Cutting holes in lensboards

Discussion in 'Camera Building, Repairs & Modification' started by athanasius80, Dec 12, 2006.

  1. athanasius80

    athanasius80 Member

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    So I've realized I have too many LF lenses I've not shot yet. I can make acceptable lensboards with local hardware store lumber, but does anyone have a good trick for cutting the holes in the center. My Dad has an adjustable fly cutter with his milling machine, but there must be some sort of woodworker's tool bit that is quick to adjust and easy to use.

    Thanks!
     
  2. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    Hole cutters are available as power drill attachments, usually as an arbor (holder) plus interchangeable rings and with a center pilot twist drill. There are different qualities of metal cutters, some will just cut wood, others will do thin metal. Also, sizes vary, check a couple of sets and you might find cutters with 35 and 40 mm diameter, just right for #0 and #1 shutters. Just draw two diagonal lines on the back of your panel to mark the center, clamp the panel up securely with a piece of thick scrap lumber behind it for the pilot drill to sink into and you should find you can cut a hole in about 10 seconds! If the lens panel material is splintery, it might be better to cut halfway through and then turn the panel over and finish it from the other side.

    Regards,

    David
     
  3. reellis67

    reellis67 Subscriber

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    As David stated you can get different sized hole cutters, or you can use a paddle bit on hard woods, or an adjustable cutter that uses an arm with a cutting blade and a center pilot bit. Most of these really should be used with a drill press, both for accuracy and safety. Check Rockler.com for really nice tools, but look at Sears for more affordable versions. Always, I repeat ALWAYS clamp your piece very well when drilling holes - the bits can really bite and put you in a world of hurt in the blink of an eye if you are not paying attention to what you are doing.

    Don't get me wrong, it's not that dangerous if you just pay attention. I've made a number of lens boards, and need to make two more right now actually! It's a hell of a lot cheaper than buying pre-made boards, and you can choose the wood and the finish to match your camera when you do it yourself.

    - Randy
     
  4. derevaun

    derevaun Member

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    I use one like this thing. It's a heavy chunk of metal to have whirling around on the end of your arm. It doesn't cut a straight hole profile--the hole edge will be angled. Works OK with birch plywood.
     
  5. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    A hole saw, Lenox, in a drill press with the board sandwiched between some thin material can give a very clean cut hole. The circle cutter works good too just be careful and go slow. If the hole saw, a barrel cutter, is not the exact size I use a drum sander to enlarge the hole slightly. I have made both wood and aluminum boards for enlarger lenses and taking lenses.

    Curt
     
  6. Murray@uptowngallery

    Murray@uptowngallery Member

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    I, too, endorse the fly-blade cutter Derevaun linked. I picked one up at a 'disposable' tool store along with a 'spade' bit set and a conventional holesaw set...2.99 each.

    The hole saw set was a piece of garbage...the collet was the wrong size and slips right thru the center hole. I Murray-rigged one hole one time and haven't even taken the time to find a garbage can for it.

    The 'outrigger' fly-cutter and a digital caliper allowed me to actually make a 2.205" precise hole for a heavy lens, and I decided at that price I could buy more than one. I set the blade spacing and make a practice cut & tweak.

    I also recommend safety glasses, a hard had and two baseball cups before using some of those imported tools.

    They're usually dripping in anti-corrosion stuff (dirty oil at best) too, so clean 'em in solvent first, if you care.
     
  7. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    I would certainly also advise against cheap tools, these are often made of incredibly weak metal which breaks under very light loads. The thing about a circular hole cutter is that it balances itself, as it contacts the workpiece surface around the full periphery all the time. I agree that if you use a device with an outrigger cutter, the best choice is a bench drill, otherwise the cutter may behave in a unpredictable way.
     
  8. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I use a hole saw and my grandfather's old hand-powered drill. I've tried using an electric drill, but prefer the extra control I get by actually turning the handle myself - it helps me make a nice even cut since I don't have a drill press.

    Since the hole saws are never exactly the correct size I drill the hole slightly smaller, then expand it by using a file or a knife depending on the material and how much is to be removed.
     
  9. argus

    argus Member

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    Another hole for the fly-blade cutter in a drill press stand. Choose one with a single blade rather than to model with double blade, those are more difficult to set to the exact position.

    Actually, I was looking for some fixed size hole cutters yesterday evening to see if the available sizes could match shutter sizes and could only find one that would fit a size 1.
    There are more drawbacks than advantages with fixed size clock drills:
    - expensive. The adaptor costs more than a complete fly-blade cutter;
    - difficult or almost impossible to find the correct size;
    Advantages? I guess they last longer.

    So I sticked with the fly-blade cutter. A single one serves me in cutting shutter 0 sizes up to the 122.5mm diameter needed for my enourmous Tessar 360mm f 4.5.

