In 1971, when I started building telescopes, finding parts meant visiting plumbing supply houses, junkyards, surplus warehouses, and making lots and lots of phone calls. With the Internet, everything you need is suddenly available, including used mirrors. You no longer have to wait six months to visit the flea-market tables at an astronomy show halfway across the United States. Check the link list for access to the parts you need to build almost any kind of scope. Clear skies and happy hunting!

Following are links to some of the best sources and references for the design and building of telescopes, eyepieces, and accessories. (Updated May 2020)

Homemade eyepiece designs by Astronomyboy.

Gray ABS tubing:
Plastruct 1020 South Wallace Place
City of Industry, CA
(626) 912-7016

This company sells ready-to-mount eyepiece lens sets and individual lenses. They also sell a really cool kit for about $50 for building a Rochester cloaking device. Great science project for kids. Make things invisible with this optical cloaking device:
Surplus Shed
407 U.S. Route 222
Blandon, PA 19510

The following books are among the best of their kind for optical design:

TELESCOPE OPTICS, A comprehesive manual for Amateur Astronomers by Rutten and van Venrooij, Willman-Bell Press
This volume used to be available from the publisher but they have been closed for business. Available on Amazon and many other places. This is themost comprehensive and useful book I've seen on optics and telescope design from a technical standpoint.

Very little is currently available on the history of telescope making. These two books are a must read:

ALVAN CLARK & SONS / ARTISTS IN OPTICS by Warner and Ariail, Willman-Bell Inc.

VICTORIAN TELESCOPE MAKERS / The Lives and Letters of Thomas and Howard Grubb by I.S.Glass, Institute of Physics Publishing, Institute of Physics, London. ISBN 0 7503 0454 5.

Telescope making books at Willman-Bell

Barn Door Mounts

Type "barn door mount" into your browser's search window and you'll come up with ten good hits. A lot of people build these and there are some great ideas out there. Try:

Used Optical and Mechanical Parts Links

Go to and click on "Browse Ads" and "Telescope Making."

Telescope Making by Gary Seronik.

Cincinnati Astronomy Clubs

FOTO--Friends of the Observatory East side of Cincinnati. The Cincinnati Observatory in Mt. Lookout boasts 11-inch and 16-inch refractors, an active astrophotography club, telescope-making group, a yearly telescope fair, public star parties and many, many friendly and helpful members.

The Cincinnati Astronomical Society West side of Cincinnati. The CAS has four impressive telescopes in individual observatories for members' use. The large membership is extremely helpful and active in various astronomical activities. A monthly newsletter and a website that is updated frequently make this a useful resource for amateur astronomers.

Author's website

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© 2001 Larry Brown