To make spiles to tap into maple trees, cut 1/4- to 1/2-inch metal or plastic tubing into approximately 3-inch sections. Shave one end to pound into the tree, and flare an end to hold the bucket. Spiles can be reused each year.
Spiles, or taps, are tubes that are pounded into maple trees in late winter to collect sap that begins to flow as the weather warms in the spring. The sap is boiled to produce maple syrup. All varieties of maple trees can be tapped, including sugar maples, red maples and box elders, but the sap from sugar maples contains the highest concentration of sugar. Other species, such as walnut, birch and sycamore, can also be tapped using homemade spiles.
One-quarter-inch PEX or PVC tubing, which is normally used in plumbing applications and sold at home improvement stores, is inexpensive and suitable for making spiles. Cut the tubing into 3-inch lengths using tin snips, a PVC cutter or a hack saw. Use a knife to shave one end to the point for easier insertion into the tree.
Spiles made from metal tubing may be easier to insert into the tree. Three-eighths-inch aluminum or copper is acceptable, though copper is toxic to trees and must be removed at the end of each season.