Print tong recommendation?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by mfohl, Oct 7, 2010.

  1. mfohl

    mfohl Subscriber

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    Hello Folks, it may seem silly asking for a recommendation for something as mundane as print tongs. But I use them each time I make a print!

    Many years ago, I purchased a set of three Kostiner stainless steel tongs. These were expensive, about $40 for the set as I recall, but they were great. They had nice rubber pads and they were designed such that you couldn't exert too much force on the print. After a long time, the rubber pads started wearing away, so I bit the bullet and ordered a new set. Apparently the Kostiner company had changed hands in the meantime. I got the same stainless steel tongs, but the rubber pads were made of a different material, and they actually had sharp edges on them. I lost a couple of prints because the sharp edges gouged the emulsion.

    So I have looked at the New York mail order web sites, and all I see are the cheapo plastic ones. I bought a couple sets of these, but the problem is that they break when I make 11x14 prints. The prints are too heavy.

    Anybody out there with recommendations??

    Thanks in advance,

    -- Mark
     
  2. richard ide

    richard ide Member

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    You can buy a product called AFAIK "Dip It" for coating tool handles. It is a vinyl coating. Should work very well for this application and your steel tongs will last a very long time.
     
  3. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    My thoughts exactly. It should work reasonably well. I too had problems with the el-cheapo plastic tongs. Just like the OP stated, they broke rather easily. After that I went back to using the rubber tipped bamboo tongs. Cheap as chips and they're holding up rather well. Check this.
     
  4. bobwysiwyg

    bobwysiwyg Subscriber

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    Similar product would be my guess;

    http://www.plastidip.com/

    I've used it to re-coat the throttle and clutch levers on a vintage motorcycle when the original coating had become hard, yellow and cracked. It's been on the levers for six years of hard use now, no problems.
     
  5. DAP

    DAP Member

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    If refurbishing the tongs doesn't work you might want to consider switching over to nitrile gloves (at least before you buy a set of different tongs).
     
  6. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    I used to have some combination wood-plastic cheap ones that tended to come apart, and the rubber tips swelled up and rotted off. Junk.

    Right now, I am using some $2-3 bamboo tongs from a local kitchen supply store. They are about 6" long, look like monster tweezers, and seem pretty resistant to dektol and stop bath. (I use my fingers in the fixer, and I don't want to mingle chemicals together via my fingers, so that's why at least two of the trays have tongs.)
     
  7. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    You know, whenever I'm looking for products that "used-to-be", I go to eBay first and foremost. It's the nation's garage sale! If you get clever enough with search terms and patient enough, you'll probably find your exact, beloved tongs.
     
  8. patrickjames

    patrickjames Member

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  9. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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  10. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    You know, I was thinking along the lines of kitchen tongs myself. Not too many days ago, there was a thread started about "Your favorite "Improvised" darkroom equipment." This one could well be headed in that direction.
     
  11. pdjr1991

    pdjr1991 Member

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    I like these too. I might snap off those locks also. There very annoying
     
  12. eddym

    eddym Member

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    I've used bamboo tongs, plastic tongs with rubber tips, and SS tongs without rubber tips. The latter were awful. Without the tips, the print would just slip right out, and sometimes they would scratch the emulsion. I still have a couple of the plastic tongs, and they work great. I needed to replace a couple, but couldn't find them, so went back to the bamboo tongs. They are OK, but the bamboo tends to come loose from the plastic thingie that holds them together.

    Never thought of using nitrile gloves! I might just try that next time I print!
     
  13. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    My experience has been that tong, regardless of the manufacturer or type, a excellent tool to mark or damage prints. The best tools are you hands either with or without nitrile gloves.

    Steve
     
  14. clayne

    clayne Member

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    Sorry, i like not being allergic to my developer.

    The arista plastic tongs work great and they rarely ever damage a print. Sure if you're printing 16x20 regularly, tongs might not be for you - although you better be pumping out masterpieces.

    Other than that, why care about an indentation to the border area of a print? It doesn't affect the image or even take away from it.
     
  15. Maris

    Maris Member

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    Bamboo tongs with soft rubber tips are very effective. They grip paper securely without emulsion damage and the bendy bamboo means you can't grip too hard. I use two tongs with different colours for every darkroom session. One goes only into the developer, the other only touches stop-bath and fixer and I never interchange the two. That way there is no adverse contamination of the processing solutions or tong-marks or stains on the photographs.

    Nearly fifty years ago I decided to become a "tong expert" and avoid all skin contact with processing solutions; this mainly to avoid causing finger marks on expensive gelatin-silver paper. Remember, even the faintest trace of fixer on a finger tip will cause permanent white marks on the photograph and it will go in the trash. I tried gloves but they were worse than bare hands because I could not feel traces of contamination. And having to wash your hands or gloves a hundred times during a darkroom session sure slows you down.

    Practice makes perfect (or near to it) and these days I reckon I could do a day in the darkroom while wearing a white dinner suit and not get a spot. It is a clean and pleasant way to work. Sure, I've watched people make photographs while elbow-deep in processing solutions and somehow they get by but I'm not that tough.
     
  16. Ronald Moravec

    Ronald Moravec Member

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    Stainless steel tongs I inherited 40+ years ago still going strong. They nicely pick up prints off flat bottom trays.

    Bamboo ones are ok if you pukk off the rubber tip and sharpen the sticks. Otherwise they stink.

    Cheap gloves for large prints. Pick up a corner with stainless and use two hands.
     
  17. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

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    Ditto. I can't stand tongs and haven't used them for years. They are tools for marring prints. I just threw out several bamboo tongs this afternoon, unused.

    I use single tray processing so tongs are not necessary anyway. If I batch process, I use nitrile gloves.
     
  18. ozphoto

    ozphoto Subscriber

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    I too use the bamboo ones - but slightly more expensive at $13/set. Think I'll check out the local kitchen store when they need replacing.
    My last set lasted forever until the rubber started to leave their waffle pattern on my lovely white borders when lifting from the fixer. :O

    Simply threw them away and started afresh - 2nd set in over 15 years - must be doing something right . . . . .
     
  19. Obtong

    Obtong Member

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    I really like the Paterson print tongs. They are plastic, durable, and don't appear to leave marks on the prints. I often wonder if the bamboo absorbs the chemicals. Plastic tongs are easy to clean.
     
  20. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    Stick a little Gorilla Glue in the plastic thingie and shove the bamboo back in. As the glue dries, it expands and sticks like all get out. they'll never come out again. I guarantee it.
     
  21. eddym

    eddym Member

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    Thanks for the tip. Now all I have to do is find a gorilla willing to give up his glue... :wink:

    Oh, and in reply to a comment by another poster: yes, bamboo tongs do absorb chemicals. That's why you use a different color tong in each tray, and never switch them.
     
  22. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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  23. lajolla

    lajolla Member

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    No question the Kostiner stainless steel tongs are the finest for handling fiber prints smaller than 11x14. They last almost forever - if you can find someone willing to part with a set. I always use both my hands for 11x14 and larger sizes. Tongs are simply way too risky with larger sized fiber prints:smile: