I am building a 4x5 field camera

Discussion in 'Camera Building, Repairs & Modification' started by samuraiwarrior2, May 3, 2010.

  1. samuraiwarrior2

    samuraiwarrior2 Member

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    So I started the construction on my first camera ever. It is a 4x5 field camera. I'm building it around an old Schneider lens that I picked up for a steal on eBay. Here is the link to my blog: http://tomasyoung.blogspot.com/2010/05/view-camera-progress.html
    I only have most of the front standard made. I'm currently working on the brass hardware for the movements on front.
    Please ask questions, give me comments or critiques. I'd love to hear what you all have to say.
     

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  2. sv@diycamerakit.com

    sv@diycamerakit.com Member

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    The joints you use are rather weak, even with reinforcement. They are also prone to light leaks, as the join direction is intersecting the light path. You might want to look at butt joints. When done correctly, they are quite strong.
     
  3. Tom Nutter

    Tom Nutter Member

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    there used to be plans for this kind of thing from Bender Photographic...just googled their site...seems they are out of business. bummer.
     
  4. vickersdc

    vickersdc Member

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    Good luck with your project! I'm just getting near to the end of my first camera build and I've already made another 4 front & rear standards for next few!! Be warned - it can be addictive :smile:
     
  5. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    I commending you for building a camera, FWIW-- your choice of joinery and wood species both are circumspect. Red oak is not a stable wood(others will disagree) quarter sawn white oak far and away more stable. Miter joints actually open and close with humidity changes, and hide glue will fail. Box joint or dovetailing is stronger. Plain butt joints with corner brackets will serve better. To salvage what you already have, you can run a spline through the middle of the joint on a 45 degree angle. Clean all the hide glue out and use epoxy or polyurethane (Gorilla glue) adhesive, or even PVA (carpenters) adhesive. Cut the slot deep enough to go completely through the joint from point to heel.
    Looks like you are going to have a dandy shooter when finished.
     

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  6. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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  7. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Dang! Steve beat me to the link.
    His drawings can really help with your project.
    I've never liked oak as a wood for fine (small) projects because of it's tendency to splinter.
     
  8. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    I built my 4x5 field camera from some mahogany I've had stashed away for over 20 years. It came from a guy that had it stashed from before WWII. I'm just now using up the last few BF of what was a couple of thousand BF of the stuff. Walnut and cherry are two of the better (more stable) wood species, some of the fancier grained maples such as fiddleback, quilted, and flame grained, oh, and lets not forget birdseye. I'm sure there some exotic woods out there that would make beautiful cameras, koa comes to mind, as doex zebrawood and purpleheart. Some of the South American rosewoods ought to make a real looker.
     
  9. sv@diycamerakit.com

    sv@diycamerakit.com Member

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    Rick, I tested many woods for the camera kits and while some of the exotics are really nice, most of them are TERRIBLE on tools (because they are extremely hard).
     
  10. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    Yeah I know. I've had the 'pleasure' of using exotics over my career as a cabinet maker. Thats why I used mahogany for mine. If you use good quality tooling and are careful, you can use the exotics, my only gripe with them is price. I would like to use some local fruitwoods, but they aren't as stable as I'd like. Bois d'arc might make a beaut, maybe sycamore. I used to hunt for trees that were headed to the firewood pile and slice up lumber on my bandsaw(36" Oliver)for special projects and inlays, sliced tons of veneers. Now that I'm retired I have loads of time to play with these ideas, alas, I sold all the equiptment. I still have a small hobby shop, and still tinker a bit.
     
  11. samuraiwarrior2

    samuraiwarrior2 Member

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    Thanks for the input guys.
    The budget for this camera isn't very great. Also, being that it is my first camera I didn't want to spend more on an expensive wood. I've actually spent less than $10 for the wood, and about $20 for the brass so far. I mostly wanted to work out everything first on a cheaper model before I spend more on it.
    I've done a lot of work with oak and I think it will suit my purposes for right now. Sure an exotic would be nice but the money and the lack of proper tools make that an impossibility.
    Steve, I've closely read up on most of Rayment Kirby's website. It is very useful.
    I've linked to some photos of the front standard hardware that I made today. It's pretty rough right now, I'm just getting an idea for how things go together.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  12. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    Very nice. Just curious: where did you get the knobs? I was thinking about making some on a lathe at work, but the tooling we have is really limited. I'd hate to use plastic knobs!
     
