At Last! Building Out My Darkroom!

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aoresteen

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In 2001 I moved to Florida and built a new home. I put in what I thought would be a darkroom that would last me for a long time. Here's the wet side, 16 feet long:

darkroom sink.jpg

The dryside/enlarger side:

enlarger side 1.jpg

I could print 20x24 archival prints and enlarge up to 5x7 negatives.

In 2006 I was recalled back into the Army and deployed to Iraq in 2007. We decided to sell the Florida home and bough a new home in Newnan GA so my wife would be closed to family while I was gone. I had to tear out my darkroom inorder to sell the house. :sad:

The new house had a room set aside in the basement for a darkroom but I never had time to build it (2nd tour to Iraq and commuting to a job in Florida). Two years ago I managed to get the enlarger room built out. I just retired and I'm focused on getting the darkroom built.

I sent the last two days building shelves to hold 130 or so Carousel 140 slide trays.

trays on shelves 1.jpg

From the entarnce door:

slide tray shelves insatlled.jpg

The sink will be L shaped. The rear wall will be the film developing area and on the right side will be the print area. My goal is to have it done by Jan 15th.

This will be my 5th darkroom (not counting converted closets :smile: ) and hopefully my last. It will handle 20x24 archiveal prints and negatives up to 5x7".

As I make progress more photos will come.
 

eddie

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Tony- Nice space. A couple of questions, though... Are you keeping cameras in the darkroom? Filled slide trays? I ask because I'm wondering if exposure to chemistry can have any effect on slides. I'm no expert, but I don't even store my enlarging lenses in the same room (probably being overly cautious about a moist environment), and store my paper in another room, too (after first hand experience with sepia toning fogging paper).
Still, I'm glad you're home, and about ready to get back to the darkroom.
 
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aoresteen

aoresteen

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Good question. I have three external exhaust fans going when I print and have chemicals in open trays. I've never had an issue; and 99% of the slides are Kodachromes. The tray boxes are cardboard which is a significant barrier.

Would a museum do as I do? No but my slides are hardly museum quality :smile:
 

eddie

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Tony- Maybe they're not museum quality but they probably mean a lot to you, and your family. I'm not an expert on the subject, but it's something you might want to check. I'm sure there are knowledgeable members who can chime in. I had paper fogged, in their boxes/bags, when I spent about 7 straight days sepia toning prints.
 

KennyMark

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Thanks for posting progress shots Tony. I began the same process two weeks ago by emptying the room that will become my darkroom and painting the concrete floor for dust suppression.
You have inspired me to document the process as well. Today the first wall went up. Here we go!
 

MattKing

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I'd be willing to bet that a large, well ventilated darkroom would be a better place to store slides than an un-ventilated closet in Georgia.

Looks great - hope it brings much joy.
 

jovo

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First, thank you for your service!

There shouldn't be any concern at all about storing stuff in the darkroom unless you're using a polysulphide-based toner. Those emit hydrogen sulphide gas which "is a powerful fogging agent for all sensitized photographic materials - papers, and films." (quote from "The Photographer's Toning Book", by Tim Rudman)
 

fotch

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Nice set up. My concern would be since heat rises, not storing items like film/paper or existing negatives/slices up high, in a room. Also, I would monitor the humidity of the room. Usually, where you use water & sinks, the humidity would be higher, even if only periodically.

While they may not be valuable, if you have not discarded them, they must have some value to you. JMHO
 
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aoresteen

aoresteen

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Thanks All!!

I have a dehumidifier that is run during the summer months for the entire basement as I have a lot of guitars stored there (the other half of the basement is a music studio). Humidity is not an issue. Jovo, thanks for the tip on polysulphide-based toners - I will watch out for that.

The slides are valuable to me for sure; so far they have held up very well. My Grandfather's Kodachromes from the 40's are still brilliant.

I have close to 100 rolls of exposed B&W film in my freezer dating back to 2006 including most of my combat photos from Iraq. I have to get those films developed!

Today I am buying 2x2's to start framing the sink support structure.
 
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aoresteen

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2x2 lumber bought. Not much done today due to the weather in Georgia. Rain. Lots of rain. I have to cut all wood outside as the basement is finished so I don't want sawdust everywhere. I did uncover the table saw under my deck to trim two shelves.

1. I put in a shelf to hold the stereo. It's a small Aiwa that has been the darkroom stereo for many years. FM reception is wonky so I plugged in my 240GB iPod. Yay! Much better working with music going. The speakers will be wall mounted once I figure out where the safelights & other shelves will be located. For now they are just resting on the shelf.

tunes.jpg

2. Put in the shelf to hold my SS developing reels - 35mm 120, 220, 127, and 110/16mm. I am missing a bunch of SS reels; they must be in my storage area. The 70mm reels go on a shelf under the sink. I have no idea where my 2.25"x3.25", 4x5, and 5x7 SS hangers are either :smile:. That 's the problem you encounter when you pack stuff up and put it in storage for 7 years.

ss reel shelf.jpg

3. Mapped the rear wall studs. The rear wall studs are on 24" centers (non-load bearing) but the side walls are 16" on center as they are load bearing. Having a map of where the studs are makes life so much easier when framing out the sink supports and putting up the back splash panels.

If I get good weather tomorrow I'll start cutting wood!
 
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aoresteen

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Today it snowed - in Georgia! No wood cutting. Peeled potatoes for tomorrow instead :smile:

Hope everyone has a blessed Thanksgiving.
 

Rich Ullsmith

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This is interesting. I too came back from Iraq and built a darkroom and music studio in my basement. First Iraq go-round, not the second.

I'm following all these new darkroom threads with great interest, as we have a new construction and a dedicated spare bedroom plumbed and wired for the purpose of a darkroom. Maybe start in Feb or March.

I plan on putting everything on wheels, except the enlarger. Going through all the darkroom portraits, and I don't see many things on casters and I am wondering if there is a reason for this. I figure that if my light box/work bench is on wheels and the plywood sink is on wheels, with the plumbing coming from overhead, then I could just detach the drain and flip the sink over on its stand and marry it up with the workbench . . .for matting and framing.

Don't mean to hijack your thread, but any thoughts on the wheels?
 

richard ide

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When I was in business, and now; I put everything possible on wheels. All work tables are the same height. When I needed to cut some long sheets of plastic, it took me ten minutes to put together two twenty foot tables with my table saw between them.
 
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aoresteen

aoresteen

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Rich,

Welcome back! I trust you made it back ok. :smile: No worries on changing the thread a bit, it's all good.



My print drying rack is on wheels. I bought ten 24x39" window screens (fiberglass) from Home Depot and put two casters on one end of it. I just lift up the other end and roll it where ever I need a temporary work space. It's light.

print drying rack 2.jpg

The top is a 2 x 4 foot piece of 3/4" plywood. I made the table 30.5" tall.

print drying rack 1.jpg

I used wood trim that has a 90 degree bend to make the rails to hold the screens - from Home Depot. A bit of paint and it's ready to roll.
 
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aoresteen

aoresteen

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The main room is 10 x 11.5 feet or 115 sq feet. The adjacent enlarger room is 10 x 4 feet or 40 sq feet. Total is about 155 sq feet.
 

eddie

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I love hearing about new darkroom construction. Gives me hope for humanity... :smile:

I had everything on wheels (except the enlarger table), for years. It really helped making major darkroom cleaning easier.
Rich- Rather than flip the sink, have a separate board which will cover the sink. Less chance of any unintended chemical transfer for your mat cutting, and no need to disconnect. Store the board away from the wet side, when not in use. A similar setup worked well for me when I had an efficiency apartment.
 
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aoresteen

aoresteen

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Made some progress today. Got the rear wall film sink support frame started. I used 2x2" x 8' lumber which are really 1.5" x 1.5" and 3" fine drywall screws. The cross members were screwed to the long wall rail then the entire unit was screwed to the wall.

frame 1.jpg

The frame was positioned 6" above the floor. I cut four 6" 2x2 blocks that I use as spacers which helps getting things set up seeing that I am working alone. 6" clears the baseboards so you don't have to remove them.

frame 2.jpg

The entire frame will be 30" high and the sinks will sit on them.

frame 4.jpg

Next is to put in the bottom shelf. There will be a second shelf. The shelf will be made of 3/4" MDF board which will tie the entire frame together. The upright supports are 24" apart.

frame 3.jpg

I'll get the shelf in tomorrow. The hardest part is getting started and getting the initial framing in. Things will go a bit faster now (I hope!).
 

Bateleur

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Tony,

Fascinating thread, being temporarily without a darkroom (hope to move to the new house in April next year) I am devouring the darkroom threads and am deriving much inspiration. Thank you!
 
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aoresteen

aoresteen

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Drain Issue!

Ran into a big problem. The drain didn't work. In the rear left side of the main room is a 1.5" PVC drain pipe for my sinks:

Drain 1.jpg

It is connected to a sump pump on the other side of the wall. The pump is for a laundry tub that pumps the water UP to the sewer line that is overhead. I do not have an in-floor drain. The unit is a Franklin-Electric Drainosaur:

http://www.franklin-electric.com/li...aged-systems/13-hp/506065.aspx#Specifications

When we had our basement finished in 2009 the contractor installed the pump and it is totally enclosed behind drywall. It has it's own circuit with a 20 amp breaker. As I was out of state when the basement was finished I did not test the drain as the contractor had glued an end cap on it.

Now that I'm building the sinks, today I tested the sump. I decided to do it before I closed the drain area off with the second shelf. I'm ready to put in the 2nd sheld but doing so will make working on the drain hard.

Sink ready 2nd shelf.jpg

I cut the end cap off and poured water in from a bucket. The sump filled up and did not pump. I checked the breaker - it was ON - and reset it. Nada. Crap. The pump is behind the wall in the enlarger room:

Drain 2.jpg

Yep, no easy access. So I crawled in by the bottom shelf and cut out an opening about 11x14" in the drywall to get access to the pump. After cutting away the insulation I could see the top of the pump. Sitting on top of the pump were the instructions! I could see the power cord so I grabbed to see where it went. Guess what? It was not plugged in!

Drain 3.jpg

I pulled the cord out through the hole I had cut and plugged it in. The pump works fine. I don't know where the dedicated circuit ends. I called the contractor and he is coming by Monday to sort it out.


I can't believe that they dry walled the pump in before they had finished wiring it up and left the instructions behind the wall as well. Mama Mia! :eek:


Now on to finish the sink frame.
 

sepiareverb

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Oi. And it got drywalled it in without access. Not a good idea. Every pump will need maintenance at some point.

I'm enjoying watching your progress, I'm getting ready to do some renovations in my space, this is sure helping me get ready.
 
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aoresteen

aoresteen

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Oi. And it got drywalled it in without access. Not a good idea. Every pump will need maintenance at some point.

I'm enjoying watching your progress, I'm getting ready to do some renovations in my space, this is sure helping me get ready.

I had specified an "access" panel but they made it too small and too high. Gets access to the cut off valve required by code in-case check valve fails. My bad for not being clearer.
 

sepiareverb

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I had specified an "access" panel but they made it too small and too high. Gets access to the cut off valve required by code in-case check valve fails. My bad for not being clearer.

Too high. Having worked in construction I'd say that likely explains it. :wink:
 
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