DIY(?) roll paper safe/dispenser

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by polyglot, Aug 4, 2014.

  1. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    Hi all,

    I'm pondering buying Ilford FB on rolls instead of sheets, which requires that I have some means of storing and dispensing the roll. Has anyone built a paper-safe and dispenser? Are there "best practises" for constructing and/or using this sort of thing? I was considering integrating a guillotine or rolling cutter with the papersafe, but am concerned that (with a rolling cutter anyway) dragging the paper under the clamp-bar could scratch the emulsion. Do you cut roughly off the edge of the dispenser and then trim completed prints?

    A dimensioned drawing of a roll papersafe would be awesome; at this stage I don't even have dimensions for the cores that it will need to support.

    Do people cut a bunch of sheets from the roll and store them in a box/papersafe, or cut them for use directly off the roll?

    I'd like to buy a 20" and (maybe once my not-insubstantial stock of 8x10" runs low) an 8" roll; Ilford makes both. B&H only seems to stock the 50"+ rolls of FB though (narrower ones are all RC), so where could one hypothetically be had? The local (AU) distributors are disorganised thieves so it's generally (much) cheaper to pay for 5-day international air courier from a foreign retailer than to get something through the local supply chain.

    Any suggestions and/or hard-won experiences welcome...
     
  2. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    I see random rolls pop up quite cheap from time to time online. I've thought about this as well and tried it out on a 5inch roll of paper. The smaller roll is pretty easy to handle, and I just cut it using a rotary trimmer and stop guide at 7 inches. This was rc paper so it was easy to handle and cut, and I didn't notice any scratches from sliding it under the guide. Sometimes I would get an uneven cut but that could be trimmed later. One problem is that there is a curl to the rc paper, due to it being on a roll. I just store it in its original black plastic and cardboard outter box, and put that in a plastic storage bin.
     
  3. JOR

    JOR Member

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    Polyglot - do you have a means of processing lengths of paper on the roll (not necessarily the whole roll at once) or do you expect the built device to output individual cut sheets, which needs a much more complicated mechanism. If you want individual sheets to size, it would be easier to cut them to length and store them in batches, perhaps using a stepper motor or digital counter and DC motor. Incorporating a mask and a guillotine means winding a bit forward after exposure to clear the mask, then cutting, then winding back to position the paper back beneath the mask, otherwise each print would have a margin of wasted white paper.
    In a previous career I designed paper handling devices. The trickiest bit was interfacing every possible enlarger to the rolleasel. I ended up using a photocell and plastic fibre optic to link the lamphouse to the control. This sensed the end of the exposure and advanced the paper.
     
  4. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    I used to get 5" rolls when I did a ton of small prints in high school. I'd just chop a bunch of sheets for the next couple days work and put the roll back in the bag/box.
     
  5. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    Well I only have normal 2- and 4-blade easels, i.e. not a roll easel. So I'll definitely be cutting before exposing, and then processing sheets in a Jobo (my 3063 arrived today!). I'm also not doing production of bulk copies of prints, so don't need automation here.

    Cutting in batches seems a reasonable approach because it means I don't need a papersafe that holds the roll and I'm sure that's what I'll do initially. But if I could have a little papersafe bolted to the wall by the enlarger where I lift a lid, pull out the right length, snip it off and immediately expose, that sounds like a nice idea. Whether it's so nice in practise I don't know.

    For anyone who has used the Ilford rolls, what is the inner diameter of the core? Can you run a rod all the way through it or does it need to be supported by two short pegs?

    Has anyone tried one of those "craft paper dispenser" things with a sprung bar? Seems to me that the bar would act to prevent the roll unrolling, act as a nice cutting guide, and also provide an edge you can reverse the curl on somewhat as you draw the paper out.
     
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  6. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    I have two Rota-Trim units in my darkroom for cutting roll paper. One is set-up for colour paper with a quite impressive cardboard guide system using genuine duct tape, this was for 40cm wide roll paper manufactured in Australia by Kodak. I also acquired some Fuji roll paper, it was 30cm in one box and 8" in another box. The metric paper was Japanese and Australian stock, the imperial paper was presumably for the USA market.

    The other unit was set-up for B&W 50cm (I think) roll paper from Agfa Australia, this was RC and a great success. I had a series of cuts set-up allowing me to make three sizes of cut sheet paper.

    I believe you will find paper emulsion is quite tough, really tough. One can of course damage it, but my experience is that it takes a hiding.

