How to Make Spotting Scopes from Binocular Lenses

Written by cassandra tribe
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How to Make Spotting Scopes from Binocular Lenses
The higher the magnification number, the more powerful the spotting scope. (teen and binoculars image by Indigo Fish from

Spotting scopes are used by hunters, birders and other outdoor enthusiasts to view the wildlife. These high-powered telescopes are set on tripods to provide steadiness and to allow the spotter to observe from a distance without alerting the wildlife to their presence. Some target shooters also use spotting scopes to examine their targets from their shooting positions. For many sportsmen, it is economical to make spotting scopes from binocular lenses.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Small Phillips head screwdriver
  • Balsa wood block
  • Wood carving tool
  • Sandpaper
  • Tripod
  • Polyurethane stain
  • Paint brush
  • Tripod
  • Velcro strips
  • Carrying strap (if desired)

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  1. 1

    Push the two halves of the binocular together so the hinge screw connecting each monocular to the middle piece (with the focus ring) is revealed.

  2. 2

    Remove the hinge screw from the monocular side that will not be used as the spotting scope using a small Phillips head screwdriver. Push the end of the screwdriver against the hinge pin (once the screw is removed) until the pin protrudes from the opposite end of the hinge. Pull the hinge pin out by hand to separate the monocular from the middle piece with the focal ring.

  3. 3

    Center the monocular with the middle piece and focal ring still attached on the block of balsa wood. Mark the wood with a pencil to show how deep a groove must be carved to allow the monocular to set into the block and be fully supported. The groove should follow the contour of the monocular, being deeper where the case of the monocular is larger and shallower where it narrows to the eyepiece.

  4. 4

    Carve out the groove shape in the balsa wood using a scoop-shaped wood carving tool. Check the fit as the carving progresses. When it is almost a perfect fit, use sandpaper to smooth the groove and create the final shape and depth. The monocular should fit in the groove so the wood becomes a "base" for the scope.

  5. 5

    Center the carved balsa wood block on a tripod, and screw the tripod mount screw into the bottom of the block (just as if screwing it into the bottom of a camera).

  6. 6

    Dismount the block from the tripod, and use a paint brush to coat the block with a polyurethane stain. Let the block dry for the amount of time recommended by the stain manufacturer.

  7. 7

    Attach the block to the tripod by screwing the tripod mount screw into the hole in the bottom of the block. Place the monocular in the groove, and wrap two Velcro strips around the monocular to hold it in place.

Tips and warnings

  • Remove the monocular from the block, and attach a carrying strap to the loop provided on the monocular case for that purpose. This way it can be used as a hand-held scope.
  • Only one scope can be made from the binoculars because there is only one focus ring for both monocular pieces in the unit.
  • Always use lens caps on both ends of the shooting scope when not in use to prevent damage.

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