How to make a pirate's telescope out of paper towel rolls

Updated April 17, 2017

Along with a bandanna, eye patch and plastic sword, a pirate needs a telescope to help in the search for the always elusive treasure. You can set up a crafting station at your next pirate-themed birthday or slumber party and let guests make their own personal telescopes. Or, save this project for a rainy afternoon when your little pirate needs to release some energy. You will be able to save money by reusing a paper towel roll from your recycling bin for your telescope.

Remove any remaining pieces of paper towel from two cardboard paper towel tubes. Make a cut down the entire length of one of the tubes and overlap the cut edges by approximately 1/4-inch, so that a plastic milk jug lid will fit in the end. Place a strip of double-sided tape between the overlapping edges and press to secure.

Paint the outside of the larger tube with black acrylic paint. Paint the outside of the other tube using red acrylic paint. Let the tubes dry and then paint thin stripes using gold acrylic paint around the red tube. Stick a skull and cross bones sticker on the outside in the centre of the black tube.

Slide the red striped tube inside the black tube and leave the smaller tube extended 3 to 4 inches; you will be able to slide this tube in and out of the larger tube to help you adjust your telescope when searching for pirate loot.

Punch a hole near the end of the red striped tube. Thread a 6-inch piece of twine or metallic-coloured yarn through the hole. Tie a knot in the end of the string that is inside the tube and pull the other end taut.

Paint a plastic milk jug cap with gold acrylic paint and let dry. Affix the free end of twine or yarn to the top of the milk cap with hot glue. Place the cap onto the end of the telescope when the telescope is not being used.

Punch two holes on the end of the black part of the telescope that are 1 inch apart. Thread an 18-inch piece of twine or yarn through one hole and tie a knot on the end that is inside the tube. Pull the string taut and thread the other end through the other hole. Tie a knot in the end of yarn inside the tube and use the looped string as a handle for carrying the pirate telescope.


Decorate your pirate telescope with a different paint scheme to add personality but keep the basic red, black and gold colours, which are traditional pirate colours. You can add bling to your telescope by hot-gluing plastic jewels around the larger tube, but leave the smaller tube unadorned so you can slide it back and forth.


Leave the looped string off the telescope if you are making this project for a young child who could get the string around his head and possibly strangle himself.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 cardboard paper towel tubes
  • Scissors
  • Double-sided tape
  • Acrylic paints in black, red and gold
  • Paintbrush
  • Skull and cross bones sticker
  • Handheld hole punch
  • Twine or metallic-coloured yarn
  • Plastic cap from gallon milk jug
  • Hot glue gun
  • Plastic jewels (optional)
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About the Author

Miranda Brumbaugh enjoys covering travel, social issues, foster care, environmental topics, crafting and interior decorating. She has written for various websites, including National Geographic Green Living and Dremel. Brumbaugh studied in Mexico before graduating with a Master of Science in sociology from Valdosta State University.