Print Drying Cabinet

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Sundowner

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I did a quick search and didn't turn up much on print drying cabinets; lots of discussion on film drying models, of course. So...for those that use print drying cabinets: what are your experiences with them? I've got limited - read: "zero" - space for drying racks, but I have a nice corner that's slated for a film drying cabinet and I was thinking about making a few adjustments to the design in order to allow some prints to be dried in it when I'm not in film-drying mode. I don't see a need for airflow in order to dry negatives, but fiber prints hold so much more water that it seems a small, enclosed cabinet would actively prevent drying without airflow and or heat. Opinions and/or links to relevant threads?
 

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You need some airflow for either negatives or prints, commercial film dryers generally have a small fan drawing in filtered air which is (often) heated and the air exhausts through some vents. Passive ventilation would work too, but either way the damp air needs somewhere to go. Drying prints in a film dryer would be fine, especially for RC papers that could be hung from their corners. But, fiber paper would do better dried flat, so the cabinet would need more horizontal space than vertical space unless you only do small prints.
I built a plywood box which is fastened to the ceiling in a corner for a print drying cabinet. It's open on one side to slide print screens in and out and has largish holes on the sides to facilitate air movement. I sized the screens to accommodate 2 11x14's or 4 8x10's each then built the cabinet sized to the screens.
 
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Sundowner

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You need some airflow for either negatives or prints, commercial film dryers generally have a small fan drawing in filtered air which is (often) heated and the air exhausts through some vents. Passive ventilation would work too, but either way the damp air needs somewhere to go. Drying prints in a film dryer would be fine, especially for RC papers that could be hung from their corners. But, fiber paper would do better dried flat, so the cabinet would need more horizontal space than vertical space unless you only do small prints.
I built a plywood box which is fastened to the ceiling in a corner for a print drying cabinet. It's open on one side to slide print screens in and out and has largish holes on the sides to facilitate air movement. I sized the screens to accommodate 2 11x14's or 4 8x10's each then built the cabinet sized to the screens.

I've seen film cabinets with filtered/heated air that speeds drying, and I've seen them with neither heat nor airflow. I don't really need or want fast drying for negatives; I just need a place to keep them overnight while I do other work in the darkroom. Likewise, I need a place where the prints can stay out of trouble, so that's where my double-duty cabinet idea is coming from. I don't use any RC papers; everything is fiber, which I much prefer to dry flat. Print size: I rarely print on anything larger than 8x10 paper, although I keep some 11x14 and 16x20 in the freezer in case I see an image that screams "I MUST BE PRINTED LARGE!!!" but that happens about once a year...thus, I'm going to build vertically, which works for the available space and meshes with my workflow. Right now, the design is about 84" tall, 21" wide and about 14" deep; I can make it a bit larger if absolutely necessary, but I don't see the point in doing that because a cabinet of that size would allow me to dry forty or fifty prints at once on interior racks...and I don't often print more than sixteen or twenty at a time.

Here's a thought: you have an open-on-one-side cabinet that has large holes for airflow...so could I just leave the door to the cabinet open when I'm doing prints? I'm building it to tuck into a corner and the door won't impede anything else whilst open...so that might be a simple solution.
 

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...Here's a thought: you have an open-on-one-side cabinet that has large holes for airflow...so could I just leave the door to the cabinet open when I'm doing prints? I'm building it to tuck into a corner and the door won't impede anything else whilst open...so that might be a simple solution.

That would work, most home-brew print drying cabinets are done with just one side open, I sometimes tend towards overkill, plus I wanted to ensure even drying between the back of the cabinet and the front. (and I had a hole-saw that might as well get some use:smile:)
 
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Sundowner

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That would work, most home-brew print drying cabinets are done with just one side open, I sometimes tend towards overkill, plus I wanted to ensure even drying between the back of the cabinet and the front. (and I had a hole-saw that might as well get some use:smile:)

Well I do love using a hole saw...but my day job is designing custom cabinetry and programming a CNC panel router to cut the pieces I want for the designs, so "overkill" is where I tend to dwell. :D

On that note: I have about 80" of height inside the cabinet. I can line-bore it at any spacing I like, but the stock setting that we use is about 1.25"...which allows over 50 holes, and a sheet of wire mesh or some other print-holding material in each one. That's over 100 8x10's, two per rack... although the airflow would be nonexistent with so many sheets of paper stacked in there. Unless I engineered a back-to-front or side-to-side airflow, of course...but that introduces its own set of problems.
 

