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Making or modifying eyeglass frames Answered

Does anyone have any references for how to create or modify eyeglass frames? I have a couple of very hard and nice looking sapphire crystal rounds from very expensive projector lights that I would love to make into a set of hi-tech John Lennin glasses. Any tips? Links? Instructables I missed? I know I could probably cajole an eyeglass place, but want to do this on the super cheap. Thanks!


The problem I have hit is that the wire for metal eyeglass frames is a U-groove or V-groove shaped wire, and the glass fits into the groove. It's very hard to get that wire in small quantities, smallest amount I can find is 500Kg for $7 a kilo which is way more than I need :) I suppose the trick is to buy a handful of cheap wire frame glasses and repurpose the frame temple and hinges and reshape and rebraise the whole thing. My project is to make Victorian style Double-D sunglasses, which are heinously expensive not to mention fragile. I also had a harebrained scheme to make them in my prescription, but that's crazy talk. To have them custom made costs about $600.

Instead of wire, could you find thin metal strip? You could lay it on a relatively soft surface (MDF, leather) and press a sharp edge into the strip to bend it into the groove you need.

I have a similar question, but I know the parts you're looking for. I wear prescriptions and am planning on making Lenin frames or medieval frames and having them filled. I don't have design pictures yet, but here's a description:

Needed: Wire 20~18 gage and 16 gage, sheet metal to make hinges and closure, soldering equipment, 2 small machine screws and matching nuts, circular mandrel the size of the lenses, cutters files and other standard metal working stuff, knowledge/experience in metal work, something to cover the temples and nose if the metal irritates your skin. The gage is negotiable; the screw sizing is described later.

Lens holders: You need a groove for the lenses. In your case, you can file the edge of the lens so that it fits in the groove you make. To make the lens part, wrap the wire around the mandrel so you have four circles of equal size. Solder two of the rings together so that the groove is always centered. Alternatively, solder the wire together first and size them after. DO NOT solder the lens rings closed. I don't know how to match the grooves, sorry.

Closure/Hinges: take the sheet metal and curl it so that the 16ga does not fit through. Alternatively, you could flatten the wire temples, but that wouldn't look as pretty. You should have four cylinders, each no more than a quarter of an inch tall. The shorter it is, the more skill shown. You can solder these closed. Also, solder one to each side of the opening of each lens frame.

Temples: Two steps: First, file down the end of the 16ga temples. Then cut the head off the screws which should fit through the cylinders easily(The nuts should not). Solder the screw threads onto the filed end so that it looks like you made a thread in the wire. At this point, you should be able to slide the lens into the holder, put the temple through the hinge, put the nut on, and it should hold the lens securely. You can bend the temple as you want, add decoration to it, etc. You can even change the temples depending on mood if you want to put that much time into it.

Nose bridge: Another spot of creativity. You can shape this pretty much any way you want. You can add nose bud arms, make a form - fitting rest, make a wire butterfly even! Possibilities are endless. Solder the nose wire to the lens holders (while the lenses aren't there, of course). And make sure that comfort is kept in mind.

Good luck!

Sorry. I just realized that this question was six years ago. You've probably already done the job. I'm not deleting the post, though. Because others might find it useful.


10 years ago

IIRC, Instructables HQ (otherwise known as Squid Labs) invented an eyeglass former that makes lenses quickly and cheaply. I doubt they'd let you in on their secret, though. Sorry I can't be of more help.

I'm looking more for how to make frames - I already have some cool lenses. Thanks, though!


9 years ago

Hey did you ever make these? How'd you do it?


10 years ago

Hmm, these might look good. Anyone have ideas on how they were done? Looks like some planed down board, a coping saw to rough it out and them some carving. I wonder how strong they would be?

Standard carving-cut profiles, carve or sand down details. Lenses can be set like windows, with the larger hole in the back where the lens goes in and a small strip of putty or wood to hold the lens in place. Zebra wood is fairly hard, and the grain was chosen to be durable. Maybe a little less durable than plastic frames.

How do you think they did the hinges? Perhaps scavenged from another pair and epoxied in? I can't imagine that wood hinges would hold up well unless they are hiding something really bulky in the photo.

They are the same as any other hinge: a tab that goes into a slot and held by a pin. Wood hinges aren't rare, and are as strong as any other. Just make sure to take the grain into account to minimize short cross-grain.

I bought from a well known online auction site something called thermo plastic. You disolve the granules in pretty warm water (60 degrees or so), squeeze out the residue, then you can form it by hand into almost any shape you want and when its cool i would guess its up to holding your bottle-bottoms in place.

They don't dissolve, they just soften. Some brands are usable in the microwave.

Sorry, bad wording, but you get the general idea. (Thinks: "Hmmmmm might be worth an Instructable." Scampers off to the secret underground laboratory)

If you have any second thoughts about not doing the Instructable, just remember Kiteman's Law.

Metal or plastic frame? Do the lenses have a ridge or groove around them? You can look at a pair of sunglasses or prescription glasses for ideas. There are about three ways for the frame to hold onto the lens-bezel set (a strip of metal is bent into a c-channel that holds the lens or the plastic is a very tight fit), a screw that tightens a band around the lens, or small holes are drilled for rivets. Which are you looking to do? Easiest would be to find a pair of cheep glasses who's lenses are close, and modify them.

Not sure about the groove/ridge. I haven't fully disassembled everything yet (it's easy to rip things apart, but a lot harder to put them back together). Metal frames would be best. I think you're right about modifying a cheap pair. I was just hoping for some super-amazing idea that I could use :)

Oh, and here is a photo of the lamp I got the lenses from. They're called cermax lights. There used in projector units. There run around $800 a pop and had to be changed out every 6 months. I got a small box full of the swap-outs.

Ah, a place to start ... thanks!

I found a pair of sunglasses at my local discount store that have holes drilled in the lenses for $1. I think that would probably work. Any idea where to find tiny drill bits that will drill sapphire crystal (I'm guessing diamond tip will work)?

Piano wire? I guess you could bend it into shape, cover the ends behind your ears with heat-shrink, but would the lenses survive the heat of soldering where the frame and arms meet?