How to Build a PVC Periscope

Timothy Boyer

A PVC periscope is a fun craft project that allows you to peer over walls and around corners. It basically works by bouncing light though a tube with a mirror at each end.

Long periscopes require a magnifying lens system at the viewing port.

The mirrors are tilted at 45-degree angles so that the reflected light from an object that is out of sight bounces from the upper mirror down to the lower mirror and then to your eye.

  1. Heat two cosmetic compact cases in a pot of hot water. Typically, compact mirrors are held in place with just a spot of glue on the back. The hot water will soften the glue. Remove the two mirrors.

  2. Place two 2-inch inner diameter PVC pipe elbows beside each other; treat the elbows identically.

  3. Apply adhesive putty to the top and bottom back edges of both mirrors. Place the mirrors inside the PVC elbow joints so that each mirror sticks to the bend of the elbow. Adjust each mirror so that they rest at a 45-degree angle inside the PVC elbows.

  4. Connect one PVC elbow/mirror to one end of an 18-inch-long 2-inch outer diameter PVC pipe. The PVC pipe will fit within the PVC elbow. Connect the remaining elbow/mirror to the other end of the PVC pipe. Orient the elbows with the bottom elbow facing you and the top elbow pointing away from you. The periscope is now complete and ready for viewing through the bottom elbow.

  5. Tip

    The longer the main body of the periscope tube, the smaller the view will be. Try differing lengths of PVC pipe to determine the best viewing range.


    Hot water is a burn hazard. Adult supervision is needed when heating the cosmetic compacts to remove the mirrors.