bending spring or sand and a source of heat. A heat gun works best, but you can also use a good blow dryer, torch or even a candle as well.
Choosing the Right Pipe
The first step is to find some pipe that is the same or slightly smaller width than the nut that you are trying to remove. You also want to use a pipe that’s at least eight to ten inches long. This should give you enough material to create the stem, bend and handle for the tool.
Once you’ve selected the right pipe, the next step is to place the bending spring inside. The bending spring will help to prevent the pipe from collapsing in on itself as it is being bent. However, sand or even small pieces of gravel will also get the job done. Tape off one end of the pipe to prevent the material from falling out before pouring it inside the pipe.
Heating and Bending
The hardest part of this project will be to apply enough heat to bend the pipe while preventing it from scorching and melting. PVC pipe also cools quickly, and you may need to reheat it a few times as you try to bend it into shape. You want to bend the pipe at a 90 degree angle at a point where you will be left with a stem that’s a few inches long. However, the bend needs to be sturdy and buckle-free. This will most likely take some trial and error as you get a feel for how to achieve the right amount of force to make a nice bend while maintaining an appropriate amount of heat.
Once you have completed the bend, remove the pipe spring, sand or gravel and allow the pipe to cool for a few seconds.
Making the Socket
To make the socket, all you need to do is place the pipe over the nut and apply heat over the area to soften the material. The easiest way to do this is to place a bolt that has the same diameter as the one you are trying to remove over a long nut and insert it in the end of the pipe. However, you can also place the nut on a hard and flat surface that is not flammable and put the pipe on top as well.
In any case, heat the pipe until it softens. It will now be flexible enough to stretch over the nut. Work the pipe over the nut by bending it from side to side until it is snug. You can also do the same by working the nut into the end of the pipe by using the long bolt. The pipe should form a perfect grip around the nut as it cools, but you can re-heat it if necessary.
Allow the pipe to cool and harden, and you now have a simple, yet effective socket that is surprisingly strong and durable. You can also use this same process to create your own complete socket set as well. Try this for yourself and see how this little trick can come in handy when you don’t have the right tools on hand.