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Wooden Kaleidoscope

Mark Reynolds of Austin, Texas, has been crafting these intriguing visual toys for 28 years.

The only woodworking experience Mark Reynolds has is "a mandatory woodshop class in high school." But after he decided to help his brother fill some holiday orders for his new kaleidoscope business, Mark became hooked. He learned how to embellish the pieces with a wooden veneer and, 28 years later, he is still going strong with these finely crafted visual toys.

Materials and Tools:

mailing tube
9" x 12" cherry wood veneer
inlay borders
wood glue
Formby's tung oil
1/4" plywood
glass (eye piece and end piece)
front surface mirrors
masking tape
hot glue gun and glue sticks
wound paper tubes
epoxy glue
acrylic endcap with glass cover
mineral oil
stained glass, dichroic glass, seashells, etc. for end piece
hand-blown glass rods
UV glue
black paint
poplar wood base, painted black


1. To make the wood "body": Cut veneer wood to size and spread wood glue on it. Apply the veneer to a core (mailing tube) using a hot iron. Inlay decorative wood strips into the tube.

2. Sand and put four coats of wood sealer and lacquer on tubes. Cut the tube into sections that you build a rotating mechanism into.

3. Paint all the ends and glue an eye piece into the top of the tube. Coat the top with an epoxy coating.

4. To build the end-piece: Fill a clear acrylic "cup" with glass, shells, gemstones, beads, etc. Cover with a glass circle and
seal with glue.

5. Drill a hole into the chamber and inject mineral oil into it; then seal the hole.

6. To build mirror system: Cut mirrors to length. Build these into a triangular assembly using masking tape and hot glue.

7. Finishing the scope includes inserting and hot gluing the mirrors into the body of the scope and then gluing in the end-piece.


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