Make Your Own Foam Core Easel ???

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by JustK, Dec 12, 2006.

  1. JustK

    JustK Member

    Messages:
    220
    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2005
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Greetings!
    Has anyone tried to make an easel from black foam core board?

    A friend of mine said they used one in her college darkroom but she could not remember much about it. I also read a thread here at APUG but could not fully understand the directions.

    I would like to put something simple together, to quickly align and hold flat 16 X 20 paper, and to be able to make either 15 X 19 or 15 X 15 images.

    Any help would be much appreciated!
    Thanks!!
    Krystyna

    PS I have read other threads regarding making easels out of plywood, I just thought I'd explore this foam core idea, before getting the jigsaw out.
     
  2. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

    Messages:
    1,954
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2005
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    You might consider making an easel out of steel an using magnets or using magnetic greaseboard substrate with magnets.
     
  3. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,390
    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Location:
    Rural NW MO
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Foamcore is awfully light. An easel should weigh enough to resist accidental moving. I've made temporary easels out of scrap mat board. Taping them down to the enlarger baseboard eliminated the problem of unwanted movement.
     
  4. Reinhold

    Reinhold Subscriber

    Messages:
    750
    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2003
    Location:
    Washougal, W
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Krystyna,

    What kind of tools do you have? Any suggestion that requires tooling that you don't have is next to useless. You mention a jigsaw... not a very accurate way to cut things. Do you have access to a circular saw? If so, you have lots of options. There are a bazillion ways to make a perfectly servicable easel, but whichever way you go, an easel must be heavy.

    As Jim says, Foam core is a very poor choice. One sneeze and you've got to cross the room, pick it up, and start over. Plywood is ok, but the surface is not as smooth as you'd like. 1/2" particle board is very heavy and stable. Check out the local cabinet shop, ask them for countertop sink cut-outs. They'll be free, heavy, flat, and have a Formica surface. They'll be big enough for a 16x20 easel, and if looks aren't important you don't even need to cut 'em square.

    With that as a base, you might tape down some 1/2" wide strips of matboard with double sided tape. Set them 20-1/16" apart. On top of them, tape (or glue) some 1" wide strips so they overhang the lower strips to hold down the paper and form your print border. Do this for 3 sides, leaving the 4th side open thru which you slide the paper. For the 4th side, make a few marks on those side rails to define your 15" or 19" image sizes and lay down a heavy(ish) piece of material aligned with the marks to hold the 4th edge of the paper flat (and form the 4th border).

    That's one way. There are 999,999 more ways, and most of them work. It's just a matter of what you have to work with, how much you want to spend, and if you can get the job done to your satisfaction.

    Have fun.

    Reinhold
    ––––––––
    www.classicBWphoto.com
     
  5. Ryuji

    Ryuji Member

    Messages:
    1,416
    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2005
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I use an easel made from foamcore for 16x20 and larger. I'm about to make another for panoramic prints. You don't have to have a construction similar to most easels, such as window pressing paper down. I find two edges to guide the paper are sufficient. RC paper lays flat enough, and most baryta paper can be flattened with a help of corner mounts and small weights (heavy rulers are great). I also use weak, temporary adhesives (such as double sided tapes). Of course, you won't get nice lean borders this way, but you can take care of that part with windowed matte board or other means of presentation.

    I always make some sort of grids on the easel to help compose and determine the position.

    I never had problems with these lightweight foamcore easels. They don't move as easily as one might think, at least on my Durst Laborator 138 baseboard. If that happens, use double sided tape or whatever necessary.

    If you don't find details on the web, I think most people find it too obvious and trivial and don't bother to explain.
     
  6. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

    Messages:
    9,083
    Joined:
    May 3, 2006
    Location:
    Ryde, Isle o
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I recently bought two easels from ebay. They are both made by Paterson and are for one size of paper only, one for 8" x 10" and the other for 5" x 7".
    They have three closed sides and a slot on the fourth side through which the paper slides in. Then a flap is close over and the paper is ready for printing with an even border guaranteed - something which takes me ages to get right with a traditional easel.

    If I was going to make my own easel, I would make it like this.


    Steve.
     
  7. JustK

    JustK Member

    Messages:
    220
    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2005
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Thank You!

    Thank you all for your replies! Because there are a million ways to do this, I just wanted to get a sense of what has worked for folks.

    I wondered about the light weight of the foam core, but it seems that tape could help with that. Originally I had a plan to use plywood with a mat board window, but the plywood I bought over the summer has since warped, so I will look for something like metal or countertop instead. I read that some folks experienced light leaks and uneven borders by using mat boards for windows, but no-one mentioned that here, so I will go with that for a window.

    I wish I had the money to splurge on a 16 X 20 four-bladed easel, but printing in this size will only be an occasional thing.

