by Mol Smith (UK).

There are several methods you’ll see on the internet and older books on hobby microscopy stating how you can make thin sections (mostly of plant stems and leaves) by hand. I have tried most and some others suggested to me by colleagues and friends. Most of them do not work very well, indeed, if at all. The problem is that thin sections means just that—thin. They have to be transparent, which is extremely difficult to do without wax embedding and cutting the tiny wax block using a rocking microtome—a device purposely created for that task. Trying to make thin sections by hand involves using a very sharp razor blade, cut-throat razor, or other refined cutting edge. No child should be allowed to utilise such blades, even with parental oversight. One slip and you can lose a finger or worse!

The best method I’ve seen and tried was pioneered by the late Walter Dioni, a major contributor to Micscape Magazine. This is the one I will demonstrate to you. I have actually made slides from scratch using this method, so I know for certain it’s possible, despite it being a time-consuming hit-and-miss affair. Anything else you see about using cotton reels to make microtomes are far less effective. You only have to try doing what is said to realise the difficulties involved. Anyway. Lets give it a try and see what the results are. Please note, this is a free extract from one of my books designed to help fund this site and to offer modern practical guidance for people wishing to enter into and grow their experience in using a microscope as a hobby. Please see our book section for more information and how to purchase. Thank you.

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Published in the October 2020 edition of Micscape.

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