Introduction: Instructables Tubes

About: Pay it Forward. You Get what you Give.
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

¼” plywood saw
foam flooring hole saw
fluorescent tube guard  
super glue
small piece of sheet metal
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

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.

I cut mine with a power miter saw.  I cut it VERY SLOWLY and was able to get fairly nice edges.
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.

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 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.

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.
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