  13. samuraiwarrior2

    samuraiwarrior2 Member

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    Mark, the knobs there are simply knurled nuts that I picked up at a hardware store. They are threaded to fit certain screws (for example, I'm using 10-32 for the horizontal screws and knobs, and 6-32 for the vertical ones visible.
     
  14. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    That front standard metalwork looks good.

    Like Rick, I prefer to use mahogany for things like this. However, I have used some oak which was nice. I get most of my wood from old furniture so it has had plenty of time to ddry out and stabilise.


    Steve.
     
  15. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    Love the brass, what are you going to do for bellows? Are you making your own or buying a ready made? I robbed a bellows from a Polaroid for my first try, and then bought a cheap one from KEH for the second. I didn't use any brass on either, though I should on the newer one. Maybe I'll make another.

    Do you have a back figured out yet? I'm interested in seeing how you make yours, I use heavy rubber bands to hold the film-holders in place. I suppose I'm just being lazy for that.

    Keep on showing pictures of your progress, you are doing fine so far.
     
  16. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    As I usually state on these threads, I have some CAD drawings which may be of help if anyone is interested.



    Steve.
     
  17. sv@diycamerakit.com

    sv@diycamerakit.com Member

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    You can get pretty nice wood from old furniture like someone said above, which you can get from free from craiglist. This of course assumes you have some way to bring it to size (bandsaw/planer/etc). I think people here are saying that oak may work in a pinch, hey, I've seen a camera made of pine..., but making a camera is pretty hard work, and if you were going to do it, you might as well do it with wood that's worth the effort. I second the mahogany suggestion. It's a beautiful wood and it's very easy to work with (not santos mahogany though, that is just as beautiful but hard as a rock).
     
  18. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    I have found that the most useful donor furniture for camera wood is old chests of drawers. Those made with proper wood (not ply) for the drawer fronts, backs and sides are the best as this wood has already been planed to a uniform thickness (usually between 1/4" and 3/8") and has been held rigidly square for many years so it has been able to dry out properly whilst not having the opportunity to warp.

    The 6x12 camera in my link below was made from oak from such a chest of drawers. I still have some left and I also have some mahogany from some other drawers which I am making plans to use at the moment.


    Steve.
     
  19. samuraiwarrior2

    samuraiwarrior2 Member

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    Hey guys. Another update here. I got out today and made the rear standard and hardware today. I still have to make the actual back, but here's where I am now.
    I found an older board of hard maple, so I will be using that for the rest of the camera parts.
    I have seen various free furniture on craigslist. But I do not have any way at all to bring it to a usable dimentional lumber.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    http://tomasyoung.blogspot.com/

    I am planning on making my own bellows. I'm thinking of a thin goat leather on the outside, paper stiffeners, and a black out cloth. I have yet to buy any of the materials so I don't yet know exactly how it will go together.
     
  20. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    Take a saw and hammer with you and only bring back what you need!

    Looks like some good progress has been made.



    Steve.
     
  21. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    I think what hes saying Steve is, that he doesn't have a jointer or planer to mill down the thickness. My suggestion is to visit a local small cabinet shop and buy dimensioned material from them. Most are happy to oblige, and do not charge much for the convenience. Some may even let you root through the scrap bins for what you need.
     
  22. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    You are right. I just re-read what he actually said rather than what I thought he said!

    My previous comment about chests of drawers still applies though with regard to the drawer sides.

    Boatbuilders and guitar and violin builders can also be a good source.


    Steve.
     
  23. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    Absolutly, good quality drawer sides(not ply or pressboard)are nearly perfect as-is. My hesitance with using old furniture, is I prefer fixing it and giving it new (extended) life to those in need. I abhor the modern trash being foisted onto the consumers, who have no inkling what quality is, and believe in disposable goods. I will only use discarded items if there is no hope for repair.
     
  24. samuraiwarrior2

    samuraiwarrior2 Member

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    Hey guys, just thought I'd throw these last few photos at you. The camera is done, you can read all about it on my blog: http://tomasyoung.blogspot.com/.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    It is so far from being perfect, or even reasonably like a beater 4x5 you could pick up for a few hundred dollars. But it will work for me and I'm happy with it. I know exactly what I'd do next time to make it 100x better and fully functional.
     
  25. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    It looks good to me. As long as it holds the lens the right distance from the film and keeps out any light not coming through the lens then it's going to take pictures.

    I was making plans for my second camera even before I finished my first. That's a perfectly normal part of learning and is to be encouraged.


    Steve.