How to make a periscope with a paper towel roll

Written by contributing writer | 13/05/2017
How to make a periscope with a paper towel roll
Submarines have periscopes sticking up from their masts. (ancient submarine image by Andrew Breeden from

A periscope is a tool used to look over objects or to look at a higher elevation. Periscopes are well known for being installed on submarines to allow the submarine to look above the surface while staying submerged. New periscopes use fibre optic cables to look into small spaces or around multiple corners. These new periscopes are used in surveillance and to search disaster areas. A simple, homemade periscope can be made out of a paper towel roll and two small mirrors.

Use the scissors to cut a circular hole in the side of one paper towel roll about 3/4 of an inch from the end. The hole should be the same size as the diameter of the paper towel roll.

Cut another hole of the same size in the opposite side and opposite end of the paper towel roll.

Cut off each end of the paper towel roll at a 45 degree angle so that the longer portion of the roll at each end still contains the circular hole. When a mirror is held up against the cut end, you should be able to look in the circular hole and see down the inside of the paper towel roll.

Tape a mirror to each 45 degree opening of the paper towel roll. You should be able to look into one of the circular holes and see out the other circular hole.

Cut the other paper towel roll in half then tap each half to the circular holes of the other paper towel roll.

Things you need

  • Scissors/ razor blade
  • 2 paper towel rolls
  • 2 small hand-held mirrors
  • Tape

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