On a sweltering summer day, few kids can resist running through the cool spray of a lawn sprinkler (and shrieking, of course). The Deluxe Kid Wash continues that great, time-honored sprinkler tradition, but with a creative new twist. Follow our simple directions on the next page or customize your own version. The Kid Wash is crafted almost entirely from PVC pipe, a material we love not just for its low cost (about $30 for all the pieces used here) and durability, but also for its ease of use (with all those interconnecting pieces -- it's like Tinkertoys for grown-ups). The Kid Wash may not offer wax or rust inhibitor, but it's sure to provide a summer's worth of good clean fun.
Cut the Pieces and Make the Waterholes: Using a hacksaw or PVC-pipe cutter, cut the pipe into the lengths shown at right (twenty-two 2 1/2 feet length; one 5 foot; four 3 foot; two 1 foot; three 6-inches). Be sure to sweep or vacuum up the plastic dust. Use a 1/8-inch bit to drill waterholes: 12 holes each in crosspieces X and Y, spaced 2 to 3 inches apart; 3 holes, all on the same side, in each of the 2 side pieces shown, and 3 holes at the tops of 2 of the caps. Click for larger image.
Add the Special Details: Entry Arch and Sign. Push a pool noodle with holes in the ends onto the capped pipes to form an arch (the holes may need to be cut or widened with a knife). Use craft foam and permanent markers to make a sign. Punch holes in the sign and hang it from the arch with string.
Kid Scrubbers: Thread varying lengths of string through 3 large sponges and tie them to crosspiece Y.
Body Buffers: Cut the lawn chair webbing (available at most hardware stores) into 8 or so 4 1/2-foot lengths. Loop each one over crosspiece Z and secure with a paper fastener.
Stop and Go Gate: Attach the swinging gate arm by slipping the larger T fitting over the straight fitting as shown in the diagram detail. Make the Stop and Go signs from craft foam circles, 8 1/2 inches in diameter. Label with markers.
Next, use adhesive-backed Velcro to attach the Stop sign at the end of the swinging arm (D1).
Align the Go sign on the upright piece so that it sits directly behind the Stop sign (D2) when the gate is closed and affix it with Velcro.
Water!: Attach the hose adapter and the hose, turn on the water, adjust the pressure, and let the fun begin.