How To Make an Airplane Stand


As some of you may have noticed, I like to do these ‘how do I’ articles based on items I need to make. Well, who among us doesn’t occasionally need to make something? One day, I just decided that it would be cool if I could share my ideas with all of you! With that thought, the ‘How do I’ articles were born…

Recently, my Robart foam airplane stand broke. Now, I could have epoxied it back together for a sixth or seventh time, but it was really starting to look beat up – to the point where I didn’t want to use it in my review photos any longer. I started surfing the net, in all my usual sites (eBay, Amazon, etc.) for a new stand. To be honest, I do have a pair of fully adjustable, articulating wood stands. As far as display stands go, they work pretty well – just set the model in place carefully, take a photo or two, then take the plane off the stand. I found that the wooden cradle, while it has some padding on the cradles, did little to keep from damaging my airplane’s covering and underlying wooden structure. Herein lied my problem. I found a couple of decent replacement stands for my foam one, but they were at least $20 shipped, and I’d have to wait 2 days to a week to receive the product!

A few years ago, my late friend and writing partner, Mike Buzzeo, wrote and article called ‘Fun with PVC’. Remembering his article, I quickly drew up a prototype stand, and made a shopping list….

Here’s my parts, all laid out for you to see! I used 1″ PVC pipe and fittings, but any reasonable size could have been used.

Shopping List

Qty – 2:   5′ PVC Pipe

Qty – 8:   T-Fitting

Qty – 4:   90° Elbow

Qty -4: 45° Elbow

Qty – 4:   Plug

Qty – 1 Bag: 1″ Foam Pipe Insulation

I also decided to add some felt furniture pads to the bottom of the legs. For the 1″ plugs, I found that 1-1/2″ Felt pads fit perfectly.

My Cutting Dimensions

To cut the PVC, a variety of saws can be used. For quick, accurate cuts, I used my 12″ compound miter saw. If you don’t have one of these, a simple hand saw will produce nice cuts as well.

I set up a jig on my saw, making it really easy to cut multiple pieces to the same length!

These are the lengths I cut from the 1″ by 5′ PVC Pipe.

Qty – 6:   2″

Qty – 4:   2-1/2″

Qty – 4:   4″

Qty – 4:   6″

Qty – 2:   20″

What makes this stand great is that it can be customized to your specific needs!

In addition to the PVC parts, you’ll need cleaner, primer, and PVC cement. These will give you the best glue joints possible.

How to Make a Strong Joint

There are three steps to making a strong glue joint with PVC: Clean, Prime, and Cement.

Clean the pieces that you will be gluing together using a PVC cleaner. This will remove and residues that may be on the pieces.

Prime the pieces using a PVC primer. This acts much like a paint primer, making a good base for the next step.

Cement the pieces together – apply cement to each piece. The pieces will need to be assembled very quickly after the cement is applied, so be ready to push the two pieces together!

A Word to the Wise…

When gluing your pieces together, make sure that they are aligned properly – once the cement sets, the pieces are stuck!

My Stand

After cutting all of the pipes, I laid out all the individual pieces to get a good visualization of how they would fit together. As you can see, I made broke each of the frame ends into three sub-assemblies. This made it easier to put them together, rather than once complete assembly.

The leg sub-assembly was assembled first, making sure to orient all parts in the proper direction. Please note – all of the cleaning, priming, and gluing was done over a piece of cardboard to keep the chemicals off my work bench.

This assembly used the 4″ pieces of pipe, a T-Fitting, a pair of 90 degree elbows, and two of the plugs.

The middle section was next – these are the 2″ pieces of pipe and T-Fittings.

The top section was the last of the sub-assembly to be glued together, and required a T-Fitting, two 45 degree elbows, two 2-1/2″ pieces of pipe, and two 6″ pieces of pipe.

I glued the three sub-assemblies together to create one end of the stand – it’s starting to come together (no pun intended) nicely!

With the first end assembled, I glued the two 20″ pipes into the T-Fittings, followed by assembling and attaching the middle section of the other end. I found it easier to work with a smaller sub-assembly, rather that a completed second end. When the glue had dried on the middle section, I assembled and attached the second leg section.

The top section was then assembled and attached, followed by the foam pipe insulation and felt furniture pads. With that, my new stand was ready to use!

As you can see, the cradle is wide enough to accommodate this World Models LA Racer .40 sized plane in many positions. This ought to make it easy to work on the plane in whichever orientation gives me the access I need!

This stand is also large enough and strong enough to hold a larger model, such as this 10-plus pound, 20cc T-34 Mentor!


Sure, I could have bought a new stand easily enough, but for the same money, I made my own! I also didn’t have to wait for it to arrive, as everything I needed was at my local home improvement store, right in the plumbing section! From start to finish, this project took me about three hours to complete – that included two trips to the store (an extra trip because I didn’t look closely enough at the elbows and ended up with an extra 90 degree elbow)!

I really enjoyed building this new airplane stand – with a little modification, it could easily be made into a stand for an RC car, truck, or boat! That’s the best part of this project – the possibilities are as endless as your imagination!

Next up – I think I’ll build a taller stand for assembling my planes at the field.

That’s all for now – thanks for checking out my latest ‘How do I’ article!  -GB



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