Making my Own Glasses

Why make your own glasses? Why not?

     I'm just finished making my second pair of wire rim glasses of  my own design. The first pair served me well for 6 years until finally, the wire rusted thin in one spot on the bridge of the nose. This is because I never plated the spring steel wire, which would have prevented the slow rusting process. Plating is easy, but I also liked the color of the metal as it is, and cleaning the tiny amount of rust from the lenses was no problem.  The easy removability of the lenses also makes it easy  to switch to sunglass lenses if you wish, simply buy and shape a second, tinted pair of lenses.
This design has many other advantages:

  a. As this design is  made of one piece of spring steel, with no easily broken hinges and no screws to lose, they are virtually indestructible, and therefore more ecological. I doubt these will ever be commercially available because they are too durable for the frame companies to make a profit. I don't need hinges because I always wear my glasses, so why have them?

 b. They are safer.  If something hits you in the face, the energy is dissipated as they disassemble themselves (and then you just reassemble them)(ask me about my water balloon story sometime).

c . More non-filtered-by-the-lenses light  reaches the eyes, which is good for eye health.

d. Cost is less than $5 for the frames, less than $25 for my prescription lense blanks (about 20/200) much did you pay for your last frames and how long did they last?

e. I am nearsighted and see close-up perfectly without them. This design allows me to easily see under the lenses when I am doing close work.. no need for expensive, confusing bifocals.

d. They are more comfortable on the nose, as weight is distributed evenly due to custom shaping (no red marks from pads).

 You do need to know the distance between the centers of your pupils so you can cut out the lenses from the round blanks correctly to fit the frames you're making ..It's on your prescription in mm under inter-pupillary distance.

  So, here's an illustrated how to...enjoy .. let me see the ones you make!

torch on bridge

  1.  First I annealed  a long spring steel wire by heating the wire over torch,which softens the metal
so it is  more easily manipulable.

one half of frame done

2. First trial fit on face, only one lens frame bent.

torch in lap

3. Torch held by your legs, your hands, vise-grips, and needle-nose pliers. Almost all the tools necessary for  the project.

torch heating wire

4. Torch flame heating wire in the dark(for illustration purposed only).

lense detail

5. Close-up of how old lens fits into frame, how concave notch in edge of lens holds spring steel wire frame.
inverse of convex edge shape most glasses/frames  designs use.
If  you have a weak prescription, this will be thin and harder to make... notice slight rust from last frame on lens.

lense shaping

6. Put tape on both sides of both lenses to avoid scratching them.
Before you shape the lenses,  mark the inter-pupillary distance on the tape. then mark the areas to be cut away.
I used a diamond saw to cut the excess away, a jewelers saw or stone grinder will suffice.

polishing lense

7. Using the polishing wheel to buff off any scratch marks on the edge of the lens.


tempering frames

  9. After final fitting, polish any pliers marks off wire frame, then heat the entire frame on stove till red hot,
immerse quickly into water or oil to cool, restoring the stiffness and springiness of the steel (tempering).

finished glasses
  The end of the project, the beginning of many years of functional sight!