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The 2-Way Tube

A paradoxical object. The 2-Way Tube is one simple object that can be either a tall thin tube or a short fat tube ... one or the other, but not both at the same time.

This page shows you how to fold and assemble the 2-Way Tube from ordinary A4 photocopy paper. To begin this project you need 2 sheets of A4 paper (both the same colour) and a flat hard surface to rest on. A table-top is ideal but a large book will do.

You make the 2-Way Tube by following the step-by-step folding and assembly instructions below.

In each folding instruction the words in the middle of the page tell you exactly what to do.

The picture on the left of each instruction step shows you which part of the paper you need to move to make the fold, where it ends up and where the new crease will be. The folding movement is shown by a purple arrow and the position of the crease by a dotted green line.

The picture on the right shows what the paper should look like after you make the fold.

Creases you have already made are shown as grey lines.

The original 2-Way Tube was invented by the American magician Robert Neale. This page and the design of this 2-sheet origami version David Mitchell 2000

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Step 1

The first 8 steps are exactly the same for both sheets of paper.
Step 2
Step 3
Step 4
Step 5
Step 6
Step 7
Step 8

Fold both sheets of paper to this stage before going on to Step 9
Step 9
Step 10
Step 11
Step 12
Step 13
Step 14
Step 15
How to work the 2-Way Tube


With a little practice you should be able to change smoothly from one tube to the other and back again.

Things to think about:

When the tubes are open which is bigger (has the larger volume) the tall thin tube or the short fat tube?

You can make a 2-Way Tube out of any 2 rectangular sheets of paper using the same method .... provided both sheets of paper are the same shape and size. Changing the shape of the rectangles just changes the size, shape, and volume of the tubes. What shape of paper would you need to begin with to make both forms of the tube the same size, shape and volume?

Try to work the answers out for yourself.

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