    One just lifts the plastic guide on the Rota-Trim unit, slides the paper in to a pre-arranged stop, places the plastic guide down, then runs the trimming wheel back and forth. Got so good, I could do it with my eyes closed. :laugh:

    I must confess though, I haven't used either for some years as my stock of roll paper eventually finished and I obtained some mountainous supplies of paper from closing shops. One haul was 30x24" paper in 50 sheet boxes by 18 boxes, that was the RA4 colour, you don't wish to know how many B&W boxes I obtained.

    Mick.
     
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  7. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Member

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    I have one of those automatic roll paper dispenser/cutters. It uses a rotary cutter built in rather than a guillotine style blade.
     
  8. momus

    momus Member

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    I've never used roll paper, and I'm not sure what size you usually print, but if it were me, I'd cut the entire roll in one session to the various size(s) just to be done with it, and put it all right into paper safes. That should help w/ the curl issue too.
     
  9. DannL.

    DannL. Member

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    I've cut quite a few sheets (thousand or so) from Ilford Express and Ilford MGIV 4 inch and 5 inch wide rolls (500ft) over the years. You may be able to apply the same method to larger rolls. I took a cardboard box and placed a slot the width of the paper on one side. The slot is lined with felt as to not scratch the paper as it passes through. On the other adjacent sides I made a hole in the middle of the box as to support a rod (pvc pipe) that will pass completely thorough the box and roll of paper. It's basically a homemade paper dispenser. I set it near the guillotine cutter and pull the paper out to the stop on the cutter board. I cut off the sheet and continue. This I do under a safelight.
     
  10. darkroom_rookie

    darkroom_rookie Member

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    Rotatrim Technical ("T") trimmers have an excellent clamp with a strip of rubber that grips the paper properly. This type of cutter won't scratch the emulsion at all and is very, very well conceived and made. I have a T1250 model that cost me surprisingly little in money, but a lot in time it took to clean the rust. Fabulous build quality. No papersafe, just cutting rolls on a long metal spindle suspended on two holders, all in pitch black dark, of course. So far I've cut 40"-43" rolls of Efke Emaks FB, Efke RC, Ilford Warmtone FB, Kodak Ultra Endura F and N as well as various smaller Fuji Crystal Archive rolls. EO ("emulsion out") is what's difficult to do, almost as hard as Emaks and its mega-curl.

    But trust me on the Rotatrim T.
     
  11. anikin

    anikin Subscriber

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  12. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    So you don't wish to part with any of that? Either the 50cm cutter or some of the big RA4? :wink:
     
  13. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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  14. anikin

    anikin Subscriber

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    Yes, that's exactly what I do.
     
  15. walbergb

    walbergb Subscriber

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    I have 3 rolls of MGIV fb and one roll of MGIV rc all in the 50" range. I bought them because they were dirt cheap, but that's another story. I cut only 20-30 sheets at a time because of the stiff curl coming off the roll. The double-weight fb will not lie flat until it soaks up the developer. The curl gets worse the closer you get to the core. If I put more than 30 sheets in my paper safe, I have to tape it shut with duct tape or the curl will destroy the paper safe. The rc isn't nearly as bad. Also, the larger the paper (i.e. 16"x20") the less of a problem the curl presents.

    My jig works like this: there is a piece of 3/4" pipe anchored at the top of a 4'x5' MDF board that holds the roll. A second floating bar holds the paper flat (a relative term given the strong curl) against the back board. At the bottom of the back board is a 6" strip of the same MDF. I pull the paper down and rest it against this "stop." I have spacers (again blocks made of MDF) that (a) give me different sizes (e.g., 8", 10", 11", 14", or 16"), (b) hold the paper flat against the back board, and (c) support my 5'x4" metal straight edge (straight edge courtesy of the welding shop at the community college where I worked until I retired). I use a simple box cutter with some backing (scraps of mat board or cardboard) and change the blade often. The edge is a little rough, but in my case it gets covered by the mat overlay. The other dimension is cut using a rotary cutter. I have an 18" cutter.

    Having said all that, I have to ask what your motivation is for buying rolls of paper? I did a quick cost analysis based on B&H's current prices for Ilford MG Classic on a 42"x 98' roll vs a box of 250-8"x10". An 8"x10" cut from the roll costs 2 cents more and you have to do all the work! Never mind dealing with the curl.

    Some final words. First, the fb and rc rolls have kept well. I store them in my basement which is cool and dry. Second, I have all this paper on rolls, but my current interest is warmtone papers. Consequently, it will take me longer to finish the rolls. BTW, I find that the warmtone papers don't last as long unless they are kept refrigerated. Finally, because I didn't pay much for the rolls, I can afford to do a lot of experimenting!

    If you want, I can post pictures of my jig.
     
