DIY Paper Towel Holder

Having paper towels readily available in your kitchen is essential for quick cleanups and drying hands.

DIY Paper Towel Holder

But kitchen counters are prime real estate, so a bulky paper towel holder can get in the way. Luckily, you can easily make your own wall-mounted paper towel holder to free up space.

With a few basic tools and materials, you’ll have a custom holder that adds style to your kitchen.

Selecting Materials for Your Holder

The core materials needed to make a paper towel holder are:

  • base – The foundation that holds the roll
  • dowel – The rod that the paper towels wrap around
  • Hardware – Screws, bolts, etc. to assemble the holder

You can use various materials to create your own custom holder. Consider which option works best for your skill level, aesthetics, and budget.


For the base, these materials are popular choices:

  • Wood – Versatile, affordable, and easy to work with. Plywood, MDF, pine boards are all good options.
  • Metal – Adds an industrial vibe. Try using a small sheet of steel or even a flat baking sheet.
  • Concrete – For a modern, sleek look. You can buy a premade form or make your own mold.

Wood is the easiest material for beginners to work with. Pine boards are inexpensive and readily available at hardware stores. Opt for a board that’s around 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch thick so it provides a stable base. Hardwoods like oak and maple also work well.

For concrete, you’ll need to make or buy a form to pour the concrete into as it sets. Making your own concrete base requires more time but allows full customization.


The dowel acts as the rod that holds the paper towels. Good options include:

  • Wood – Affordable and versatile. Maple or oak dowels provide strength.
  • Steel – Industrial aesthetic. Use a steel rod or threaded pipe.
  • Copper – Rustic, antique look. Opt for copper pipes.

Wood dowels are readily available at craft stores and hardware shops. They’re easy to cut to your desired size with a handsaw.

Metal dowels add a modern vibe, but require a hacksaw or pipe cutter to size them. If using steel, sand or file the cut edges smooth so they don’t snag the paper towels.

Hardware and Extras

You’ll also need:

  • Glue or epoxy – To adhere the dowel to the base
  • Drill and bits – To drill holes for inserting the dowel
  • Sandpaper – To smooth rough edges
  • Paint/stain – For decorating the holder
  • Screws or hardware – For mounting the holder

Glue designed for the materials you choose provides the strongest bond. A two-part epoxy works on most materials, including metal, wood, and concrete.

Gather any decorative items before starting so you can personalize your holder. Things like paint, stain, decals, or fabric can customize the final look.

Key Takeaway: Choosing wood for both the base and dowel makes this an easy beginner DIY project.

Prepping and Cutting Parts

With your materials selected, it’s time to start constructing the holder:

Cutting the Base to Size

First, cut your base material to size. The ideal base size depends on the paper towels you intend to use.

Measure the width of your paper towel rolls. Then cut your base at least 1 inch wider than the roll. A square base around 7 to 8 inches wide suits most standard paper towels.

Mark your cuts on the base material with a pencil. Clamp the material securely to a work surface before cutting. Use an appropriate saw for your material:

  • miter saw works well for cutting wood boards
  • Use a hacksaw for cutting metal
  • circular saw can cut concrete forms

Cut slowly and carefully so the edges turn out straight and smooth.

Sizing and Prepping the Dowel

Next, measure and cut the dowel to approximately 1.5 to 2 inches longer than a paper towel tube. Standard paper towel tubes are around 11 inches long, so cut your dowel 12 to 13 inches.

Lightly sand the cut edges of the dowel with fine sandpaper to remove any rough spots. For metal dowels, you may need to file the ends smooth instead.

Wipe away any dust from sanding and prep the dowel with your chosen decorative finishes. For example, you could:

  • Paint or stain wood dowels
  • Use steel wool to polish metal dowels
  • Add decorative caps to the ends of the dowel

Preparing the dowel before assembly makes the process easier.

Assembling Your DIY Paper Towel Holder

With your base and dowel cut to size, it’s time for assembly. Here are some tips:

Drilling Holes in the Base

You’ll need to drill a hole in the center of the base for inserting the dowel.

The hole diameter should match the dowel. For example:

  • Use a 3/4 inch drill bit for a standard 3/4 inch wood dowel
  • For a 1/2 inch steel rod, use a 1/2 inch drill bit

Drill slowly with even pressure. If possible, drill halfway through the base from one side, then flip and complete from the other side. This prevents splintering on the side the drill exits.

Tip: Clamp the base to a secure surface while drilling to prevent it from shifting.

Key Takeaway: Match the size of your drill bit to the dowel diameter for a snug fit when assembling the holder.

Gluing In the Dowel

Insert the dowel into the hole in the base. Add your adhesive around the contact point and in the hole. Follow the adhesive product directions for clamping time.

For the strongest bond:

  • With wood glue, allow 24 hours for the glue to fully cure
  • Two-part epoxies take around 6 to 12 hours to reach maximum strength

Check that the dowel stands vertically straight from the base as the glue dries. Once cured, the two pieces should hold firmly together.

