How to Make a Paper Towel Holder

Paper–Towel–Dispenser

Time is a-wasting. The holidays are upon us. If you’re struggling to figure out one more something to build for a gift, then here you go; learn how to make a paper towel holder. This is a versatile piece since it is not permanently mounted to a wall or cabinet. It can be moved and used where it’s needed, and then stored out of site.

I’ve gifted a few of these over the years, and they are always well received. I’ve used different woods, sometimes expensive and figured wood, sometimes simple straight grained domestic wood, and sometimes a mix of both. It just depends on the recipient and where the piece will be used. This one is made with straight grained ash because I’m giving it as a gift to my wife to be used as an accessory to our kitchenette that I recently completed, and that is ash.

Tools required:

  • Table saw
  • Planer (optional)
  • Jointer (optional)
  • Band saw or jigsaw
  • Orbital sander
  • Stationary belt or disc sander (optional, but very helpful)
  • Drill press and a 3/4″ dia. Forstner bit, or equivalent
  • Router with a 1/4″ rad. roundover bit and a 1/16″ rad. roundover bit (you can also sand edges, instead of using the 1/16” bit)
  • Trammel point set (to draw the base’s large circle shape)
  • Bar clamps, 12″ opening
  • Construction notes:

    If you’re struggling to figure out one more something to build for a gift, then here you go; learn how to make a paper towel holder. The only thing to watch for is drill bits drifting when you drill the holes. The best precaution to avoid this is to use an awl to carefully punch center points to help guide the bits as you start drilling the holes. Even so, drill slowly and watch carefully to be sure the bits don’t wander as you drill. Also, it’s essential to drill screw pilot holes in the ends of the center post (B) and stay bars (C) to avoid splitting the end grain when the screws are inserted.

    Step 1. Review this exploded view illustration to get a feel for the dispenser’s design and construction.

    cut list
    Glue–Base

    Step 2. Glue together 3 pieces to create a blank for the base (A). Doing this will make the base a more stable piece that is less likely to warp than if it were a one-piece construction.

    base detail

    Step 3. Layout the holes and circle shape on the base blank. Countersink and drill the screw holes, cut the circle shape, smooth the sawn edges, and then rout the 1/4″ rad. roundover edge.

    center post detail

    Step 4. Cut the center post (B) and stay bar (C) pieces to size. Lay out the center post finger hole and draw the radiused tops of all three pieces. Drill the center post finger hole.

    Rout–Roundover

    Step 5. Use a 1/16″ rad. roundover bit to round over the the edges of the finger hole. This bit may seem unnecessary, but once you have it, you will use it often. It does a super nice job of creating a precise tiny consistent eased-edge looking roundover.

    Alternatively, you can hand sand the edges of the finger hole to make them more finger friendly.

    Cut the rounded top ends of the center post and stay bars. Layout and drill screw pilot holes in the bottom ends of those pieces. Rout the 1/4″ rad. round over edges. Finish sand all the parts.

    Apply–Finish

    Step 6. Apply your favorite finish. I used wipe-on water based polyurethane. It’s fast and durable. Assemble the dispenser and adhere 4 door bumpers to the underside of the base. You’re done, with plenty of time left for gift-wrapping!

    If you’re looking for more ideas we have a wide variety of woodworking projects to choose from. We’ll keep you busy in the shop all year long so make sure to browse the options.

    Discussion
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    28 Responses to “How to Make a Paper Towel Holder”
    1. George

      Why couldn’t you just use a lathe?And turn every think on a lathe,turn your base,and side and middle post.I think I’m going to build one that way.then you wouldn’t need all them tools.

      Reply
      • WWGOA Team

        I believe the method that is described in the article would be quicker, but if you don’t have the necessary tools, then yes, you could build something similar with a lathe.

        Reply
    2. Paul Y

      Thank you – Great idea – Will use walnut and maple – only ones I got right now.

      Reply
    3. Aleni

      Thank you. My year 8 classes (12 year young students) can manage this project. I’m sure they will be excited to construct one for mum. Cheers.

      Reply
    4. michael.chapman

      Looks nice, I might blow out a few of these for Christmas. Using a circle cutting jig will make cutting the base uniform with less sanding. Good looking, simple gift.

      Reply
    5. Gary Bush

      Nice warm-up project.
      Alwaays try to have a fairly simple project to get into motion and the creative edge going. Simple, and productive.

      Thanks

      chiefshomeimprovement.com

      Reply