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Hi, I converted an Ikea glass-sided display case as a drying cabinet. Cut a hole in the bottom and extended the height to provide hanging space for 35mm rolls of 36. Placed a small portable hotplate in the bottom. At the lowest temperature setting I set the timer to 35 minutes and all negs dry very well in this time. I have a metal grate over the hotplate in case anything falls off to reduce any risk of melting plastic! As the display case comes with multiple glass shelves I can also stack large format negs above each other and use a slip of foam on the glass shelf to catch the drips on the higher shelves. Also in the photo you can see an adjustable rail. 120 rolls go on the lower rail and 35mm on the higher. Its a nice slim profile compared to many commercial dryers and very cheap to make.
Drying Cab 2.jpg Drying Cab 1.jpg
 

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Hi, I converted an Ikea glass-sided display case as a drying cabinet...

That's close to the same size that I'm thinking of building; have you tried drying prints in it? If so, how well did that work?

Buy a print dryer see my earlier post. You can get these if you look. I use the Pako for fiber and an Ilford for RC. You need to keep the belt clean. I get flat dry prints in minutes . The Ilford dryer will dry a RC 8x10 in 10 seconds.

https://www.photrio.com/forum/threads/washing-drier-fabric-how-do-you-dry-prints.154287/

I paid 40 bucks for the one in the picture, late 1960s vintage.

Most of the print dryers I've seen take up a lot of room, which is something I don't have; I've seen a few countertop models that I could potentially store underneath a countertop and only take out when needed, but I also don't want to do too much moving-stuff-around. I only have one spot that I could put a countertop model, and I would have to move my dry-mount press to do it...which is a potential solution.[/QUOTE]
 

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That's close to the same size that I'm thinking of building; have you tried drying prints in it? If so, how well did that work?



Most of the print dryers I've seen take up a lot of room, which is something I don't have; I've seen a few countertop models that I could potentially store underneath a countertop and only take out when needed, but I also don't want to do too much moving-stuff-around. I only have one spot that I could put a countertop model, and I would have to move my dry-mount press to do it...which is a potential solution.
[/QUOTE]
These countertop models are heavy. I would guess 50 lbs. And bigger than what you are looking for. Mine are wide enough to take 16x20. Sounds like you need to design a nice drying cabinet :smile:.
 
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These countertop models are heavy. I would guess 50 lbs. And bigger than what you are looking for. Mine are wide enough to take 16x20. Sounds like you need to design a nice drying cabinet :smile:.

Hmm... I guess I could treat a print dryer like any other under-counter appliance: if it had a front input and output I wouldn't actually need to set it on top of the counter at all. A heavy-duty roll-out slide would take care of moving it for cleaning. I guess I need to look into that as a possible solution, instead of making my negative cabinet do double-duty. I'm honestly not that familiar with dryers, because I've always air-dryed my prints and gotten great results and just hadn't really thought of altering that process.
 

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Hmm... I guess I could treat a print dryer like any other under-counter appliance: if it had a front input and output I wouldn't actually need to set it on top of the counter at all. A heavy-duty roll-out slide would take care of moving it for cleaning. I guess I need to look into that as a possible solution, instead of making my negative cabinet do double-duty. I'm honestly not that familiar with dryers, because I've always air-dryed my prints and gotten great results and just hadn't really thought of altering that process.
If you could find a Pako dryer like mine, they were sold under several names, Pakomax, Pakonomy, Omega label, Beseler etc. It would work fine as you describe. I bought new belts from Pakor for mine so I'm set for life. You need to use a hardening fixer for prints. Everyone says that hardener prevents washing, toners etc. Baloney! Kodak addressed this issue in the early 20th century, real science.
 

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The best way to dry film is to hang it up to dry in a warm or ambient temperature and let it dry over 24 hours (patience is a virtue). Drying cabinets blow air and dust into the wet emulsion.
 

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I did a quick search and didn't turn up much on print drying cabinets; lots of discussion on film drying models, of course. So...for those that use print drying cabinets: what are your experiences with them? I've got limited - read: "zero" - space for drying racks, but I have a nice corner that's slated for a film drying cabinet and I was thinking about making a few adjustments to the design in order to allow some prints to be dried in it when I'm not in film-drying mode. I don't see a need for airflow in order to dry negatives, but fiber prints hold so much more water that it seems a small, enclosed cabinet would actively prevent drying without airflow and or heat. Opinions and/or links to relevant threads?
I had two, one for film and one for prints; both from Marrut(UK?) and both excellent; big time saver and clean films and prints; highly recommended.
 
