Glue for bellows construction ???

Discussion in 'Camera Building, Repairs & Modification' started by smieglitz, May 6, 2005.

  1. smieglitz

    smieglitz Member

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    I'm about to attempt making my first bellows and I'm wondering what sort of adhesive to use to attach the stiffeners and liner to the outer material. I'll be using Porter's rubberized darkroom cloth for the exterior, manila folder material for the stiffeners, and a black "Super-Suede" 150 denier polyester fabric obtained from Outdoor Wilderness Fabrics for the liner.

    I've read suggestions on Doug Bardell's site for using Franklin Sanding Disc cement, Nashua 357 or 3M Photo adhesive sprays as the adhesive. Other sites recommend using rubber cement or the type of contact cements used by the automotive industry to secure vinyl/rubber trim to vehicles.

    So, I have a couple questions to those who may have assembled a bellows before me. First, is there any adhesive including those mentioned above that you wouldn't use in retrospect, and if so, why? For example, the adhesive ultimately failed, or it set too quickly or not rapidly enough, it was too messy to apply, or it interacted with the material and caused it to deteriorate, etc.

    Second, does anyone have any ideas for other suitable adhesives? I'm trying to imagine what might have been used historically and I'm thinking canvas hide glue sizing might do the trick being inexpensive and reversible and I doubt it would interact with the materials adversely.

    Spray adhesives would seem to me the easiest to apply, but I have doubts that something like Photo Adhesive Spray would be permanent based on how I've seen it fail in mounting photos.

    I wonder if plain old white glue or PVA would work. Anyone?

    Thanks in advance for sharing your experiences or thoughts.

    BTW, the bellows will probably be 9" inside and square on both ends, non-tapering, and probably 24" - 30" fully extended.

    Joe
     
  2. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    I have used both rubber cement and the spray on glues, 3M also makes a spray on rubber cement that works great, the spray ons are alot easier to work with, than the roll or paint on types.

    Dave
     
  3. Andy Tymon

    Andy Tymon Member

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    Hi Joe,
    I just made myself 2 8x10 bellows(one as a backup as it's easy to screw up). I found a glue called fabritac made by beacon adesives worked for attaching the stiffeners(i found I couldn't use contact adhesive inside as we have gas appliances) and the fabritac has less fumes. To glue the outer cloth to the inner I used contact cement I think it's called weldwood. I also used it to glue some of the stiffeners for the other bellows but this time I was working outside and it was applied with a small foam brush. I would use this method again ,you just have to work outsidebecasue of the fumes.

    As for the fabric I used drapery blackout material which is used to line curtains to darken rooms it's reasonably cheap $5.47 a yard and comes in 54" width( I got two 8x10 bellows out of two yards) for the lining I used cheap cotton cloth $1.87a yard from walmart(same place I got the glue). You might want to give the blackout fabric a try as it's cheap(you can but it online at hancocks fabrics). It's only downside is it comes in white or ecru,but you can spary it black with acrylic paint.
    I have attached(i think) a picture of the bellows.
     

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  4. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    There was an excellent article in View Camera a few years ago about how to make a bellows. The author used Pliobond (sp?) contact cement. He was using a neoprene type material so you might want to test it on some scrap of material first.
     
  5. phfitz

    phfitz Member

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    Hi there,

    I have used 3M Super Weatherstrip Adhesive (yellow) with great results for the outer seam and frames. Pliobond will likely melt your fabrics so test a piece first, it is also very flammable.

    For the ribs I have used auto headliner spray adhesive from:

    Heads Up Industries
    1009 N.W. 132nd Ave.
    Ft. Lauderdale, Fl. 33323
    954-472-3300

    They should be able to find a dealer in your area. They also make a 'No odor' version, both are flammable. Both work well.

    Spray disc adhesive stays tacky almost forever. Photo mount is not strong enough. Never used 357. White glue or PVA might work but you have synthetic fabrics so I don't think so.

    Any of the sprays are very flammable, so do be careful. Gloves are not too useful, something else to stick together. Are you mounting the ribs 1-by-1 or as a block?

