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Copycat TP and Hand Towel Holders

Finished TP holder in all its glory!

This project is definitely outside my wheel house, but once I came across the TP and hand towel holders on a Danish décor website, I had to have them. They are simple, yet offer a way to warm up my otherwise bright powder room. I patiently waited until the items were back in stock and had everything in my cart, when the shipping cost made me stop.

Neither item was large and since I’ve ordered from overseas many times, I wasn’t expecting the €64 price tag. The shipping was more than both items I wanted! I couldn’t justify that kind of cost, so I asked my husband Rob for assistance creating these gorgeous accessories.

Like I said, I don’t know anything about leatherworking and only a rudimentary knowledge of woodworking. This meant lots of planning and a stop at Tandy Leather for assistance from an associate – but we got it done and they turned out great! I’m going to break this up into steps for making the toilet paper holder and the towel holder to keep it simple.

We still ended up spending a decent amount of money on supplies and I’m going to list them all below. I’m breaking it up into things we already had and items we purchased specifically for this project. Without all our larger tools, this project would have been more difficult, but still doable so I want to be upfront about what you need.

Items we already owned
Screwdriver with multiple bits
Finishing nail
Sharp scissors
Bona Mega ONE floor finish
Miter saw
Table saw
Jig made of scraps
Items we purchased
3/4″ oak dowel for TP holder
1″ oak dowel for towel holder
Sheet rock anchors
Epoxy to attach studs
4mm buttonhole punch
XS button studs
1/2″ veg tanned leather
Leather finish
From left to right: 7″ dowel, 3″ dowel, and towel holder.

Toilet Paper Holder Process

The toilet paper holder had many components that needed solving before we could start like: how to attach it to the wall seamlessly, how to attach the leather to the top dowel, and what type of fastener would be ideal for attaching the leather to the bottom dowel. Once we figured that out, we got to building!

First thing we did was cut our 3/4″ dowel into a 3″ piece (the part that attaches to the wall) and a 7″ piece (for the part the TP roll sits on) using the miter saw. Next, we needed to cut a slot in the 3″ piece for the leather to slide into. This required making a jig for our table saw’s crosscut sled to move the dowel piece forward through the blade without getting shot across the room when it hit the blade — also known as kickback, which is very dangerous. We made the slot 1/2″ deep to match the width of the leather strap.

1/4″ diameter hole for button studs to be epoxied in.

Next, we moved to our inherited drill press and drilled holes on either end of the 7″ dowel that were 1/4″ in diameter and 0.1″ deep. These holes are where the leather button studs will be secured with epoxy. We also drilled a pilot hole into the 3″ dowel using an 1/8″ drill bit. Using a hand drill, we also drilled a small pilot hole to the underside of the 3″ dowel where the leather will slide in to, this was to make it easier to hammer in our finish nail that will hold the leather in place.

At this point I just needed to sand and apply a finish to the dowels! We had some floor finish on hand, so we used that. The Bona Mega ONE is a water based finish, so it doesn’t create the super yellow tint that is typical of other more traditional polyurethane floor finishes. I sanded between coats using 220 grit sandpaper and moved on to epoxying the button studs into the small holes we drilled on the longer dowel. This took overnight to cure and I worked on the leather piece while I waited.

Since I purchased a 1/2″ wide vegetable tanned leather strip, it was a surprisingly quick piece of the TP holder to finish. All I had to do was cut the leather to my desired length (14″) and punch the holes in the ends where the button studs would fit. All the tools required for this part is listed in the table above. I did one extra step, which was applying an acrylic coating to the leather to prevent it from changing color over time. The dry time was really fast, so applying 2 coats only took 30 min or so.

Epoxied button studs and matching hole punched in the leather.
Screw threaded into the top dowel of the TP holder and corresponding anchor.

Assembly time! I slid the leather piece into the slot we made in the 3″ dowel and secured it at the halfway point using a finishing nail I found laying around (always good to keep random items on hand). We then threaded our mounting screw (with the head chopped off using an rotary tool or hack saw) to the back of the same dowel so it would basically turn the dowel into a giant screw to attach to the wall. This step actually required a few side-steps because we needed to first chop the head off of a regular screw (since the dowel acts as the screw head) and we also needed to tap the dowel.

Once the screw was threaded onto the dowel piece, we then screwed the entire piece into the wall (but first you’ll have to insert a wall anchor). The bottom dowel was attached to the leather using the button studs and that was it! Now, on to the much easier towel holder.

Towel Holder Process

Finished towel holder in action!

The towel nub was a much easier project, but there’s a few steps that need to be done in order to make sure the project goes smoothly. First, we used a larger diameter oak dowel (1″) to allow us more space to cut the notch for the towel loop to rest. Second, the notch needs to be cut BEFORE making the nub to size, otherwise you’ll be trying to cut notches in a 1″ piece of wood! Much more difficult and dangerous to handle when using power tools.

We cut the first notch into the dowel using the miter saw to determine how low the notch would go (so we cut with the dowel piece laying flat). The second cut required using our same homemade jig using a modified crosscut sled on the table saw and standing the dowel on end to cut out how long the notch would be. Once the notch was cut out, the dowel was cut to length (about 1″).

Those steps were the most technical and the only parts that really differed from the TP holder. We still drilled a pilot hole in the back, sanded, finished, and used the same technique for inserting the screw.

I am really pleased with how this project turned out, and enjoyed working with a medium I don’t normally dabble in. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments!


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