Cutting paper in the dark.

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Crohnsie

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Looking for some advice on cutting paper in the darkroom, I can get cut Kodak Matt in 10x12 but I print in 8x10 because it’s what I can scan ok my flatbed. I also have a single format Patterson easel arriving this week because I can’t seem to get a straight border on the lpl easel that came with my enlarger. So I will need to cut 2 inches from either side in the dark and I’m wondering if there’s anything anyone could recommend for accurate results.
 

MattKing

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I assume you are working in complete darkness.
I recommend a good rotary cutter with an adjustable paper stop.
Rotatrim, if your budget extends to it.
A guillotine cutter can be used, but you need to be really careful.
 

MattKing

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I use a 24” Rotatrim. Not a cheap option but works perfectly. I use black gaffer tape to mark frequently cut inch marks.

Great minds...
The other really good way to mark frequently cut marks is with the old style of DYMO labelling tape - the type that has a distinct thickness to it and a fairly hard edge. It allows you to position the edge of paper by feel.
 

Sirius Glass

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Use a rotary cutter with stops that you can feel.
 
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Great minds...
The other really good way to mark frequently cut marks is with the old style of DYMO labelling tape - the type that has a distinct thickness to it and a fairly hard edge. It allows you to position the edge of paper by feel.

Yes the DYMO tape thickness make it very easy to position and cut on the dark. Used that on RA-4 a long time ago. Totally forgot about it. Probably will use that trick again if I get X-ray film to cut it to 4x5 size.

Thanks for the tip.

Marcelo.
 
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Crohnsie

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I assume you are working in complete darkness.
I recommend a good rotary cutter with an adjustable paper stop.
Rotatrim, if your budget extends to it.
A guillotine cutter can be used, but you need to be really careful.

Yeah in the dark. I’ll see if I can find one in my budget ( photography student so not much of a budget to speak of). I’m wondering if I picked up an easel and just masked the paper down to treat it like 8x10 would work and just cut off the excess once the print is made.
 
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I once got a bunch of 5x8 b/w sheets for free (I think they cutted 10x8 sheets) I used a 5x7 easel for them and cut the excess after development. You could probably do the same. I guess you could do the same.

Marcelo
 
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Crohnsie

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I once got a bunch of 5x8 b/w sheets for free (I think they cutted 10x8 sheets) I used a 5x7 easel for them and cut the excess after development. You could probably do the same. I guess you could do the same.

Marcelo

Yeah that’s what I just realised I could do. It would probably be easier. Still need to get a better 2 blade easel though.
 

MattKing

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pentaxuser

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I have no idea how much a colour safelight costs in the U.S. but you might want to consider such and then a cheaper cutter might work fine as you would be able to see what you are doing.

This suggestion will no doubt be howled down on the basis that colour paper must be handled in the total darkness. This certainly seems to be the consensus here on Photrio. All I can say is that in Europe safelights such as DUKA sodium lamps provide reasonable and acceptable light safely . Isn't there an equivalent of the sodium light in the U.S.

I have a DUKA and it works to give me enough light to see what I am doing such as cutting paper without it fogging colour paper

Mind you I might be a raving lunatic of a Brit who has somehow convinced himself that his paper was unaffected by the correct sodium lamp and I am simply spreading my madness to others

Have a look at various threads on colour safelights and decide for yourself

pentaxuser
 

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I also use a 24" Rototrim in the dark with tape set up for stops.
 
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Crohnsie

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I have no idea how much a colour safelight costs in the U.S. but you might want to consider such and then a cheaper cutter might work fine as you would be able to see what you are doing.

This suggestion will no doubt be howled down on the basis that colour paper must be handled in the total darkness. This certainly seems to be the consensus here on Photrio. All I can say is that in Europe safelights such as DUKA sodium lamps provide reasonable and acceptable light safely . Isn't there an equivalent of the sodium light in the U.S.

