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THE TIN THAT KEEPS TIME

BUILD YOUR OWN PORTABLE SUNDIAL

We have many devices around us every day that let us know what time it is. But what will we do if there comes a time when their electrical supply or battery power is no longer available and we’ve long since discarded mechanical timepieces? The need or desire to know what time it is will not fade away with this change, so it’s a good idea to learn how to construct a portable low-tech device that lets you use the sun to tell the time.

Making a sundial allows you to utilize all of the principles that pertain to the observed movements of the sun across the sky, and the various methods that have been devised to create a standard for time.

After you’ve made your first sundial, you’ll have joined the ranks of amateur astronomers.

THE PATH TO MY FIRST POCKET SUNDIAL

Many years ago, I read an article in the May/June 1982 Mother Earth News by Carmen E. Trisler, who made tiny sundials inside aspirin tins. The idea was that you could make it small, carry it around in your pocket, and then just set it up somewhere when you wanted to know the time, during daylight hours.

But since I never buy aspirin, it didn’t make sense to buy the container of aspirin just for the tin, and I saved the article for years in one of my many files.

Then one day it happened! A worker who was doing some carpentry at our home discarded an empty aspirin tin in my trash can. I picked it out as soon as I spotted it, knowing I could now proceed with this long-awaited project.

With the tin in hand, I quickly shuffled through my files of clippings, trying to find the old article. Amazingly, with my eclectic system of filing, I found it! The article described how to make a useful sundial that folds into an aspirin tin. All I had to do, the article proclaimed, was to cut out (or copy) the dial face from the magazine, mount it onto stiff thin cardboard, and then put it into the tin. A simple one-size-fits-all sundial!

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About American Survival Guide

February 2020