Shoe Tubes




Introduction: Shoe Tubes

About: 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 Sam and I'm a community manager here at Instructables.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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!



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47 Discussions

Cool beans, Im calling my local sign shops tomorrow.


1 year ago

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

This is great! Thank you.

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!

1 reply

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! :)


1 year ago

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


1 year ago

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.

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"...

2 replies

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.

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!

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.

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. ;)

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.

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


1 year ago

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).


1 year ago

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!!


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.