2019 Guild School

June 8-14, 2019     Maine Maritime Academy, Castine, Maine

48 Hour Classes

INSTRUCTOR: Bill Robertson, Artisan
COURSE: Metal Lathe Work and Machining
PROJECT: Brass Culpeper Microscope

In a sense what could be a more perfect miniature than a miniature microscope? For this class students will make a 1/12th scale copy of a late 18th century brass Culpeper microscope. Edmund Culpeper (1660–1738) was the English scientific instrument maker responsible for this iconic tripod-mounted design of a compound microscope. These were first made of wood and ivory, then later of brass continuing into the 19th century by nearly every instrument maker of the period.

Our miniature will be created mostly on the lathe and hence, this is really a lathe class specializing in some very tiny parts. The tubes will be turned to fit inside each other and for those brave enough, a working gear and rack focusing mechanism can be made. Lenses will be turned from optical fiber. Yes, we are talking about some very small parts so good eyesight (with magnifiers, of course) is a must. 

Operations such as turning, boring, threading and knurling will be used to make the stage, mirrors and other parts. The complex legs will be supplied as casting much like the original would have been to save time and make the project doable. Soldering tiny joints, while not loosening others will be done with resistance solder tweezers which can control the heat in an exact place. The class objective is to complete the metal parts of the microscope and fine wood base with drawer in class. The accessories to fill the drawer and the pyramid shaped case will most likely be projects for home.

One question almost everyone will want to know is, does it work? While it will have lenses, due to their size it will be nearly impossible to see anything through them. So yes it works, but assume you can’t see through it.

TIME: 48 hours. Completion is likely with some overtime on your own outside of the classroom.

POWER TOOLS: lathe, drill press

SKILL LEVEL: Intermediate and advanced. Prior metal lathe work or a very high degree of mechanical aptitude is a prerequisite for this class. The question you may be wondering is, Can I do it? This is not a beginner level class. For students who wish to make the project a little easier, certain features can be left out or made to be decorative only. With skill and hard work students can do this.

MATERIALS FEE: $110 to be collected at school