Baseball nets are used for a number of purposes. Full-sized net cages are constructed so players can practice their batting in an enclosed area. Smaller screens protect pitchers from line drives during batting practice. Players also use 6- to 8-foot-squared batting net frames during batting practice. Smaller-sized baseball equipment is easily constructed from polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, pipes and baseball cage netting.
Fabricating a Square Batting Net Frame
Cut four pieces of PVC pipe at 72 inches long, two pieces at 3 inches long, and four pieces at 12 inches long. These pieces will construct a batting net frame that is 72 inches squared. PVC cuts easily with a hacksaw or a miter box.
Wet a clean rag with acetone and use the cloth to remove the manufacturer's printing from the PVC pipes. The acetone dissolves the printing and leaves the pipes clean and white. Wear rubber gloves while working with the acetone.
Test fit the PVC pieces without gluing them together. Use the two elbows and two of the “T” fittings with the 72-inch-long pipes to make a 72-inch-squared frame.
Slide the caps onto the 12-inch-long pieces, one cap on each end. Slide the opposite ends of these pipes into the second set of “T” fittings. These pieces make the legs, which keep the frame upright. Arrange these legs so they are in line with one another. Place the 3-inch pieces in the top openings of these “T” fittings.
Insert the short, 3-inch PVC piece that sticks up from the top of the “T” in the leg assemblies into the “T” fitting that is on the bottom of the square frame. Stand up the screen and test its stability.
Assembling the Batting Screen
Use a pencil and mark the alignment of the fittings on the pipes. When the frame is assembled, the fittings must align with each other or the pieces won't fit together properly. Mark a small line on the pipe, and a corresponding mark on each fitting.
Using the nylon applicator inside the jar of PVC cement, wipe the glue around the exterior of the pipe that fits into the fitting. Repeat the process on the inside of the fitting and then quickly slide the pipe and fitting together. Align your pencil marks and hold the fitting onto the pipe for 10 to 15 seconds.
Repeat the process for all of the fittings on the legs and for the fittings on the upper rectangle. If you want to store the screen out of the way, don't glue the joints between the legs and the upper frame. The legs will securely press into the fittings on the bottom of the frame, and then twist out of the fittings so the batting cage will store easily in an equipment closet.
Attach the nylon baseball netting to the frame with the zip ties. Zip tie the rope-reinforced border to the PVC pipe every 4 to 6 inches around the edge of the frame. Cut the tails off of the zip ties with a utility knife or wire cutters. The cut edge of the zip ties is painfully sharp, so cut the tails off flush with the end of the tie.