We often get questions like "can I make a hinge" or "how do I make a hinge", and inside the Maker Pipe Connect Community we have seen quite a few clever solutions for this common question. In today's blog I am going to show you eight different hinge solutions that you can use in your DIY EMT Conduit project!
Swiveling T Connector
Every structural pipe connector that we sell comes pre-equipped with a heat shrink friction band that provides extra grip when securing them to EMT Conduit. Of course with a hinge we need movement not extra grip. If you remove the friction bands (they should slide off) on the T Connector and secure it normally, you can make a hinge that works well. If you need an even smoother swivel you can add a dab of grease which makes it even better. Here's an example of the hinge in action on Scott's chicken run.
Smooth Rod With End Cap Bushings
The next method is also pretty simple, but requires a few extra items to complete. For this method you will take 3 pieces of conduit that have end caps acting as bushings between each pipe. Then with holes drilled out of the end caps, you can put a smooth rod all the way through the three pieces of conduit. To finish up you can cap off the rod with these metal caps. Once it's all assembled you can attach connectors to the middle pipe and swivel it around which of course gives you your hinge! For more detail on this design check out Dave's explanation video below.
1/2" EMT Coupler
This hinge design is really clever and gives you two options for motion. It not only swivels around pipe, but also slides along a 1/2" EMT pipe if need be. Delen used this design in his adjustable solar panel stand. This method requires some light work with a metal file, but the result is worth the process. You can get these 1/2" EMT couplers off the shelf of your local hardware store for pretty cheap. Inside the coupler you will see a thin metal wall that stops the two ends of conduit when inserting them in.
You'll want to use a metal file such as this one to grind down the wall which will then let you slide the coupler over the 1/2" EMT. The final step is to remove the two set screws from the coupler and then assemble the T Connector over top of the coupler. You can tighten the connector all the way down, and still have the hinge motion that you're after. Below you can see how Delen used this method in his adjustable solar panel stand.
Snap On Aluminum PVC Hinges
This next method uses these snap on 3/4" aluminum PVC pipe hinges that are around $14 on Amazon. These are meant for PVC, but if you use a #10 size bolt through the pre-drilled holes and conduit then they secure up nice. They are really simple, and have worked well in the couple of customer builds that we have seen them used in such as this one from Nick.
Removable Gate Hinge
This next solution comes from Peter who wanted a way to take the gate on and off easily. He came up with this two piece system that works well. This method is more in depth than most of the others, but it offers a great feature for makers wanting a removable gate. I am going to split the explanation into two parts, the hinge itself and the gate.
The hinge has a stud sticking out of the top that slides into the gate part thus giving you the removable feature. For this method you will take a piece of 3/4" Conduit and put an end cap on one end and a 3/8-16" threaded pipe insert (with lip) into the other end. In the end with a pipe insert you will add a 3/8-16" threaded rod that sticks out about 2-3". To finish up this side you will drill two holes through the conduit and two holes through your structure. Then take a couple of bolts and nuts to secure the studded piece of conduit to the structure.
The gate part of this method slides over the stud that we created in part 1. You can achieve this by putting end caps into both ends of the 3/4" conduit. Then on one end you will drill a hole through the end cap that is right around 3/8" in diameter. Then you'll drill two holes in the pipe and attach it with nuts and bolts to your gate. Just make sure to have the drilled end cap pointing down.
You'll want to do this twice just like Peter did in his garden enclosure. Now you can slide your gate over top of the studs on the structure and get your removable gate!
1" PVC Couplers
Next up is this design that comes from Marie who used off the shelf 1" PVC couplers to create her hinge. She bolted two couplers together and then secured one side to her gate with nuts and bolts. The other side slides down the pipe on her garden enclosure, and rests on top of a third PVC coupler that is secured with nuts and bolts. Altogether you get a simple hinge that only cost a few bucks to make.
3/4" Compression Fittings
Another off the shelf solution that can be used in several ways are these 3/4" EMT Conduit compression fittings.We have seen these used as flanges in a few customer builds, but Brian uses them as a clever hinge solution. These fittings have nuts that compress a clamp ring around conduit when tightened, and they are designed to connect two pieces of conduit end to end.
Brian only compressed one side of the fitting on to conduit and removed the other nut. He did that twice and secured the two pieces to the structure. In between those two pieces is a loose piece of conduit that rests inside of the fitting but isn't secured. This allows the pipe to spin freely while still being secured in the build. Here is his truck bed rack that incorporates the hinge design.
Threaded Pipe Inserts
The last hinge design uses four of the 3/8-16" threaded pipe inserts (with lip). You'll need 3 pieces of conduit, the four inserts, and a 3/8-16" threaded rod (length depends on your project). The middle piece of conduit has a threaded pipe insert on both ends with the threaded rod running the full length and sticking out both ends a few inches.
Then you'll make a top piece that has a threaded insert on one side and a bottom piece that has an insert on one side. You'll thread those two pipes on to the middle pipe studs then secure the whole run on the top and bottom to your structure. This allows you to spin the middle pipe freely. I was surprised with how smooth the hinge motion was! You can see this hinge design in the garden enclosure video that we made.
This blog also has a video version if you want to see the method examples shown in more visual detail. These solutions are all great and each offer features that are attractive to specific builds. If you need help with any of these designs or need a hinge that none of these can solve, feel free to reach out on the website or through email. We are happy to help! Thanks for reading and happy building!