Quite often our customers ask us for tips and advice related to the telescoping of tube or pipe products. Telescoping is required when the ability to adjust tubing or piping to account for an unknown or constantly-changing width is essential. Examples include adjustable table legs, shower curtains, railing, metal supports, and telescopic camera tripods. Here is some advice you should keep in mind when attempting to telescope tube and pipe:
- Square Tubing is the most commonly used shape when telescoping (.100″ (2.54mm) or 14GA with .083″ (2.1mm) wall).
- To obtain the approximate inside diameter of a tube (if it is not provided), subtract the wall thickness from the outside diameter twice. For example, if the outside diameter is 8″ (203.2mm), and the wall thickness is 1″ (25.4mm), the inner diameter will be 6″ (152.4mm).
- Remember, all tubes have an inside weld seem that needs to be accounted for. This weld will interfere with the telescoping. The only exception to this would be DOM (Drawn over Mandrel) Tube as the inside flash weld has been removed. When using DOM Steel Tubing, you should allow at least .010″ (0.25mm) between the OD (outer diameter) and ID (inner diameter) that you intend to telescope. However, this alone will not guarantee that your tubes will telescope.
- Tubing has OD (outside diameter) and ID (inside diameter) tolerances; these tolerances tend to run larger on OD’s (outer diameters) and smaller on ID’s (inside diameters). Even if you allow .010″, your tube still may not telescope. We recommend purchasing metals for telescoping in-store, where our staff can help you ensure your tubes will telescope as intended.
The Bottom Line
- It is not possible to guarantee that your tubes will telescope. It is recommended that you confirm in person at a local store (when possible) that your tubes will telescope. When choosing the tubes that you want to telescope, be liberal in your size selection. Keep in mind that you may have to do some machining, such as sanding down one of the tubes outside diameters.
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