This section is from the book "The Boy Mechanic Vol. 2 1000 Things for Boys to Do", by Popular Mechanics Co.. Also available from Amazon: The Boy Mechanic, Vol2: 1000 Things for Boys to Do.
The containing vessel for the cell should be made from sheet zinc. It should be cylindrical in form, approximately 21/2 in. in diameter and 6 in. long. This vessel is to form the negative terminal of the cell and a suitable connecting device, similar to the one shown in the sketch, should be provided and securely fastened to the upper edge of the vessel. The vessel should be lined with some heavy blotting paper, both sides and bottom.
Place into a glass jar a small quantity of chloride-of-zinc crystals, and pour over them 1/2 pt. of distilled water. Allow the crystals to dissolve at least one-half hour. If the crystals all dissolve, add more until some remain in the bottom of the jar, or until the liquid is saturated. Pour off the solution and dilute it by adding an equal part of distilled water. Add to this solution sal ammoniac, in the proportion of 1 lb. of sal ammoniac to every 2 qt. of liquid. Fill the dry-cell vessel with this solution and allow it to remain until the blotting paper is completely saturated.
Obtain a good size electric-light carbon, about % in. in diameter, and file one end down as shown. Drill a hole through the carbon and mount a terminal.
Make a mixture of equal parts of finely powdered carbon and manganese dioxide of sufficient amount to almost fill the vessel. Add to this mixture some of the solution and thoroughly mix them. Continue adding solution until a thick paste is formed.
Pour the solution out of the vessel and allow the latter to drain for a few minutes in an inverted position. Place the carbon rod in the center of the vessel and pack the paste down around it, being careful not to move the carbon rod from its central position. The vessel should be filled with the paste to within about % in. of the top. The lower end of the carbon rod should not be nearer the bottom of the vessel than 1/2 in. Over the top of the paste place a mixture of equal parts sand and fine sawdust and then, over this, a layer of pitch, which acts as a seal for the cell. A layer of blotting paper should be placed between the sand-sawdust mixture and the carbon-manganese mixture. The side lining of the vessel should be turned in before the sand-sawdust mixture is placed in the top of the cell. The outside of the cell should be covered with some heavy pasteboard, which will serve to insulate the negative terminal from the surface upon which the cell rests.
Ill: Cross Section through the Cell, Showing the Construction and Location of the Parts