Securing With Hardware (Optional)

For extra strength, use additional hardware to reinforce the bond between base and dowel. Options include:

  • Bolts through both pieces
  • Wood screws if using a wood base
  • L-brackets on the bottom edges

Predrill holes before inserting screws to prevent splitting wood. The glue alone should sufficiently adhere most dowels to the base. But hardware provides added stability, especially for heavier rolls.

Mounting Your Paper Towel Holder

The final step is mounting your holder in the desired spot. Here are some options:


You can use your holder freestanding by adding:

  • Non-slip pads – Stick self-adhesive pads to the base bottom to prevent sliding.
  • Suction cups – Attach cups to the base for a removable but sturdy grip.
  • Weighted object – Place something heavy on the base for stability.

Freestanding holders are great for renters who can’t make permanent changes. Place them where convenient in your kitchen.


Wall mounting your holder frees up counter space. Use:

  • Screws through the back directly into wall studs. Predrill holes in the base.
  • Adhesive hooks like Command Strips. Stick hooks on the wall, then hang the holder from them.
  • Wall-mounted shelf to set your holder on. Attach a floating shelf with brackets.

Mounting on the wall keeps your holder accessible but out of the way. Install it wherever most convenient by your sink or prep areas.

Personalizing Your Paper Towel Holder

Personalize your holder to match your kitchen’s style:

Staining and Painting

For wood holders, apply stains or paints to suit your decor. A dark walnut stain or a pop of bright paint both work. Add painter’s tape around the dowel before painting the base.

Consider coordinating colors with your existing kitchen cabinets and accents. For example, opt for similar wood tones or complementary paint hues.

Decorative Accents

Glue or attach decorative elements like:

  • Fabric cut into shapes and patterns
  • Wallpaper or contact paper cut to size
  • Tiles or commercial mosaic sheets
  • Sea shells, beads, buttons, or other embellishments

You can make your holder as funky or elegant as you wish. Let your creativity run wild!

Etching and Burning

For wood bases, use wood burning tools or etching tools to personalize your holder with designs. Try monograms, shapes, or patterns burned right into the wood. Apply a sealant after burning to protect the designs.

Adding your own special touches makes a handcrafted paper towel holder you’ll love using everyday.

Maintaining and Protecting Your Holder

Follow these tips to ensure your custom holder withstands busy kitchen use:

  • Avoid moisture damage – Seal wood with polyurethane. Don’t place directly next to a sink.
  • Tighten hardware as needed – Check screws and bolts annually, tighten if loose.
  • Clean gently – Use a soft cloth with mild soap and water. Avoid abrasive scrubbers.
  • Touch up finishes – Reapply protective sealants and paint as they wear.

With proper care, your holder should serve your kitchen reliably for many years. Refinish or replace components as needed.


What tools do I need to make a paper towel holder?

The basic tools you need are:

  • Saw (jigsaw, hacksaw, etc) to cut base and dowel
  • Drill with bits to drill dowel hole
  • Sandpaper to smooth cut edges
  • Screwdriver for assembly and mounting
  • Measuring tape

What size should I make the base?

The base should be around 7-8 inches wide to fit standard paper towel rolls. Make it 1 inch wider than your paper towel width. The depth isn’t critical, around 6 inches deep is sufficient.

How do I determine dowel size?

Measure the inner cardboard tube of your paper towel roll. Buy a dowel with the same diameter or slightly smaller to fit snugly into the tube. Standard cardboard tubes are often 0.5 to 0.75 inches in diameter.

What’s the best way to mount the holder?

Mounting with adhesive hooks provides a great removable option. Screws into studs offer the most strength. Go freestanding by adding non-slip pads if you need portable storage.

How can I decorate my paper towel holder?

Staining/painting, adding decorative elements like fabric or tile, and wood burning are all great ways to decorate your holder. Let your creativity run wild!


Creating your own custom paper towel holder is a fun and rewarding DIY project. With some basic materials, tools, and elbow grease, you can build a holder tailored to your kitchen’s style.

Mount your new creation wherever it works best – on the counter, wall, or even as freestanding storage. The ability to personalize the design also makes this a great DIY gift idea for weddings, housewarmings, or any occasion.

Emma Kellam
Emma Kellam

I'm Emma, and I run Towels Edition, a website for fellow home goods enthusiasts who, like me, are passionate about textiles. After working in high-end retail, I was amazed by how little most people (myself included!) know about all the towel options out there.

I research and write all the content myself. Whether it's specialized towels like bar mops, Turkish cotton production methods, or comparing hair towel absorbency, I cover it. My goal is to share my knowledge and enthusiasm to help others.

Running Towels Edition allows me to constantly expand my own expertise too. I love learning about innovations in bamboo fabric or ideal bath towels. It's so rewarding to receive emails thanking me for recommendations that improved my readers' routines.

I want Towels Edition to be the ultimate online towel resource, making this overlooked necessity far more fascinating. My aim is to open people's eyes to how specialty towels can thoroughly enhance hygiene, cleaning, recreation and self-care.