What's your favourite technique to make tubes?


Well-Known Member
Apr 15, 2004
Republic of San Marino
One of the most challenging works in cardmodeling is, I think, to make good paper tubes. It's not easy to give them the correct shape and, especially, to avoid gaps or angles along the joining line. I've always been searching for new tools and techniques to realize good tubes and I would like to know your tricks.

I'll put here a couple of good ideas that helped me a lot when I was in troubles with tubes:

1) especially for long tubes, where it can be difficult to keep them straight, I found to be helpful if you score with a blade, very lightly, the rear of the piece wit a lot of tiny parallel lines. The 4 holes help to define the limit of the area to be scored. This help a lot when you start to give shape to the tube.


2) After having rolled the part around a cylindrical object of the correct size to give shape to it (knitting needles and nails are perfect for little tubes) put it into a proper sized spring. It has to be exactly of the right diameter or the tube won't close properly. Then put some glue with a toothpick inside the tube. After the glue has hardened you can compress or pull the spring at one side and recover the tube easily. It works perfectly. The trick is to find a spring of the right size. As I never throw away anything (my wife hates me for this) I also have a box with all the springs I could find during my life (from old toys, ballpoint pens ...)
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OK now it's up to you...
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Staff member
Apr 6, 2013
Since I use CAD, I measure the diameter of the tube mandrel, (pen, toothpick, etc.) I am using, calculate the circumference and print out the shape knowing when I wrap it around, the edges should meet up. I then round up the paper in a tube shape, do the same for a gluing strip. I glue one side of the strip first, reshape, the glue the other side of the strip to form the tube, ending up with a tube glued edge to edge along it's long axis. :)
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Rhaven Blaack

Staff member
Jun 12, 2009
For larger tubes, I will use a section of an old (wooden) arrow shaft (about 12" (30 cm) and a thin dense foam mat (like the old cheep mouse pads). I lay the part on the mat and (while pressing the dawl hard on the part and mat) roll the dawl over the part. It forms the tube evenly and smoothly. To close the tube, I too will use a glue strip along the main edge.

For smaller tubes, I will use smaller dawls. I have even used a section of a wire coat hanger as well.

I have found that using the foam mat helps with minimizing creases and unwanted fold lines as well. So long as you apply even pressure while you are rolling the tube, you will have an even and smooth tube.

Since this is a constant issue with most (beginner and even a few advance) model builders, I am going to make this thread a "STICKY".
Firstly, here I always prefer the internal tab over an overt tab. If the kit comes with a tab, it gets cut off at the edge, and if possible with a considerable amount of excess, ideally twice the width. In this way I can use the tab edge as the alignment point when gluing it to the larger cylinder.

Additional cylinder tips:
  • If possible run the metal edge of your ruler (you should have a metal edge ruler) over the inside of the shape along the circumference. This can give you a curl so as to hold the shape. Better for squat cylinders on the order of 2"/5cm or below.
  • An alternative to this method, particularly for longer ones, is to gently roll this part with an object whose curvature closely matches the intended target, a dowel, pvc pipe, pen, bamboo skewer, etc., before gluing, particularly the tab. If there's a choice between slightly larger or slightly smaller, go for the slightly smaller.
  • When gluing use this same curvature tool to help hold the seam while you press the parts together. Ideally, you want the tool to be longer than the cylinder.
  • If possible, make it shorter. Long cylinders (say beyond 15cm/6in) can be hard to do because as much as you try to get the edge to perfectly match, it is hard to get it done across the entire length, particularly if the glue allows the card to stretch or distort. See if there's a natural point where you can cut it down such as a printed seam line along the circumference. Use an appropriate internal join to put the cylinders together afterwards seamlessly.
  • To deal with the occasional dog ear or gap, make a small glue applicator that will deliver just the right amount into the gap from card scrap.
  • As an alternative to using a circular bulkhead to get it into a circular shape, sometimes you can use a rolled up piece of card or paper inserted into the inside once glued and allowed to expand against the walls the way posters do inside poster tubes. Here you do want the rolled up paper to wrap around quite a bit beyond the part's internal circumference (at least twice). If you can glue it in this expanded state so much the better.
There's another trick I used to get the Erick's MX-774 HiRoc right, but that will be lengthy so I'll leave that for later.