This section is from the book "Bepler's Handy Manual of Knowledge And Useful Infomation", by David Bepler. Also available from Amazon: Bepler's Handy Manual of Knowledge and Useful Information.
Get from a druggist a common pasteboard pill-box of about one and three-fourths inches in diameter. Cut in the lid a round hole an inch in diameter. Cover the hole on the inside with a piece of window glass, which can be held in place by bits of sealing-wax at the corners.
Break off about three-eighths of an inch from the point of a sewing needle and affix it, point upward by means of sealing-wax, to the center of the bottom of the box. This is to be the pivot upon which the magnetic needle is to swing.
For a needle, use the permanent magnet made of a darning-needle. To adjust this to the pivot, cut out a piece of ivory or bone - the handle of an old tooth-brush is good material - a quarter of an inch square by a tenth of an inch thick. In the center of the square side bore a hole by means of an knife-blade or the handle end of a file, nearly through the piece.
The inner extremity of the hole must be smooth, with no small crevices or sharp edges. To the opposite surface attach by sealing-wax the needle, and after placing it upon the pivot, put the cover on the box. If the hole in the ivory be well made, one end of the needle will point to the north.
Place the compass near any large mass of iron as, for example, the kitchen stove, and see where it will point then.
The word "news" was not, as many suppose, derived from the adjective new, but from the fact that many years ago it was customary to put at the head of the periodical publications of the day the initial letters of the compass, thus:
Signifying that the matter contained therein was from the four quarters of the globe. From the letters came the word "news."