    G
     
  10. John Bartley

    John Bartley Member

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    My vote goes for this type of device also. I picked mine up at Lee Valley Tools. It's slightly different with only one cutter, but it does cut a nice straight side on the hole

    CAUTION ::: :: read the cutting speed (rpm) instructions and don't feed the bit too quickly or the cutting edges will burn and become dull.

    cheers
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 13, 2006
  11. Whiteymorange

    Whiteymorange Member

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    Old fashioned bit brace and an adjustable auger bit, sharpened each time with a few strokes of an oil stone. I cut into the board from one side, flip the board and finish from the other.

    Quiet, simple and as accurate as you need it to be.
     
  12. PhotoPete

    PhotoPete Member

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    Do you make those by gaslight, Whitey?

    :smile:
     
  13. jimgalli

    jimgalli Subscriber

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    Chris, I use a router mounted in a router table. Cheap craftsman. I use a carbide straight edged bit about 3/4" wide. I plunge the wood through to start, then I just freehand it until I get to my circle I've drawn. For lenses that need a jambnut I lower the bit and make a relief wider than my main cut for the jambnut to fall into. So far I still have all my digits, but I'll admit the way I do it is dangerous. Very fast though. And easy. Let's see, 1.2.3.4.5.6.7.8.9.10, yep they're still all here.
     
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  15. noseoil

    noseoil Member

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    Copal 0 is the same size as a hole cutter for european type cabinet door hinges. Use a drill press.
     
  16. reellis67

    reellis67 Subscriber

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    Something to keep in mind also is that as long as your hole is not so large the locking nut can't put even pressure on the board you should be fine. I'm not one to advocate the "just good enough" method, but this isn't rocket science either. A hole that is not truely round will work just fine, as I said above, as long as the nut is not unsupported anywhere.

    Those fly cutters scare the hell out of me. I've used them before, and they do a good job, but the idea that that little piece of metal is only held tight by a small set screw bothers me. Jim's method works great if you have a plunge router, or if you do like I sometimes do, drill a started hole and put the bit in that so you start off with the router base flush to the surface. That's actually how I was planning to make the boards I need to make since my paddle bit seems to have gone missing.

    - Randy
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 13, 2006
  17. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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  18. Harrigan

    Harrigan Member

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    This is an unusual way to do it but for super speed I mount the board on my lathe and bore the hole with a finger nail gouge. You can also use a drill bit mounted in the tail stock but this is much slower. I have a 4 jaw chuck with custom clamps that can accept the boards and centers automatically. This set up was made to hold larger bowls for reverse turning the bases. I can also do a recessed lip very easily to hold a copal shutter to a thicker wood board. This is not your average way to go but its one that hasn’t been mentioned.
     
  19. John Bartley

    John Bartley Member

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    All right !! I finally have a reason buy a wood lathe - not a "great" reason, but it's a start :D
     
  20. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    Chris, I use a router mounted in a router table. Cheap craftsman. I use a carbide straight edged bit about 3/4" wide. I plunge the wood through to start, then I just freehand it until I get to my circle I've drawn. For lenses that need a jambnut I lower the bit and make a relief wider than my main cut for the jambnut to fall into. So far I still have all my digits, but I'll admit the way I do it is dangerous. Very fast though. And easy. Let's see, 1.2.3.4.5.6.7.8.9.10, yep they're still all here.

    I was going to mention it but Jim put it out there first. I have used a router with a template to make a hole for a lens board. You can get fine results and any size you want. Guide bushings fit on routers to make perfect circles. Just some extra thoughts. How about a shutter made with magnets and adjustable?

    Curt
     
  21. Robert Hall

    Robert Hall Subscriber

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    I would suggest looking for a Forsner bit. They are really the only thing that will cut a clean hole without worry about what may happen to the other side of the board.

    They are not terribly expensive and one can find them in many sizes to match the shutter.

    Check out a place like www.rockler.com for such bits.
     
  22. Murray@uptowngallery

    Murray@uptowngallery Member

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    Yes, the flycutter in a handheld drill is pretty 'wobbly'.

    I use a low speed battery-operated drill and have only drilled Gatorfoam (wood-veneer-faced foamcore) and 1/4"-5/16" (6-7 mm?) plywood.

    I still have all 11 fingers.
     
  23. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    What's your piano playing like?


    Steve.
     
  24. richard ide

    richard ide Member

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    "All right !! I finally have a reason buy a wood lathe - not a "great" reason, but it's a start"

    I didn't know one needed a reason to acquire a wood lathe.
     
  25. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    You have an even better reason to buy a metal lathe.
     
  26. jimgalli

    jimgalli Subscriber

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    I REALLY need a Bridgeport mill to cut these holes.