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On the hunt for a paper towel holder but looking for something that will add a tad more character to your home? Today I’m sharing how you can easily create a rustic modern DIY paper towel holder using copper pipe fittings.
If you’re familiar with our blog then you may know I’ve had a copper pipe obsession over the last few years. I’ve used them to make curtain rods, cabinet pulls, a tray, a desk, and shelves, just to name a few. I love how they’re rustic, yet modern, lightweight, fun to assemble for creative projects, and an affordable option to alternate pipe-style decor.
One of the first projects I created when we moved into our tiny home on wheels, is the copper pipe paper towel holder, which you may have seen in one of our RV tours.
Rustic Modern DIY Paper Towel Holder
We had all the supplies needed for this project since I previously bought pipe fittings in bulk or had some leftover from older projects. If you had to buy everything I’d say this would cost $15 or less, or maybe closer to $30 if you also need to buy a pipe cutter, but some hardware stores will cut the pipes for you. You can buy packs of certain fittings at a discount too, which you may be able to use for future projects.
Copper pipe isn’t threaded which is why you’ll see need super glue or epoxy to secure the fittings into one another. You can absolutely use black or galvanized pipe for this project instead, and if you do you won’t need the glue because the pieces should thread together.
Also, while I’m sharing how you can make a paper towel holder with pipes, this project can easily be adapted to make anything else you can think of, such as a toilet paper holder or towel rack. You can see how I made our rustic bathroom tp holder with galvanized pipes here.
I didn’t take the best photos when I made our DIY paper towel holder, but lucky for us we had enough extra copper pipe fittings lying around to create another one. Plus, this time Eric was nice enough to be my model to show you just how easy this paper towel holder is to make, woo-hoo!
- 1/2 inch 90° Elbow
- 1/2 inch pipe cut to 2 inches (cut to the length you need – this is how far it will hang down)
- 1/2 inch male adapter
- 1/2 inch flange
- 1/2 inch pipe cut to 12 inches (cut to the length you need – I recommend cutting 1 inch longer than a roll of paper towels)
- 1/2 inch male/female 90° Elbow (also known as a street elbow)
- 1/2 inch cap
- Pipe Cutter
- Super Glue/Epoxy
- Sandpaper or Steel Wool (optional)
- Clear Coat (optional)
- Wright’s Copper Cream (this is optional but awesome for cleaning copper!)
Here’s a photo with all the pipe fittings labeled:
Cleaning the Copper (optional):
I recently purchased some of this Wright’s Copper Cream because it was only a few bucks on Amazon so I figured it was worth a shot. Holy cow does this stuff clean copper! Not sure I would recommend it on actual copper sinks just yet…
I used it on our Moscow Mules and also tried it on copper pipe fittings and it got them nice and shiny, plus it easily removed all the letters and numbers on them. The copper will still get a patina over time, but this can make them shiny for at least a while. I’ve also heard you can spray copper pipes with clear sealer afterward to prevent a future patina from occurring but haven’t personally tried this.
A few years ago I cleaned some copper pipes with ketchup and salt but it was messy and worked but not nearly as easily or quickly as this cream.
Here’s a photo showing the fittings needed to create this paper towel holder before and after getting cleaned. I honestly did a super quick job and cleaned all the pieces in less than 5 minutes so they’re not perfect, but it at least gives you an idea. Also, if you do use this stuff, make sure to read the directions and use gloves.
After you get your copper all shiny, you can use a clear coat to prevent future fingerprints and oxidation. Just be sure the parts are dry before using them to assemble this paper towel holder or do this after it’s been assembled. Again, this is optional. I cleaned my copper but didn’t seal it because I don’t mind the patina.
Assembling the Copper Pipe DIY Paper Towel Holder
Once you have the parts, assembling the paper towel holder is super easy. Let’s get started!
Screw the Male Adapter (C) into the Flange (D).
Dab the inner edge of the 1/2 inch male adapter (C) with super glue or epoxy and also dab a little glue around the outer edge of the 2-inch pipe you’ll be inserting into it (B). Then push the pipe into the male adapter and hold it in place for about 60 seconds.
The length of this pipe is essentially how far it will hang from the location you install it. We have a pretty tiny kitchen so I didn’t need it to hang all that far down.
Tip: Use Sandpaper or Steel Wool to roughen up the outer or inner areas of the pipe fittings. This will help the glue adhere better.
Push the 90° Elbow (A) on top of the 2-inch pipe (B). Don’t forget the glue! Also, make sure you use the elbow that has female connectors on both sides so that the 1/2 in pipes will fit into both sides.
Push the 12-inch pipe (E), or whatever length you cut, into the other side of the 90° Elbow (A). Again, don’t forget about the glue!
Push the second male/female 90 ° elbow (F) onto the end of the 12-inch pipe (E) with the female end first (it’s the ever-so-slightly larger side). The male side is slightly smaller and you’ll be adding the cap onto this side. You could also use a 45° elbow here instead if you want.
And ya know, don’t forget about glue.
As the final step, you’ll push the cap (G) onto the male-end of the elbow (F), of course adding your glue as usual.
That’s it! All that’s left is to screw the flange into the wall, underside of the cabinet, or ceiling.
Alternate Option without using the second (male/female) Copper Elbow
You can actually skip the male/female elbow if you want and just add the cap onto the edge of your longer pipe. This is what I did because it was a little cleaner and the paper towels never fall off since they bump into the tiny lip of the cap. Even as we drive down the road, the paper towels have always stayed nice and secure. You can see what I mean below:
Here’s our DIY paper towel holder all finished and hanging up in our RV kitchen:
Here’s a quick GIF showing how we made the DIY paper towel holder you see in our RV kitchen:
I hope you found this post helpful, and if you’ve made this or a completely different type of paper towel holder for your tiny home, let us know about it in the comments below!