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Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by Aggie, Aug 3, 2003.
Aggie, I'm assuming you got a large format enlarger, probably a 4x5. (If its an 8x10, then GADZOOKS!) I just got a 4x5 operating a couple weeks ago. Since my setup has to remain semi-portable, I mounted it on a piece of 3/4" cabinet grade plywood. The local lumber yard always has some remnants so I didn't have to buy an entire very expensive sheet. The enlarger sits on top of my roll-away toolbox, which has about a thousand pounds of tools in it, so the "table" is very stable. One can attach some small tension wires between the column top and the wall using turnbuckles. This keeps the column from vibrating.
If I didn't have to keep the enlarger portable, I would have attached directly to the wall.
A friend gave me a pretty good book on all this stuff. Its titled "The New Darkroom Handbook", ISBN 0-240-80260-8. It has some very good plans for enlarger mounting and building a projection table underneath. I highly recommend it to you. Good luck and hope your carpentry skills are as good as your photography!
Aggie a small ugly table isn't very hard. Grab some dimensonal lumber from the local place [2x4s ] Some places will actually cut the lumber to your plans. OTOH it's safer to do the cutting yourself. Just make sure the pieces you pick up aren't warped. While you could cut fancy joints just screwing things together is good enough. Grab a bottle of glue and dab some on. If it's really heavy you might want to consider 4x4s for the legs. Pine or cedar not pressure treated.
For the top just grab one sheet of plywood good one side and one of pressboard. Have them cut this to size at the yard. You then make a sandwich of this. The good plywood on the outside. Glue it together add some screws. The top will be very strong. If you feel like it you can paint the top.
My 4x5 enlarger is on my work bench still. The bench is basically made up like I've described. Pine 4x4s for legs. 2x4 cross pieces. I did use half lap joints for the connections but it's over kill. My bench can easily hold my 150+lb enlarger and me. Plus all the other junk that's on it.
I'm going to force myself to make a smaller one next week for the enlarger so I can have my bench back.
Aggie, like you are with metal I am with wood and have a complete woodshop but even so I bought my darkroom furnishings. For a stable worksurface that doesn't have to be pretty I would go to used office supply stores or GoodWill etc to find a big heavy stable cabinet or desk. Or weld up something from angle iron since you are a metal worker. Those books are decent starting points but are pretty limited on different ideas for darkroom set ups so look around at every darkroom picture you can find.
My dry side is a desk height old cabinet with the enlarger wall mounted at maximum height for ceiling clearance. To bring the easal up to standing height I have a small 15" high box in front of the easal. By removing the box you can do very large projections. The lower cabinet height allows me to sit for most dry side opperations like loading and unloading film and has 8 huge drawers for storage.
If you start thinking "out of the box" you will be amazed at what you can pick up cheap or free that will work. My sink is a large stainless tray from a mortuary (let your mind run free on that one) that sits on several old two drawer filing cabinets. I was lucky on the sink but you can check out restaurant supply stores or call around Camera clubs, stores etc. for used photo sinks. I never used to see these around but lately with every one else getting out of wet darkroom I'd bet you can find one. Other wise the books show you how to build sinks.
The size and arrangement to fit the space you have is always custom. I have had roll it into bathroom size, permanent stainless sink in a bedroom closet size, old tables and laundry sink in basement size, and my full bedroom size that I now have. You are lucky to have all that space available. Add a bunch (lots and lots of) shelves and other storage cabinets and then all you have to do is the easy part, wiring and plumbing.
I got several sets of "saw horses" and a piece of formica from Home Depot. As I remember the whole thing cost less than 80 dollars and took 10 minutes to assemble. Formica comes in long runs and I got several about 8 feet long. I have a set on either side of the work area. Enlarger ,etc on one side, trays on the other.
I stole an end table from the living room for my Saunders 4x5. I also stole the coffee table from the living room for my 5x7. both were a quick, incredibly solid solution when my enlargers arrived. My wife got to buy 2 new ones, so it was a win-win situation. Of course, now, everytime I eye any of the remaining tables I get an unambigious warning, bodering on a threat, that it better never happen again...
I've been eyeing TV stands. The local place even gives weight limits for them. They are all borderline for my enlarger but for anything lighter they might be just fine.
So what did you buy, model and size? I would first do some design work and careful planning of your darkroom before setting things up. It is far better to plan before hand, then to do things by trial and error.
You should consider wall mounting your enlarger.
oops, I need glasses. I think Sexton also uses a Saunders. Keep us informed as to what you buy so the rest of us can drool.
Invite me over and I'll give you a few ideas on the way I designed mine. This is my third darkrom and I've made lots of mistakes in the past. Send me a "personal message" and we can work our schedules.
I'm glad I got a floor-standing Durst... I'm hopeless at carpentry
I built my dry area table using the design mentioned in "Build Your Own Home Darkroom" by Lista Duren, et al. It was quite a simple task and all I needed were - 3 - 2x4s, 2 - 1x6s, and a 4x8 sheet of particle board, in addition to 4" deck screws and nails. I use it to hold my 35mm enlarger and various dry side "stuff". It is very sturdy and should hold a 4x5 enlarger as well.
i have built 2 different enlarger tables in the past, and both worked really well.
ann's idea of using sawhorses works great. at the same time you buy the sawhorses, buy a door, put the door on the horses, and it'll hold a ton of weight. i had a little durst and a omega d3v on it and no problems.
the second table i built is the one i use now. 4x4 legs cut about 32.25" high, 2 - 2x3 or 2x4 as braces between each of the legs - and 3/4" plywood as the top. i also have a few 2x4 "on edge" running underneath the table to brace the top. i have both the enlargers i mentioned before on it, as well as a huge . auto omega e4.
i have a bunch of other odds n'ends ( read : JUNK ) on the it now too, and this table keeps begging me putting more "stuff" on it
for the vent - if you don't mind something on the side of your house / building that looks "industrial" -you might consider getting one of those grey-metalic louvered (outside window) white grill ( inside window ) window fans that nutone makes. i think i picked one up a while back for $60 - $70.
kind of makes you feel like you are in a photo-factory when you have it up n'running, and is always a conversation piece ...
good luck with your project!
Aggie, just a thought, but I have an old school desk that I've used for years. It's the old primary school steel and formica top kind (the one with the ink well in the top right corner). Weighs more than 6 grade 5 students all together. Very sturdy but I can't get my knees under it now (I'm 6'4").
For my first darkroom, I'm going to use an old back of drawers cabinet that I have in the garage now. It has a missing cutting board slot on the top row, and a pretty average size drawer below that. I'm going to convert that top drawer into a paper safe ala some of those darkroom books.
For stability, since I'm next to a very solid concrete wall, I'm going to take and the drawers out and mount the whole thing through the side to this wall. I may have to add a piece of plywood to the back for lateral stability, depending on the shape of the cabinet after I try to move it downstairs!
I like the suggestions about wall mounting though. I think I've seen some photos of someone who mounted the enlarger on the wall, and had the base board on adjustable mounts. This would be pretty cool, but I would think that you would have to be very careful to maintain proper alignment etc.
Have you guys ever mass posted your own dardrooms in the gallery for us newbies to drool over? I saw two or three there today, but the more the better! Thanks.