Introduction: Shoe Tubes

Picture of Shoe Tubes

My home is full of shoes. So many I decided to write a poem about it:

. . . . . .

Shoes: a poem by Sam



Piles and piles of kid-shoes.

Colored shoes and plain shoes,

Crocs and Mary Jane shoes.

Clean shoes,

Dirty shoes,

New and very old shoes.

With shoes on top and shoes beneath, they rock and rock and rock to sleep.

. . . . . .

Wait, what?

(My fleeting interest in poetry was exhausted, so I kinda borrowed that last line like a lazy person. Forgive me, Sandra.)

So my family needed an entryway rack of sorts to store some shoes, and I had been hanging on to a pile of large cardboard tubes for several years.

It was time to finally put them to good use.

Fellow author VanSquad made a similar shoe storage project a couple years ago, as seen here. I took a somewhat different approach, so I figured it would be worth sharing.

This was a relatively quick project and should be reproducible if you have access to a few basic tools.

Step 1: Tubes

Picture of Tubes

If you live in a town that has a sign making business, you have access to this kind of cardboard tube.

Large banner material is shipped in these and then the businesses often just throw the tubes away.

I asked a local place where I live and they gave me six of these for free. The tubes are about five feet long and about 9 inches in diameter.

If you can't seem to find tubes like these, you can buy cardboard concrete form tubes at any hardware or home improvement store, which will work the same . . . but they are not free.

Step 2: Cutting

Picture of Cutting

There are several ways to cut a tube like this. The way I did it is probably not the most accessible for many people, so I'll outline other options down below.

I used my table saw along with a sled to cut my tubes into same-sized pieces. I set up a stop block 9 inches to the right of the blade and raised the blade a couple of inches.

With the tube against the stop block, I held the tube and pushed the sled forward until the blade teeth were just cutting through the backside of the tube. The sled was left in this position and I gently rotated the tube towards me, so the underside was being fed into the blade. The smiley faces indicate the only places I had my hands when the saw was on and I was rotating the tubes.

When the piece was fully cut, I turned off the saw, pulled the sled back and removed the piece. The tube was shifted to the right and the process repeated.


To mark sections to be cut, stand the tube on end and stack some books or other objects to the desired height next to it. Hold a pen or pencil firmly on top of the stack and rotate the tube against the tip of the writing implement.

To cut off sections, you can use a basic hand saw. This will require the tube to be held securely, but it will work. Rotate as you go so you can follow the line as precisely as possible.

Alternately, there are several types of handheld power saws you could use for this, but a jigsaw is probably the easiest and safest.

Drill a hole next to the line, place the blade into the hole and cut around the tube following the line. Repeat!

Step 3: Sanding

Picture of Sanding

I used 220 grit sandpaper on an orbital sander to remove the messy edges on the outsides of the tubes.

I used the same grit of hand sandpaper to do likewise to the inside edges of the tubes.

Step 4: Start Gluing

Picture of Start Gluing

I clamped a straight board to the edge of my work table to help keep the tubes lined up evenly, and glued them together with hot glue.

I've used dozens of different glue guns since I was kid, and I finally paid up for a high-temp non-crafty one. It's a beast that spits out skin-melting lava glue like nothing I've used before. I seriously love it, and strongly recommend it if you're in the market for a better glue gun: Adhesive Technologies 0189 Pro 200 Glue Gun

Step 5: Keep Gluing

Picture of Keep Gluing

I used a carpenter's square as a guide to keep the layout of the tubes square.

Where a tube needed two beads of glue, I put little marks to indicate where to run the beads of glue.

Step 6: All Glued Up

Picture of All Glued Up

I went through several sticks of glue to get the tubes all joined together, but the structure was plenty strong because of it.

Step 7: Paint

Picture of Paint

I painted the tubes inside and out with Satin Black spray paint.

I started with an older can of Krylon paint, and when that was used up started using this Krylon Cover Maxx stuff. Whoa! I've been using Krylon for years, and this formula seems like quite an upgrade.

Notice the difference in the 2nd photo. A coat of the old style on the left . . and a coat of the new stuff on the right. The coverage is very impressive.

Step 8: Backing

Picture of Backing

After painting, I decided it would look better with some kind of backing.

I used basic wood glue to fix some 1/4" MDF scraps to the back of the tube structure, and used random weights to hold these pieces in place till the glue dried.

Step 9: Route

Picture of Route

I used a router with a flush trim bit to remove the extra MDF from the outside edges. This is the small router I have and I love it.

After routing, I cleaned up all the nasty MDF dust, and spray painted the new interior backsides of the tubes as well as touched up around the outside.

Step 10: Done!

Picture of Done!