I have a DUKA and it works to give me enough light to see what I am doing such as cutting paper without it fogging colour paper

Mind you I might be a raving lunatic of a Brit who has somehow convinced himself that his paper was unaffected by the correct sodium lamp and I am simply spreading my madness to others

Have a look at various threads on colour safelights and decide for yourself

pentaxuser

I’m in Scotland. I have a duka but I was unsure of it and it’s currently sat in a cupboard not being used.
 

koraks

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This suggestion will no doubt be howled down on the basis that colour paper must be handled in the total darkness.

For sure. IME any usable quantity of light that actually allows you to see anything will fog color paper. The fogging might be subtle and result in a color cast with the whites remaining white, hiding the issue. I've done quite a bit of experimenting lately with narrow-band 600nm led lighting that sits right at the dimple of RA4 paper sensitivity and alas, this has only confirmed my earlier experiences with Durst color safe lights (which were so dim that they had practically no use to begin with anyway). The problem with a color "safe"light is that it's only "safe" if you ensure that each and every sheet you print receives exactly as much exposure (which also needs to be very little) so you can color correct for it (with some loss of hue purity). So for all means and purposes, it's really a dead end street if you want repeatable results of good color quality.

Of course for b&w the situation is totally different and safelights can be used to cut paper.

For cutting paper in the dark I use a Dahle rotary cutter that happens to have an iron baseboard so I can stick strips of magnetic material onto it, which act as repositionable tangible stops. This works really well.
 
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Crohnsie

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For sure. IME any usable quantity of light that actually allows you to see anything will fog color paper. The fogging might be subtle and result in a color cast with the whites remaining white, hiding the issue. I've done quite a bit of experimenting lately with narrow-band 600nm led lighting that sits right at the dimple of RA4 paper sensitivity and alas, this has only confirmed my earlier experiences with Durst color safe lights (which were so dim that they had practically no use to begin with anyway). The problem with a color "safe"light is that it's only "safe" if you ensure that each and every sheet you print receives exactly as much exposure (which also needs to be very little) so you can color correct for it (with some loss of hue purity). So for all means and purposes, it's really a dead end street if you want repeatable results of good color quality.

Of course for b&w the situation is totally different and safelights can be used to cut paper.

For cutting paper in the dark I use a Dahle rotary cutter that happens to have an iron baseboard so I can stick strips of magnetic material onto it, which act as repositionable tangible stops. This works really well.

See, I bought a duka but as I said, it just didn’t sit quite right with me using a light with colour paper so I ditched it. I didn’t get a true representation of wether it worked or not because the first batch of paper I bought was expired and badly stored so it already had a horrible colour cast but I just persevered with doing it in the dark.

It wasn’t without issue to start thought, whacked my head near my temple, nearly knocked myself out. I’m a bit more careful now 😂
 

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Don Heisz

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If you're printing 8x10 because you scan the prints, why not print onto your paper on half the sheet - 6x10 (which will have the full 35mm frame in 6x9)? That's a decent size for a print and you'll waste less paper. 35mm gets cropped to print 8x10.

And, of course, you would still be able to print 8x10, since you wouldn't sit down and cut all your sheets at the same time.

Incidentally, I use roll paper and cut it with a guillotine. It's the fastest way to cut. It's most adventurous way to cut in the dark.
 

bdial

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There are inexpensive plastic cutters sold for scrapbooking that would be safer in the dark than a guillotine cutter. Fiskars makes several, I presume there are likely places in Scotland where you could get one.
 

Donald Qualls

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All I can say is that in Europe safelights such as DUKA sodium lamps provide reasonable and acceptable light safely . Isn't there an equivalent of the sodium light in the U.S.

I've looked into Duka color safelights, but low pressure sodium replacement bulbs for them are no longer available (same is true for the much larger/brighter Thomas sodium safelight). The safelight may work fine when you get it, but when the bulb fails, it's done.

