With Halloween approaching in just over a week, we’re getting the house ready for trick-or-treaters with a spooky giant spider! Here’s how to make your own giant yard spider from PVC pipe.
Small plywood board (approximately 1’ x 2’)
6 10’ sections of ¾” PVC pipe cut as follows:
8 4’ lengths
8 2’ lengths
4 1’ lengths
8 ¾” 45-degree PVC elbows
8 ¾” 90-degree PVC elbows
4 ¾” U-shaped bolts
1-2 cans of black spray paint
2 black trash bags
I used ¾” PVC pipe for this project because it was inexpensive, but if you want a bigger, more substantial spider with thicker legs, you could certainly use wider pipe. Just make sure you also adjust the width of your elbows and u-bolts to match the width of your PVC pipe.
The “small plywood board” acts as a base to which to attach the legs; the measurements don’t need to be precise, nor does it need to be plywood. I used a spare piece of plywood board I had in my garage from another project. Just make sure it’s lightweight (the PVC “legs” don’t hold much weight), and make sure you cut the four smallest pieces of pipe as wide as the board you’ll be using.
Attach 45-degree elbows to both ends of each 1’ pipe.
Position the 4 1’ pipes where you intend to attach them to the plywood board. Use a pencil to mark them.
Drill holes for your u-bolts. Here’s a trick for making sure you drill the holes in the right place: use a permanent marker to color the tips of your u-bolt; then press the tips to the board. The faintly stamped impressions left on the board will show you exactly where to drill your holes.
Attach the 1’ lengths of pipe to the bottom of the board. Tighten the bolts enough to secure the pipes in place, but don’t fasten them securely yet. You’ll need to be able to slide them around to glue the 45-degree elbows in place.
Glue the 45-degree elbows to the pipes using PVC primer and cement. I’d never used these products before, but after I got the lids off the cans (which required a pair of pliers, a grip of steel, and ultimately my husband’s help), the actual gluing was pretty simple. Apply primer to both pieces you are gluing together (the inside of the elbow and the outside of the pipe). Immediately apply cement to both pieces; don’t wait for the primer to dry. Push the pipe and elbow firmly together and hold for ten seconds. Your elbow is now permanently fused to your length of 1’ pipe. Repeat this process to attach the remaining seven elbows to each end of the 1’ pipe. Do one at a time; the primer and cement dry fast.
Use the same procedure to glue the 2’ lengths of pipe to the other side of the 45-degree elbows. At this point, the weight of the pipe will make your spider’s legs start to fall over. To hold the legs in place, use a wrench to tighten your u-bolts. Adjust the pipe so the legs flare out at different angles, and tighten your bolts so they stand up straight.
Glue a 90-degree elbow to the end of each 2’ length of pipe. Make sure the rounded part faces up and the open part faces down. The remainder of your spider’s legs will extend from these joints, so you’ll want to flare them outward, like this.
Firmly stick the end of each 4’ pipe into each 90 degree elbow. Do not glue the 4’ sections of pipe in place unless you have a space in your house big enough to store something that looks like this.
Maybe now you’re thinking, “Great idea! Why glue any of the pipes together? It’ll be so much easier to store if I can take it apart!” I thought the same thing: I figured I would just fit the pipes together without glue so I could disassemble it for easy storage. Unfortunately, it quickly became clear to me that the legs weren’t sturdy enough to hold up the plywood base without glue. Gluing everything but the 4’ sections of pipe in place leaves you with a base that’s sturdy but still a manageable size for storage.
Spray paint it black (unless you want an albino spider). I left it on sawhorses to do this, but you could just as easily set it out in the yard for painting. You’ll need to flip it over to paint the bottom.
Stuff two black garbage bags with leaves, one about ¾ full, the other about half full. Use duct tape to to tape the corners of the back in so it’s more ovular and less, well, like a garbage bag full of leaves.
Use duct tape to attach the garbage bags to the “platform” formed by the plywood board. Viola! A spider.
Even with glue reinforcing most of the joints, this was still a little less sturdy than I imagined it would be, so we did two more things to support it. First, we dug each leg into the ground about ½”. Second, we added a leftover piece of PVC pipe under the board to support it (it’s held in place by a long nail driven into the top of the board).
Here it is at night. Spooky! How are you preparing your house for trick-or-treaters?
Mary Beth Foster is a full-time high school English teacher who lives in Mint Hill, NC, with her husband of two years and their two cats. She tackles craft projects, home renovations, and culinary adventures in her free time. Read more about her creative endeavors on her blog: http://fosterhouseblog.blogspot.com/.