All that was left was to put it in place and load it full of shoes. It could be screwed to the wall for security, but I did not do that.

Thanks for taking a look!


iuskov (author)2016-11-03

At first, I thought that it's a big plastic pot, not a tube!

sunriderksy (author)2016-11-01

You are a genius. Love this. Long ago I pinned something very much like this on Pinterest that had been done with PVC tubing. I went to price the tubing at my local hardware stores and found the largest diameter they had was only 6". That would not do with my husband's size 13s, as each shoe would take it's own tube. I'm pretty sure we have at least one sign shop in town, so now I know I can ask them for these tubes. Thank you!

seamster (author)sunriderksy2016-11-01

Ah, you're very kind! Thanks for the nice comment.

I'm glad you liked this, and hope you get a chance to make something similar! :)

Arghus (author)2016-11-01

I love this project but i gotta say personally i would have just gave it a clearcoat to leave it more original

Bard (author)2016-10-30

This is great the only issue I have with making it is I live in a place where there are lots of spiders. Maybe if I added LED lighting to it and make it a different color.

bayview25 (author)2016-10-30

This is a really great project. My mind starts to think about a triangular rather than rectangular configuration. Also, thoughts go to mixing Tube sizes (diameters)...

One question? What size shoes?
I think my larger feet (size 14) might need both a bigger tube as well as a longer length. In fact, you might call them "poetic" as they're "Longfellows"...

seamster (author)bayview252016-10-30

My shoes are in the far left cubbies in the main photo, and they're 13s. (But they're athletic shoes that can be compressed... I wouldn't be able to fit bigger work-type shoes with two in the same spot.)

You could certainly make each cubby deeper, or use larger diameter tubes though. I just went with 9 inches deep as it that seemed like a good average for the variety of shoe we'd be storing.

bayview25 (author)seamster2016-10-30

That helps alot.

w-diehm (author)2016-10-30

Sehr gute Idee - könnte auch mit kleinerem Rohr für Krawatten, Socken oder sonstige kleine Kleidungsstücke genutzt werden - so wie IKEA es z.B. in Kleiderschränken als Schublade verbaut. Danke vielmals!

skunkworkx. (author)2016-10-30

How is this any more efficient than using a few shelves?

Seems to me this is easier to add/subtract, doesn't have a fixed height/width, and keeps the shoes separated better. The spaces between the tubes can even hold your random flip-flop (or gloves). Using shelves is no more efficient, just different.

seamster (author)skunkworkx.2016-10-30

Efficiency was never the intention, so I can't really say.

All I know is that I was able to put these old tubes to good use, and they're no longer collecting dust in my garage. ;)

amcgamcg (author)skunkworkx.2016-10-30

It isn't more efficient but it's certainly more of a fun way to keep your shoes, and prettier, and looks purpose-built, not just shelves diverted to the purpose.

photony (author)skunkworkx.2016-10-30

You can move, or hide this design easily...

nehmo (author)2016-10-30

Why not angle all the tubes upward, and cut them all at an angle too? I was planning on making one of these out of the Sonotubes, and I'm pleased to hear of an alternative source (the sign-making material tubes).

st3v3nywwt (author)2016-10-30

Good Idea.

NatalieS68 made it! (author)2016-10-30

I call these Natashoe racks. Old CD towers or wine holders which you can find at a thrift store make great shoe storage compartments.

cheapo (author)2016-10-30

Great idea!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And it's cheapo!

I definitely need to do this, probably multiple times. I have a couple of hobbies that mean I need to store loads of different things near my work table. And I need to tidy up the bedroom etc.

A couple of years ago, I nearly went and put racing stripes on my car. So I already know where the local sign writing places are. I'm onto it next weekend!!


willowspain (author)2016-10-30

Nice job! But why not use planter pots? They're often available for free or cheap,wash clean, and are lightweight and easy to move.

andrej (author)willowspain2016-10-30

...and they are more waterproof than this paper based design too...

willowspain (author)andrej2016-10-30

possibly... that 2nd paint he found seems pretty hardy. ;O)

seamster (author)willowspain2016-10-30

Not a bad idea!

I think the trick is to just use what you have, and in my case I had these cardboard tubes :)

willowspain (author)seamster2016-10-30

I totally get that SEAMSTER, I wasn't disparaging in any way. Oddly, for months, maybe even years?, I was agonizing over my shoes by the front door.I wish I had thought of the plant pot resolution before I saw yours [i truly thot that's what they were, in fact] Just recently I came across a very inexpensive shelf at a 2nd hand store - even painted with hi-gloss paint with open ended shelves inside the box which I thot was a handy way to aerate stinky, your project made me think of yet another resolution. One I still may do someday. ;O)

Dorion (author)2016-10-30

Add a little shelf on top and you've got yourself a really functional entryway pit stop!

