Making Aluminum Cylinders 101

April 20, 2013

Making 1,000 aluminum cylinders 10″ tall and 2 and 3/8 inches in diameter is a task any me, myself,and I can accomplish single handed following these simple steps.

  • Start with a $35 Carl Paper Cutter which has a circular blade that slides back and forth along the cutting edge. Replacement blades are about $6. After scoring aluminum 1,000 times, the paper cutter still cuts paper cleanly. Click on any photo to enlarge it.
  • Place a 50′ roll of aluminum sheeting that is 10″ wide in a bin at the end of a working table.
  • Pull the free end, curl side up onto the table top and feed it backwards through the slide bar. Pull off 9″ of sheeting, using the scale at the top of the cutting board to measure. Slide the cutter blade over the aluminum sheet in one direction only to score the metal but not to cut it in two. Do not pass the blade back over the same scoring. Pull another 9″ through the slide bar and score another sheet.
  • After scoring 22 sheets or so (1/3 of a roll) bend the aluminum at the last scored place backwards.
  • Bend the aluminum in the opposite direction to pop a sheet free.
  • Repeat the process until all scored sheets are separated. Notice that the aluminum is curled, making it easier to roll into a tube shape. Place the separated sheets in a holding box.
  • Use a jig to hold three rolled aluminum pieces at a time. The one illustrated uses 4 inch long pieces of Schedule 80 Electrical conduit for the base pieces (gray colored conduit) and 12 inch long PVC plumbing pipe (white colored pipe) which have been cut on a miter saw so ends are square. The white pipe has an outside diameter of 2 3/8 inches. The gray pipe has an inside diameter of 2 7/16 inches. The inside exposed edge of the grey conduit and the outside edges of the white pipe can be rounded off using a rasp to make the two pieces slide together more easily. Roll an aluminum sheet over one of the PVC plumbing pipe and stick one end into the larger conduit pipe.
  • Load three rolled aluminum cylinders into the jig.
  • Tear off about 14″ of packaging tape for each cylinder. Stick one end of the tape mid way down the tube and a few inches back of the loose edge. Pull the tape forward to secure the loose edge. Wrap the tape around the cylinder a second time pulling it snug across the loose edge a second time.
  • Remove the aluminum cylinders from the PVC pipes and store them in a box for later use and to carry to the field at chestnut planting time.