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  16. mnemosyne

    mnemosyne Subscriber

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    First, you can cut sheets exactly to your own requirements, e.g. square format sheets for 6x6 negatives or oblong sizes for the 2:3 formats like 35mm or 6x9 and thus eliminate the need to either crop pictures to fit the paper or otherwise waste paper by leaving a wide margin on the short side. Second, if you print really big, rolls are the only material available. And third, for RA4 paper there is a substantial price difference between rolls and cut sheet. Cut sheet is nowadays only available from the aftermarket and was about 2.5 times more expensive than rolls when I last did the math. Also, for RA4 material I prefer to have an original manufacturer's box with batch number and "best by" date rather than a plain white box where I have no information about the age of the material. Of course the economics might change if one prints only once in a while and would have to discard the biggest part of the roll because the material turned bad before it could be used up completely.
     
  17. MartinP

    MartinP Member

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    Silveror0, if you consider the convenience of sheets of paper up to 20" for the home darkroom user then the sheets win out, but if you want to print bigger or wider (eg. panoramas) then the rolls are the only way to go.

    A larger piece of paper from a roll is often developed by rolling it backwards and forwards in a trough of developer anyway, so the curl is not a development problem at all - a vacuum easel, magnets, or a clever arrangement of stripwood is probably needed to get the paper flat enough to expose although judicious use of double-sided tape can certainly help.
     
  18. mnemosyne

    mnemosyne Subscriber

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    It's true that paper from bulk rolls curls, but not excessively so, I would say (I can only speak for RC paper, don't have experience with FB paper). At least until now, I didn't have a problem keeping it flat under a good quality easel. Also, as I wrote, it's not only a question of saving some bucks. If you want to wet print color, there is no alternative left. In my experience, the few custom cut papers that are available through some vendors curl no less than home cut paper.
     
  19. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    Actually there is a good selection of Arista RA4 paper available in sheets; that's what I currently use. Certainly for 8x10 the savings are pointless, but in larger sizes (16x20-20x24") it looks like there is some saving to be had buying a roll. If I can get one.

    I'll probably not bother with a special container for now. Just get a wrapping-paper holder and cut a batch of sheets in the darkroom to keep in a box, then put the roll back in its bag/box.

    Guess I just need to wait for a good deal on a nice rotatrim.
     
  20. MartinP

    MartinP Member

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    Or use a matt-cutter with a measuring/aligning arm? It is then a multi-functional bit of kit.
     
  21. ROL

    ROL Member

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    All rolls, IME, have an industrial strength durr-durr*, at least an inch or greater in diameter. You can easily put a stiff ¾ inch steel rod through the durr-durr from which to support the roll on wall hooks or in a support base, which with the addition of a PVC irrigation pipe to ease rolling friction, is exactly what I do. Plastic end caps, installed on larger rolls to prevent the cardboard durr-durr from collapsing when fully loaded, must be pulled first.

    My experience is mostly with 40" and 42" rolls. I suppose there are (or were) automated roll delivery systems for commercial purposes. I've never seen one. Most of these probably dealt best with RC, but IME, rolls of fiber (Ilford, Oriental, Kentmere, Forte…) are extremely difficult to cut without scuffing or scoring the emulsion (BTW, care must also be exercised when trimming for final presentation as well). The Rotatrim T looks interesting, but unproven and beyond my budget for occasional uses. Safe cutting and handling is where the rubber meets the road in regards to fiber rolls. This is a major consideration in charging considerably more for any large print made from roll paper. You would have to weigh any perceived cost savings using smaller rolls instead of pre-cut against the considerable extra hassle.

    I always plan for wastage, keeping the cuts well outside the trim-able image area when I use my OLO cutter. I store smaller cut and test sheets in regular paper safes up to 20"x24". I keep up to three 30" – 42" wide cuts carefully rolled into my homemade 6" ABS pipe safe. But basically, it is an on time, on demand process for me – pull paper from box and mount on wall, cut (x2), return roll to light safe bag and box, enlarge (x2), process (x2), repeat until finished – at which time I am awfully glad to return the convenience of smaller pre-cut papers.











    * The durr-durr is a sniglet, one which, ala the empty toilet paper roll, may be use as a musical instrument – durr, durr-durr, durr...
     
  22. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    In the interest of dealing with curl, has anyone tried temporarily reverse rolling a portion of a roll of paper onto another core, storing it for a few days, and then cutting it into sheets?
     
  23. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    That would imply it being emulsion-out and therefore at greater risk from the bag/box it's in. My assumption is that one runs it over an edge when taking it off the roll to get most of the curl out.