JohnD316 (author)2016-10-30

Come to think of it this will work with small tubes for my T shirts and underwear drawer. Thanks for reminding me of an older project that I had done in the past.

JohnD316 (author)2016-10-30

This is a great idea and project for those messy front hallways if you have young kids. Saves tripping over all the shoes on the way out or in. I did this for my sock drawer using 4 inch black ABS drain pipe cut into 5 inch lengths. No backs needed just cut and sand. Put them all in the drawer open end up. One pipe per pair of socks. Average sock drawer will hold 40 pair of socks. Good work on the shoe storage. I think I will do this for my closet as well.

amcgamcg (author)2016-10-30

Thanks for sharing; I love your idea. I once used fabric tubes thrown out from a material shop to make a 1.8m standing lamp holder by gluing 12 different lengths of them together. (Get the idea?)

However The hot glue only glues the surface of your big shoe-tubes so I think I'd prefer to add a couple of nuts and bolts for each join, if only for the 12 joins around the outside maybe?. Especially if you're like my family: we have dozens of shoes and keep them all until the soles fall off (literally!)

seamster (author)amcgamcg2016-10-30

Thanks for your great comment!

I considered adding some kind of mechanical fasteners, actually. But I decided to add the backing, which was affixed with copious amounts of wood glue. This made the whole structure much more rigid, and I'm pretty confident it will hold up for a long time (unless we get in the habit of throwing muddy and snow-covered boots on top!) :)

LindaP84 (author)2016-10-30

Nice solution to a common problem. And I am definitely going to try that Cover Max paint!

I have gotten free large diameter tubing at a big box hardware store, in their off-the-rack carpet section. Don't know the dimensions, but it was plenty sturdy. They even cut it in half for me.

And I loved your stolen line from one of my favorite Boynton books. Made me laugh.

seamster (author)LindaP842016-10-30

Thanks! I'm glad you got a kick out of that. A little silly randomness never hurts I guess :)

DorlisG (author)2016-10-30

make them longer and forget the backing and you have a great playground for cats (I have 4)

amcgamcg (author)DorlisG2016-10-30

Great idea!

Clogtoe (author)2016-10-30

this is a great idea for Yarn storage!

StevenG50 (author)2016-10-30

I print my own labels for our business' products. I've been wondering what to do with the label stock's inner core (3.5" diameter) as I watch them pile up. Funny thing is that I have been stacking them in such a similar arrangement (pyramid style) for months. It never hit me to adhere them to each other! This will make a much sturdier and cleaner way to store electronics cables (and who knows what else) than the toilet paper tubes I am currently using. Thanks!

SamIam100 (author)2016-10-30

Nice job, noticed that sexy bandsaw too, very nice.

tvictor53 (author)2016-10-30

Excellent, clever design project!

I know you painted it before deciding on a backing, but perhaps completing the entire project before painting would be a good idea if done again?

hammer9876 (author)tvictor532016-10-30

And here I sit thinking the opposite. I think it would be easier to paint before assembling....

ajayt7 (author)2016-10-30

Great job

cmika (author)2016-10-30

This is a great design feature for my rectangular house with rectangular brick interior walls! Thanks!

RogerS117 (author)2016-10-28

Great idea.

thevidman (author)2016-10-28

Nicely done! And great commentary!

Mjtrinihobby (author)2016-10-28

World class work again as always! You got my Vote!

offseid (author)2016-10-27

That's really great. Nice idea!

Cherzer (author)2016-10-27

Thanks for the idea! I have one of those cardboard concrete forms sitting on my back porch, irritating me every time I look at it, because I havent been sure what to do with it.

My eyes keep fixating on the diamond cubby hole shape between the circles. It reminds me of a 1950's diamond star pattern, and I keep imagining the diamond cubbies painted a bright glossy 1950's diner red. :)

WUVIE (author)2016-10-27

Ooh, luck you to have access to such great stuff otherwise tossed to the wind. This project almost (but not quite) makes me miss my former job, where they threw all sorts of great stuff away, free for the taking. Cool Instructable!

parisusa (author)2016-10-27

I'm not a shoe person but they still add up with a family, don't they?! Great solution! Thanks for sharing. (This would work for winter wear, toys, pet supplies etc, too)

About This Instructable




Bio: I got an old sewing machine when I was just a kid, and I've been hooked on making stuff ever since. My name is ... More »
More by seamster:Height-Adjustable Outfeed WorktableFarmhouse Play KitchenTop 100 Instructables of 2017
Add instructable to: