Contact Printing Frames (how to build?)

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delano

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Jun 12, 2003
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Hi All,

first post here. I am interested in doing some Cyanotype prints and would like to build a Printing Frame for this purpose. I know these can be bought from places like Bostick & Sullivan but as I have a garage full of tools I'd like to go ahead and try to build my own. One issue though - - I've never really seen one in person :smile:

Can anyone point me in the direction of some online plans or a description of what is required for a nice and stable frame?

thanks for any leads or solutions provided!!

Delano
 
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delano

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Jun 12, 2003
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Location
Austin, TX
Brian,

thanks so much for taking the time to upload the graphic. Just to make sure I understand it - - i'm assuming the 1/8" kerf off the rabbet is for the steel frame lock? Glass and Back sit in that 1/2" rabbet?

thanks again!

Delano

PS - where did you pick up spring steel?
 

Donald Miller

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Dec 21, 2002
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The only comment that I would add to this is that I noticed that Brian had identified the drawings of this frame to be suitable for ULF. I don't believe that will work. At least the results will not be as sharp as possible. Normally in ULF work a vacuum frame is used.

The reason that I know this is that I went through all of the questioning and searching awhile back for my own purposes. Jorge, Sandy, and others all related that for the large negatives and good results a vacuum frame was required. I trusted their judgement in this matter.

I would not try to contact print 8X10 prints with just a sheet of glass placed on the negative and paper. The contact between negative and paper would not be good enough to achieve maximum sharpness. I sometimes use a sheet of glass on 4X6 for masks and the results can be unsharp (unintentionally) when I do it this way.

I do use a conventional spring back frame when I have a limited number of 8X10 prints to do.
 

bmac

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The wood back / spring locks / padding on the wood (I used automotive headliner) all work together to create a presure that will make the neg to paper sharp (sharp enough for my bad eyes at least. Glass and gravity don't even compare.
 

Donald Miller

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bmac said:
The wood back / spring locks / padding on the wood (I used automotive headliner) all work together to create a presure that will make the neg to paper sharp (sharp enough for my bad eyes at least. Glass and gravity don't even compare.

Brian, your comment about glass and gravity as opposed to spring tension is accurate in my experience. The same principle applies to spring tension as compared to the pressure exerted in a vacuum frame when one works with larger negatives and paper. Prior to buying a vacuum frame, I encountered not one person that told me that spring back frames equalled vacuum frames when one moved into ULF negatives. Had I found someone that shared a contrary experience with me then I would not have spent the money on the pump and frame. My experience with the vacuum frame has supported and reinforced what I was told.

As I have related earlier I do use a 8X10 spring back frame when I do a limited number of prints of that size.
 

Jan Pietrzak

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to dnmillikan

Having to print some big negs 12x20s, and not having the
money for a vac frame. I built my own using 1x3 maple,
cutting a top of 1/2in maple and inside guides a 3 part back of 3/4in MDF and 3/8x2in oak for the springs this frame has no problem with sharpness. The glass was 3/16 to 1/4in yes it is heavy but alot easer to work with than the 30x40 vac frame the guy sent me. It still is taking up space in my studio. Frames for big film need to be big

Jan Pietrzak

ps I canceled my gym membership
 

Donald Miller

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Jan,
Whatever works for you is what you should use. My original post was in specific reference to plans that Bmac had posted and his reference to those plans being suitable for ULF. In reponse to those plans and for the benefit of sharing experience garnered by others and myself, I shared what my experience was.

I also shoot 12X20 and personally have opted to use a vacuum frame (albeit of smaller size then what you related). A 30X40 vacuum frame is almost four times as large as is needed for a 12X20 negative.

A number of people that visit this site shoot ULF of various sizes. Those that I have knowledge of seem to indicate that they use vacuum frames (the only exceptions that I can recall are David Goldfarb (11X14) and yourself.

Is the frame that you constructed also of a 30X40 inch size?
 

Jan Pietrzak

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Jul 8, 2003
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New Mexico
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to dnmilikan and all

No the print frame is big enough for a 1/2 sheet of paper exposeable area is 14x22 or 16x24. The print frame and the rest of my darkroom have been in storage for the past two years I have only been printing my own work 4x5 to 11x14, out in the made over dark area/laundry room lately. 25 years of having a full darkroom and now I work on top of the washer and dryer with plastic bags over the windows. But thats ok the new 100sq/ft darkroom is only a few weeks away. Back to the vac frame I just found it harder to work with. The light source needed to be the moveable part and not the print frames. One frame is not better that the other as long as they are good frames cheep frames are just that cheep and I have had many a student bring them to workshops and class. The 30x40 vac frame was sent to me for the printing job. Non pt/pd printers have no concept as to what is needed to do the job, and I wish that they would come a pick up their frame.

Jan

ps if you would like to see some work go to
www.superlarge.com (gallery section)
www.freestylephoto.biz/pietrzak.php
 

George Losse

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Apr 7, 2003
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323
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Southern NJ
Shooter
8x10 Format
dnmilikan said:
A number of people that visit this site shoot ULF of various sizes. Those that I have knowledge of seem to indicate that they use vacuum frames (the only exceptions that I can recall are David Goldfarb (11X14) and yourself.


Count me in of the group that uses a sheet of glass instead of the vacuum frame. I print 4x5, 5x7, 8x10, 11x14 and 8x20 under glass.

When I was first printing in Platinum I used a sheet of glass laying on top of a wood base. I did that for over 5 years. Then, I bought a plate burner that had a vacuum frame. It worked great but was very big, but I had a big studio space.

When I moved into my current house, I had it in the darkroom for a number of years to use with silver based contact printing. Since I broke it down and moved it to the basement, I have been able to do a lot more work done in the darkroom. And it's much quieter in the darkroom now.

Vacuum frames work great, but they are not required. I have found printing frames are really best used with processes that need to inspect the exposure on the paper (Platinum/Palladium, POP, and others). With Silver based printing you loose the need to open the spring back to see the print exposure, so why go through the hassle of locking the paper into the frame?

The only time I every had a problem with the print and negative staying in contact with each other was with curled paper. And that can be solved with either a double weight sheet of glass or a bigger piece of paper then the negative size. Placing the curl outside the print area.

I have found that a hard surface under the print has worked better for me. A lot of people use softer materials like foam, but either wood or another sheet of glass has worked well for me.
 
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