Introduction: How to Make a Basic Coronavirus Face Mask

If you do not have access to a face mask it may be possible to make a simple but effective mask out of materials you already have. Scientists in Hong Kong have created a guide to making a surgical mask which has been an inspiration for this project [1].

This is a guide to mask inspired by the above study I made using material I had to hand in case I need to self-isolate at some point. This guide does not show how to make a mask that will protect you or others! Please look at the following more up-to-date guides:

  1. Corona Virus Tech Handbook, a wiki dedicated to all aspects (not just tech)
  2. The Open COVID Initiative, an international hackathon, has a Slack discussion channel #proj-mask-team on DIY face masks (sign-up required)


I am sharing this as I understand many other people may be planning for this scenario, and are concerned about transmitting the disease to others. Some may be affected by shortages in supplies of face masks or may not be able to go out to access them. Please share your remakes and link this post to promote discussion.

DISCLAIMER: Wearing a face mask is only one of a number of actions to avoid transmitting the disease. Other measures such as hand washing, disinfecting surfaces routinely, social distancing, and others are important. I am not qualified to give advice on this, and this guide serves only to talk about a procedure for making a face mask not how to fight any particular disease. I strongly recommend that you refer to the latest advice from the World Health Organization, or your local health agency, and follow precautions. If you need a facemask, because you are a healthcare worker, or are in a high-risk group, please refer to the sources linked above

If you are a health expert, or even if you are not, please comment or contact me ( so as to make this guide as accurate and helpful as possible.



You will need:
1. Something non-porous for the main body of the mask. I used a plastic supermarket pot with a 10 cm diameter
2. A piece of string, preferably elastic
3. A fabric mesh, to act as a filter. I used the top of a water purifying filter.
4. Something to hold it together. I used a hot glue gun to glue it. Other options might be superglue, putty, epoxy, etc.
5. Foam/rubber, for sealing around the ridge of the nose. I used protective foam received with an online order
6. Glasses with protection through the sides, to minimise risk of transmission through eyes

1. Scissors / a knife
2. A hot glue gun, if using hot glue*

* Optional

Step 1: Measure the Mask to Fit

Check that the object you have chosen for the main body of the mask is large enough to cover your mouth and nose. Usually the required size will be approximately the size of your palm, both horizontally and vertically. The main body should be waterproof and air tight, we will cut holes to allow air in safely in the next step.

Step 2: Cut a Hole for Ventilation

Cut a hole in the main body of the mask. It must be large enough to allow proper airflow (this does not need to be very large) but bear in mind that the filter must fully cover the hole*. Smaller is usually better

I cut a circular hole, first punching a hole with plant shears (all I had to hand), then scoring on both sides using the shears (you could also use a compass). This makes it easier to then follow the cut using a sharp knife to get a rough circle. It does not need to be a perfect circle.

* In this case you are no better wearing the mask

Step 3: Make a Slot for the Nose

Your main body at this point obstructs the ridge of the nose, which means that there will be a gap for air and particles to enter around the sides. To stop this from happening we need a secure fit.

Carefully cut a slot on one side of the wall as shown. Start small, and stop to try it for measure in a mirror before cutting again if necessary. Repeat until you have a secure fit.

To ensure the nose ridge is properly sealed and sits comfortably, cut a thin strip of your chosen padding material and try bending it into the ridge to get the right length. You can then glue it, or even cut small slots in the body to wedge it in.

Step 4: Attach the Air Filter

For the air filter I cut the top from a Brita water filter unit, which has a fine mesh to keep the activated charcoal in. It also seems to have a suitable aesthetic for a face mask. Please share below if you have suggestions for other, materials to use.

Using a glue gun/epoxy/putty/superglue, attach the filter to the main body, covering the hole, and ensuring all the sides are thoroughly sealed.

Step 5: Attach the Straps

Last step is to attach straps. I didn't have any elasticated material, bit I did have some ribbon from an old lanyard. Here I have tied the strap securely in a knot at the back of the head so that it forms a seal around the face and nose and without too much pressure so that the mask does not leave marks on the skin.

Step 6: How to Use the Mask

That's it for making the mask, but just wearing the mask will not protect you, or others, from COVID-19. Follow advice from the World Health Organization (WHO) and your local health agency even if you do not think you are are risk.

Advice from the World Health Organization:

Vital procedures you must take (this is just a starter, read the links above)
1. Wash your hands regularly
2. Avoid large in-person gatherings and public transport to slow the spread of the disease.
3. If you are showing symptoms of the coronavirus, follow health advice from WHO and your local health organization. This will mean self-isolating for a certain amount of time.
4. Do not panic. This is not the first time humans have encountered threats from disease, and we have this experience to draw upon
5. Think of ways to keep yourself occupied during the worst part of the pandemic. Perhaps you you could make face masks for your neighbours, keep talking with friends online, or help people in your local community?

Step 7: Add a Filter

Add a filter at this point, ideally use a sterile N95 filter or higher. Other materials are in active discussion; however use these at your own risk:

Here is some literature on this:

  1. The Corona Tech Handbook, a wiki includes an evolving page on PPE, including facemasks

  2. COVID-19 Evidence Service | Addressing COVID-19 Face Mask Shortages
  3. An analysis of a simple facemask made out of a cotton shirt

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