    Good luck with it.
     
  6. smieglitz

    smieglitz Member

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    Hi Andy,

    Thanks for the suggestions.

    I actually have about 10 yards of the ecru blackout fabric on hand which I'm using to construct a darktent in order to do wet plate collodion in the field. I chose not to use it for the bellows because of its color and also its thickness. Both of the materials I have for the bellows are fairly thin and flexible and I suspect their combined thickness is actually less than a single layer of the blackout material. They are much more expensive and harder to find though. Thinner materials should make for a more compressible bellows and easier folding I think. I guess I'll find out soon.

    I'm also going for a dark look with the camera and bellows (black walnut, brass hardware and black bellows). I think the white or ecru bellows would look neat on a camera with lighter wood. I also have some aluminized blackout fabric like the stuff used for changing tents and darkcloths. I think it might work ok as a bellows material, but in my head I can't quite get used to a shiny aluminum view camera...maybe someday.

    Joe
     
  7. smieglitz

    smieglitz Member

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    Thanks for the confirmation. I though some of this stuff might dissolve the fabrics.

    Sounds like the ticket. Thanks.

    I haven't decided yet. I suspect the 1-by-1 is actually easier although more time-consuming. The block would seem to take more planning and be more prone to major screw-ups. (I can easily re-cut a single strip as opposed to an entire block.) Do you have any preference?

    Joe
     
  8. phfitz

    phfitz Member

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    Hi there,

    Not being funny but it may be easier to make up the bellows complete in heavy paper first to see if your design works well, folds down small enough, fits the body, ect. Then you can cut one corner to lay out the fabric.

    "I haven't decided yet. I suspect the 1-by-1 is actually easier although more time-consuming. The block would seem to take more planning and be more prone to major screw-ups. (I can easily re-cut a single strip as opposed to an entire block.) Do you have any preference?"

    Yes, I prefer to do it in a block. Drawing it all out on fabric and lining it up is a pain, it stretchs. Drawing it out on a large sheet of poster paper and laying it out in one piece is easier and everything is aligned the first time. Just use 2 full length dowels to hold the pattern off the fabric until it's lined up and set down the center, pull out 1 dowel to set that side, then pull the other and set it.

    (This will take longer to read than to do, and it works out well. Great looking bellows the first time.)

    To do it in a block you will need a steel straight edge, 1/8" paper punch, a poly cutting board and a 2 bladed knife. The knife is a standard non-retracting utility / sheet rock knife modified to take 3 blades: 2 sharp and the center spacer with the tip chipped off. You do have to shave the inside of the handles to make them fit right, you will see where. It take longer to write it than to do it.

    Lay out the pattern complete on the poster paper. Punch the 1/8" holes 1/4" in from the edge on the fold lines. Connect the holes with the straight edge and knife, this will make a 1/16" slot on the fold line. The point is to leave little tabs that hold the ribs in perfect spacing and alignment so don't cut through the tabs.

    Lay out the panels on the fabric and mark top, bottom and side with tailor's chalk. Set the top panel first. Align the fold lines of the side panels to the top panel and set. Do leave 1/8" space between the sides of the panels, closer will put too much strain on the corners when folded. Align the fold lines for the bottom panel to either side panel and set. If everything looks correct, glue on the inner lining. The only real pain is the inner seam but you have to deal with that either way you make a bellows.

    IF you aligned the fold lines and IF the spacing between the panels is straight, the bellows with fold-up easily the first time. It will also look PERFECT.

    Apologies to Camerabellow.com
     
  9. Whiteymorange

    Whiteymorange Member

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    3M adhesive

    Just a note on the spray adhesives - The photo adhesive is really meant for paper to paper bonds. It is also formulated to be as kind as possible to the image. "77" spray adhesive or even the elusive "99" is a much better choice when materials like fabric and paper and plastic and metal are all involved in some way. They are both quite aggressive and long-lasting and each has a good open-working time. They are better left for a minute or so before bonding, in fact (much longer if necessary.) 99 is used in place of contact adhesive by some cabinet makers for counter tops.

