Posts Tagged ‘summer’

We have an unspoken rule we’re about to break here. This blog is about connecting the “do it yourself” (DIY) community with industrial plastics. Plastics that are not very well known outside of their specific industries, but offer a lot to the home handywoman or handyman. Industrial plastics are also known as “engineering” plastics and are a separate grade of materials than what makes up most consumer products. But we were trying to find a new application for summer and stumbled on something with “commodity” plastics, IE. plastic bottles, we wanted to share. Pretty sure this application would be difficult to do with the usual industrial grade sheet/rod/tube…And hey, it promotes plastics recycling! Always a good thing.

It’s a home-made “air cooler” using nothing but Sprite bottles, tubing, a drill, a few pieces of wire, a glue gun, and an oscillating fan. We haven’t tested it (like most applications we highlight) so don’t take our word for how good it works. It’s a short video we wanted to share as North America starts to experience the heat waves that hit with late spring and summer. One change we’re confidant in recommending; however, is the use of a 2 liter bottle as the drain bottle strapped to the fan (you’ll see in the video) as it makes little sense to have two one liter bottles both drain into another one liter bottle. Based on the volumes at play, that would result in a bit too many times having to get up and drain! The full video is below and is about four minutes long, hopefully it works for you!


Lets face it, many DIY projects look neat but may require tools, skills, and materials not available to some people. In short: a lot of DIY projects just aren’t that simple. This one we found is; however, and it can probably be made all out of materials you would have at home. If you have bored kids this just might be the type of easy project to work on together! The idea is to use household pieces of plastic to create a “jelly fish” in a bottle, sort of like a lava lamp effect. You really only need a few items to make this work:

  • plastic bottle
  • food colouring
  • string
  • plastic bag
  • scissors
  • water

To make your jelly fish you first bundle the center of the plastic bag into a head shape and tie it off, somewhat loosely, with some string. Leave a hole big enough to pour water into. Next, take your scissors and cut many “legs” into the plastic surrounding the head portion. Then, fill your bottle with water, add food coloring, and cap it, turn it over a few times and there you have it. What we like about this project is that the bottle is recycled and that it is a plastic project that involves marine life. It’s the perfect conversation starter with kids on the importance of recycling in order to keep plastics out of the ocean!

There are many short “how to” videos of this project on Youtube but we’ve embedded a good one below:

Outdoor living areas are one of the biggest trends in home improvement these days. This almost always includes an outdoor cooking component such as a BBQ or even a full kitchen. One incredibly simple plastic application you can work on if you’re designing your outdoor living space is a big, quality cooking board. Not talking about a store bought cooking board – but one you can design and install yourself! All you really need is natural UHMW polyethylene. This is a widely-available FDA/CFIA approved plastic for food contact and is used as a cutting surface (among many other applications) at large scale food processors. Ever wonder what they were using? Now you know! The nice thing about a custom cooking board is that you get to have it in almost any size you want. Much larger sizes than you would find at a store.

The standard sheet size for UHMW is 4′ x 10′ but most distributors would gladly supply an offcut or cut whatever size piece you need and sell it by the square foot. In our experience 3/4″ thick material is ideal but 1/2″ would do in a pinch. Ensure the surface the UHMW is going to be affixed to is smooth and clean. Drilling in a few screws is all you really need to do – with a well-charged power tool, try to get the head of the screw flush with the surface of the cutting board. This will help cleanup as germs may grow in any recesses, just like any cutting board. For a larger cutting board at 3/4″ thick you can expect your UHMW costs to be around $80-$100. While that is more expensive than a store bought board – it’s a higher quality material (those boards are often made with high-density polyethylene, a lower-grade plastic) you will have more cutting surface and, of course, the satisfaction of knowing it’s your own design!

Now go enjoy that BBQ and the rest of this beautiful summer!

If you’re interested in some cutting board we would be happy to help you. Contact Redwood Plastics


As summer comes to a close so does an experiment we ran at our Vancouver branch. While we try to minimize our offcuts, so as to reduce the amount of wasted material we create, we are still left with little bits here and there. Throughout the years our Marketing department, who handle our online inquiries, has noticed a number of customers asking about small pieces – which are apparently very difficult to find. We had the idea of taking stock of some offcuts and seeing if anyone would be interested in some small bits…Turns out they were!

Some projects we had come across our desks:

-PTFE base for a home telescope

-Phenolic saw guides

-“Wheel-less” dynamic surface for a sliding wardrobe door

-Acrylic table surfaces (quite a few of these)

-Polycarbonate for boat hatches

What did we learn? A lot. It was a great learning experience for ourselves and the customers. On the positive side we learned how creative the public can be with industrial plastics, particularly with the telescope and wardrobe that used UHMW strips as an ultra-low friction sliding surface. Also, it was interesting on how large of size “offcuts” were requested of us – often approaching 3/4 of a full sheet. Certainly there was no shortage of desire for industrial plastics and for so many different applications. It was refreshing to work on something new.

Unfortunately, those larger offcuts seemed to come in at prices that disappointed some customers, despite special pricing. Industrial plastics are an excellent material but they are not cheap like everyday consumer plastics. The larger offcut sizes in particular meant some disappointed customers could only be quoted on full sheet for their application at the regular price.

However, overall it was an interesting experiment and one we’ll continue to run as we gather more information on how to increase the footprint of industrial plastics.

Our last post on the PVC movie screen had so many views that we had to follow it up with something good. And this one might be even better!

Last time we found a project by a “geek dad” who made a PVC and canvas outdoor movie theater. This time a “cool mom” (Tammy) shows us how to make a water sprinkler out of PVC piping. To us, this seems to be a simple project most kids would love. The really neat thing about this is that you choose the shape of the sprinkler and how and where the sprinkler holes are drilled. Therefore there is no reason other designs could not be adapted for this project – it’s pretty simple to do and not many tools are required. Tammy has plenty of good tips, instructions and pictures on her blog so if you want to know more, you’ll have to check it out here or by clicking on the picture below.