Reinventing
the wheel (3)

Original page created on 22/02/2017; last modified on 16/07/2022.

For storing profiles

We all know the cardboard tubes made to keep or mail rolls of plans. Some suppliers also use them to ship materials into long sections that could bend easily. But, once arrived in our workshop, where do we store these profiles?

First possible answer: in tubes with caps, made of translucent plastic to see the inside. Available in pack of five for a reasonable and decreasing price. Their diameter may, however, be somewhat small. It takes a lot to store many different profile references.

12 mm diameter storage tubes

Photo L’octant

The same supplier also offers square section tubes that allow a more compact storage. They are however much more expensive and delivered without caps. It will be seen below that it is nevertheless possible to find caps at another supplier.

Square storage tubes

Photo L’octant

A Do It Yourself solution

This solution aims to use materials that are easily found next to your home, and if possible cheaper than the products seen above. As much say it right away, for the price, it is not done! The tube is inexpensive, it’s the electricians’, called IRL, which means Insulated Rigid Light (ex IRO for the ancients).

IRL tubes

Photo Castorama

The most useful (outer) diameters seem to be 20 and 25 mm. In the most widely known DIY stores, the 2 to 2.4 m long tube costs from €0.75 to €0.80 in 20 mm diameter and €1.35 to €1.85 in 25 mm diameter. Of course, it’s even cheaper in batches.

In a 2 m tube, four 50 cm storage tubes can be made, each costing approximately 20 to 35 euro cents depending on the diameter. You have just to find the caps that will fit. Or you can just tape one end, or even plug it with a pellet of paper! But it’s not very classy nor very safe…

Caps

There are two leads of search:

Bottle corks

Bottle replacement corks can be found in general stores for a moderate price. By experience, those equipped with a plastic capsule fit well on the ⌀ 20 tubes, but break down quite easily. On the other hand, for the ⌀ 25 tubes, no conventional stop is suitable (to my knowledge): the wine bottle cork — whether actual cork or synthetic — is a little too small, and does not hold. As for the champagne cork, it is way too big!

Cork and plastic stoppers

Furniture leg caps

Furniture leg caps are available in many diameters, and in two types: either internal, with an external diameter substantially equal to that of the tube, or external. For our application, I see a mixed use: an internal cap for a definitively closed end, and an external one, easier to remove, for the other end.

Furniture leg caps

Examples of prices per bag of 4:

We see that the price of these caps has a very negative effect on the overall cost of our storage tubes. The interest remains to be able to choose the diameter and the length that suits our needs best.

Another source of caps for metal tubes

Here, it is no longer a question of finding next to one’s home, but on the Internet. A dealer specializing in metallurgical products offers caps for tubes of round, square and even rectangular cross-section, in many dimensions, and considerably cheaper than in DIY stores. However, the shipping costs must be considered here.

Caps for metal tubes

This will be interesting, for example, when ordering steel sheets or profiles - which I did when I bought stub to improve some tools (vice, drill stand).

There is also this other supplier, even cheaper, but apparently with disproportionate fees. I have not tested yet.

Examples

Here is first a ⌀ 20 tube, 40 cm long, one end with internal cap, the other with cork stopper. Perfect for storing Evergreen polystyrene profiles.

20 mm diameter tube

Then, a ⌀ 25 tube, 50 cm long, one end with internal cap, like the previous one, the other with an external cap. Rather suitable for metal profiles or tubes: piano string, nickel silver, brass.

25 mm diameter tube

These tubes are stored in a drawer (originally designed for kitchen elements of a well-known Swedish brand). They are kept superimposed in a kind of rack made with sections of salvage tubes, fixed by a screw passing through the bottom of the drawer.

Tube storage

Storage racks

Tubes are practical, but cumbersome. I had found the unsatisfactory solution of putting several profile sizes in the same tube, but then you had to take everything out to find the right profile. So, I tried something else: specially adapted racks.

By specially adapted, I mean of course of convenient length, but also in which the profiles are easy to take, and which close well enough to avoid mixing during transport. Furthermore, I wanted to use only recycled materials, mainly hardboard, chipboard or solid wood from old shelves.

The large racks have a capacity of 500 mm in length, the small ones 350 mm.

Closed racks

A small open rack. This one has a solid wood body.

Open rack

Rack body

Depending on availability, the body consists of a 15 to 20 mm thick board into which semi-cylindrical grooves of varying widths (13 to 20 mm), depending on the profiles to be stored, are cut with a router.

To facilitate gripping, one or two perpendicular grooves can be made (not shown here).

Here are the half-round milling bits used, as well as the quarter-round milling bit used to round the corners of the front edge, as shown in the following photo.

View of the milling bits used

The board being machined from end to end, 3 or 4 mm hardboard closure plates are glued to the right and left edges of the body.

View of the millings

Rack lid

The lid is a hardboard plate whose dimensions are exactly those of the body. Therefore, it is inserted between the closing plates. The rear hinge is made of duct tape, as are the front fasteners. The latter have a folded edge to serve as a handle. Here is a fastener seen downside.

Fermeture vue de dessous

The marking of the racks is made on the hinge side.

Stacking and marking

That’s it! Apart from the fact that at the beginning I had a little trouble guiding the router correctly (I am not a carpenter!) and that the machining generates a lot of dust, these racks are quickly made and give me complete satisfaction.

Set of 5 cylindrical storage tubes
Length: 498 mm. Inside diameter: 11 mm.
Each tube is supplied with two caps.
€4.20 (price 2017) at L’Octant.

Set of 2 square storage tubes
Length : 480 mm. Sections 15, 30 and 40 mm.
€6.30 to €13.70 (price 2017) at L’Octant.

Example :
Cap for ⌀ 20 tube ref. MLT8002-0006
€0.30 per piece (price 2017 VAT incl.) at esse.fr.

Example :
Cap for ⌀ 20 tube ref. 400.2475.43
€0.22 per unit (price 2017 VAT incl.) et achatmat.com.

Six half-round milling bits, shank ⌀ 6,35 mm
Usable diameters 6, 8, 12 ,16, 19, 22
36 € (price in 2022) at Cdiscount
Note: these milling bits are not the ones I bought, not found again on the Internet.

It is important to note that the guide rule
should be placed to the left of the router
when the latter is used by hand.