Creative Ways to Reuse Mailing Tubes

May 25, 2016 by Erin Behan

Behold the humble cardboard mailing tube, a practical way to send artwork, posters, blueprints, and other large pieces of paper that you don’t want to mail flat or fold. But what to do with the shipping tube once it’s reached its destination? First things first: Don’t throw that tube away. The heavy-duty cylinders are a do-it-yourselfers’ dream, and ideas for reusing them are seemingly endless — and often kid-friendly.

Creative waus to Reuse Mailing Tubes

Idea No. 1: As a ramp for cars, balls or other rolling things.

Use the tubes to make tunnels and ramps for die-cast cars or other toys with wheels. This can be as simple as leaning the tube or tubes up against a table or chair and sending the cars down via gravity, one of nature’s great child-entertainment tools. For another variation, found at A Happy Wanderer, cut the tubes in half lengthwise and affix them at intervals to a large piece of cardboard so that as balls or cars travel down one tube, they fall to the next one.

Creative waus to Reuse Mailing Tubes

Idea No. 2: As storage displays for Matchbox cars, wine bottles, or pens and pencils.

Glue, tape or otherwise affix enough cardboard tubes together and you have a pretty nifty place to store things. The crafty ones over at Frugal Fun for Boys created this ingenious Matchbox car storage solution that mimics higher-end, store-bought parking garages. Then there’s this sophisticated wine rack idea from Design Sponge, in which a mailing tube is cut, glued, taped, and felted to craft a modern-looking countertop wine holder. For a paper-on-paper project, take a cue from Damask Love and make a mail tube pencil case. It’s as easy as picking out your favorite colorful cardstock and patterned papers and going to town (well, almost).

Creative waus to Reuse Mailing Tubes

Idea No. 3: As the base for some imaginative creatures.

You probably won’t be making the beautifully intricate tableaus inside mailing tubes like artist Anastassia Elias does, but don’t let that stop you from using tubes to create something fanciful. Take a bit of inspiration from Crafts by Amanda and make just about the cutest gnomes on the planet using only a tube, paper, and yarn. Or follow Molly Moo, who has a seemingly endless supply of tube creatures; our favorites are the ninjas that come alive with just paint, marker and drinking straws.

SHOP AT to buy your mailing tubes and cardstock.

Erin Behan

Written by Erin Behan

Erin Behan is an L.A.-based writer and editor who considers fine paper one of life's little pleasures.


Visit Distinct Papers to buy high-quality paper or card stock for your next project or to find the right copy paper, correspondence stationery and envelopes.


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