Fibreglass is a very strong and durable construction material that consists of layers of reinforced mat that are individually saturated with catalysed resin. Some common things made from fibreglass are tubes or pipes, boats, surfboards and car bodies. Fibreglass tubes are made by applying fibreglass to a mandrel that's the exact diameter of the pipe needed, which can be anything from a PVC pipe to a large, 20-foot steel mandrel. The more layers of mat, the thicker the walls of the tube will be.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- PVC Pipe
- 2 Pipe stands
- Mold release wax
- Fibreglass mat
- Small bucket
- Fibreglass resin
- Stir stick
- Felt roller
- Air roller
- Razor knife
- Rubber mallet
- Metal scraper
- 100 Grit sandpaper
Set up the desired diameter PVC pipe on two pipe stands. The pipe will have to be one foot longer than the finished length of tube that you need. Place the stands three inches from the ends of the pipe. Lay cardboard on the ground underneath the PVC pipe to catch any excess resin.
Apply three thick coats of mould release wax to the entire surface of the PVC pipe, using the foam applicator that comes with the wax. Let the wax dry and buff to a shine with clean rags.
Wrap the entire PVC pipe with a layer of fibreglass mat and cut it with scissors so there is no overlap at the seam. Using the first layer for a pattern, cut the desired amount of layers for your tube. The more layers, the thicker the tube will be.
Put on a respirator and add catalyst to a small bucket of fibreglass resin, following the containers recommendations. Using a stir stick to mix the catalyst into the resin.
Wet the surface of the PVC pipe with the resin mixture, using a felt roller. Apply the first layer of fibreglass mat and use the felt roller to saturate it with resin. When the entire layer is wet with resin, use an air roller to remove all the trapped air bubbles. Repeat this process for each layer of mat until all of the mat is on the PVC pipe.
When the fibreglass starts to harden but is still soft, mark the tube to the length you want with a sharpie marker. Cut the ends of the pipe with a razor knife and remove the scrap fibreglass. Let the fibreglass tube harden.
Insert a metal scraper in between the PVC pipe and the fibreglass and slowly work it around the entire circumference of the pipe until the fibreglass releases from the PVC. Do this to both ends of the tube and then use a rubber mallet to pound the tube off of the PVC. If you don't let the fibreglass completely harden this will damage the edge of the tube.
Sand the tube smooth using 100 grit sandpaper.
Tips and warnings
- Wear a respirator anytime you work with fibreglass materials.
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