Closeup Magnifying Glasses




Introduction: Closeup Magnifying Glasses

Closeup magnifying glasses are great for fine work. I use them when mending a watch or soldering surface-mount components.

I've made a few pairs like this and find them easier to use than the commercially available ones. They're small enough to go in your pocket and very light to wear.

Start with two pairs of glasses from a pound shop (99c store).

Choose ones that are

  • metal rimmed
  • 3.5 dioptres (they should have a +3.5 sticker)
  • with spring-hinges that stay open or closed

You will need

  • two pairs of glasses
  • fine pliers (preferably two)
  • wire cutters
  • sandpaper (nail/emery boards are good)
  • soldering iron
  • solder

Step 1: The Distant Lenses

Start with the glasses that are going to form the "distant" (objective) lenses.

Clip off the nose pads.

Sand the top of the rims. Even if they look like metal, they'll be covered in varnish.

Tin the top surfaces with solder.

Bend the bridge so the top surfaces of the rims touch. It's best to bend the wire by holding it with two pairs of pliers. If you put too much force on the rims of the glasses, they might break or the joint might come undone.

Solder the surfaces together. You'll need to apply enough heat to melt the solder but not so much you melt the plastic lenses.

The legs ("temples") of the glasses should be parallel.

In the picture above, the bridge of the glasses is wire and bends easily. If your glasses have a bridge made of cast alloy, you might just have to cut it. After you've soldered the tops of the rims together, you can reinforce the joint with brass or copper wire.

Step 2: The Legs

Remove the plastic earpieces (end tips) from the legs.

Decide how far away you want the distant lenses to be (about 75mm). Bend the legs outwards at right angles and curve them slightly so they fit over the tops of the near lenses.

Sand the legs and tin them with solder.

Sand the top of the rims of the near lenses and tin them.

Solder the legs of the distant glasses onto the tops of the rims of the near glasses.

Step 3: Finished

If you chose glasses with sprung hinges that stay open or closed, the distant lenses will flip up out of the way.

While you're wearing the glasses you can flip between fairly close and ultra closeup.

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    3 years ago

    Any idea what the focal distance is? I'm looking for magnification to assist with embroidery, which I hold about 16 to 18 inches from my nose. Thank you! These look GREAT, and the little video drawing makes assembly crystal-clear!

    Peter Balch
    Peter Balch

    Reply 3 years ago

    Good question: I just measured it. From the "distant" (objective) lenses to the workpiece is 90mm (3.5"). From the bridge of my nose to the "distant" lenses is 80mm (3.2"). So that's a total of 170mm (6.7").

    I used 3.5 dioptre lenses. A bit of high school physics tells me that from the the bridge of my nose to the workpiece ought to be 193mm (7.6"). That's about 20mm more than I found in practice. I'm slightly short sighted so it's prboably about right.

    If I had used 3 dioptre lenses then the total distance would be 217mm (8.5").

    That's all a lot closer than the 16 to 18 inches you want from your nose to your embroidery.

    It's hard to say what the magnification is. My jeweler's loupe doesn't "magnify" at all. What it does is allow me to hold the workpiece closer to my eye. The result is that It is in focus while it is 7 times closer. So I suppose you could say that the magnification is 7 times. By that measure, the "magnifying glasses" magnify by about 3.5 times.

    I hope that helps



    5 years ago

    These are a model makers dream come true.


    5 years ago

    Those of us in the 40 year old and up club owe you a debt of gratitude, these will come in very handy. ☺

    Peter Balch
    Peter Balch

    Reply 5 years ago

    40 years? A mere trifle!

    As my lenses begin to crystalise and I can't change focus the flip-up action becomes essential.