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5 DIY Magnifying Glass Plans You Can Make Today

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using magnifying glass on laptop keyboard

Do you know what’s cool about magnifying glasses? Their ability to trick the human eye. They’ll make you believe that an object is closer and larger than you think. This phenomenon is what scientists often refer to as near magnification.1 And the whole concept is not as complex as some people make it seem.   

The secret is in how light moves from one medium to the next. Once it bounces off an object, the rays usually travel side by side until they get to the eye. However, if they end up passing through the magnifying glass first, they’ll be manipulated by its convex lens to converge and create an image. This image will be formed at the retina, and it will appear larger than the actual object.

Unfortunately, we won’t be getting into all that today, as our goal is to share some DIY magnifying glass plans. So, let’s get to it!

using magnifying glass on laptop keyboard

The Top 5 DIY Magnifying Glass Plans

1. Make Your Own Magnifying Glass by JustMommies

Make Your Own Magnifying Glass by JustMommies
Photo Credit: JustMommies
Tools: Pair of scissors, pencil, ruler, marker pens
Materials: Paper, cardstock, glue, plastic wrap
Difficulty Level: Beginner

You don’t have to break the bank to get a magnifying glass. You don’t even have to spend a dime if you already have all the tools and materials needed to make a DIY magnifying glass for your kids. Just follow these simple DIY magnifying glass instructions, and you’ll easily be able to make something that they’ll love.

It’s a great idea to get your kid a functional magnifying glass as it can help to fine-tune their motor and critical-thinking skills. The glass will open their eyes to a whole new world, and maybe even help change their perspective about things in life.

2. DIY Ice Magnifying Glass by STEAMsational

DIY Ice Magnifying Glass by STEAMsational
Photo Credit: STEAMsational
Tools: Spherical ice mold
Materials: Purified water
Difficulty Level: Beginner

We know this sounds a bit difficult, but it’s certainly doable. What makes ice a good material for this is its ability to magnify different objects through refraction and angular magnification.

Scientists define refraction as the change in a wave’s direction as it travels from one medium to the next. We’ve learned that this directional change is caused by the wave’s change in speed. That’s why we’re always reminded that objects in water will appear closer than they actually are. The light waves travel slower in shallow waters compared to deep waters.

Angular magnification is not the same as magnification. Magnification is a common term used to describe linear magnification, which is the ratio that describes the relationship between an object and the linear dimension of its image. Angular magnification, on the other hand, is the ratio that defines the relationship between the angle created by the rays that leave an object, and that formed as they converge to generate an image.

But you don’t have to understand these concepts to make a simple DIY ice magnifying glass!

3. DIY Recycled Bottle Magnification Glass by instructables

DIY Recycled Bottle Magnification Glass by instructables
Photo Credit: instructables
Tools: Craft knife or scalpel
Materials: Recycled bottles, water, glue
Difficulty Level: Beginner

Recycling is one of those important practices that help us preserve our environment. Studies have proven that plastics take centuries to break down. In fact, that’s why they account for the largest chunk of solid waste on the planet. If you consider yourself an environmentally-conscious person, and you’d like to help conserve energy, this is a practice you should adopt.

Save all the bottles and use them to make things like this DIY recycled bottle magnification glass. You don’t need any set of particular skills to understand the instructions or handle the tools.

4. DIY Cardboard Magnifying Glass by Rhubarb and Wren

DIY Cardboard Magnifying Glass by Rhubarb and Wren
Image Credit: Rhubarb and Wren
Tools: Craft knife, hole punch
Materials: Bi-convex lens, jewelry cord, ribbon, glue, corrugated cardboard, craft card
Difficulty Level: Intermediate

One of the merits of using cardboard as a material for construction is the fact that it’s lightweight. And lightweight tools are always easier to use compared to heavy equipment. On top of that, unlike plastic, it’s biodegradable and safe for the environment. This DIY cardboard magnifying glass is an easy, simple plan to follow—although you’ll need to have a bi-convex lens on hand.    

5. DIY Water Magnifying Glass by Mr. Wizard

Tools: Craft knife
Materials: Paint bucket/plastic pail, flower dome/plastic wrap, water
Difficulty Level: Beginner

Ever heard of the magnifying effect of the water drop? Because the drop’s surface is curved outwards, it creates a shape that’s akin to that of a convex lens. And when light tries to pass through that curvature, the rays are forced to bend inwards, thereby creating an image that appears larger than its object.

An opposite effect is seen if the water is poured into a cup. Due to the capillary effect, its surface is forced to bend inwards, hence creating a surface that resembles that of a concave lens. We all know such lenses often bend rays outward, ultimately generating images that appear smaller than the actual objects.

These principles are the same ones applied in this DIY water magnifying glass.

using magnifying glass on laptop keyboard Frequently Asked Questions

What makes a good magnifying glass?

If you want to make the perfect magnifying glass at home, use lightweight material and ensure its diameter is significantly large. Some say there’s no such thing as perfect when it comes to magnifying glasses, but we say perfect is relative. Only YOU know what you want to use the device for. If you carefully follow the instructions, we’re certain that you’ll be able to build one that’s distortion-free.

Acrylic or glass?

We would never substitute an acrylic lens for glass while building a magnifying glass. Glass has been the go-to material for ages, but if you’ve ever used acrylic lenses before, you know you’re missing out on a lot. Its strength, stiffness, and the clarity of images produced are just unmatched. Glass seems like the natural choice, but in our books, acrylic takes home the win.

How high is the magnification power of a magnifying glass?

Commercial or homemade, a working magnifying glass should at least make objects appear 2 times bigger. That means the average power is 2X. The highest magnification that you can get with a DIY magnification glass is 3X, but if you go buy one, you might get a 10X magnification. Any power that’s higher than 10X is just ridiculous, as it will be difficult to use—the higher the magnification, the smaller the lens.

Can a concave lens be used to make a magnifying glass?

No, because concave lenses can only generate diminished images. The images that you’ll get to see will be as small as the size of a pinhole. That outward curve of the convex lens is what makes all the difference in the equation. The rays are refracted outwards, and then converge to enlarge the object.using magnifying glass on laptop keyboard

Final Thoughts

You don’t have to buy a magnifying glass if you have all the tools and materials at your disposal. A DIY project like this one is great for you, in the sense that it gives you the opportunity to explore your creative side. You’ll marvel at the empowering feeling of creating something that very few people can create!

See also:

Featured Image Credit: Agence Olloweb, Unsplash

About the Author Robert Sparks

Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.