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How to make a wooden periscope

SAFETY FIRST: Ask an adult to help with tools you haven't used before.


You don’t need to be a submariner to appreciate a good periscope. What other device allows you to see over tall fences or around buildings?

periscope-3Making a periscope from wood and a few pieces of mirror is easier than you might think. Here are plans and instructions for a periscope more than two feet long — just what you want for heavy-duty secret agent work.

Click here for a PDF version of these instructions.


  • Two glass mirrors, 1⁄8-inch thick by 2 3⁄8-inches wide by 3 inches long
  • Two pieces of pine or plywood 3⁄8-inch thick by 2 1⁄8-inches wide by 25 3⁄4-inches long (side members)
  • Two pieces of pine or plywood 3⁄8-inch thick by 3 3⁄8-inches wide by 23 inches long (front and back parts)
  • Two mirror blocks 2 1⁄8-inches thick by 2 9⁄16-inches wide by 2 3⁄4-inches long, cut into triangular blocks according to diagram
  • Silicone caulking, carpenter’s glue, 1-inch finishing nails
  • Adult permission and/or help



Step 1: Cut wood to size using a table saw.


Step 2: You can have the mirrors cut for you at any glass shop, or you can prepare the mirrors yourself using a glass cutter. If you go to a glass shop, bring the mirror blocks with you so they know what size you need. If you do it yourself, make sure there is an adult on hand to help you. The mirrors shouldn’t cost more than a few dollars.


Step 3: Glue one mirror to each angled face of the mirror blocks, using silicone caulking. Set these aside to dry overnight.


Step 4: Clamp one side piece to each side of the mirror blocks, and then place one face piece over the top edges of the sides. The plans show how this face piece is shorter than the sides, and must extend to the top of the periscope. That leaves the mirror open for you to look through. When everything is lined up, fasten this first face to the sides with carpenter’s glue and 1-inch finishing nails. Don’t glue the mirror blocks yet. They must be free to move around for adjustment later.


Step 5: Now flip the periscope over so you can glue and nail the second face to the other edges of the sides. This will form a long, rectangular box—your periscope.


Step 6: Before setting the project aside to dry, slide the mirror blocks out, just to be sure they don’t get glued in.


Step 7: After letting your periscope’s body dry overnight, remove the clamps, smear a little glue on the mirror blocks’ sides and slip them back in position. If friction alone doesn’t keep them in place, hold them still with a few small clamps across the sides of the periscope.


Step 8: It’s now time for adjustment. Pick up the periscope and look through one end; it doesn’t matter which. How do things look? If your line of sight seems tilted, adjust the direction of each mirror up or down until you’re happy. You won’t have to move the blocks much. When you can see a clear, rectangular view of the world, that’s great! Just set the periscope aside until the glue blocks dry.

Step 9: Finish by sanding the periscope and applying three coats of urethane.

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58 Comments on How to make a wooden periscope

  1. CRAZY DUDE // July 17, 2011 at 6:51 pm // Reply

    😀 😀 😀 😀

  2. Itz sotta cool

  3. MOONMAN200 // May 30, 2011 at 9:45 pm // Reply


  4. sounds fun gonna try it

  5. this seems kinda triky but i’l try it

  6. looooks pretty tricky ;): )

  7. my friend made this and it was very confusing and cool IM SERIOUS 🙂 :O 🙂

  8. awesome!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. cool! i can spy on my sister with this.

  10. alot of people say it dosen’t work or is hard to build i’m not even going to try this

  11. i have built one before: its fun only for a while, then i threw it out, didn’t seem so fun after all.

  12. this is real cool!!!!

  13. it didn’t work

  14. I don’t think it is going to work.

  15. Sounds Fun!

  16. jaba the hut // December 4, 2009 at 6:38 am // Reply

    i don’t like it

  17. when i looked at the directions it said you can only see wood……BORING p.s. they lied.

  18. I think it will be fun

  19. it is horrible it stinks u can only see wood!

  20. I’ll give it a go

  21. // October 20, 2009 at 7:23 pm // Reply

    I like it man!

  22. i’l try this and bring it to school to play with it

  23. I can have my DaD help me

  24. it’s pretty cool!

  25. it looks pretty trickie

  26. I think this invetion is cool

  27. cool i’m gonna make it for my friends birthday tomarow 😀

  28. this is really hard i need help!!!!!!!!!!!!

  29. hi its me again im going to build this so i can get an A

  30. cool i already made one though

  31. Why would I need a periscope.

  32. This looks so tricky I’m not even going to try to build it.

  33. Amish Dude // July 2, 2009 at 8:01 am // Reply

    looks tricky

  34. MattMattMatt // June 30, 2009 at 12:03 pm // Reply

    This looks interesting…. Maybe my uncle who is a carpenter can help me out….

  35. LittleBigman // June 27, 2009 at 11:48 am // Reply

    This looks fun. I’m going to try to build it during summer.


  37. AWSOME

  38. it still seems pretty tricky

  39. I’m gona do that

  40. Is going to be so cool.

  41. tora tora tora cool

  42. COOL

  43. Hello! great idea of color of this siyte!

  44. If you stop making cool things like that,IM GONNA DIE!!!!!I NEED THIS WEBSITE!!!!

  45. 93 fanatic!! // May 2, 2007 at 11:04 pm // Reply


  46. sort dude 101 // April 5, 2007 at 7:22 pm // Reply

    this website rules!!!!!! dont stop working on it.

  47. It really works sora out.

  48. kongfu master // April 3, 2007 at 6:18 am // Reply

    this going to be cool.

  49. Awesome

  50. This is neat but probably heavy to carry around.

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