Your House is a Deep Fryer, Not a Ronco Showtime Rotisserie

If you are anything like me you find yourself getting sucked into a riveting infomercial from time to time.  No matter how useless the product may be to you, or how cheesy the pitch, you just cannot change the channel.  One of the classics that wasted my time on more than one occasion was the ad for the Ronco Showtime Rotisserie and BBQ Oven.  According to the product’s super enthusiastic pitch man, this rotisserie oven practically cooked supper for your family, your only role in the process was to “Set it, and forget it!”   The idea of setting it and forgetting it did not intrigue me in those days as a bachelor as it does now a father of three, soon to be four, youngsters, but would I really trust a heat-generating electrical appliance to behave unattended anyway?

Unfortunately many of us treat our homes as the infomercial pitch man encouraged us to treat his rotisserie oven, just “set it, and forget it”, when we should be tending to it as if we were deep frying a Thanksgiving turkey.  With so many components and systems in modern homes there are so many things that can malfunction and affect other systems in the home negatively.  As homeowners we tend to assume the best for our new appliances, hvac (heating, ventilation, and cooling) systems, structures, and additions, so much so that we leave many of these things unattended and uninspected until there is a noticeable reason to pay them any mind.  This article will discuss a few proactive approaches to home hvac system maintenance that can save you a ton of time and money in the future on reactive solutions.

Below are a few proactive measures that you can take to ensure that you get the most from your home cooling system for years to come.

  1. Outside Components

outside ac

Outside Compressor Unit

  • Routinely check for and remove debris from in and around the outside components of your hvac system
  • Rinse the fins of your outside unit with a garden hose at least twice per year.  Never pressure wash the unit as the strong water pressure could cause damage to the delicate aluminum fins.
  • Straighten bent fins using an a/c fin comb tool.
  • Check unit with an I beam level to ensure that it is level
  • Have unit inspected and serviced by a professional before the hot season when it will be in use

Inside Components

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Inside Coil, Blower, and Return

  • Change your air return filter at least once per month
  • Insulate drain lines to avoid water damage from drain line condensation
  • Install a drain line clean out port like the one pictured below and ensure that the line is not clogged at least once per hot weather season.  I have seen these lines get clogged to the point that water will overflow from the drain pan and flood the flooring of a home.  It is not pretty when it happens.  These lines can be cleaned out by using a wet/dry vac to suction out the obstruction.

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Believe it or not, these few simple maintenance practices can save you a bunch of time and headache in the future.  I actually had to replace a portion of my house’s subfloor due to water damage from condensation dripping onto it from the a/c condensation drain line.  Had the previous owners of my house taken the time to perform the routine maintenance discussed in this article I would be a few thousand dollars richer today.

Regardless of the age of your home’s hvac system I urge you to forgo the “set it and forget it” mentality.  Your home’s a/c system should be tended to like a pan of hot grease and not a slow cooker.  Remain attentive and proactive in the care of your hvac system and you will get the most from it with as little headache as possible in return.

Below are a few additional resources for the maintenance and care of your hvac system that are very helpful and informative.

Essential Maintenance for an A/C Unit

DIY A/C Maintenance and Repair

A/C and Refrigeration Repair Made Easy

Thank you very much for reading, please be sure to like, comment, share, and follow tool-school.com.  Have a great day!

Jake

 

 

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How to Make a Wooden Spoon with Hand Tools

Possibly the best thing about making wooden spoons is that it allows right-brained people to experience success and satisfaction in the often left-brained world of woodworking.  In fact, it is not uncommon for some of the more off-script creations to be some of the more interesting and beautiful spoons that are carved.  Not only does spoon making present artistic liberties not able to be had in many other forms of woodworking, but the hobby also allows for success participation with minimal investment in terms of tools.  I actually made my first twenty or so spoons with nothing more than a hacksaw, a wood chisel, and some sandpaper, one of which is the center spoon pictured below.