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Sundowner

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If you could find a Pako dryer like mine, they were sold under several names, Pakomax, Pakonomy, Omega label, Beseler etc. It would work fine as you describe. I bought new belts from Pakor for mine so I'm set for life. You need to use a hardening fixer for prints. Everyone says that hardener prevents washing, toners etc. Baloney! Kodak addressed this issue in the early 20th century, real science.

I use a hardening fixer already, so that's no impediment.

I had two, one for film and one for prints; both from Marrut(UK?) and both excellent; big time saver and clean films and prints; highly recommended.

Was the print cabinet heated and/or fan-powered..?
 

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That's close to the same size that I'm thinking of building; have you tried drying prints in it? If so, how well did that work? .

Hi, I always dry my fibre prints flat on flyscreen racks. Heating fibre while it hangs makes it curl even more than normal in my experience. I rarely have time pressure for producing a final fibre print so overnight drying is fine. If the darkroom is cold or humid I might put an oil space heater on low heat overnight to help. Resin coated paper proof sheets dry hanging from a line over my sink in a short time and don't need any help.
 

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I too made flyscreen racks that slide under my darkroom ‘sink’ which itself is really just a homemade table with a few shelves. Doesn’t use any additional darkroom floorspace.

If you have a space you put your printing trays on, surely there is an inch or two to be found underneath?

Horizontal seems a more efficient way to go than vertical with drying prints? Especially curly fiber prints.

Building some kind of dedicated device to dry something seems maybe not the most efficient use of resources? :smile: But i live in a reasonably warm climate, maybe prints take a long time to dry where you live?
 
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Sundowner

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Hi, I always dry my fibre prints flat on flyscreen racks. Heating fibre while it hangs makes it curl even more than normal in my experience. I rarely have time pressure for producing a final fibre print so overnight drying is fine. If the darkroom is cold or humid I might put an oil space heater on low heat overnight to help. Resin coated paper proof sheets dry hanging from a line over my sink in a short time and don't need any help.

I have no experience with heated print drying aside from pressing everything with the dry-mount to flatten it, and I'm never under a time constraint to finish prints; thus, my thought to make the negative cabinet a dual-purpose area. My only objection to that plan is the fact that I am known to work on processing dry negatives from the night before, create contact sheets, and then want to get around to processing more negatives later on; rather, I want to work on things while stuff is drying...so if my drying cabinet is taken up with one batch while I'm wanting to use it for the other batch, I'll be right back in the same predicament in which I now find myself.

I too made flyscreen racks that slide under my darkroom ‘sink’ which itself is really just a homemade table with a few shelves. Doesn’t use any additional darkroom floorspace.

If you have a space you put your printing trays on, surely there is an inch or two to be found underneath?

Horizontal seems a more efficient way to go than vertical with drying prints? Especially curly fiber prints.

Building some kind of dedicated device to dry something seems maybe not the most efficient use of resources? :smile: But i live in a reasonably warm climate, maybe prints take a long time to dry where you live?

I've thought about an under-counter area for prints to dry, on a screen rack exactly as mentioned...and under the "sink" would be a good spot. The "sink" - really it's just a big tray that connects to the actual sink - is the last area that I'll be remodeling, too, so the worst situation I would be in until then is my current makeshift "just stack a few surplus window screens around the place" solution. I hate that solution because I have to shut everything down after just a few prints, but it would work for awhile.

Also, prints do take awhile to dry around here... especially in a small room on the northern side of the house, where the humidity is always a bit higher, and in which there's little air movement. Having them in some kind of partitioned area of their own is really all about keeping the darkroom up and running while they're drying, which lets me spend more time in there working without danger of disturbing them (same with negatives).

If I was smart, I would design a cabinet that's big enough to contain a countertop print dryer and/or drying screens, and then have the option of using either...but I wanted to learn about print dryers anyway, so that'll be fun.
 
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Sundowner

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heated and fan-powered. I had a life-time supply of filters for them.

Lucky!

One thing I did just think of - and by that, I mean "my wife, who is both smarter than me and a better photographer thought of this" - is that a heated dryer would allow us to make drydown and tonal corrections without an overnight+ delay every time.

I've seen a few Arkay 150's on the auction site, and a Regal RC500 as well; I don't know a great deal about either, but something of their size would easily fit in a base cabinet with plenty of room for a few drying screens, as well.
 
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