How to Make Clear Acrylic Tubes

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Make your own acrylic tubes from resin.
Make your own acrylic tubes from resin. (Image: test tubes image by Paul Hill from Fotolia.com)

Clear acrylic tubes feature thin, sturdy walls and either a flat or rounded base. You can use them as test tubes in a homemade chemistry set, as shooters for mad scientist bars at Halloween parties or fill them with crafting odds and ends like seed beads and glitter. You can, of course, purchase acrylic tubes at countless craft stores, but you can also make them. If you just need a few, making them saves money and uses up leftover resin from other projects.

Things You'll Need

  • ½ inch wide copper tubing
  • Pipe cutters
  • Self-hardening clay
  • 1 inch thick cork mat
  • Empty cereal boxes
  • Scissors
  • Masking tape
  • Cooking spray
  • Resin kit
  • Plastic measuring cups
  • Wooden popsicle sticks
  • Fine sandpaper
  • Water

Clamp your pipe cutters around your copper tubing and spin it around the tube until the tubing separates. Make several 6 inch long tubes this way. You shouldn’t need more than about four copper tubes.

Push the tubes down into a 1 inch thick cork mat, spacing them about 4 inches apart. Sink as little tubing as possible into the cork, but make sure the tubes are perfectly straight and steady. Block up the top end of each tube with a glob of self-hardening clay. Make sure the clay is level with the top of the tube.

Cut up one corner of each of your cereal boxes. Draw rectangles about 6 inches long and 3 or 4 inches wide. Cut out your rectangles and bend them into tubes ¾ inch wide. Secure them with masking tape. Make sure the glossy side of the cardboard is on the inside.

Spray the inside of your cardboard tubes and the outside of the copper tubes with cooking spray. Slide the cardboard tubes over the copper tubes, making sure the copper tubes are centered inside the cardboard tubes. Seal the bottoms of the cardboard tubes to the cork with masking tape. Tuck the tape into the angle between the bottom of the cardboard and the cork and add two more layers over that.

Pour about ¼ cup of resin into a plastic measuring cup and the kit recommended amount of activator into a second cup. Most resins use a one to one ratio, but always read the instructions. Pour the activator into the resin, stirring slowly and gently with a popsicle stick.

Hold your measuring cup over your first cardboard tube. Pour a thin stream of resin into the tube, stopping before the tube overflows. Make sure the top of the copper tube is covered in resin. Move on to the next tube, quickly mixing more resin if the remaining resin doesn’t fill the tube.

Allow the tubes to cure for at least 48 hours. Rip the cardboard tubes away from resin, tearing them from top to bottom. Grip the tubes gently and lift them from the copper tubes in one firm motion. Gently break off any drips or runs at the tops of the tubes.

Run a little cool water over your tubes and sand them with some fine sandpaper, rinsing every few minutes to wash away resin-water slurry. Once the tubes are smooth and free of bumps, sand them while dry to give them a high shine.

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