The Maze Craze

This article contains pictures and plans for a maze that I made for a children’s community carnival.

The maze was made entirely of 1/2″ Schedule 40 PVC. Because the walls can be easily moved around without drastically changing the materials, there are virtually endless variations for this design.

Much credit must be given to Adrian Fisher and his wonderful educational site Mazemaker.com. I contacted Adrian for some inspiration and he was most gracious in offering his assistance. I should be clear in stating that the original design (adapted below) was his. Adrian has written a couple books on the subject too!

Keeping in mind that the maze was designed for kids; therefore, we wanted the most variation and traps and dead ends. However, space was a concern, so we finally decided on dimensions (as shown below). The four colored walls were a suggestion by Adrian. The idea is to have the kids find all four colors in the maze, not simply find the end. Since it seemed less likely that most of the kids would take their time and enjoy the maze’s simplicity, it was necessary to slow them down. Plus, this added another dimension to the goal.

Here is the detailed drawing of the maze, complete with joint locations. Here is my legend table describing the nomenclature:

T : Tee joint
L : Elbow joint
X : Tee joint for vertical leg
O : Elbow joint for vertical leg
L : Elbow joint
X : Tee joint for vertical leg
O : Elbow joint for vertical leg

The grid is set to a 2 by 2 foot square with 2 foot high legs, making each opening 4 square feet. This is small, but fairly spacious for kids. Basically, the above frame is duplicated for a total of two of each piece shown. Then legs connect the two frames, providing the support and height for the maze. Every “X” and “O” represents a vertical leg separating the two frames. Below is a table of the total material count:

Joint TypeQuantityTotal Qty
(1 Frame)
Total Qty
(2 Frames)
Elbow {L20 pieces} 30 pieces= 60 pieces
O10 pieces
Tee {T6 pieces} 21 pieces= 42 pieces
X15 pieces

…And a table of the total length of pipe used:

Pipe SizeQuantityPipe LengthTotal LegsPipe Length
2 foot36 pieces72 feet25 pieces50 feet
4 foot13 pieces52 feet
One Frame —>124 feet
2 Frames + Legs —>298 feet

The 1/2″ pipe can be bought in 10 foot poles, thereby giving a grand total of roughly 30 poles. Costs for the pipe range but are usually about $0.70 per pole. You can buy bags of elbows and tees; they are about $1.25 for bags of 10. Therefore, total PVC cost is about $35.

Above is the beginning of the wall stage. The frames are built and connected. Probably the most difficult part of the maze was the walls — cutting all the squares and sheets of cardboard, hanging each with duct tape, etc. Different materials could have been used. In retrospect, it would have been much easier to have used old bed sheets clipped to the frame for makeshift walls. This would have been considerably less weight too.

Acquiring the cardboard was also quite a task. Three separate trips to various stores was needed to get enough. All cardboard was donated as well. Below is the finished stage of the maze, complete with ceiling.

Being PVC pipe, the maze material is easily stored for later use. Below a picture of all of the pipe bundled in the back of my car.

Project photos:

2 Replies to “The Maze Craze”

  1. i know whis was a long time ago- but dammit, its cool.

    i built a water slide out of pvc pipe once. it was for a technology project in 7th grade.

    ever since then, pvc pipe has held a special place in my heart.

  2. Woah! Don’t mind the fact that I just saw this after a decade, but this one is one amazing piece of construction! I thought it was just a maze in a paper, it is actually a live one!

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