Having a good airplane stand to hold your plane while you work on it is invaluable. That does not mean you need to spend a lot of money on one. I have had a number of stands from cheap cooler style foam to expensive folding stands. They all have their place but sometimes you just want something that does the job but does not break the bank. Well if you have about $20, a few common tools and about an hour to spare you can have a great airplane stand custom fit to your needs.
- 15′ of PVC (this will vary depending on the size of you stand)
- 2 – cross pieces
- 4 – 90 degree elbows
- 4 – 45 degree elbows
- 4 – T connectors
- 4 – end caps
- PVC Cement
- Pipe cutter (or a standard saw will work)
- Tape Measure
- Zip Ties
- Foam covering i.e. Pool noodle
The PVC pipe I use is 3/4″ for smaller planes such as park flyers up to .40-.60 sized airplanes. For my larger planes including giant scale warbirds I use 1″ pipe. Make sure all the connectors you get are for the correct size pipe.
You’ll start by measuring the planes you want the stand to fit. I want mine to fit the plane from in front of the wing to halfway between the rear of the wing and the front of the tail feathers. We are looking for the length of the stand. For this one for giant scale planes I’m going with 32″ from saddle to saddle. With this measurement we can start cutting our PVC. You’ll need 4 pieces each in equal length. For mine I cut them at 30″. This worked out well as I had bought 5 foot lengths of PVC. So I just cut each one in half. These 4 pieces will make the long runners.
Once these are cut you can put a T connector on each end of one set and a 90 degree elbow on the other two pieces. Do not glue them at this time. You will want to dry fit the stand together to make sure everything lines up and that it’s the correct height for you.
Next you will cut the pieces that will adjust the height of the stand. If your going to work on the ground with this stand they can be longer. But if you will be using this on the workbench you wont want them very long. I cut mine to 4″. You’ll need to cut 4 pieces. These will go into the 90 degree elbows. Again don’t glue them in at this time.
On the top of the 4″ pipes you’ll attach a 45 degree elbow.
After this you’ll need some short pieces to bring into the long pieces with the T connectors on them. I cut mine to 2.5″. This measurement is not critical as it will just put your side legs out farther if they are longer. Again only dry fit them together. You should have two sides built now.
Next we’ll need to cut some pieces to bring them to the cross pieces that will create the saddles. I cut my pieces to 5 inches. These will go into the T connectors and up to the cross pieces. Dry fit both sides together joining them at the cross pieces.
Now we just need to make the upper supports to the saddle. I cut my pieces to 9″ long. This will give us enough height to safely support most airplanes. Fit them in the top of the cross pieces and close them off with the end cap pieces. At this point you have the frame all built.
This alone will support the airplane but we need to protect the plane from the hard plastic. Using some foam around the pipes will give the airplane some cushion and keep it from sliding around on the hard PVC pipe. I am using some material that was given to me from a glass manufacturing plant. I like it better then pipe insulation because it does not stick to painted surfaces. Pool noodle material would work well. If you cannot find anything else I would use pipe insulation but just be aware that some painted airplanes may end up sticking to it if left in the stand for too long. I simply cut the material to length and then wrapped it around the pipe. I held it in place with some zip ties.
Once your happy with the height of the stand and that everything is lined up and sitting level you can go back and cement each piece in. Work one section at a time pulling one piece out at a time and adding PVC cement. This will ensure that the stand will stay aligned as you glue it together. You can leave it just dry fit together but the glue will firm up the joints and it will flex less.
Now you have spent about an hour and have a stand that you can use in the shop or at the field to keep that plane safe while you work on it. Hopefully it prevents a little frustration and hangar rash.
You can also adjust the size to fit your smaller planes.