DIY Magnetic Paper Towel Holder

I really liked the idea of this magnetic paper towel holder to get my paper towel roll off the counter and out of my way, but I wanted to see if I could make it more functional and for less money by using some things I already had at home.

Magnetic Paper Towel Holder


  • 1/2-inch wooden dowel, cut and sanded to about 18 inches long (mine was thrifted from my local creative reuse store)
  • standard metal bookends (the kind with holes in the middle—mine are from my local creative reuse store, and you could probably find some at a thrift store or yard sale)
  • Strong, thin magnets (I used 6+ neodymium/rare earth 8 x 3mm rounds from Amazon—the exact ones I used aren't available anymore, and larger coin-sized ones would work best anyway)
  • masking tape, duct tape, or strong glue like E6000 or Gorilla Glue (optional)


  1. Put magnets on the bottom of the bookends. At minimum, I'd place one at each of the three ends of its T shape so it stays put. You'll need to use enough magnets that you have to intentionally yank the bookends if you want to move or remove them from the fridge. You can tape or glue the magnets to the bookend if you like, but if your bookends are steel, it's not strictly necessary to do so.
  2. Put the bookends on your fridge with their holes about 12–14 inches apart.
  3. Hold a paper towel roll between the bookends and put the dowel through the roll and both bookends.

Done! That is, unless you want to put in a little more effort and make it so you can grab a single sheet with one hand ...

One-Handed Paper Towel Holder Upgrade


  • A small sheet of low-density foam (mine is soft floral foam from my local creative reuse store) that's about a quarter inch thick, at least 3 inches wide, and no more than 10 inches long[1]
  • Three rubber bands and/or zip ties
  • Two elastic hair ties (these thick hair ones are longer and stronger, so they work especially well)


  1. Wrap the foam around the center of the dowel rod at least one time. Use enough to fill the full volume of a carboard paper towel tube and create enough friction to prevent the paper towel roll from rotating around the dowel rod. If the foam covers more than 10" of the dowel rod, you'll want to cut it down to that width so it won't stick out on either side of the roll.
  2. Using rubber bands and/or zip ties, snugly secure the foam around the dowel rod at both ends and in the center as shown below. I used three rubber bands and one zip tie to make sure the end I shove into the paper towel roll is extra secure.
  3. Shove your paper towel roll onto the foamy dowel rod like so.
  4. Pull one magnetized bookend off the fridge for a moment, put one end of the be-rolled dowel into the hole in the other bookend, and then replace the first bookend so the dowel rod goes through its hole.
  5. Put a hair tie around one end of the dowel and thread it through the bookend hole so it's between the bookend and the paper towel roll as shown below.
  6. Grab the hair tie and twist it once like so:
  7. Stretch the hair tie around the outside of the bookend as shown here:
  8. Repeat steps 5–7 on the other end of the dowel rod.
  9. Congrats! You've MacGyvered a one-handed magnetic paper towel holder. Quickly yank a sheet off to get one at a time (I find it helps to grab it near the corner rather than the center), or pull more slowly to get more sheets before you yank them off.

  1. Packaging foam from anything you've purchased recently could be a good source for such a small sheet of foam. If foam is hard to come by, a length of felt wrapped several times around the dowel or some fluffy batting would probably also do the trick. If all else fails, the $3 sample size of this foam on Etsy should work. ↩︎