I am in the process of buying a cargo van to transform into an RV. Using an idea from a friend, I want to build an accordion door to separate the driver’s area from the rest of the interior. I do not want to use wood because it is expensive and heavy. Instead, I’ll use my favorite material, PVC.
In this article, I’ll share how to build a PVC accordion door that you can customize for any space or area you need. I’ll use fabrics to create the panels; you can use pictures, posters, lightweight wood or anything you desire. This project is certainly easy to customize. Build a tiny PVC accordion door on a standing frame for a desk; see who knocks at the door to get your attention.
You will need:
- · Measuring and marking tools
- · PVC cutting equipment such as a hacksaw or PVC cutter
- · PVC pipe
- · PVC pipe cement
- · Wooden dowel to fit inside the pipe
- · PVC pipe cap with internal threads
- · PVC connector with one external threaded end and one smooth
- · Hex head bolts, 1 1/2″ long or to suit the length of your project
- · Drill and appropriate bits
- · Safety equipment for drill, saws and adhesives
- · Fabric or other material for covering or inserting into frames
- · ¼” PVC molding to create rabbet for frames
Noticing that the roof of a van is not exactly square, the ends on either side do not bother me. I’ll make a curtain to hang in place; the rest of the space will house my accordion door. I’ll make my door open in the middle to reduce the bulk on either side of my van.
For my project, I’ll choose ½” PVC pipe and connectors. I won’t use schedule 40 pipe because regular PVC is lighter and this won’t be supporting any weight. Inside each frame, I can affix PVC molding or wood molding to create an edge to attach plywood, paper, PVC lattice or other fillers to for the frames. I can also cover the frames themselves with fabric.
Here is the process I will use; it can be tailored to any size or shape of space.
Select The Tracks
T-tracks are widely available at DIY stores. They are primarily used to make adjustable jigs for table saws, routers or other equipment. They make excellent accordion door tracks.
Attach them to the roof and floor using the appropriate screws. Drill a pilot hole using a metal drill bit that has a countersink attachment. Use a flathead screw appropriate for your material such as wood, masonry, metal and so on. The screw head will sit flush, that is flat, with the inside of the track and will not impede the door’s movement.
Make The Frames With Pivot Points
Carefully measure to determine how long to make the frames. Begin by measuring between the tracks and allow enough distance for the pivots. Cut a long piece of pipe and attach a T-connector at each end. Insert a plug into the end of the pipe or over the end of the pipe.
For pipes of small widths, insert a piece of wooden dowel and secure it with construction adhesive. Saw off the end flush with the pipe. Make plugs for this project 1″ long for strength and stability. Coat the plug with adhesive, insert it into the pipe and gently tap into place with a light hammer or wooden mallet.
Attach the short lengths of the pipe to the side insertions and attach the other side with the 90° angles. This creates a rectangle with one end having a top and bottom pointing outward.
To Make A Pivot
Drill a hole for the insertion of a hanger bolt. This is a bolt that is threaded on both ends; a cap nut is used to insert it into the hole. Leave enough bolt length to fit into the cap sleeve.
To Make The Pivot Cap
The cap will move in the track and pull the frames via the pivot. Thread a connector onto the threads of the cap and cement in place. Fill the PVC with a wooden plug; glue in place and cut the end of the plug flush with the connector. Drill a hole through the center of the cap with a bit that matches the hex bolt; make the hole ½” deep. Use pliers to insert the hex bolt; the head of the bolt should fit into the T-track and the cap should hang below it with enough room to move.
Drill a centered hole in the end of the connector large enough to support the copper sleeve. Insert the sleeve and cement in place. The sleeve will fit over the hanger bolt pivot.
To Make The Hinges
Regular hinges can be affixed to the pipes with construction adhesive. They can be glued to the surface or side of the pipe. A slot can also be cut in the pipe and the side of the hinge can be inserted and glued in place.
Put It Together
Insert the caps on the top and bottom T-tracks. Carefully insert the frames by inserting the pins into the sleeves and adjusting before moving the frame aside. When all the frames are in place, adjust them until the entire space is filled.
Match the free ends of the frames and attach the hinges. The frames should be able to fold completely when pushed aside. Ensure that the door, when folded, has enough space to move back and forth without bumping into anything.
Attach the hinges and move the frames back and forth. Attach a door latch at the middle, if desired. If desired, install a valance to hide the view of the track and caps. Ready-made moldings also work well for this purpose.
Any area, cupboard or shelf can have an accordion door to hide items from view.
Source: The author of this article has over 40 years of experience in diverse subjects and skills such as DIY, home improvement and repair, crafting, designing, and building furniture, outdoor projects, RV’ing and more.