May 10, 2011

Tutorial: PVC Tent Weights

This post first appeared in March of 2009. Tent weights are such an important item we are running this post once again.  Thanks Nordea for this great tutorial. ed

There are many must-haves for vending at an outdoor market. A tent is one of them, especially during the uncertain weather that comes in March and April. New Yorkers got such a surprise last week after waking up to snow on the first day of Spring!

Weighing down the tent is so important. Last year, I used various methods to anchor my tent; including gallon jugs filled with water and free weights. These worked ok, but there were plenty of times I had to stand by one of the legs and hold onto the tent in high winds...instead of tending to my customers. Not to mention the tripping hazard that these posed. Last fall, my tent died (R.I.P. my old friend...) after being blown around all year. I just purchased a new tent for 2009, and decided to build some proper weights to protect my investment.

I read about using pvc piping & cement to make tent weights, and figured I would give it a try. There is a way to figure out how much sand/cement is needed to fill up the pvc piping…something to do w/cubic ft & volume. I am the worst when it comes to math, so I’ll just explain what I did….

Materials you will need:

10’- 4” diameter pvc pipe (cut into 4 pieces, 2.5’ long each)
2- 50lb bags of sand
1- 25lb box of quick setting cement
4- end caps for pvc pipe
4- ½” x 8” eye bolt w/nuts
A long spoon or stick to stir the cement (anything you don’t mind throwing away when you are finished.)
Something to scoop sand and cement from the bag (I used an old soup container.)
A hammer

1. Place the cut pipes into the end caps and stand them upright. Make sure they are not crooked and they can stand alone.
2. Scoop out a bit of cement and pour into the bottom of each pipe.
3. Pour a tiny bit of water into each pipe and stir w/spoon until the cement is a thick consistency. Do this one at a time because it sets up fast, so finish mixing water into one pipe before moving onto the next.
4. Wait a few minutes until the cement starts to set up, then fill up pipe #1 with the sand, leaving room to top off the pipe w/cement. You can measure this by holding the eyebolt over the pipe to estimate the amount of cement needed to cover it.

5. Finish filling the pipe by adding cement and water, a little bit at a time, gently mixing until the pipe is full.
6. Have at least 2 nuts on the eyebolt (you want to give the cement something to “grab” on to) and space them apart on the bolt.

7. Stick the eyebolt into the wet cement, using the hammer to gently push the bolt into the pipe.
8. Repeat steps until you have finished filling all 4 pipes.
9. Set the pipes in a secure location (where they won’t get knocked over) so they can completely harden.

The next day I weighed each pipe, and they averaged about 22lbs each. Of course, if you want heavier weights, just cut the pipes longer (but not too long, that they won’t fit in your car!)

I had approx 40lbs of sand left over when I finished. When in doubt, just buy extra so you don’t come up short (wet cement won't wait for you to return from the hardware store!)

I plan to use a bungee cord to hang the weights from the top frame of the tent on each corner (attached to the eyebolt.) Additional bungees can be used to secure the weights to the legs of the tent keeping them out of the way. These weights can be decorated to make them a bit more attractive. Painting stripes, flowers, and other designs on the weights can add to the charm of your entire display.

All materials cost me approx $45, and knowing that I have taken steps to protect my brand new tent is priceless!!

Nordea's Soaperie


MaryAnne LoVerme said...

very useful post!

Beth said...

Great idea! Thanks!

May Luk Ceramics said...

This is useful and timely post for us. Thanks Nordea!

Jantar Handcrafted Jewelry said...

thank you so much for this tutorial, Nordea! I will put my husband to work for sure;)

Anonymous said...

Yep, those will work very well; that's essentially how I made my weights. However, I'd advise against hanging your weights from the upper part of the frame of your canopy. I think it puts too much strain on the snap-fasteners that hold the canopy open; I've seen those fasteners fail more than once! Better to hook the bungee's hook through one of the adjuster holes on the lower part of each of the canopy's legs.

dawn chandler - new mexico artist said...

Thank you so much for this great information; I've found it incredibly helpful! A friend told me how to make these, but I appreciated seeing it so well outlined and illustrated here, along with the list of supplies.

I just made these this morning and offer up a few more tips:

Additional equipment:
-- a flashlight, for looking down into the pipe to see the consistency of the cement at the bottom as you are mixing it;
-- a clean rag and small bucket of clean water for wiping down the outside of the pipes, in the event that you splash or spill some cement.

After adding the sand, for the first pipe I tried mixing the cement in the top of the pipe, but found it to be a bit messy. Therefore for the next three pipes I found it easier to mix the cement in a small bucket, and then just carefully dump it into each pipe. I mixed a batch separately for each pipe.

Once I added the cement on top, I gently lifted the pipe and tapped it on the ground a few times to tamp down the cement and release any air pockets. This caused it to settle some; I then added a bit more cement.

To insert the I-bolts, I ended up not needing the hammer. Rather I inserted the I-bolts while the cement was still soft enough that I could just slide them in by hand. I then tapped the pipes a bit to make sure the cement settled in around the bolt.

Once you get all of your supplies together, figure on spending about an hour (more or less) to do this project.

Woolly Boo® said...

Thanks - this is great. I used to use water jugs, but then one of them turned over in the car and I had wet carpet for weeks... yuk...

Woolly Boo® said...

OK - just wanted to report that I've made these. Tonight. Finished a few hours ago and am VERY happy with the results. I also spray painted them while I was at it. Figured, it would dry better overnight, without me pocking it :) Thanks again.

joanhuggard said...

Great tutorial, thank you. The person I sold next to this weekend, went one step further by adding a metal handle on the side for carrying, screwed in before the cement. One of these days I will make.