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Shapelock - custom cylinder foot in 5 minutes

Shapelock - custom cylinder foot in 5 minutes

I’ve noticed a lot of widely varying methods for smooth the edge on a DIY pumping cylinder, and I wanted to throw my hat in the ring.

I pump with a gravel cylinder ($6 at Meijer, by the way) which comes with a notoriously sharp edge. It’s very thin-walled and painful to pump in without a foot on there. So, I was looking around the house, trying to McGyver myself something comfortable, and found something even better than I had hoped for - Shapelock plastic.

The manufacturer ( describes it as “modeling clay on steroids,” but that’s just stupid. New, it’s a bag or jar of tiny, white pellets. Dump them in a pot of boiling water, though, and they start to turn clear, then stick together, then be freely shapeable. Let it cool and the stuff is pretty solid. If you don’t like the shape, you can just throw it in the water again, and reshape to your heart’s desire.

So, what I did was:
-I wrapped a piece of lined paper around my cylinder, and marked where the paper overlapped itself, on one of the lines. This gave me a circumference measurement on the page. I also traced the bottom of my cylinder elsewhere on the paper to get a circle the size of the tube’s OD.
-Part two was heating enough Shapelock to do this thing. For this, I guessed. I had this stuff from another project, so it was already formed into parts. I just melted a couple together until it looked right.
-I pulled the silly-putty feeling stuff out of the pan (with tongs, don’t be stupid) and VERY quickly (because it’s still pretty warm) rolled it into a rope. Every so often, I’d lay that rope down on my paper to see if it was the right length - just a bit longer than the circumference I marked earlier.
-When my rope was long enough, I looped it into a circle about the diameter of my cylinder, according to my tracing. I laid that circle down, flattened it a bit with my thumbs, and then pressed the bottom of my cylinder into it.
-The ID of my Shapelock circle was encroaching too much on the inside of my cylinder, so I smooth the inside edge up towards the top of the tube.

After all that, what I ended up with was an air-tight, high-surface-area foot for my cylinder, and a very comfortable pumping experience. I suppose if I was brave and had some more time, I could have let the Shapelock cool JUST enough to be safe, and then inserted into the cylinder for a really customized fit. I don’t advocate that, though, as it sound VERY dangerous.

The Shapelock, by the way, comes in a big tub for $30 or something, or the little “free” sample bag I got for $5 shipping.

Wow, wtg, this Shapelock stuff sounds amazing! Does it feel just like regular plastic when it hardens?


Yeah, it does. It’s very rigid, but since you form it with your hands, completely smooth. I actually just re-made the thing I made yesterday to be more comfortable. Took me about 20 minutes.

Shapelock plastic huh? Great find and very inventive use there of!!

Couple of questions pop to mind for me.

Does it stay clear after it hardens first time or turn back to white?

How many times can you reheat and reform it before degrading it too much?

How much time do you have to form it while setting?

What are the actual temperatures at which it melts and sets?

Anything known about possible toxicity??

I guess I could probably go dig those answers out at their website, but it’d nice to have them in this thread.

Some answers off their website:

*How many times can you reheat and reform it before degrading it too much? = Reusable - Just reheat and remold, endlessly recycle-able.

*What are the actual temperatures at which it melts and sets? = ShapeLock becomes moldable at just 150 degrees Fahrenheit and locks rigidly at Room Temperature.

*Anything known about possible toxicity?? = Safe and Non-Toxic.

Still want answers for:

*Does it stay clear after it hardens first time or turn back to white?

*How much time do you have to form it while setting?

Sorry I didn’t catch this question until now, but I haven’t been on the forums.

It turns white gradually as it hardens. It’s a nice feature, actually; after I formed version 2 of my cylinder foot, there was a “seam” where I had wrapped the ring back on itself, and I wasn’t getting a good seal. I heated it just long enough to see through the edges, then I pressed it against a dinner plate and pulled a good vacuum to flatten out the seam. Now that edge is perfectly smooth, and I didn’t distort the shape at all, since I could tell when I’d heated just the outer surface.

If you let it heat all the way through, to complete transparency, you have around 5-7 minutes of good forming time, I’d say, but it stays flexible (albeit with more of a “memory”) for 10 minutes plus.

It’s really a hell of a product. You can drill it and sand it and all that, too, as long as you don’t let friction heat it to melting point, at which time it starts to goo up and be a real pain in the ass =)

Thanks for the reply cbwtg01!

I agree with you, this stuff sounds truly amazing in it’s potential uses. A great find indeed! Inspires the mind with ideas for all sorts of other projects too. Interesting they say the surface is “slightly self-lubricating”, (read: slippery) like nylon.

One thing I did note is that they ( do not ship outside of the USA, important to mention this here as the forum is visited by many people outside the US too.

Yeah, agreed. I hadn’t even noticed. I ordered the stuff over a year ago for another project entirely, and I was in such a damned hurry, I’m not sure I’d know the website right away if I saw it. =)

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