Dealing with big rolls of photo paper

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Barry S, Oct 3, 2011.

  1. Barry S

    Barry S Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,339
    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2007
    Location:
    DC Metro
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I found a roll of Fomatone 542 Chamois paper to buy, and for that I'm thankful, but I've never worked with big (1 meter wide) paper before. Cutting off some pieces to test with a scissors felt really clumsy and yielded some interesting trapezoids. :whistling: My darkroom is small and I need a way to easily cut nice sheets and flatten then in the dark in a limited space. The paper is very curly off the roll and between that and the size--is a bit of a struggle. Anyone have any hints or tips? Thanks.
     
  2. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,786
    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2005
    Location:
    Northern Vir
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Barry- Do you have enough room to roll a bit of the paper on the darkroom floor? If so, my technique may work. I cut a piece of cardboard the size I want to trim the paper to. I place that over the paper, just to get the right size. I slide a metal straightedge below the cardboard, lining it up with the cardboard edge. Underneath, I have oversized cardboard, so I can use the straightedge and an Exacto blade.
    If you don't have the floorspace, can you borrow a darkroom to cut it in? You'd be welcome to cut it in my DR- I'm in Alexandria.

    BTW- Did you get it from the Craigslist posting for "Fumatone"?
     
  3. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,668
    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2007
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Got news for you: my darkroom is even smaller. I live in a 12 ft x 12 ft efficiency and my 'darkroom' is in a corner. Years ago I bought about eight rolls of color photo paper (dirt cheap) and cut it all in that tiny space. YOU MUST BE ORGANIZED.

    First, set it up. I used an old turntable to mount the roll horizontally so that it would feed easily. It would have been BETTER to hang the roll vertically (so the paper would not twist but it worked), like a water wheel, so maybe you can improvise something rigid to hang a horizontal narrow shaft on.

    Then on the (absolutely spotless) table you place a small paper cutter (I use an old Falcon cutter) and tape (duct tape) it down to the table so that it does not move, even a little. You set this all out so that everything will move easily in the dark. Then you place a small box slightly larger than the paper sheet size you will cut. Then you set out the black bag that the paper came in so that you can put the cut sheets in when the box is full.

    Try 'dry run' practice with the lights on and using dummy paper. It was a tiring ordeal to do eight big rolls but I have color paper to last a lifetime. But...little room for food in my refrigerator or freezer.

    Remember, hands and work area absolutely spotless. - David Lyga.
     
  4. frotog

    frotog Member

    Messages:
    751
    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2007
    Location:
    third stone
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I leave the roll in the box, grab the leading edge with both hands, pull out the amount I need (a guide line can be taped to the edge of the box to get exact lengths), carefully roll into a tight cylinder right down to the lip of the box, and then use a box cutter to cut along the lip of the box. Picture the lip as an anvil of sorts. Works great, no crimps.
     
  5. Barry S

    Barry S Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,339
    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2007
    Location:
    DC Metro
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Thanks for the suggestions! I guess the upshot is I need a system and I might as well cut down the full roll as long as I have things set up. Some contraption to hold or suspend the roll while cutting would be a big help--that was part of my problem.

    @Eddie--Thanks for the generous offer, I may yet take you up on it. The paper was indeed the CL "fumatone"--:smile: I have a good record finding useless junk on CL, but occasionally I find something worth the effort and money. The jury is still out on this one and I was soundly cursing myself for wasting money on a tightly curled scroll of dubiously-stored old paper.
     
  6. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council

    Messages:
    9,182
    Joined:
    May 24, 2005
    Location:
    Washington D
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Barry- look around on CL for one of those old paper dispensers they use in florist's or other shops that use roll paper for something to hold it. Barring that, a good background stand and crossbar that can be adjusted height-wise to put the roll just above a table top. Then invest in a really good Rota-Trim or Dahle rotary cutter you can feed the paper through.
     
  7. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,786
    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2005
    Location:
    Northern Vir
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Barry- anytime...
    I contacted the seller, but he didn't know how old it was, how it was stored, etc, so I passed. Good price, though. Did you buy it all?
     
  8. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,786
    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2005
    Location:
    Northern Vir
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I don't think a paper cutter is a viable (i.e. cost effective) option. You'd need a cutter of at least 40 inches to trim meter wide paper. Those are costly.
     
