It’s adorable to see kids peek through TP and paper towel tubes as if they were on a treasure hunt.  Well, we are going to take those tubes and kick them up a notch by making a retractable telescope.

Telescope Main

Supplies you’ll need:

  • Paper towel tube
  • Toilet paper tube
  • Craft knife
  • Scissors
  • Brads, 4 (Example)
  • 1/8” hole punch
  • Tape
  • Paint or markers
  • Ruler


  1. Cut the paper towel tube so that one piece is 5” long.  The other piece will be about 6”.  To help make this tutorial not so lengthy we’ll code our tubes as following: A= Inner 6” tube, B= Middle 5” tube, and C= Outer TP tube (left uncut).
  2. To get the tubes to nest in each other, cut a vertical strip off of A that is ¾” wide.  Do the same for B with a 3/8” wide strip.  Telescope Cut  Use tape to close the tubes back up.
  3. Cut two narrow triangles, 1” tall, on one end of A.  Make sure the triangles are on opposite sides of the tube.  Telescope Triangle This is to give some extra room for the brads.
  4. Prepare the “rails” on B and C by placing B inside of C then punch a hole an inch in from the edge where the two tubes meet.  Punch another hole on the opposite side.  Remove B from C.
  5. Mark a straight line from C’s holes to the top edge.  Punch a hole on each line at the top.  C should have 4 holes punched into them.  Cut a 1/8” wide strip in between the top and bottom holes.  (Cutting a straight line with a craft knife first makes this easier.)  Repeat on the opposite side.
  6.  Place A into B and repeat steps 4 and 5 (this time B is A and C is B).  Make sure the holes you make are about an inch away from the holes made in steps 4 and 5.  By now, tube A should have 2 holes, B will have 2 holes and 2 rails, and C has just 2 rails.
  7. Now it’s time to decorate.  Color your telescope and allow it to dry before assembling.
  8. To assemble, place A in B.  Line the holes in A with the rails of B and place a metal brad in each.  When flattening your brad, make sure to flatten the tabs horizontally.  Placing a piece of tape on just one of the tabs to the inside of the tube helps keep it horizontal and loose enough to slide.  Slide tube A up half way and place B in C, lining up the holes of B with the C rails.  Telescope BradsAdd your brads and then you’re done.

Are your kiddos impressed?  We smell a treasure hunt in your near future!

Telescope In
Telescope Retracted