There are amber LED lamps with similar spectral output -- 590-595 nm, IIRC -- that are readily available and fit common medium base screw sockets (and hence reflector lamps or safelight housings). I bought a couple of the bulbs, but I'm not yet set up to test them with RA-4 paper, and they're not reliably safe with all brands of multi-grade B&W papers, so they aren't universal.
 

Tel

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I'll second the "trim after development" method but still advise caution. I was just recently framing and matting some prints (in full daylight) and sliced a big lump out of my left thumb with a mat knife. 11 stitches and 8 weeks later it's looking almost like a normal thumb again. I think I'm going to invest in a rotary trimmer.
 

pentaxuser

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I’m in Scotland. I have a duka but I was unsure of it and it’s currently sat in a cupboard not being used.

Sorry Crohnsie, I should have remembered for a previous thread to which I replied that you were in Scotland and in fact had a DUKA because, if I recall, you had asked questions about it to which I replied

What has happened is what I predicted would, namely, there are those who will never accept that such lights as the DUKA are safe at the right level and for the right amount of time . So what do the two rights mean?

Well it has to be set at a fairly low level such as say 5 on the dial for a trial. It has been a while since I did any RA4 printing but as I recall matters 5 was perfectly safe. As far as the right time is concerned than I suggest that you cut each sheet one at a time and put each cut sheet in a lightproof box as you cut

I'd angle the DUKA towards the ceiling as well

Of course you need to do safelight tests as you would with a b&w safelight.

At the end of the day only you can decide if you want to use the DUKA


Someone who also uses a DUKA is BMbikerider and his experience is more recent than mine. He might see this and reply

Best of luck

pentaxuser
 

pentaxuser

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So, koraks, I note your reply but just for the benefit of Crohnsie, have you actually used a DUKA safelight and is so are you saying that it did fog the paper no matter what settings, the length of paper exposure to it and no matter where the DUKA was placed in the room?

Thanks

pentaxuser
 

RalphLambrecht

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Looking for some advice on cutting paper in the darkroom, I can get cut Kodak Matt in 10x12 but I print in 8x10 because it’s what I can scan ok my flatbed. I also have a single format Patterson easel arriving this week because I can’t seem to get a straight border on the lpl easel that came with my enlarger. So I will need to cut 2 inches from either side in the dark and I’m wondering if there’s anything anyone could recommend for accurate results.

build yourself a cutting rig or use a guillotine-type cutter. They can be preset for the cut.
 

koraks

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have you actually used a DUKA safelight

Not a Duka, but an old Durst filtered RA4 safelight as well as 600nm LED (which for all intents and purposes is equivalent to low pressure sodium except that led can be dimmed much more easily). In both instances any light level that allowed me to actually see the paper resulted in fog. The degree of fog ranged from very subtle color shifts to blaring cyan whites and gross color casts, depending on angle and intensity. Only light levels that didn't allow me to see anything except the ceiling seemed to be fairly safe, although I didn't bother testing such levels extensively as they have no practical use.

You're right in saying that everyone should work out for themselves if a safelight for RA4 is feasible. I invested a couple of hours and a sizeable stack of paper into it twice now, spaced a few years apart, and the results were the same in both cases: there was no light level that had any benefit without visible detrimental effect on the prints. Maybe I'll revisit the experiment once more in due course, if RA4 is still around by then.
 

DREW WILEY

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There is a good reason Robespierre chose a Guillotine cutter to get his own kind of work done efficiently, which is exactly why someone working in the dark with photo paper should seek another method less likely to remove body parts. Get a Rototrim. It's a lot cheaper than having fingers surgically re-attached.

Safelights are basically useless. I do keep a little Jobo Minilux available in a pocket, just in case I need to MOMENTARILY reorient myself to something in the dark. But it's not something I ever use in relation to actually cutting down photosensitive color paper, which in my case involves large cumbersome 30 and 40 inch wide rolls. I haven't tried IR goggles yet. There are past threads on the subject.
 
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