  9. richard ide

    richard ide Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,227
    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2005
    Location:
    Wellington C
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If you find the curl hard to work with, try reverse rolling it. It will not take long to remove the set. I used to use a lot of large roll stock and after trying several ideas settled on a shelf at the end of my 4 x 8 table about 6" below the top. A piece of steel angle on the end of the table gave me a cutting guide. I had a scale along the front edge of the table so I could quickly pull out the length I needed.
     
  10. Barrie B.

    Barrie B. Member

    Messages:
    64
    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2008
    Location:
    Melbourne Au
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Make up or have made a large 'BOX' in a manner similar to a 35mm film cassette; but with the lower part of the 'felt' light trap extending about 12" out from the box , always leave about 2" of paper extending out from the light-trap, with the safelight on pull out say 12 " of paper , cut it with a straight-edge, you can them trim down the one metre into 4 x 8" x10" etc. with a little practice you can trim-off any sizes you desire and the remaining paper stays in your ' cassette ' ready for you next cutting session. Cheers Barrie B.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 3, 2011
  11. ROL

    ROL Member

    Messages:
    792
    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2005
    Location:
    California
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    There are a few interesting suggestions so far which given careful attention, may work. My concern with all of them is that scratching the emulsion, particularly with fiber paper, might be difficult to avoid:

    • Floor cutting seems the most promising, providing you have the room and can prevent dirt and other foreign matter from scratching the emulsion.
    • Leaving the roll in the box and cutting lengths seems low tech enough, just be careful not to graze the emulsion on sharp cardboard edges.
    • The giant film canister "light safe" idea is something I've often thought of trying. I'd be cautious of making the light trap tight enough to prevent exposure while not simultaneously scratching the emulsion, and a way to retrieve paper from inside when starting a cut. It isn't clear to me that the responder has actually constructed a safe working version.

    I have successfully used two wall mounted closet pole supports and a 4 foot long 1" pipe on which to mount all my rolls, paper towel dispenser style, for many years (seen here). I mark lengths on the wall with painters tape, and finally cut paper as it is unrolled with an OLO rotary cutter, scissors being too "grabby". Cut paper is stored in a large diameter black ABS effluent pipe (new!), "roll paper safe", one end capped, other screwed.

    Very inexpensive but far from perfect. The cuts are always approximate, too be cleaned up after printing and during mounting, and one must remember to put the roll back into a light proof bag/box before turning the lights back on!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 3, 2011
  12. Barry S

    Barry S Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,339
    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2007
    Location:
    DC Metro
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Scott-- I like the idea of using my backdrop stand and cross-bar--anything I don't have to buy is a plus. Sure would love a 42" Rotatrim, but as Eddie mentioned-- they're nutty expensive.

    Eddie--That guy had been trying to sell those rolls for a year and my thoughts were the same--old paper and I knew it wasn't refrigerated or stored correctly. Garage, attic, damp basement--who knows? I decided to take a gamble for the price and bought what he had. It was supposedly all sealed, but one box was torn open--typical CL buy. :smile: Just made my first test prints tonight and I think it may be ok or at least partially good. There were some strange artifacts--couldn't get a full black in some areas, but that may have been some clumsiness on my part. I need to do more testing.

    Thanks everyone for the ideas, I appreciate it!
     
  13. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council

    Messages:
    9,182
    Joined:
    May 24, 2005
    Location:
    Washington D
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Barry- do you have a mat cutter? While not CHEAP, I suspect a Logan 650 would be a lot cheaper than a 40" Rota-Trim, and could be found used with relative ease. It was a few years ago but I found my Logan on Ebay new-in-box overstock for $350 +/-. List price is about $700. It was a worthwhile investment though - it paid for itself my first Artomatic when I had 12 20x24 frames to put up on the wall.
     
  14. frotog

    frotog Member

    Messages:
    751
    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2007
    Location:
    third stone
    Shooter:
    Large Format

    Every roll over 30" wide that I've ever used has been rolled emulsion side in. Therefore, if you handle the paper only once to cut it, scratching the emulsion will not be an issue. Crimping is the main concern and best dealt with by rolling the paper up as soon as you pull it and before you cut it. I have no idea why one would use anything other than a box cutter to cut the paper - major PITA. A straight cut is not a problem so long as you use the edge of the paper box as a guide.
     