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The spoon in the middle was one of my first creations using only a wood chisel, handsaw, and sandpaper. It is a beautiful piece of Pecan wood that I pulled from the bayou behind my shop. I like this spoon but kind of wish that I had the piece of wood back since it was so pretty and my skills were so limited when I made it.

THE TOOLS

Before we get into the build, here are the exact tools used for this particular project.  Altogether these tools can be purchased for about $80 on Amazon.  Click the link provided for individual pricing and reviews.

Wood Gouge Set

 Hacksaw with blade storage handle

 Spoon Gouge

  Wood Rasp

  Half Round Wood File

40 Grit Sanding Belts

Though probably not ideal, I typically use the 4″ bench vise similar to this one seen in most of the pictures with a block of wood on each side of the work piece to avoid damage, but a woodworker’s vise would most likely be better due to the fact it is designed for the use.  You can even use less costly work clamps  or toggle clamps to hold your work piece, though they are not quite as stable as a vise.

THE PROCESS

1st – Choose your wood

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For a cooking spoon that will be used you will want to choose a hardwood so that the utensil will hold up to potential daily use. Woods like hickory, maple, ash, oak, walnut, and cherry make very good cooking spoons. I typically use Pecan wood (a species of hickory) because it is readily available to me here in South Louisiana and I think that it is beautiful wood. All of my spoons come from fallen trees and limbs that I pick up myself and make spoon blanks and other things from. You do not have to make your own blanks, you can simply buy untreated hardwood lumber from your local lumber yard and cut many blanks from it.

2nd – Choose your design

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I use this cheap wooden spoon that I got some time back from a local dollar store to get the basic shape for many of my spoons.
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I really like the shape/design of the spoon that I use as my template because it is simple, but offers many options for choosing what type of spoon to make in terms of depth and intended purpose.
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This particular spoon will be a basic cooking spoon, so I added a curved line to outline the perimeter of the shallow bowl to be carved.

3rd – Rough out the bowl

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Using the largest gouge from the set previously pictured, begin to gouge out the bowl of the spoon. Work from bottom to top and top to bottom of the bowl (the direction in the picture and its opposite), not side to side, as this will prevent splitting and tearing of the wood.
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Depending on the depth you are trying to achieve, it will not take long before you have your bowl roughed out. P.S. I suggest waiting to cut the spoon’s shape out after carving the bowl to allow for compensation for potential errors. It is not uncommon to get a little too ambitious with the gouges and cut past your bowl outline or get some tear out. With extra wood on the side of your outline you can almost always compensate for your miscues.

4th – Clean up the bowl

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Using a spoon gouge you will finish defining the shape and contour of your bowl to the final depth.
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Unlike the wood gouge, the spoon gouge should be carefully used in all directions to clean up any previously made tool marks as best as possible.
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All that is left for the bowl is sanding.

5th – Cut out the spoon

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I typically use a bandsaw to cut out the spoon but for the sake of this post I used a hacksaw. It comes out just as good, it just takes a little longer. A jigsaw or handsaw could be used just as well.
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To cut out the spoon without cutting into the curves and contours of the piece simply make a series of cuts horizontal to the spoon up to the spoon’s outline.
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After you make your horizontal cuts, cut along them to remove each block of wood from your previous cuts. Be careful not to cut into your spoon. Do not worry if your outline looks super rough and uneven, we will address that in the next step.

6th – Clean up the shape

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Use your wood rasp to rough out the shape of the back of the bowl and the handle. The rasp will remove a good bit of wood so be sure that you begin with a blank that is thick enough to lose some wood in the later shaping process.
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A half-round file (pictured closest to the bowl) is a good substitute for the rasps when shaping the curves and contours of the handle and the area where the handle meets the bowl.
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After shaping with the rasp and file, use the coarse sanding belt to finish shaping the spoon to its final form. For the back of bowl and handle you will want to use a two-handed “flossing” method to get a nice rounded contour. By “flossing” I mean take one end of the belt in your left hand, the other end in your right, and pull down with your right hand, then pull down with your left, and repeat. Your sanding belt will glide back and forth across the work piece while being oriented like the belt in the picture.
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You can see how much nicer the shape is after the “flossing” sanding method when you compare this picture to the previous one.
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Repeat the same sanding method used on the back of the bowl on the handle to get your final desired shape.

