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View Full Version : Best way (or tool) to open a shipping tube from onlinemetals.com?



doorknob
06-17-2010, 06:48 PM
I recently placed a couple of orders for aluminum stock from onlinemetals.com. Each shipment came packed in a sturdy, heavy cardboard shipping tube, capped at each end by a round block of wood that is stapled multiple times to the tube.

The tubing makes a good holder for the stock, so I'd like to find a good way to open up one end by removing the block of wood, without tearing up the end of the tube (or my hands, or the metal) in the process.

So far I've tried various poking, prying, and pulling tools (such as screwdrivers - yes, I know that screwdrivers are for driving screws and not for poking, prying, or pulling staples) - I have several cuts and bruises on my hands to show for it.

I have also tried using a pocket knife to scribe a circumferential line about an inch below the mouth of the tube and then trying to pull off the cardboard layer by layer. Tedious, time consuming, and not particularly effective either.

Finally, when neither of those approaches worked, I've tried hacking away at the cardboard with my knife like a crazed Jack-the-Ripper wannabe (which eventually worked, but now the end of the tube is pretty well torn up).

I have avoided taking a Sawzall to it (or putting it in the bandsaw) both because that seemed like overkill, and also because I'd like to avoid accidentally cutting into the metal stock.

There must be a better way, a tool or a technique that I can use when I get my next shipment... Suggestions are welcome...

mochinist
06-17-2010, 06:52 PM
I just walk over to my vertical bandsaw and cut right below the lowest staple, never hit the metal inside the tube yet and I've done it hundreds of times.

mbensema
06-17-2010, 06:56 PM
I do the same as Mochinist.

ftownroe
06-17-2010, 07:02 PM
I find the same challenge when encountering the dreaded cardboard shipping tube. The aproaches that have worked best for me are to use some dental tools that I am lucky enough to have acquired over the years. They are designed for prying out teeth when doing an extraction and are very heavy duty. More commonly available tools that also work are "Fencing Pliers". These have pincers at the top and a curved tapered spike on one edge that are good at getting under the staples and are available at all the major home stores. What also works, but sacrifices some of the tube is the Black and Decker Versa tool saw. It is small enough to safely use one handed and cuts through even the thickest cardboard tube with relative ease.

Tony Ennis
06-17-2010, 07:03 PM
Chuck it in the 4-jaw, use a steady, and part the end.





Or something.

doorknob
06-17-2010, 07:08 PM
I guess that I've been too timid in my approach...

Next time I get one, I'm gonna let the bandsaw rip away...

PixMan
06-17-2010, 07:26 PM
I always liked to keep the length of the cardboard tube so I had a special "prydriver" (screwdriver) that I used to pry up the staples, then pulled them out with pump pliers.

Yes, it takes longer but I have tubes from 12 ft long stock that I can still cut in half and send out 6 foot-long pieces if need be.

oldbikerdude37
06-17-2010, 07:26 PM
when we would sell crome shaft for hydraulic cylinders we would saw it in the cardboard tube so the dirty saw vice jaws did no mar it. I can see why you want to save it, its good to keep some around.

Rookie machinist
06-17-2010, 07:30 PM
Chop saw works good also jus cut right below the staples.

JanvanSaane
06-17-2010, 07:38 PM
I cut it right below the staples that way I still have a closable container. Jan

lugnut
06-17-2010, 07:47 PM
Sounds like Online Metals have resoved thier packaging problem. I've read several times that folks where getting empty packages that were suppose to be filled with metal stock. :D

mototed
06-17-2010, 07:54 PM
I always use the bandsaw. Helps clean the blade.

914Wilhelm
06-17-2010, 08:13 PM
Drill a small hole in the side, squirt in some starting fluid, then hold match to the hole. Opens the tube without problem.

oldbikerdude37
06-17-2010, 08:18 PM
Drill a small hole in the side, squirt in some starting fluid, then hold match to the hole. Opens the tube without problem.

LOL this thread is fun now.

Errol Groff
06-17-2010, 09:19 PM
If you were to ever receive a mailing tube from me you would probably find it clearly marked on each end "OPEN OTHER END ONLY!" Just my slightly warped sense of humor.

