How to Build a Power Pop Can Crusher From PVC

Sam Kellenberg

There are many different varieties of powered can crushers, and in many cases, plans for such crushers call for a solenoid or pneumatic ram. Using a pneumatic ram will require that the builder have at least basic familiarity with running air lines, and be capable of refilling air containers to the ram.

Unless you have many of the materials on hand, expect to pay far more in supplies than spent on the plans themselves.

Familiarity with power tools and basic wiring likely will be necessary, and depending on the final plans used, an assistant may be required.


You can add a sliding wooden piece inside the box, measured to its inner dimensions, to distribute the pressure created by the piston so that multiple cans can be set inside the box and crushed at once. Put the wooden piece against the foot of the piston and load the cans into the box after the wooden slat.

  1. Look online for can crusher plans. Several do-it-yourself forums -- physicsforums.com and hackaday.com -- offer such plans for free, while other websites -- how-to-plans.com and ezlifellc.com -- offer plans for purchase.

  2. Mark the center of one of the 2-inch PVC end caps. Using a 3/4-inch bit, drill a hole at the center of the 2-inch endcaps. The 3/4-inch steel pipe should be able to slide smoothly through the end cap.

  3. Glue the drilled end cap onto the 2-inch PVC pipe.

  4. Remove the clamp from the washing machine drain hose adapter. Attach the rubber fitting over one end of the steel pipe, wide-end down. Wind electrical tape twice around the smaller side of the fitting to hold it down.

  5. Slide the 3/4-inch steel pipe through the 2-inch PVC pipe and out the drilled hole. If not already cut to size, trim the steel ram so that it can be completely contained in the 2-inch PVC pipe while still having 6 inches exposed.

  6. Glue the 3/4-inch end cap on the exposed end of the steel pipe to complete the piston of the crusher.

  7. Glue the 1 1/2-inch PVC coupler to the base of the 2-inch PVC pipe.

  8. Drill through the end of the 2-inch PVC pipe and the 1 1/2-inch coupler. Attach the 3/8-by-3-inch nipple to receive the washing machine hose. This will attach to your compressed air and push the piston to crush the cans.

Safety Enclosure For the Crusher

  1. Measure the length of the piston while fully extended. Add 6 inches to this measurement, and cut three lengths of 2-by-8 to the size of the final number.

  2. Arrange the boards so that they form a U shape, with two standing level and upright and the other board resting atop them. Clamp them into place.

  3. Drill wood screws every 8 inches through the top board and into the side boards.

  4. Measure the dimensions of the open sides, and cut additional lengths sized to fit. Place these over the open ends, drilling them into place. Drill another hole through the center of one side, through which to feed the air hose. This will finish the box to hold your can crusher.