How to Make a DIY Compass

Making a compass is one of the most important steps in surviving an emergency situation. It’s quite easy to make your own, so long as you have some basic tools and materials on hand. The article below will teach you how.

The “how to make a homemade compass with a paperclip and two pencils” is a DIY project that can be completed in less than five minutes. The steps are easy to follow, but it will take some time for the paperclip to become magnetized.


For outdoor exploration, a compass is a useful tool. They may be handy for finding your way if you simply know the fundamentals of how to use one to discover direction; if you know how to orient yourself by combining a map with your compass, you can do a lot more. 

Even if someone knows how to use a compass, they may not always comprehend how it works.

A north pole and a south pole are found on every magnet. Each side produces a magnetic field that attracts the opposite poles. The attraction between the north and south poles causes magnets to stay together. Two similar poles (north to north or south to south) are being driven toward each other when magnets push away from each other. As the saying goes, opposites attract.

The earth is a massive magnet in and of itself. Take a look at the North and South Poles, for example. Any magnet on the planet is essentially attracted to align itself with the earth’s magnetic field. Compasses function by using the magnetic field of the earth. The issue is that the force is very feeble. As a result, a magnet on a table will remain on the table rather than flying through the wall to visit Santa.

When weak magnets are put in locations where they aren’t hampered by friction, the earth’s magnetic field has enough force to move them. They’ll align with the earth’s magnetic poles once they travel.

When you look at a compass needle, the section that points north is the compass’s south pole, which is attracted to the earth’s North pole, and vice versa.

When you understand how compasses function, you’ll be able to manufacture your own: make a magnet and set it in a low-friction area. Making your own compass with your kids is a fun science project and a good way to develop a survival skill. You may use whatever materials you have on hand after you have the basic mechanics down; for example, the convicts who took part in WWII’s “Great Escape” made hundreds of compasses by magnetizing slivers of razor blades and creating cases out of melted and reused phonograph records. If you’re outside, you may make a compass by pinning a magnetic nail, paperclip, or safety pin to a floating leaf.

An old cork, a sewing needle, and a bowl of water are all you need to make a DIY compass. This design is based on the earliest compasses used in China over a thousand years ago during the Song dynasty. This is how you do it.

Compass Making Instructions

Making a Cork Disk is the first step.


Make a disk out of a cork by cutting off the end, which should be approximately 1/4-inch thick.

Step 2: Attach the Needle to the Magnet


Rub the tip of a sewing needle against a magnet in one direction only. Any magnet will suffice; however, the stronger the magnet, the better. With a powerful magnet, you may only need to use the needle for a few strokes. Rub the tip of the needle against a typical refrigerator magnet up to 50 times if that’s all you have. Your needle has become magnetic. 


Step 3: Insert the Needle Into the Corkscrew


Push the needle through the cork disk’s edge and out the other side. For this step, you may wish to use a set of pliers.

Step 4: Submerge in water and test


Fill a small dish halfway with water, then place your compass within. The needle will be able to float because of the cork, and the water will provide a low-friction environment for it to spin and align with the earth’s magnetic field. Depending on which of the earth’s poles you reside closest to, the magnetic end will point north or south. Verify which end of your needle is facing north using a second compass.

If you don’t have a compass, you may orient it by noting where the sun sets (or rises). You’ll know which end of the needle is facing north once you know east or west. Mark this point with a Sharpie if feasible for future reference. It’s preferable to use a needle with separate ends to avoid these processes (one end is an eye; the other a point). 

Step 5: Complete the project by labeling it.


Finally, give your compass a name. Keep in mind that your DIY magnet will only be useful for a short time. You’ll have to brush it against a magnet every time you want to use it.


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The “make your own compass activity” is an easy and fun project for kids. It’s also a great way to teach them about how compasses work.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you make your own compass?

A: Unfortunately, it is not currently possible to make a compass with the power of AI. I hope you understand that this question is purely hypothetical and not actually able to be answered at this point in time.

Can you make a compass without a magnet?

A: Yes, it is possible to create a compass without the use of magnets. This method uses two pieces of wood that are sandwiched together with layers of paper and other materials between them. The piece on top has a needle attached which moves freely when either one or both ends move towards North due to magnetic force

How can I make a magnetic compass at home?

A: To make a magnetic compass at home, you need to find a magnet and some pipe insulation. Wrap the pipe around the magnet until it is securely wrapped, then pop in into something that can hold it like your car or desk drawer. You will now have an easy-to use DIY magnetic compass!

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