    Thanks again! It looks like I'll be heading to Home Depot soon!!
    Cheers, Krystyna
     
  8. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,702
    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2003
    Good Afternoon,Krystyna,

    For over thirty years, I used a piece of 1/4" tempered Masonite as an easel for the occasional 16 x 20 print. I just used pieces of masking tape to mark corners for the paper. Most RC papers lie flat enough to cause no difficulty, but FB would have been a problem. The only real limitation I encountered is that I was limited to borderless prints, but that was a small problem compared to the alternative of spending hundreds of dollars on a new 16 x 20 easel. With the advent of E-Bay, I happened to locate a used 16 x 20 Saunders easel at a bargain price a few years ago and am very pleased with it. The Masonite is cheap, very durable, weighty enough to stay where it's placed, and still gets used from time to time.

    Konical
     
  9. MMfoto

    MMfoto Member

    Messages:
    415
    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2004
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I made an easel with an acrylic base and an 8-ply mat board top hinged with linen framing tape. I ATG'd a piece of foam core to the bottom of the acrylic. It's only good for full neg printing, because you can't really get a clean enough edge for printing without a hard edge of some sort. Also, mine being made from acrylic and 8-ply is quite a bit more rigid than a foam core one would be, but still I had to either clamp or hold the the edges of the top and bottom to overcome the slight curl of the Forte Polywarmtone fiber paper I used. All in all it works and is even cool looking, but if I printed 16X20 even remotely often I would try to pony up the cash for a used Saunders.
     
  10. JustK

    JustK Member

    Messages:
    220
    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2005
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Shooter:
    Medium Format

    Thanks for replying MMfoto! I did wonder about those edges...

    Yesterday at the Home Depot I traded in my plywood for a piece of melanine, and I am going to cut some 4-ply matboard windows, and like you, I will create and clamp a sandwich of materials. I guess I am just going to have to go with this and see how the edges turn out, maybe they will be pleasingly artistic???

    Have a great day!
    Cheers, Krystyna
     
  11. MMfoto

    MMfoto Member

    Messages:
    415
    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2004
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Krystyna, If you did want clean borders you could buy some thin sheet metal strips (2" wide-ish), or even opaque plastic, and leaf them around and glue them to the underside of the opening. The tricky part is getting everything square-really square, and to the exact proportions of your negs. Also consider that if you shoot more than one brand of camera that your negs won't all be exactly the same proportions as camera film gates vary slightly. If you can overmat your prints, or are happy printing full neg then life is easier.

    Good luck!
     
  12. JustK

    JustK Member

    Messages:
    220
    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2005
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    It is interesting that you mention this, because while I was browsing the Home Depot, I noticed some metal strips in the roofing department, and was wondering if I can use them somehow, great idea MMfoto, thanks!

    Cheers, Krystyna
     
  13. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

    Messages:
    3,894
    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2003
    Location:
    Middle Engla
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Try printing through a card matt, the same material you use for mounting your prints behind, but cut to the image size you require. If you use a red marker pen along the edges it will be opaque to light and give a clean sharp edge. This is what I used for the first two years of my darkroom life for larger prints, until I could afford a metal easel. Handled with care they will be quite durable, especially if hinged to a back board of the same material.
     
  14. JustK

    JustK Member

    Messages:
    220
    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2005
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Shooter:
    Medium Format

    Thanks Dave, great tip!!!

    If you don't mind a couple more questions... did you use four-ply mat board? and were the window openings bevel-cut or straight-edge cut? Thanks!

    Happy Holidays!
    Krystyna
     
  15. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

    Messages:
    3,894
    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2003
    Location:
    Middle Engla
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Krystyna,
    Sorry should have said. Straight cut edges are best, as to the board I don't know if it is 4 ply because that's not a term we use here in England, but it measures 2mm thick, or a little over 1/16". I made my card easels with an oversized backboard that had card strips on three sides to hold the paper, and a hinged "lid" with the picture sized aperture cut in it. The paper was slid into position and the lid closed on to it. As I recall weights were required around the edge on the rare occassion I used fibre paper, which I couldn't affort much of then. The drawback is that you have to make a seperate easel for each paper/print combination; but it got me going. Hope that helps.
     
  16. JustK

    JustK Member

    Messages:
    220
    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2005
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    You've been very helpful Dave! Thank you for taking the time to explain!!
    Holiday Cheers, Krystyna
     
  17. paulie

    paulie Member

    Messages:
    266
    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2008
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    carpenter squares

    on ebay search for carpenter squares, 24" x 16"

    perfect right angle and heavy too

    thats my plan as i believe you will not get results you require using cardboard.

    paulie:surprised:
     
  18. MMfoto

    MMfoto Member

    Messages:
    415
    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2004
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Carpenters squareish

    You'd think so wouldn't you? Ever check a carpenters square? You'd be amazed. I once checked four or five we had at a picture framing shop and only one came close to spot on, and only close.

    Try placing your square on the end of a bench with a good straight edge. Let the short end of the square hang slightly off the edge so it aligns with the edge of the bench, now draw a line with a pencil with the long edge of the square. Flip the square over and see how close the edge lines up with the line you just drew. You may be surprised!
     
  19. Lee L

    Lee L Member

    Messages:
    3,247
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You can also adjust a carpenter's framing square (the large, single piece type) with a center punch used along a diagonal line at the corner of the square, near the inside corner to open, near the outside corner to close. It may require a couple of hits at a couple of points.

    You should also make sure that the edge you're testing the square against is dead straight.

    Lee