7th – Final sanding

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After the last step you should basically have your final shape, all there is left to do is some progressive finish sanding. Starting with a coarse grit paper (60 grit), sand away all previously made tool and sanding marks from the handle and back of bowl. Once all previous marks are sanded away progress to a slightly finer grit paper (100 grit). Continue progressing to finer grit papers, sanding out all marks left previously, until you get to a 300 or 400 grit paper. Since it is a cooking spoon that will be used often, there is really no need to progress to a sand paper any finer than 300 or 400 grit for the handle and back of bowl unless you just want to for some reason. I personally do not progress to a paper finer than 220 on the inside of the bowl for the same reason just mentioned.
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Front view after final sanding.
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Rear view after sanding.

8th/Final – Sealing the wood

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There are many different food grade oils that can be used to seal the wood. I personally whatever I have on hand in the kitchen which is vegetable, canola, or olive oil.
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I used vegetable oil to seal this spoon. I typically apply a liberal amount upon completion of the spoon, let it dry for a day, then apply another coat of oil and let it dry for a day or two before use.
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I have used coconut oil in the past and it looks great, but coconut oil is solid at room temperature and leaves a heavy residue feel to the spoon once the oil re-solidifies after being applied.

It always fascinates me how sealing Pecan with oil completely transforms the color of the wood.  It takes on a much darker, rich look compared to the lighter color of the unsealed pecan.

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Sealed
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Unsealed

Though there are power tools that expedite the spoon making process, they are not necessary for the completion of a great spoon.  Truth be told I typically forgo many of my power tools for the process described in this post because it allows for better control and accuracy in making the spoon, which leads to a better finished product.  Not to mention all of the tools used in this project can be purchased for about the same price of my Wen belt sander pictured below, and although I love it,  it is just one tool opposed to six.

I hope that you have enjoyed this article and found it to be informative.  If you did I would greatly appreciate if you would like, comment, follow tool-school.com, and share this post on social media.  Should you have any questions or like more information on how to make your own wooden spoons please do not hesitate to ask in the comment section or contact me at jakestoolschool@yahoo.com.  Thanks so much for reading!

Jake

PVC YOU LATER: Cheap/Easy DIY Kids Time Capsule Project

I recently stumbled upon an ad for a time capsule being sold as a product for kids by the Smithsonian.  Though pricey, I liked the idea because it reminded me of the time capsule project that my dad spearheaded with me when I was a kid.  Our time capsule did not look as futuristic as the one sold by the Smithsonian, but I am certain that it offered the same amount of excitement and entertainment.  Though I liked it, I did not order the Smithsonian’s time capsule kit, what I did was run to the hardware store and buy the components needed for me and my little ones to make our own.

The PVC time capsule project will typically cost around $20 depending on the components that you already have that are not uncommon to have around the house.  The materials needed for this project are as follows:

1- 2ft x 4″ piece of PVC pipe (2″ or 3″ could be used) (about $9)

1- 4″ PVC drain cap (about $2)

1- 4″ PVC cleanout plug (about $4)

1- 4″ PVC hub x female adapter (about $6)

PVC cement and primer or all in one (price varies)

If you decide to use a smaller diameter pipe, the price of the build will decrease.  All named components are pictured below.

Assembly

I do not actually glue/cement the pipe together in my pictures and video but the glue/cement process is critical to the finished water-tight product.  For instructions on how to glue/cement PVC pipe together click here.

The material list says to get a 2ft long piece of 4 inch pipe but the length of your capsule is totally your preference.  I would suggest cutting the pipe down to 14 or 16 inches, but that is just my preference.

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Black arrow-Drain (end) cap Red arrow- Threaded Hub x Female Adapter Green arrow- Cleanout plug

Step 1

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Apply primer to the inside of the end cap and one end of your pipe, then apply glue to both in the same manner and press and hold the end cap onto the pipe firmly for about 5 seconds.

