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Making a Camera Lens from Scratch Using Rocks, Sand, and Copper


Can an ordinary person made a camera lens from scratch? Here’s a 22-minute video in which Andy George of How To Make Everything answers that question by producing clear glass and metal and combining them to create a camera lens.

The video covers everything from creating optically clear glass (using borax from California, river sand from Mississippi, and soda ash from a Wyoming lake) and measuring properties of the glass to grinding the glass and casting the lens body (using copper).

“It has been one of the most challenging projects I’ve ever done,” George says after completing his lens. “Every single step in the project has been a huge pain.”

Making clear glass took over a dozen tries, annealing the glass pucks took at least four attempts, and grinding the lenses themselves took at least 30 hours of continuous grinding.

George tirelessly grinding the glass for his lens.

What resulted after the ridiculous amount of work was a working camera lens that projects a cloudy image onto ground glass.

George holding his completed cameras lens that was made completely from scratch.
A still frame from video shot through the lens.

It’s definitely not a perfect or very usable lens, but it’s impressive that it’s a lens that was manufactured by a single person.

(via How to Make Everything via Fstoppers)

P.S. George recently also made a pinhole camera from scratch in this 19-minute video.

Image credits: Video and still frames by How to Make Everything