For newbies to astronomy, expensive equipment is an understandable deterrent. But with some thorough Google searching, you can find plenty of How-To's for making your own tools for less. Below are a few sites with several cool projects to offer.
Sky & Telescope is monthly amateur astronomy magazine covering current events in both astronomy and space exploration, as well as telescope making and reviews of astronomical equipment. The magazine's website offers several How-To sections, including stargazing basics, DIY projects, astrophotography, visual observing, and more.
Browse through the articles and categories for advice on projects such as building your own simple backyard observatory, image-stabilizing your binoculars, understanding celestial coordinates, making your own sun dial, and more.
The Sidewalk Astronomers are a public service amateur astronomy association based out of California. The non-profit holds star parties, provides astronomy programs for schools, and workshops on telescope making. You can buy their DIY plans for building your own Dobsonian Sidewalk Telescope for $15.00 on their site (a donation covering the cost of printing and mailing). You can also find the plans for free here.
Eyes on the Sky is a site geared toward frugal astronomers, offering basic advice, as well as links to resources and free star charts. Highlights: Download link for Jay Scheuerle's wonderfully in-depth PDF on building your own Portabowl Telescope for just $90; advice on getting the most out of a small, retail store refractor.
10 Minute Astronomy is a blog authored by Matt Wedel, an anatomist and paleontologist by day and amateur astronomer by night. Geared toward hobbyists with litte time on their hands, Wedel covers many elements of astronomy. Don't miss this great tutorial on building a Dobsonian mount for a 5-inch telescope.
The Budget Astronomer has a lot of information for beginners: the science of Astronomy, the practical aspects of amateur astronomy and equipment, observing, reviews of books and equipment, and of course, DIY projects. Get tips on making your own EQ platform, DIY observing chair, homemade finder, all weather tripod, and more.