Make This Fold-Up Paper Towel Holder

Meal preparation and cleanup, spills, and children are just a few of the reasons to have a roll of paper towels on board. But a roll can take up a lot of precious shelf space and the roll won’t stay dry for long in a locker exposed to the bilge. What’s the solution? Hang it up, skipper!

You probably have seen paper towel holders mounted to the underside of kitchen cabinets, so why not mount one under a horizontal surface in your sailboat? Examples are under a side deck, cabinet, or foredeck. This design will even work mounted on a vertical surface like a cabinet or bulkhead.

Before you dismiss the idea as a space waster, take another look. This design uses hinges and rare earth magnets so that you can remove the roll and fold up the arms when you don’t want the holder in the way. You can mount a roll in it when cruising with family and friends or stow the roll and fold up the holder out of the way when you need the extra space. It’s a win-win.

Roll removed and folded arms held by magnets

Materials list

Here are the materials you’ll need to complete this project:

  • 3/4″ x 4″ x 30″ hardwood board in the species of your choice: teak, sapele, and mahogany are all good choices
  • Wood finish of your choice. I recommend one coat of teak, tung, or boiled linseed oil and 3 coats of satin polyurethane varnish
  • (2) 3/4″ x 2-1/2″ non-mortise hinges (Woodcraft H0541C-STB)
  • 12″ x 1″ PVC pipe
  • (4) 5/16″ dia. rare earth magnets (Harbor Freight #67488)
  • (4) #8 oval head stainless steel tapping screws (length appropriate for the thickness of the mounting surface)
  • (4) #8 stainless steel finish washers
  • CA (Super) Glue

Tools list

Here are the tools that you’ll need to complete this project:

  • Miter saw, table saw, or hand saw
  • Band saw or jig saw
  • Drill press or hand drill with 1-1/8″Forstner bit, 5/16″ brad point bit, and 5/32″ twist drill bits
  • Wood chisel or router with 3/8″ or larger straight cutting bit and 3/8″ roundover bit
  • 120 grit and 220 grit sandpaper
  • #2 Phillips head screwdriver

Instructions

You can make this project as simple or as elaborate as you want by adding or removing steps from these instructions for the paper towel holder shown in the pictures.

1. If you’re already a subscriber, download the dimensioned drawing from the Downloads page. If you’re not already a subscriber, it only takes a few minutes to submit your email address with the box at the bottom of this page. Then you’ll get instant access. It’s free and gives you several benefits.

2. With a miter saw, table saw, or hand saw, cut the base and arms to the lengths shown on the drawing.

3. With a band saw or jig saw, round the ends of the arms as shown on the drawing.

4. (Optional) With a router and 3/8″ roundover bit, cut a decorative profile in the edge of the base and round over the edges of the arms as shown on the drawing.

5. With a drill press or hand drill and 1-1/8″ Forstner bit, cut mortises to hold the PVC pipe in the arms as shown on the drawing.

6. With a hammer and chisel or with a router and 3/8″ or larger straight cutting bit, cut a 45° slot in one arm from the mortise to the edge of the arm as shown on the drawing and the picture below.

Round mortise routed to accept PVC pipe. Note the recessed magnet.

7. With a drill press or hand drill and 5/32″ twist bit, drill the four mounting holes where shown on the drawing.

8. Sand all parts smooth and apply the wood finish of your choice.

9. Attach the arms to the base with the hinges where shown on the drawing. Drill pilot holes as necessary for the mounting screws.

10. (Optional) With the hand drill and 5/16″ brad point bit, drill 1/16″ deep holes to recess the rare earth magnets in the arms where shown on the drawing.

11. (Optional) With the hand drill and 5/16″ brad point bit, drill matching 1/16″ deep holes to recess the rare earth magnets in the base where shown on the drawing. TIP: Insert a short, flat head wood screw head first into the recess, fold the arm over, and press so that the tip of the screw marks the base at the center of the matching recess.

12. (Optional) Place a small drop of glue in each recess and press a rare earth magnet in each one, paying attention to the polarity of the magnet pairs so that they attract each other.

13. Position the finished paper towel holder where you want to mount it in your sailboat.

14. With the hand drill and 1/8″ twist bit, use the paper towel holder base as a guide to drill appropriate pilot holes into the mounting surface. Be careful to not drill all of the way through the mounting surface!

15. Mount the paper towel holder with the tapping screws and finish washers.

Finished and mounted paper towel holder. Note the 3 visible recessed magnets.

For more easy woodworking projects like this for your sailboat, see:

Make a Door to Storage Space Under the V Berth

Make a Door for More Storage Under the Galley

Turn a Locker Lid into a Cockpit Table

Add More Cockpit Seating With DIY Stern Perch Seats


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One Comment Add yours

  1. Jeff Miller says:

    Pulled mine out of the weeds today, JUST in time for Alberto! The fresh water will do her good!I’ve got mine strung over the sink with  short line!

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