Camera wood

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by mark, May 15, 2004.

  1. mark

    mark Member

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    As I am planning to make my next camera, I have been looking at the woods that nice cameras are made from. I know some are made from mahogany, cherry, teak, walnut, and the kit cameras seem to made from poplar. Does anyone else out there have a camera made from something different?
     
  2. Loose Gravel

    Loose Gravel Member

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    I have used cherry and extruded aluminum in combination (glued with silicone) and sometimes I use cherry and birch plywood. I suppose some of these fine model makers plys would be good also.
     
  3. gma

    gma Member

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    Whichever you select for aesthetic reasons I suggest that you choose a hardwood with tight straight grain such as cherry for stain finish; maple or poplar if you are using an opaque color finish. There are many exotic hardwoods that look fantastic, but some contain oils that make them difficult to glue. Some are so hard that they split easily when drilled. You will want to select hardware to compliment the wood finish. Brass is especially attractive with stained and lacquered hardwood. Stainless steel looks great with a semi-flat black enameled finish. Have fun.
     
  4. noseoil

    noseoil Member

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    There is a picture of mesquite wood (native to mexico, south america, the southwest united states) used in a 4x5 camera I built in the non-gallery pictures section. It is on the second page of photos now. This is a dense wood which finishes easily, is stable and takes fasteners well.

    I would avoid poplar, as it is rather soft and does not hold fasteners as well as some other hard woods. On the plus side, it does finish well and takes a stain to look like many other woods with proper finishing.
    Cherry, south american mahogany (not asian or phillipine mahogany), ebony, black walnut, ash, hickory, pecan. There are plenty to choose from, but none of them take pictures very well.
     
  5. gma

    gma Member

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    Noseoil,

    That mesquite camera is beautiful. I've seen some fine art furniture made from mesquite, but I hadn't thought of using it for a camera. I don't know how available it is except here in the Southwest. Other than handmade furniture and flooring, in Texas we use mesquite for slow cooking/smoking brisket. Yummmm!
     
  6. noseoil

    noseoil Member

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    gma,

    I know what you mean. Sometimes I want to use the camera for a BBQ myself. tim
     
  7. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Member

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    Don't use poplar. Despite being called a hardwood, it is as soft or softer than pine. It also doesn't take a smooth finish very well.

    If you want convenience, red oak is readily available at hardware stores in the lumber section, usually precut to manageable sizes. It's a little heavy, but works well. It has large pores, so absorbs moisture easily compared to tighter woods commonly used.

    Cherry is popular with camera builders, but it is becoming an exotic wood, so it costs a fortune. It's easy to work with.

    Walnut is nice, and doesn't cost much, but it tends to warp when cut. Sometimes very badly, so be prepared for that. You can choose black (American) or English walnut.

    Mahogany is good, and is available in the South American (Honduran) or African. It doesn't tend to warp like walnut, but it does chip at the blade, so use a fine tooth blade. You may also want to use masking tape over the cut line to keep it from chipping during the cut.

    I have never worked with paduk or ebony, so you're on your own.

    As for metal, stainless steel will last a long time, but it is very heavy and hard to work with. Look at Caswell plating for a blackening kit. Paint on any of the metal will wear too quickly. The exception would be a baked on enamel.

    A better choice would be aluminum in the 6000 series or the 2000 series. The 2000 series is usually referred to as "aircraft" aluminum and is very strong. You can't bend it, though, it will break. It must be machined. 6000 series is very easy to work with and will take all the stresses you will encounter with a camera. Don't get the aluminum available through major hardware stores, it gets very gummy and doesn't work well. Online metals (www.onlinemetals.com) is a great source. You will need to have it anodized or do that yourself. It is difficult to paint aluminum. It will peel off after a while. Powder coating will work, though. Don't leave it bare, if it begins to corrode, you cannot ever stop it.

    Brass is good, but is heavy. It weighs almost as much as steel. It machines well. It will corrode, and laquering it will only be temporary.

    Despite what other people say, you cannot work the metal with a dremel. You will need a milling machine. www.harborfreight.com has a one called a micro mill/drill for under $300. I have one and have built many things with it. You will also need end mills and end mill holders. A milling vise will help, too. www.littlemachineshop.com is a great source for things. For good information try looking at www.mini-lathe.com. They have a section on mills and anodizing.

    For gears go to www.smallparts.com or www.mcmaster.com. The former has brass, delrin, and steel. The latter only has steel. Mcmaster has just about all the hardware you will need.

    Making your own bellows is near impossible and very frustrating. Use a bellows from something else, or have Camera Bellows make one for you.

    Good luck. If you need further information, e-mail me directly. I am not participating on apug anymore.

    -Greg
     
  8. mark

    mark Member

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    Well damn. This has been a lot of help and a lot more info than I ever expected. I will keep everything in mind and have book marked this page.

    Thanks again.
     
  9. Loose Gravel

    Loose Gravel Member

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    Aircraft aluminum is 6000 series, commonly 6061.
     
  10. mark

    mark Member

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    My father in law has a milling machine in his boat repair shop to fabricate pistons and other engine parts. It is a big thing with all of the parts necessary. I have handled the Canham metal 4x5 and was not too heavy. DOes anyone know what a 5x12 or 4x10 camera might weigh if I was able to figure out how to do it all out of aluminum. This is just a thought. Canham's monorail system does not look complicated at all to build.
     
  11. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    I've worked a *LOT* with airframe and "space" bits and pieces, and nearly *ALL* of it was 6061 - note that after machining it sould be heat treated - "T6" is most often specified... to get all the really *nice* properties.

    *RARELY* we used "7075" .... miserable stuff to work...
     
  12. noseoil

    noseoil Member

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    Density

    I would be curious about the density of this material, most hardwoods for camera use are about 30-35 pounds per cubic foot. What is the density of this material? tim
     
  13. noseoil

    noseoil Member

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    About twice the densidy of most hardwoods. Heavy camera, but good under water.
     
  14. bmac

    bmac Member

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    And dishwasher safe!
     
  15. mark

    mark Member

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    I will talk to my father-in-law about it. He's in the marine industry. Thanks for the info, even though I have no idea what all of those specs mean.