Here's one I made earlier!
August 5, 2008 1:17 PM   Subscribe

Can cardboard absorb cement? If not, other suggestions for a load of toilet-paper-tubes please!

Brought up on a diet of MacGyver and Blue Peter, I have somehow managed to amass a large number of the cardboard tubes from inside toilet and kitchen paper rolls. I think I had the idea of making a sort of honeycomb shelf out of them, but I would like to spray or dip them in concrete for aesthetic and stability reasons.

As best I can tell, cardboard is often suggested as a mould for cement, which suggests it doesn't absorb it. How can I go about this?

Other suggestions on what to do with about 200 bogroll inserts gladly accepted, but something that requires loads of them rather than individual ideas (like dog-treat-makers, or potting solutions).
posted by Iteki to Media & Arts (11 answers total)
Cardboard absorbs water which doesn't help concrete cure and it also would stick to the concrete. It is used for cylinder forms but that type of cardboard is impregnated with wax. You could experiment by dipping the tubes in molten wax or maybe spraying them heavily with silicone spray.
posted by JJ86 at 1:41 PM on August 5, 2008

Other suggestions

I use my paper towel roles to store cords in. Fold a cord in half, fold it in half again, and insert it into the paper towel roll. I like to keep the working ends hanging out a little bit so I can see what is what when I need something.
posted by B(oYo)BIES at 1:42 PM on August 5, 2008 [2 favorites]

What JJ said.

You might try dipping the tubes in acrylic resin. A few coats should make them fairly strong and stiff.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:42 PM on August 5, 2008

Best answer: A variation on Thorzdad's suggestion would be to use the rolls to shape fiberglass. The rolls themselves would likely rendered useless in the process, but you'd have little fiberglass tubes instead, which would be considerably more stable.
posted by lekvar at 1:49 PM on August 5, 2008

Freecycle. An art teacher somewhere could probably put them to good use.
posted by junkbox at 2:13 PM on August 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

Cardboard absorbs water which doesn't help concrete cure and it also would stick to the concrete.

Soggy cardboard might not be the best thing for concrete, but adding water to a concrete slab while it's curing makes it stronger.
posted by LionIndex at 2:19 PM on August 5, 2008

Best answer: use latex acrylic paint instead of water to mix the concrete
posted by hortense at 2:51 PM on August 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

Paint the tubes with Minwax - it'll toughen them up
posted by Calloused_Foot at 3:49 PM on August 5, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks guys, I think hortense is onthe right track here! The other stuff will likely get checked out too, I have a lot of rolls!
posted by Iteki at 12:21 AM on August 6, 2008

Liquid acrylic and cement, not concrete. I don't think you want the aggregate, lime and sand that comes in the concrete. Portland cement is nice and smooth when you mix it. It dries really hard.
posted by Acacia at 2:08 AM on August 6, 2008

Best answer: Cement by itself doesn't have much strength which is why you need to add something like sand to create a matrix. While technically a cement, sand, water mixture is called mortar or grout, calling it concrete isn't wrong. Sand does come in a variety of sizes, some very large and rough, some very small.

Another fun fact in using cement in craft construction is that if you use polystyrene beads for the aggregate, you can create a strong and lightweight structure.
posted by JJ86 at 6:13 AM on August 6, 2008

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