Errol Groff

rockrat
06-17-2010, 10:50 PM
I toss it on the fire and burn it off. But that would void the use of the tube again wouldn't it. :)

I also push it through the bandsaw as noted earlier.

rock~

Errol Groff
06-17-2010, 10:54 PM
How about drill and tap a hole in the side of the tube just below the end plug. Install a zerk fitting and pump greae in until the end cap blows off?

Errol Groff

Liger Zero
06-17-2010, 11:09 PM
Drill a small hole in the side, squirt in some starting fluid, then hold match to the hole. Opens the tube without problem.

Now we're talking. :D

doorknob
06-17-2010, 11:13 PM
I have created a monster...

:)

RB211
06-17-2010, 11:38 PM
No no no, you need to fill the tube with Acetylene, get some canon fuse, light it, run away.

JRouche
06-18-2010, 12:55 AM
You guys must be buying small amounts of "tube" supplies. Cause there is no way I could hold up a 3" dia X 6 ft tube of metal on the bandsaw.

When it lands on the driveway I just go out there with the battery powered saw and cut the end of the tube off. Grab the other end and drag the tube off the materiel. Why try to mess with the bandsaw? Sawzalls were meant for stuff like this. And even if I had to saw a piece of steel that was really long Id bring the bandsaw (milwaukee band saw) to the work, not the work to the saw.

But for quick chops of material that was just dropped on the driveway Ill carry the chop saw out there and cut it up to fit in the garage. They usually come in 20 ft sections and I dont have the space for that.

Heck, Im pretty sure I could cut the end off a shipping tube faster and with less work with my tree trimmer then wrangling the entire package up to the band saw. . Its just wood in a less compressed form. KISS method always works.

OH!! And I have tried to remove the caps. Using picks and screw drivers to surface the stapes, and pliers, side cutters, all that. Cause I wanted to keep the super shipping tube. More work then it was worth. Slice off the inch of one end and its still a nice tube. Seems like a shame to throw them out. They are very durable. JR

doctor demo
06-18-2010, 01:01 AM
Use a hole saw to cut the wood plug out of one end, or if You don't have the proper size hole saw You could use a tubing cutter behind the staples....or if You don't have a tube cutter You could mill down the staples flush with the wood and then when You use the starting fluid the plug will travel farther with less risk of hurting the barrel:D

Or just use the band saw.




Steve

Arcane
06-18-2010, 01:12 AM
You know, somebody is gonna try the starting fluid trick now that it's been mentioned. I can hear them now...far in the distance..."Here! Hold my beer and watch this..." :D

Frank Ford
06-18-2010, 01:31 AM
You can also cut it in the middle. I do that on a six foot tube to get two solid end tubes to hold three-foot sections. No big deal - just roll the tube as you cut with a hacksaw:

http://www.frets.com/HomeShopTech/ShopTips/182.jpg

b2u44
06-18-2010, 02:16 AM
With all this talk about pulling staples and wood blocks, I'm surprised no one has started cursing those darned stamped metal plugs that they stick in the tubes, which can be seen in Frank's photo. First time I saw one, I got it out by twisting and wrapping it around a pair of pliers. Second time I used a hacksaw through the cardboard. Perhaps a laser or plasma-cutter should be used next time.

Harvey Melvin Richards
06-18-2010, 12:01 PM
I use to curse those stapled end plugs in tubes I would get from McMaster. My last shipment had a screw cap of some sort. I don't think it took any tools to open.

Alistair Hosie
06-18-2010, 12:17 PM
Not bring rude, but anyone struggling to overcome this type of problem is heading for a shock when they come to tackle engineering/ machining :D Alistair

Tony Ennis
06-18-2010, 12:20 PM
Alistair, you of all people should know how badly cardboard work-hardens.

dave5605
06-18-2010, 12:24 PM
Sounds like a room full of engineers convening a taskforce looking for a problem that isn't there. :rolleyes:

I just take a pair of dykes and grab the middle of the staple and cut it then pull out the two pieces.

As for the aluminum caps I just bend the prongs straight and pull the staples out.


Then there are the ones I got driveshafts in that have 1-1/2" thick wood plugs put in with drywall screws. Zip the screws out and shake the tube to pop the plug out.

saltmine
06-18-2010, 04:40 PM
I usually wrap about a foot of Detcord around the tube, below the staples, and put the fire out after the shot. It's rough on the shipping tube, but never seems to damage the metal.


Or....I just let my Grand Niece play with it for ten minutes, and the plugs on both ends are gone.

