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Make your own clear storage tubes with this easy inexpensive method.  You decide the length (up to 8 feet).  Similar products are available, but this has several advantages.  Although utilitarian, these can look great in living spaces too.

The tubes can be cut to desired length.  The square ends are effective handles which also prevent rolling.  They can sit horizontally or vertically.  Another big benefit is the view of these tubes is much better than some of the commercial products available.  And lastly, this is a LOT cheaper than buying of the shelf items. 

Step 1: Quick Instructions & Short Video

MATERIALSTOOLS
¼” plywood saw
foam flooring hole saw
fluorescent tube guard  
super glue
small piece of sheet metal
 
 
BASIC INSTRUCTIONS
1)    cut plywood into 2” squares (two for each tube)
2)    cut plastic tube to desired length (maybe 6”)
3)    cut foam flooring into circles a size that fits snugly inside the tube
4)    glue one foam circle to the center of each plywood square
5)    let glue dry
6)    install ends and use as you like

 

Step 2: Recommended Reading for Success

GETTING YOUR TUBES
You can get the clear tubes at any of the big box hardware stores.   The tubes are used to help prevent problems should a long bulb break.  Many businesses are required to use them.  You will find them in the area of the bulbs themselves.  They are commonly referred as a few different names: fluorescent tube protectors, covers, sleeves, guards, covers etc...

I have seen sleeves which cover 2 common bulb sizes:  T8 and T12
T8 bulbs are 1.00 inch diameter.  T12 bulbs are 1.50 inch diameter.
T12 sleeves are 1.625 inches diameter (that's 1 5/8 inches)
So that tells you the sleeves allow for a 1/16" float around the bulb.

All the instructions illustrated here are associated to the T12 sleeves.
I just priced them at the orange big box store:
8 foot long T12 Fluorescent Tube Protector:  $4.56
(date 06-03-2013)

The protectors are thinner than I desire, but rigid enough to function.


CUTTING THE TUBES
I cut mine with a power miter saw.  I cut it VERY SLOWLY and was able to get fairly nice edges.
WEAR EYE PROTECTION!
You may be able to cut with a hand saw - perhaps a hack saw.
Also I wanted to try some sort of hot wire - but have not yet explored.

FOAM RUBBER FLOORING
This refers to the shock absorbing interlocking floor squares - found in many hardware stores.
I have 5/8" and 1/2" varieties.  I believe the 1/2" was best choice for me.
If you want a stronger endcap grip, lean toward thicker material.
Other sources of this same material:  "flip flops" at the dollar store
A drink "koozie" is almost certainly too soft for this project.
I don't know if foam "noodles" used at the pool would work.

CUTTING THE FOAM RUBBER
Cutting circles in the foam material is a challenge.  I tested a few methods:
Cut by hand.  (not fun)
Cut with jig on table mounted router. (perfect result but big mess and loud noise)
Using a prefab "hole saw" mounted in drill press and also in handheld drill.  (least favorite)
Using my own custom made hand powered "hole saw"   BEST CHOICE
The handheld drill was too difficult to maintain position - not good.  Drill Press could work - but must have correct size hole saw.


MAKE THE PERFECT CUTTER
We want to cut 1.625" diameter circles (that's 1 5/8")  I liked making my own custom hole saw the best - perfect fit, quiet operation, dirt cheap, no batteries required...  Above is a pic of my hole saw.  Amazingly, I nailed the size perfectly the first try.  And you can too.  Here's how I did it: 

I cut a small piece of thin sheet metal (not sure thickness - closer to  soup can vs a beer can).  
The size was approximately 5.75" square.  The distance around the target circle is 5.1025" PLUS overlap of approx 1/2 inch.

Bend the sheet metal around some PVC to help move toward our desired shape.  I found that using the INSIDE of a 1 1/2 inch pvc pipe was super helpful.  The inside diameter of that pipe is actually 1.61" (pretty close to the 1.625" target).  I used the pipe to hold it approximately in position.  Then I used a pipe clamp to fine tune my circumference.  It worked beautifully.  You can tighten just a bit or loosen with precise control.  Once happy with the sizing, I riveted the small overlap to make the cutter hold shape.  

Now you have a cookie cutter.  Cutting with that worked well, but hurt my hand, so I put a piece of plastic on one end to make for a functional handle.    To cut, slowly and forcefully push down and twist in a circle on the foam rubber.  Pay attention to the overlap of the metal at the joining edge.  Twisting one direction will work much better than the other.  

Step 3: Question(s) for You

Anyone know of another source for the tubing?  
I'd like something more rigid.  The alternatives I find are quite expensive.

Am I including too much detail and detracting?

Is the video helpful or is a single drawing all you would want?

Step 4: Show and Tell

Actually, this section is just "Show" because I've already covered the "Tell" portion of the program.  These are various pictures during and after production.
<p>Very clean looking.</p>
You also might try empty tennis ball cans.
I never thought about tennis ball cans - great idea!
Clever repurposing!
Gracias llamo. Un elogio de usted es importante. Yo respeto su trabajo. No hablo espa&ntilde;ol. Hablo Ingl&eacute;s y un poco de alem&aacute;n. Este es mi primer uso de Goolge translate. Espero que esto es comprensible. Que tengan un buen d&iacute;a. Bob Z
Bob, I understand all except the first phrase &quot;Gracias llamo&quot;.<br><br>A suggestion: when you don't know the &quot;to&quot; languaje of a translation, it is a good idea to attach (if possible) the original &quot;from&quot; text to message. <br><br>&iexcl;Gracias por tus elogios! Para los viejos es muy importante...
Thanks!
SUPER - thanks for posting it! Where do I find fluorescent tube guards?
You can get that several places. Easy ones I'm sure carry them are: Home Depot and Lowes. Go to the lighting department. Most of the employees are unfamiliar with the product. So don't give up easily!
I love the idea of making your own foam cutter! That's almost worth more than the rest of the Instructable. :-) Just kidding. Obviously I was drawn to the idea of making my own storage tubes... Have you thought about hitting the edge of the saw tube on the grinder, or with a flat file, to sharpen it? Also, I think if your overlap was to the outside, it might make the twisting motion easier.
Here's a couple notes on the cookie cutter...
Nice!
Thank you for breaking the ice and for the support! While putting this together I had the same thought about the cutter being more interesting than the rest of it... What's funny, it was just a split second impulse - really fast. I did think of sharpening the edge or serrating - but I tried it as is - and it worked really great. Sort of cuts like sawing with a dull knife. The overlap is important. When you think about it there will always be an overlap to the outside (or inside). It's all point of reference. I think? Here's a clarification to idea.. OK I'll stick it in later. IE is giving me fits. Will use Chrome or Firefox later...
Good idea for storage. I think the video is great - really helps to see it in the round and in such detail. :)

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