Step 2

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Using the same primer and cement application process as step one, apply both to the non-threaded female adapter end and the opposite end of the pipe from the end cap. Insert pipe into female adapter end and hold firmly for about 5 seconds.

Step 3

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Lastly, thread the cleanout plug into the threaded hub and voila! You are now the proud owner of a homemade time capsule. It is not a bad idea to wrap the clean out plug threads in Teflon tape for added protection against water intrusion.

Finished Product

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I really like this project for a variety of reasons.  It is cheap, fun, and customizable.  Your kids will not only enjoy the build and burying of the time capsule, but they can also have fun painting and drawing on it as well.

Another reason I like this build is that the time capsule can serve as a water-tight vessel for other applications as well.  In the past I have used this same design to serve as dry storage for my welding rods and it works great.

My absolute favorite use for this water-tight container in the past outside of a time capsule is easily its function as dry storage when boating, fishing, or canoeing.  The 14″ long by 4″ diameter tube is great for storing wallets, money, cell phones, and keys while on the water.  Even better is should it be accidentally knocked out of a boat or fall out of an overturned canoe it will float, so the recovery of valuables or personal belongings is only a matter of paddling to it and hoisting it back in your vessel.

Regardless of how you and your family use this little contraption I am certain that you will have a great time completing this project together as my dad and I did, and as my daughters and I will do.  With that being said, I have linked to a few time capsules and dry storage products below that do not require as much effort for those not as motivated to DIY.

Smithsonian Time Capsule

$12 Time Capsule

Welding Rod Dry Container

Dry Box for Boating/Water Activities

Thank you very much for reading.  If you found this post to be informative, useful, or entertaining please be sure to like, comment, share, and follow tool-school.com.  Good luck with your projects!

Jake

Learn to Weld for Under $100

As a homeowner, handyman, tinkerer, and serial DIY’er I can think of few skills that are as useful as the ability to weld.  Whether it be a want, or a need, the ability to securely join metal together can add greatly to many home projects.   Unfortunately many people, including do-it-yourselfers, lack this skill and are often intimidated by the thought of high flowing electricity and the ever-present sight of sparks and molten metal while welding metals together, not to mention the cost of welding equipment and consumables.  It can be a scary hobby to dive into.

welding featured image

For those of you unwilling to overcome the trepidation, you are missing out, thanks for reading.  For those of you willing to learn new safety, process, and scientific methods, read on and enjoy.  Although learning to weld safely most definitely requires beginners to learn a wide array of welding safety practices, it can be done by anyone in a very safe manner with little risk to the welder, and good welding safety practices can be learned from a variety of free and readily available sources such as this industry leading company.

THE PROBLEM

Since the time I was probably 16 or 17 years old I had wanted to learn to stick weld but had no idea where to turn for my education.  Despite working as a weld quality inspector for several years I did not start my journey in welding until a year or two after I left the industrial inspection field.  A few years after becoming a homeowner and completing many projects and repairs around the house myself, I realized that welding would allow me to be so much more versatile as a do-it-yourselfer and some projects that needed to be done would not be possible for me without being able to weld.  Now that I was insistent on learning to weld I faced two major road blocks in doing so, first, welding equipment is expensive, and second, I did not have anyone to teach me.

THE FIRST SOLUTION

Knowing the cost involved with welding was not low, and not knowing whether I would be any good at it or even like it, I began researching cheap, off-brand welding machines in hopes of finding one with decent reviews in my price range.  After weeks of research and internal debate, I decided on the Goplus 110/220v Arc Welder, a decision that I would not regret.  At a price of just under $100 I figured the financial risk to reward was relatively low considering it had overall pretty good reviews.  The only issue that I ever had with the machine was that it did not work upon arrival.  I opened the metal cover up and quickly discovered that it came to me with the ground wire unattached to the cover due to not being screwed down by the ground wire connection screw.  About a minute and 6 turns of a wrench fixed the issue and this machine was off and running.

THE SECOND SOLUTION

Since I had no one to give me any hands-on training on how to weld metal I did what I considered to be the next best and closest thing to getting private instruction, I searched the internet.  I watched hundreds of videos, read hundreds of blog and website posts, and even bought books on how to weld.  Though I learned from each and every source that I have viewed, to this day my personal favorite are the videos made by YouTuber ChuckE2009.  I do not know this guy, nor have I ever met or spoken to him, but he has taught me more about welding than anyone else on the planet, for free!  He has an extensive collection of video resources on YouTube that demonstrate just about everything from basic welding techniques to project how-to’s.

I do not now, nor have I in the past claimed to be a professional welder, but I can make metal permanently stick using the process.  It all began with a cheap welder and a YouTube subscription to some guy who lives in God only knows where’s channel.  Both have served me well.  I now have a brand name home/shop level welder that is definitely better than the cheap Goplus, but it can not do anything more than the Goplus.  If you are on the fence about jumping into the welding game I would highly recommend testing the waters with the Goplus machine before becoming too heavily invested in a craft that you may not stick to.  I would also suggest checking out ChuckE2009 on YouTube for some great welding education and project ideas as well.

Below are links to product pricing and reviews for several different levels of arc welding machines and welding products for just about any budget.  I have also attached a link to ChuckE2009’s YouTube channel.  Be safe, and enjoy the learning experience!

Hiltex 100 Amp Arc Welder

Goplus 110/220v Arc Welding Machine

Lincoln AC “Tombstone” Arc Welding Machine

Lincoln AC/DC “Tombstone” Arc Welding Machine

Miller Maxstar Welding Machine

ChuckE2009 YouTube Channel

Safety Products

Welding Gloves

Auto-darkening Welding Helmet

Thank you very much for stopping by.  Please be sure to like, comment, follow, and share.  Below I have attached pictures of just a few of many of my home welding projects.

I would love to see your welding creations as well.  If you would like to share them with the world please click the link to tool-school.com’s Facebook group and share your work.  Thanks again!  https://www.facebook.com/groups/419636965149174/

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Welded “Flying Pig” scrap metal art.

flying pig 4

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Homemade welded car jack vise.
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Homemade charcoal forge
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DIY Wood Stove
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DIY Basketball goal/backboard
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DIY Post Support for Deck/Dock. Allows you to avoid digging post holes. Just drive into the ground. Holes are drilled into the top plate to allow for a bracket that I made to accept 4×4 posts to be bolted to it. It works very well.
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Welded Homemade fire (or ice) pit

 

 

 

 

 

DIY Cheap Football Goal Post Anyone Can Assemble

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A few years ago I had quite a few soccer players in one of my middle school Health and Physical Education classes that were pretty good athletes.  Being an American football and basketball guy, and having never played nor really even watched soccer before, I did not relate very well to their athletic goals and interest.  I encouraged the kids, who would soon be high school freshman, to try their hand at football for the upcoming year because I believed their athleticism would benefit the freshman team.  They appreciated the encouragement but I could tell their interests were not growing in the least bit.  I searched for a way to bridge the interest gap between the two sports and the solution that I came up with was buying a field goal post for the kids to hone their kicking skills on.

Not long into my search I came across this pretty cool soccer goal/field goal post combo sold by Net World Sports but since the acquisition of an upright was coming out of my own pocket I decided to keep searching for a solution.  As it turned out the soccer/field goal post combo ended up being the most affordable of the practical field goal posts that I found for sale so I then shifted into DIY mode.  Not long into my internet search I discovered a few videos that demonstrated how to make a goal post from 3″ pvc pipe and tee fittings, so off to the hardware store I went.

I no longer work at the same school that I built the field goal post at and I left the post there when I transferred to a different school so for cost sake I have recreated the build in the pictures and video below using smaller pipe and fittings.

Pictured below is a 1/10 scale replica of the original goal post build.  The build in the post uses 1/2″ ID pvc pipe with 1/2″ tee fittings.  (“=inch and ID=Inside diameter) The 1/2″ pipe is cut into 12″ and 6″ sections which is 1/10 the length of the 120″(10ft) and 60″(5ft) 3” pvc pipe sections.

The materials and tools list is as follows:

Hacksaw

PVC PRIMER/GLUE (optional)

6 – 10ft long 3″ runs of PVC pipe ($11 per pipe)

4 – 3″ PVC tee fittings ($4.50 per fitting)

Before the assembly begins you will need to take 3 of the 10′ long pieces of pipe and cut them in half (5ft or 60in).  This will leave you with 3-10ft runs of pipe and 6-5ft runs of pipe.

Though the pipe size and length in the video and pictures below differ from that of the actual size and length of the pipe in the build, the assembly process is the exact same.

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You will start the build with (3)-10′ pieces of pipe, (6)-5′ pieces of pipe, and (4) tee fittings.
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Insert (1) of the 5′ sections of pipe into one of the tee fittings as shown above.
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Now insert another 5′ section of pipe into the other end of the tee fitting that you inserted the first 5′ section into as shown in the picture.
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Complete the same process a second time using two more 5′ sections of pipe and another tee fitting so that you have two configurations that look like the two in the picture above.
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Next place a 5′ section of pipe into the middle opening of the tee fitting so that you have a 5′ section in each of the three openings of the fitting.
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Repeat the previous step with the other tee fitting you previously inserted two 5′ pieces of pipe into. You should now only have three 10′ pieces of pipe, 2 tee fittings, and two configurations that look like the ones pictured here.
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Next insert the last two tee fittings onto the two T-shaped configurations that you have assembled. Each tee should be positioned on the one piece of 5′ pipe that intersects the other two installed. The horizontal opening of the second tee fitting installed should be oriented so that it is in an intersecting direction to the bottom two pieces of 5′ pipe.
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Now you will insert one of the 10′ pieces of pipe into each of the horizontal openings of the two configurations that you have made forming a bridge and connecting the two configurations.
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Now that you are left with only two 10′ sections of pipe that have not been assembled, install one of them into the vertical opening of either tee fitting.
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Install the last 10′ piece of pipe into the other vertical opening on the opposite tee and now your field goal post is complete! This miniature version looks pretty good, but the full sized goal post looks even cooler.

If desired the field goal post could be cemented together where all pipes and fittings join to make to post stronger.  When I built my full sized field goal I did use pvc cement, but I did not bond every single joint.  I cemented the post in a way that made it pretty portable without losing much strength.  Below is a picture of the sections that I joined together with pvc cement and those that I left independent of the others.

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This is how my goal post was able to be broken down into 5 pieces in order to be moved more easily than if it were completely bonded together or not bonded with pvc cement at all. Cementing it this way only requires four quick connections to be made each time it is reassembled and reassembly can easily be done by one person.

 

How To Assemble Goal Post Video

So after I introduced the field goal post to my classes and my students fell in love with kicking footballs through our new uprights guess how many of my soccer players ended up joining the football team.  None……..  Not a single kid that played soccer ended up playing high school football.  No sweat because all of the kids (and a few coaches and teachers) that used the field goal had a great time and learned a good bit on the art of field goal kicking.  We had numerous contests and challenges that involved this piece of equipment that were all lots of fun.  I would use the goal post as a “reward” activity for my lower elementary students by allowing them to kick a large inflatable ball through it and it was a great incentive for them to maintain good grades and behavior.  I will have to build another soon.

Below are a few links to tools that will make the build a little easier as well as a few pieces of equipment that will allow the goal post to be used even if no one is available to hold a football.  There is also a link to the soccer goal/field goal post combo mentioned above for those of us that are not very DIY-inclined.

Fusion PVC Primer/Cement One Step

Klein Hacksaw

Soccer/Field Goal Combo

Wilson Pro Kick

Kicking Tee

Thank you very much for visiting my site!  Please be sure to like, comment, follow, and share my posts.  All feedback and support is greatly appreciated and goes a long way in helping to improve and further develop tool-school.com.