toilet paper tube shapes

How to Shape Toilet Paper Tubes for Crafts


Toilet paper rolls are an amazing craft material, and they are virtually free! I’ve been crafting with cardboard tubes from paper towels and toilet paper for a couple of years now. My most popular craft is this mandala wall art, followed by the snowflake ornaments, and many others will follow.

I’ve got a lot of questions related to these crafts. It seems that the template for the shapes I make with the TP rolls wasn’t enough. So, I decided to dedicate a post and a video showing you 47 cool shapes you can make with the core and all the related info that will help you make amazing toilet paper rolls arts and crafts.

Let’s dive in!

Table of Contents

  1. Toilet paper tube dimensions
  2. Toilet paper roll vs kitchen towel rolls
  3. How to tell if the cardboard tube is good for crafting
  4. How to make shapes with toilet paper rolls (with examples)
  5. Toilet paper roll shapes video tutorial
  6. Tips for best results
  7. What can you make with toilet paper roll shapes
  8. Toilet paper tube designs and ideas
  9. Final thoughts about cardboard tube shapes

Toilet paper Tube dimensions

If you want to make toilet paper roll art similar to the ones that I shared, you have to know the dimensions of the toilet paper tube because it can affect the symmetry, size, and general aspects of your craft.

What is the cardboard inside toilet paper called?

The tube inside of a toilet paper roll is called the ‘core.’ This is the part that you are going to use for your art and crafts. The cardboard tube or core may differ in size, color, and quality across toilet paper brands.

Are all toilet paper rolls the same size?

Toilet paper rolls differ in size in many aspects, some have more paper on the roll, the tube and the overall roll may be longer, or some cores have a slightly larger or narrower diameter.

What is the diameter of a toilet paper roll core?

The center of a toilet paper roll tube has 5 -.. cm (1.97 – inches). This is the most important metric in my crafts. If the elements don’t have the same diameter, the shapes I make won’t look the same, so when I assemble the craft it will look clumsy. This is very important in crafts where symmetry is key like the mandala art and the snowflakes I mentioned before.

If you’re making toilet paper roll shapes for other purposes like stamps or single elements for decoration the dimensions are not so important.

What is the height of a toilet paper rolls?

The toilet paper tubes I use for crafts have an average height of 9 cm (3.54 inches) and the paper towel roll has cm. The higher the core the more elements I can make with it. I usually cut up the tubes to 1.5 cm (0.60 inches) strips. So, I can make # pieces from a regular TP roll and # from the kitchen towel roll.

What is the width of a toilet paper tube?

The width of the toilet paper tubes I use for my crafts averages 15.5 cm (6.10 inches). The wider the core the larger the diameter and vice versa. Just like the diameter, it’s important that the cores have the same width when you aim for symmetry.

toilet paper tube dimensions

Toilet paper roll vs kitchen towel rolls

Both toilet paper roll cores and the tubes from kitchen towel rolls are perfect for arts and crafts. I don’t prefer one over the other.

I’ve found a local paper towel roll that has an amazing core (good quality and thickness, nice color, white on the inside, light grey on the outer layer). Also, my mom uses a toilet paper roll brand that has a relatively good tube (some have layers that come apart).

I always check the quality of the tube before cutting them up and using them for crafts.

How to tell if the cardboard tube is good for crafting

Both toilet paper rolls and kitchen towel rolls have good and bad quality tubes.

A good tube has:

  • an optimal thickness (easy to shape, not too hard),
  • no separated layers or splits,
  • no smudges and weird stains.
poor quality toilet paper tube

If you’re concerned about your health and the safety of using toilet paper rolls in craft, check out my post on how to sanitize toilet paper rolls.

How to Make Shapes with Toilet Paper Rolls

Step 1 – Pick the tubes that are good for crafting.

Step 2 – Flatten the tubes, then use a ruler and pencil to mark them. Draw lines that divide the cores into 1.5 cm (0.60 inches) strips.

