All aboard! How to make a telescope and a 4-step pirate eye patch too! 

A homemade gold cardboard telescope next to a black DIY pirate eye patch on a blue background

Equip your little pirates with some swashbuckling swag for a rainy afternoon of play. You can make your own DIY telescope and an eye patch or turn telescope making into a game in itself with this simple and super fun cardboard tubes craft. Read on to find out how to make a telescope and a pirate eye patch with everyday supplies you’ll find in your own home. 


If you are getting the children involved and showing them how to build a telescope, be sure to fully supervise them. For their safety, only adults should handle scissors and pins during the process of telescope making.

Pirate telescope craft equipment 

Before you dive into the pirate world and build your own telescope, there are a few pieces of equipment you will need for the project. Here’s what you need so you can build a telescope:

  • 2 empty tubes of Plenty The Big Extra One (they’re longer than other Plenty paper towels so they’re perfectly suited for telescope making)
  • Scissors
  • Gummed paper tape
  • Paint
  • Craft varnish paint (optional)
  • Paintbrush
  • A stapler
  • A length of string (cotton thread or fine twine), around 40cm
  • Sticky tape
  • Glue
  • Plenty paper towels

Now you have everything together that you need, read on for our simple guide to make your own telescope. 

How to make a telescope – let's build a spyglass, pirate! 

Tape, kitchen paper cardboard, a ruler, pencil, scissors, and paint are on a blue table ready for telescope making.

Every good pirate knows how important a telescope – or spyglass, as they would have called them – is. It is used to spot, ‘land ho!’ and magnify far away objects while on board your pirate ship. To help your children with their imaginative, indoor play, read on for one of our favourite DIY crafts for kids and this 13 easy step-by-step guide for how to make your own DIY telescope:

  1. On a blue table are open, blue-handled scissors with three of the four halves of cardboard tubes. Cut both of the Plenty The Big Extra One tubes in two. We’ll only use three of these four sections – we’ll call them A, B and C. Don’t forget to put the spare piece in the recycling bin!
  2. Two halves of cardboard tubes have been cut lengthwise and are on a blue table next to open scissors. Cut tubes A and B down the middle lengthwise. 
  3. A piece of kitchen paper cardboard cut lengthways is shown partially, tucked inside an uncut piece on a blue background. Slide tube B (cut) inside tube C (the one that has not been cut), letting it overlap around itself, so it gets narrower. Adjust the position so that tube B fits into tube C. The fit should offer some resistance but allow the piece to move in and out. 
  4. A piece of kitchen paper cardboard cut lengthways is partially inside an uncut piece with the cut end stapled together. Move one end of tube B out of tube C and staple the end together (so that it fits in tube C). 
  5. Repeat step 4 on the other end of tube B, so that the piece is stapled at both ends. 
  6. Kitchen paper cardboard cut lengthways is partially inside two other pieces with the cut end stapled together. Repeat steps 3 to 5 with tube A, sliding it into tube B to make it the narrowest of the tubes. 
  7. 2 different width cardboard tubes on a blue background with a single piece of kitchen paper and piece of gummy tape. Remove the stapled tubes (A and B) and cover them individually with the gummed paper tape. To do this, moisten a paper towel and dab it over the gummy side of the tape. Apply the sticky side to the tubes and let them dry.  
  8. 3 different width carboard tubes are painted gold and laid next to a paintbrush, white container, and gold paint. Paint the three tubes in your chosen colour and leave them to dry. If you like, you can then apply a coat of varnish paint to make your pirate spyglass extra shiny. 
  9. A long piece of foil is under a pair of blue-handled scissors with two smaller foil offcuts laid to the right. Cut two strips of aluminium foil and fold them lengthways to get two 2cm wide strips: one about 13.5cm long and the other 11.5cm long. 
  10. 2 different width gold cardboard tubes with foil ends are laid next to a roll of tape and a pair of blue scissors. Wrap them around the two ends of the homemade telescope: one end of tube C and one end of tube A, and secure with sticky tape or glue. 
  11. The 3 gold cardboard tubes have been slid into one another, with foil either end, and string thread through the middle. Now, start telescope building! Slot each tube inside the next, with each tube pulled out almost to its full length. Pass the string through the telescope. 
  12. A close up of one end of the DIY telescope, with the string through the middle next to scissors and a roll of tape. Stretch the string out so it’s taut and secure it at each end with sticky tape inside the tubes. Then, cut off the excess lengths. 
The gold DIY telescope is laid on a blue background below a black DIY fabric and elastic eye patch.

How easy is that? A bit of recycling and upcycling can lead to a whole lot of fun. Now that your homemade telescope building is done, the pirates are nearly ready for their voyage. To add to this pirate telescope craft session, next, get them kitted out with a swashbuckling eye patch. 


Keep Plenty The Big Extra One paper towels on hand to wipe up any little paint spills, as well as to dampen the gummed paper. It’s strong even when wet, so you can reuse the same sheet.

Pirate eye patch equipment 

Eye patches are a classic part of any pirate dressing up outfit, and an obvious addition to your pirate telescope craft session. Here’s what you’ll need after you finish homemade telescope building: 

  • A piece of black fabric or felt, big enough to cut a circle about 9cm in diameter
  • A sauce jar lid or similar to trace your circle
  • A pencil
  • A thin black elastic thread
  • A needle with black thread
  • Dressmaking pins
  • Scissors

How to make a pirate eye patch  

Once you have all the tools you need, it’s time to get your DIY on. Here are three super easy tips to create your own homemade pirate eye patch to wear while playing with your DIY telescope: 

  1. A square of black fabric, circular pin container, elastic, scissors, needle, and thread are laid out on a blue surface. Place your sauce jar lid or similar circular item onto a piece of black fabric or felt and trace the outline of your starting circle onto the fabric.  
  2. A black circle of fabric is laid on a blue surface next to a pair of blue handled scissors. Cut out the circle of fabric using the scissors. It doesn’t need to be super neat; a rustic feel adds to the pirate aesthetic.  
  3. A close up of the folded eye patch fabric. The edge is sewn together over the elastic, laid next to a needle and thread. Fold the circle in half, over the elastic thread.  
  4. The black circle of fabric is close up in the centre, folded in half over the length of elastic laid on a blue surface. Pin the folded circle in place and sew along the curved edge to secure it, then remove the pins. Now your DIY eye patch is ready to wear, you just need to knot the end of the elastic in place.  

You’re all done with our telescope craft: a DIY telescope and an easy pirate eye patch. Now you can make a telescope, it’s time to take to the high seas! In just a handful of easy steps you’ll have your little pirates kitted out for a day of swashbuckling indoor play in no time. 

On the lookout for more easy and fun paper crafts? Check out our article for loads of great ideas! Here’s to smooth sailing. 

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