How to Make a Scale

A homesteader shares how to make a scale cheaply, accurately and easily.

| March/April 1976


Don't have enough money to buy a scale for your homesteading needs?  Read on and learn how to make a scale.


A couple of months ago, my wife and I went into town to buy a scale. We'd decided to tighten up our rabbit raising operation and figured that if we could weigh the feed going in and the bunnies coming out, we'd have a better handle on the efficiency (or lack of it) of the whole enterprise.

We came home disillusioned. The scale most suited to our purpose cost $14.00 and only weighed to an accuracy of 1/10 pound. Now $14.00 is a lot of money to us — especially for an item that seemed to me worth about five bucks.

Then I remembered my trusty old Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, and its table which listed the weight of water to five decimal places. And I thought to myself: I've got a whole well full of water! This set in motion a chain of events which finally led me to construct a couple of sets of scales both every bit as accurate as those in town — at a cost of nothing!

The first scale I made was a simple "carpenter's level" balance. (The little spirit bubble made a fine balance indicator.) I wired a burlap sack to one end of the level, and an empty paint bucket to the other (see Photo 1). Then I tied a string around the middle, suspended the whole mess, and shifted things back and forth until the level was . . . well, level.  

Next, I put a bunny in the burlap sack and poured water into the bucket until everything balanced again. Finally, with the rabbit safely back in its cage, I measured the water with an ordinary measuring cup divided into fluid ounces — and there was the weight of the rabbit! I estimated my error as plus or minus an ounce — not bad for a scale that I had put together in five minutes!

dairy goat


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