A series of tubes*
December 15, 2020 12:10 PM   Subscribe

I have a vision of a shelving unit made of stacked cylinders, sort of like pictured here but smaller in scale and without the horizontal shelf surface. To make my vision a reality, I need cylinders/tubes around 8-10" in diameter and 10-12" long. In normal times I would go wandering in hardware and salvage stores for cheap materials to repurpose, where should I look now?

*(I'm sorry, I may never stop finding this phrase funny)

The ideal cylinders are strong enough to stack on each other and fill with things. They could be open-ended like PVC pipe or closed on one end like a vase, transparent would be cool but opaque would work. The shelves will be for storing fabric, so nice smooth edges are a plus.

Budget is somewhat flexible but not unlimited. If it was, and I had the space/equipment to cut them to the right length, I might get some 10" diameter archival board tubes. These clear display cylinders are also cool but pricey. I'm having a hard time searching for things like PVC pipe over 6" in diameter, but I may not know where to look online.
posted by doift to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I think you'd be looking for sonotube (tubes used to form concrete posts). They're just cardboard though so you'll want to paint them at the very least.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 12:18 PM on December 15, 2020 [6 favorites]

Would this work?

They have them up to 16" diameter if you search on the Grainger website.
posted by mccxxiii at 12:18 PM on December 15, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: These quikrete molds might work. You can definitely get them in 8", 10", and 12" diameters. Online I only see them listed as four-foot lengths, but I've seen shorter ones in store.
posted by Nightman at 12:23 PM on December 15, 2020 [2 favorites]

I come up with quite a few DIY ideas on pinterest and google by searching for "yarn storage" and "tube" or "cylinder". This is something I've seen a lot in pictures of yarn storage solutions.
posted by QuakerMel at 12:25 PM on December 15, 2020

Best answer: plywood circles
posted by Admiral Viceroy at 12:28 PM on December 15, 2020 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I found this by searching for "straight-sided 5 gallon cylinder storage". It's a bucket liner, 13" high and 11.25" in diameter for $2.72.
posted by QuakerMel at 12:30 PM on December 15, 2020 [4 favorites]

I'll second Sonotube. It is relatively cheap and comes in pretty much any size you need and you can easily cut them to length, paint them, wrap them in veneer, etc.
posted by jmsta at 12:46 PM on December 15, 2020 [1 favorite]

I too have found sonotubes/concrete former tubes very robust.

Another option would be sections from 200 litre plastic drums - ones that have had machine oil or stock/animal foods are safe to use, and you can saw them with a hand saw. Plastic culvert pipe may be too expensive.
posted by unearthed at 1:12 PM on December 15, 2020

If you can get by with cylinders that have a little taper, delis and supermarket deli counters often generate lots of 5-gallon buckets. In my experience, most are happy to save up a stack for you if you ask. (You could even cut the bottoms off some and alternate rows to keep them level on average.)

If the location in your profile is correct, there are numerous Community Bicycle Organizations near you. They often wind up with a surplus of kids bikes and the associated wheels - you could probably call around and collect 12" rims (actual inside diameter more like 7.5"). If you get a ton, glue stacks of them together to make cylinders. If you get less than a ton, you could use them as forms at the end of each cylinder, with sheets of flexible (even transparent) plastic or bending plywood or something for the walls.

Stores that specialize in secondhand building materials (like the ReBuilding Center in Portland) often have metal vent/duct pipes in about the size you're looking for.

I think bamboo of that diameter exists, but I'm having trouble finding anything larger than 5" online. If you have a local bamboo specialty store (somehow, I've found that most major metro areas wind up with one) they might be able to help.
posted by sibilatorix at 1:14 PM on December 15, 2020

How deep do these have to be?
posted by carter at 1:48 PM on December 15, 2020

Oh, I see. 10-12." If you know anyone in the restaurant or deli business, maybe you could check in with them to see what large bulk food steel cans look like. They could take some cleaning, but they'd be free and could look good.

If you don't mind glass, then large catering size jars of things like pickles might work.
posted by carter at 1:53 PM on December 15, 2020

Also, if you know any electricians, the inside bit of cable reels might work.
posted by carter at 1:55 PM on December 15, 2020

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