Plans adapted from "Under the Microscope" by Curry, Grayson and Hosey


A good microscope is a wonderful way to introduce a child to the wonders of the natural world. But good microscopes tend to be expensive, costing many hundreds of dollars. By eliminating the fancy focusing equipment and housing, and spending most of your money for good lenses, a homemade microscope of good quality can be made for under $100.00.

Microscope construction:

    Materials List:

  • part A - pine - 5" x 2 1/2" x 3/4"
  • part B - plywood - 5" x 5" x 1/2"
  • part C - pine - 4 1/2" x 1 1/2" x 3/4"
  • part D - pine - 5" x 2 1/2" x 3/4"
  • part E - 3/4" PVC pipe 6 5/16" long (purchased at plumbing supply stores)
  • 6 wood screws: #6 x 1 1/4"
  • 10X eyepiece
  • 4X (or 10X) objective lens


    To make the microscope body: 1. Cut out parts according to parts list. 2. Drill a 1 1/16" hole in part A to hold PVC barrel of microscope. 3. Drill 6 screw holes in part A and part D as shown on diagram.
      (These holes should be slightly larger than the diameter of the screws.)
    4. Screw the microscope body together.

To make the microscope barrel:
1. Cut the PVC pipe to 160 mm. Microscope lenses are designed to work at this distance apart.
2. Ream out one end of the microscope barrel with a 15/16" drill. If this is done carefully with a drill press, the eyepiece will fit snugly into the microscope barrel.
3. Place the objective lens in the other end of the microscope barrel. Depending on the PVC pipe, the objective lens might fit very loosely, in which case the lens must be taped in place. Or it might not fit at all, in which case, the PVC pipe will have to be reamed out so the eyepiece fits. Then tape the eyepiece in place.
4. Place the microscope barrel in the hole you cut in part A. It should fit snuggly enough so that the microscope barrel can be raised and lowered by twisting and pushing it up or down. If the hole is too large, place a small piece of paper between the wood and the microscope barrel.

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