Step 3 – Cut up the toilet paper roll tubes with a bigger scissor.

Step 4 – Start shaping! Use your fingers, other round tools to create nice curves, and a plier to make sharp, clean edges.

PAper tube shape Examples

You can achieve the most amazing result by mixing and matching these shapes. I like to insert smaller elements in bigger shapes or combining two or more shapes to create a new one.

I came up with these 47 different shapes. I haven’t used all of them in crafts, yet. These are not the only shapes that you can make with toilet paper rolls.

Use your creativity! I encourage you to make your own beautiful paper tube shapes!

Basic geometric shapes

toilet paper core shapes

Inspired by nature

cardboard tube shapes

Swirly and wavy

paper towel roll shapes

Snowflakes elements

toilet paper tube shapes

Video Tutorial

Tips for best results

1. Quality tubes

Pick intact toilet paper cores with no separated layers, splits, or stains. You can also make a test. Cut off a strip and start shaping a swirly element. If the layers separate easily when shaping, ditch the tube.

NOTE! Slightly separating layers when shaping is totally normal. BUT! If the layers come apart just after cutting it up, don’t waste your time with the tubes.

2. Cutting

Use a sharp, big scissor for cutting so you can cut clean lines.

Always hold and press together the sides firmly when cutting. If your hand is not strong enough use clips on both sides to keep them in place while cutting.

3. Shaping

I mostly use my hands for shaping and a plier to press the edges for crisp folds. It does make a difference in the overall appearance. Also, my fingers won’t hurt that much after a lot of shaping.

You can also use bamboo barbecue sticks, pencils, and other round objects to create nice swirls and curves.

4. Assembling

I use a hot glue gun to assemble my crafts. It has a strong grip and dries fast. You can use other craft glues that have a strong grip and are suitable for cardboard. But you may need to clip them while drying so they won’t move.

5. Painting

You should pick the paint based on which phase you want to paint your TP tube craft.

Watercolors and ink are the best for painting toilet paper roll shapes. They won’t make the cardboard thicker like tempera or acrylic paint. They are perfect for painting the tubes before cutting or shaping. However, small cracks may also appear especially on the curved or rolled elements.

If you want to paint your art project after you assembled it, you can use acrylic paint. It has a good covering and will make them more firm, but applying it is time-consuming if your craft is very complex. Spray paint is better for painting intricate designs.



The most common things you can make with toilet paper rolls shapes are arts, crafts, stamps.

They are perfect to create complex art pieces, also as decorative elements for other craft projects, or even home decor objects like wall art, baskets, ornaments, coasters, placemats, etc.

Toilet paper roll designs and ideas

I’ve gathered a few cool ideas to create art and other craft ideas to inspire you. I currently have two crafts, but I have a couple of more planned out and soon I’ll post them on the blog, so if you’re interested stay tuned!

  1. Mandala wall art
  2. Snowflake ornaments
  3. Flower of life wall decor by Creativity Hero
  4. Mirror wall art by Simply Bloom
  5. Beautiful cardboard rose by Origami Tree
  6. Recycled basket by Ecobrisa DIY
  7. Mini hat ornament by Salvage Sister and Mister
  8. Spooky candles by Jessie Daye
  9. Christmas wreath by Live for Less
  10. Gift boxes by Easy Peasy Creative

These are just some of my favorites, but you can find other amazing toilet paper roll crafts on Pinterest or Google.

Final thoughts about cardboard tube shapes

Creating toilet paper roll crafts and art is easy and cheap. You should never throw out the cardboard tubes from kitchen towels and toilet paper rolls because they are one of the most versatile ‘at-home’ craft materials you can have,

I hope this post will inspire you to make amazing and inexpensive crafts. You just need to collect a few cores and grab you hot glue gun.

Soon I will post other crafts for Halloween and Christmas using these shapes in new ways.

Do you collect toilet paper rolls for crafts? What crafts would you like to see me make with toilet paper tubes? Leave a comment!

toilet paper roll core shapes


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