Fasttrack
06-18-2010, 05:11 PM
Sounds like a room full of engineers convening a taskforce looking for a problem that isn't there. :rolleyes:



LMAO

I'm with Tony. I think the best way is to chuck her up in a four jaw and just part the end off. Don't worry about a steady rest. Use plenty of cutting oil and do it at about 9000 rpm. That should ensure an even distribution of oil on your apron, face and surrounding area.

doorknob
06-18-2010, 06:26 PM
Wow, this is a tough audience...

:)


For your continuing entertainment, here are the offending cardboard tubes. I wasn't kidding when I described my Jack-the-Ripper approach. Next time I'll know better.

The bigger tube is 6.500" in diameter (with a tolerance of plus or minus a tenth). The smaller guy has a diameter of 4.000" (same tolerances).

Neither one will fit on my HF 7x10 lathe (which I do not even have - but I saw one once in the store, which makes me an Internet expert on them). So the det cord approach sounds like it is more practical than using the 4-jaw chuck (which I also do not have) and parting it off...


http://i56.photobucket.com/albums/g181/largetype/cardboardtubes.jpg

Fasttrack
06-18-2010, 06:39 PM
Wow, this is a tough audience...

:)


For your continuing entertainment, here are the offending cardboard tubes. I wasn't kidding when I described my Jack-the-Ripper approach. Next time I'll know better.

The bigger tube is 6.500" in diameter (with a tolerance of plus or minus a tenth). The smaller guy has a diameter of 4.000" (same tolerances).

Neither one will fit on my HF 7x10 lathe (which I do not even have - but I saw one once in the store, which makes me an Internet expert on them). So the det cord approach sounds like it is more practical than using the 4-jaw chuck (which I also do not have) and parting it off...




:D You're a good sport, Doorknob. I think those tubes are a PITA, too. I wouldn't hesitate to use a sawzall or whatever you have handy to cut them open. It ain't over-kill ;)

Paul Alciatore
06-19-2010, 01:54 AM
Just take it to the nearest hospital and put it in the MRI for a few seconds. Pop go the staples.

Errr, I hope it was aluminum or brass in the tube.

oldbikerdude37
06-19-2010, 02:02 AM
this thread is verry funny , i like it.

beanbag
06-19-2010, 02:51 AM
3 axis industrial laser cutter or waterjet will cleanly cut the tube

tmc_31
06-19-2010, 10:04 AM
doorknob,

Pull staples, insert lag screw in center of wood plug, pull plug.

Tim

b2u44
06-19-2010, 12:13 PM
tmc is onto something, but rather than pulling the staples, just put lag-eyes in both ends of the tube assembly, chain one end to a tree and the other to the back bumper of your vehicle. Then just drive away.

PTSideshow
06-19-2010, 02:44 PM
doorknob,

Pull staples, insert lag screw in center of wood plug, pull plug.

Tim I do the same as above, only I use an eye screw large dia hole.

Works every time!

No Drama, No fun

No ambulance ride to pay for, no bill from emergency room and then the doctors.

No police or fire dept

No reports

No overnight stay in the local cop shop

No Bill from the volunteer FD if that's what you have.

No payments to neighbors for repairs or emotional trauma they suffered when you used way to much starting fluid and blew all the windows out in their house and cars/trucks! And everybody that was at the graduation parties cars :eek:

No Lawyers fee's.

Ends up with more money to buy more metal to do it all over again!;)

Paul Alciatore
06-19-2010, 02:48 PM
Seriously, how about a large sized tubing cutter? Use it on the plugged end, just past the last staple. The cut should be dead clean for reuse.

Carld
06-19-2010, 03:28 PM
How about a shotgun at 10 feet. The last guy I worked for could have used his .50 quad machine guns to open it up for you. Oh, and another friend could use the cannon on his Stewart tank to open it.

RussZHC
06-19-2010, 09:13 PM
I too like the direction this thread has taken, my vote would be using a grinder to remove the exposed flat tops of the staples then use the lag bolt idea to pull the wooden plug. And it works for the metal end caps too :D

Tim Clarke
06-19-2010, 09:44 PM
You guys are all working too hard. I'd give the thing to Arthur, my wife's 8lb Poodle. He'd get busy and shred the tube in about 20 minutes. For comparison, he can take all the fur off a brand new tennis ball in about the same time. With teeth and jaws like that, imagine if he were 80lbs, or so.

TC