    Use sparingly, mask adjacent areas well, use very good ventilation and a disposable mask when spraying, however - all of these adhesives really stick the old nose hairs together, I can only imagine what they do in your lungs.

    For what it's worth.

    Whitey
     
  10. Nathan Smith

    Nathan Smith Member

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    Is this the same method shown on Doug Bardell's bellows-making page?

    Thanks,
    Nathan
     
  11. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Member

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    If it's any help, I am making a 20x24 camera and I bought my bellows from Camera Bellows. I asked them what glue to use for attaching it to the frames. They told me any neoprene based contact cement should be used so it wouldn't destroy the rubber backing on the fabric.

    -Greg
     
  12. phfitz

    phfitz Member

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    Hi there,

    Joe:
    What I posted is probably overkill for a straight / square bellows but is handy for tapered / odds sizes. Making it up in paper will show everything, like what happens when you the spray contact cement and everything sticks to everything. Thats why I started doing it in a block, I'm a klutz.

    Nathan:
    Thanks for the link, everyone should check it out.

    "Is this the same method shown on Doug Bardell's bellows-making page?"

    Exactly, almost.
    1) it cuts better on a white plastic 'poly' cutting board. Glass kills the blades and masonite is messy.
    2) the 2 blades cut cleaner. When you cut the first pass with 1 blade, the paper get 'loose' and the second cut is a pain. It is very easy to modify the knife to hold the 3 blades.
    {cut from the top ALMOST to the bottom, then cut from the bottom to meet. It TOO easy to overcut in 1 pass}
    3) I make the ribs with the end 'triangles' on the ribs, his version looks a little loose in the corners but probably folds down even smaller.

    The only problem I have found with making bellows is finding the outer skin fabric. That and not doing it sooner. It is much easier if you have the original bellows for the measurements but there is no rocket science here, children were doing this a century ago. Like Nike said, "Just Do It"

    Good luck with it, all.
     
  13. RAP

    RAP Member

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    This thread has got me thinking. I have a Wista Field 45 I bought back in 1977 and the bellows is worn out. I tested it and it leaks. Instead of making a new one, why could I not use the old one and glue a new outer lining to it?

    What would be a good outer liner? Would vinyl, leather, work?

    Suggestions appreciated!
     
  14. Nathan Smith

    Nathan Smith Member

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    I have never done this, but I have heard of it being done. You'd want to stretch out the bellows as far as they'll go so you have essentially a flat surface to glue to. Then you'd have to work the folds back into place after gluing on the outer layer.
    The problem is that now you have 3 layers so it's thicker and won't compress as tightly as the original. Also, you'll need to use a light-tight outer layer. My understanding is that in building a new bellows you don't worry so much about this and rely on the inner layer to provide the light-tightness.
    You'll want to use a very thin light-tight material, probably some type of rubber/vinyl coated cloth.
    Nathan
     
  15. argus

    argus Member

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    I have used Dough's method (which I had to read 3 times before fully understanding, not being native English) for making a bellows and it works well.

    Firstly, make a paper model. Make a second paper model and then, make a third. By then you should be able to make a rather well looking bellows. Don't use the real lining yet as you will be messing up things.

    For the impatient amongst us, rather than drawing everything on an oversized sheet of cardboard, make a PC drawing and print each side of the bellows on 120 g/m2 paper. That should be strong enough as stiffeners.
    Cut and paste everything according to Dough's instructions.
    If you'd prefer to use M3 spray, no problem, but be sure to sandwich the stiffeners between 2 layers of paper and you're ready to start folding after 5 minutes of glueing. In order to see the stiffeners and having a guide for folding, I used brown wrapping paper on the inside and and a rather transparant thin layer of paper on the outside, like the one people put on tables at weddings, festivities etc.
    Using a double layer of paper will help you in folding the bellows afterwards. The stiffer (but then again, not too much) the material, the easier it will be to fold. I noticed that difference between my first and second bellows.

    After folding, apply multiple layers of spraypaint. I used matte black car paint and it looks good.

    As stated, I used this for paper bellows. The real thing will be made soon :smile:

    G