  15. hpulley

    hpulley Member

    Messages:
    2,214
    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2010
    Location:
    Guelph, Onta
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I use the "pull it out of the box/bag" method. I don't drag it over the box edge, I just use that as a rough guide. I use scissors, safer that a blade; the edge is rough but I can cut it properly after the picture is finished. I flatten it by putting it into a bag/cardboard sleeve from paper that I used up. Sitting in there for a while flattens it for the most part.
     
  16. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,212
    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2004
    Location:
    Toronto-Onta
    Shooter:
    Med. Format RF
    I print murals for a living and the best method for cutting from a roll is using an auto cutter.
    Secondly if auto cutter is out of the question, then using a tape measure and a blade, Put the measure on the top of the box, measure up to a point on your body where the length is , remember that length.
    Pull the paper straight up to that point in your body, then let the paper roll back on itself and hang it over the box edge, use a straight edge and cut. There will be no issues and this is how all mural printers cut paper on the fly if they do not have an auto cutter in their room.
    If any one here knows where I can find an auto cutter I would like the information, bending down to cut is a PIA for me these days.
     
  17. frotog

    frotog Member

    Messages:
    751
    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2007
    Location:
    third stone
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    There's been a autodispenser on ebay for a while now. It's located in the northwest and the seller wants $1300 for it, pickup only. I use a meteor seigen and a rollma 52 on a daily basis. I'll get rid of them once there is no more roll paper to dispense.

    Re: paper curl... a non-issue once mural sheet is weighted, held down by magnets, masking tape or what have you. Remember, the less material handling, the less likely you'll f%$# it up.
     
  18. jp498

    jp498 Member

    Messages:
    1,467
    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2009
    Location:
    Owls Head ME
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I haven't cut wide rolls of photo paper, but I do cut down a big roll of inkjet paper with my logan mat cutter.

    If you need something temporary to set the spool on, visit your hardware store electrical aisle for a pair of rack-a-tiers.
     
  19. ROL

    ROL Member

    Messages:
    792
    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2005
    Location:
    California
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Of course rolls are emulsion in. I didn't mean to suggest that the unrolling itself from the box would injure the emulsion. But dragging large unwieldy widths, of curly paper around sharp cardboard may scratch the emulsion as easily as it can cause flesh paper cuts. Even the freshly cut edge of the (glossy fiber) paper, if allowed to sppring back onto the emulsion side, may injure its surface. The last time I had one in the darkroom, I found that blood neither makes a good developer, nor a consistent toner. As I apparently unsuccessfully attempted to indicate, without writing a multi-page treatise, the method itself works fine at no cost, for occasional use. And feel free to use any cutting implement you wish specific to your unquestionably superior method. There are other options that work as well for others. My objective observations were only to suggest that planning and careful handling of paper are necessary deviations to more carefree sheet paper handling. I in no way meant to disparage a method which so demonstrably works so well for such a sensitive individual.
     
  20. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council

    Messages:
    9,182
    Joined:
    May 24, 2005
    Location:
    Washington D
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Gentlemen - we're getting a bit sensitive here over something so simple as a paper-cutting technique discussion. Let's all take a step back.
     
  21. KEK

    KEK Member

    Messages:
    104
    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2005
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    My setup for roll paper is cheap and works well. I made a holder for the roll similar to the metal counter type but mine is made from a wooden dowel and plywood for the support stands. I have a small darkroom so I lay a piece of plywood with a wooden yard stick screwed to one edge from my wet side to my dry side. I roll out the paper to the size I want and use a metal door threshold and razor knife to cut. To take the curl out Freestyle sold cardboard mailers up to 24 x 30 with the black inner bag. Cut up what you need a day or two ahead of time and it's all flat when you want it.
     
  22. frotog

    frotog Member

    Messages:
    751
    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2007
    Location:
    third stone
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Yes, indeed. However, if you re-roll the amount of paper you've pulled out before you cut then you will not have to drag the aforementioned large, unwieldly widths of dangerously curly paper around sharp cardboard where it might have it's gentle emulsion scratched or, god forbid, deliver a paper cut or maybe something worse - I don't know:blink:... not to mention keeping the dust off the unexposed sheet of paper.