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How do I measure a paper tube or paper core?
Last Updated: 09/12/2016

Paper tubes and paper cores have 4 parts:

1. Inside diameter
2. Wall thickness
3. Outside diameter
4. Length

Definition: a straight line passing from side to side through the center of a body or figure, especially a circle or sphere.

1. Inside diameter
Imagine yourself looking through the inside of a wrapping paper tube. The circular end that you're looking through is the inside diameter. Inside diameter is often abbreviated "ID". It can be measured with a ruler, but for a more accurate measurement, tools known as calipers or micrometers should be used. The ID is measured from the inside of one side of the tube to the inside of the other side of the tube. Remember, only measure the inside of the hole.

2. Wall thickness
Paper tubes are made up of multiple plies, or layers, of paper that has been glued together. The wall thickness is the thickness of all of the plies of paper glued together. The wall thickness is always consistent all the way around the tube.

3. Outside diameter
The outside diameter is the total distance from one side of the tube to the other side. Outside diameter is often abbreviated "OD". If you know the ID and wall thickness, you can calculate the OD like this:

ID = 3"
Wall thickness = .125"

ID + wall thickness + wall thickness
3" + .125" + .125" = 3.25" OD

4. Length
The length of a paper tube or core is how long it is. Because lengths are often much longer than IDs and ODs, a tape measure is the most common tool to measure this dimension. Most paper tubes and cores cut with a saw have a length tolerance that may fluctuate +/- .250". This tolerance increases as the tube length increases. Tubes cut with a circular blade / knife have a much smaller tolerance of +/- .030".

The end use of the paper tube or paper core will determine which dimensions are most critical.

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