I am making a pirate outfit. I need to make a simple spyglass for it. I am opting for no sew but if I have to I will sew stuff I need for the outfit. This isn't for Halloween, just for fun and I like pirates so.

I only have cardboard and paper and fabric(I suppose I cold knit myself a square and tie it or something since I do have yarn) and the only source I have of cardboard tubes is toilet paper and paper towels. I don't want to waste them simply to get my tubes needed.

However I will store these tubes in a box so that I can use them. I have tape and glue to stick them on with. So how many cardboard tubes will I need to make the telescope and of what sizes?


3 Answers 3


A retracting telescope typically has 3 or 4 segments that retract into one another,

Pirate with 4 section collapsing telescope

although the insecure pirate may feel the need to get a longer one.

Captain Jack Sparrow in a telescope competition, holding a ridiculously long telescope

The key features of the section diameters is that they slide easily past one another but will not fall apart when extended. In other words, you need a "stop" that prevents the larger segment from completely sliding off the next smaller one that's inside.

Assuming you have a method for building that stop, the tubes should ideally have a diameter difference of 1-10mm. A set of tubes with larger size gaps can still be used, but the extended telescope might look sloppier (the cumulative gap will cause more drooping, as in Jack Sparrow's overly long telescope above).


I think paper towel rolls are your best option. Though, you can use straight cardboard to replace the paper towel inerards if you can't wait for them to be used and thrown out. With the roll, start out with the original diameter and use a small ring cut out to fit around the external edge of the front, and internal edge on the back, use another roll and cut down the side so it will fit inside the other; do the same thing with the ends as the prior. Repeat this 3 or 4 times. You should end up with something like this:

enter image description here

You can also make a paper towel roll substitute by crimping the length of one side of a straight cardboard piece until it is round enough. It would also be stronger then a normal roll.


You could get a science toy cardboard telescope kit and decorate it to suit your pirate theme. It would actually work then, but more importantly for you the tubes are sized just right to slide. I've got something very similar which was part of a bigger kit and so effectively cheaper.

I'd use a pale wood-brown paint with darker varnish for the grain, and brass effect paint for rings at the end of the sections.

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