Starting on new darkroom

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by David Ruby, Sep 17, 2003.

  1. David Ruby

    David Ruby Member

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    Similar to another post I just read, I too am just setting out on creating my home darkroom. This will be my first however, since I just recently moved to a house with some extra space.

    Mine may be the worlds narrowest darkroom (probably an exageration), at 3'-6" total by 13'-0" long. I'm taking over the very back corner, behind the stairs, a place very much out of the way that also happens to have easy access to water (the HWH is there), power and a floor drain.

    http://mywebpage.netscape.com/rubydavid/Darkroom.html

    The link above takes you to my darkroom page with a drawing and a description. If anyone has any suggestions let me know.

    At this point I've just cleared out the room and have the drawings complete. I need to lure my uncle in law over to help me with the electrical rough-in and my father in law for the plumbing. After that I'll hang some drywall and then build my sink.

    Right now, my plan is to build it out of plywood and epoxy paint. With my custom needs, it seems the best route for the money, although that could change if the cost of plywood goes up any more!

    I'm still collecting a few items for the darkroom, most notably another safelight and an easel. I picked up a used Omega D2 with lenses (Rodenstock 50mm and 135mm) a little over a year ago. That should get me going anyway.

    I'll try to post updates and probably more questions as I get further into this! I look forward to this board.
    [/img]
     
  2. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    Cool. What program did you use to draw your floor plan?
     
  3. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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  4. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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    Looks very functional. What provisions have you made for ventilation? Is the water heater gas or electric? Gas may be a consideration in how you put the enlarger table in as you have to get in to relight the fire on occasion. With electric you could hang some cabinets in the free space over it. Also look into getting some shelves or ready made cabinets hung over the trays for storage. I put those wire shelves over my sink, three levels, and I still run out of room.
     
  5. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    David:

    I don't know what size prints you plan on printing but one never has enough sink space.

    I would make the sink as large as you possibly can. Even if when you are doing dry work you put a portable cover over it. I have built a few darkrooms and I now stack my trays with a home made wooden stacking system. I print 20x24 mostly and have stacked dev, stop, fix 1, fix2, and hypoclear. In this manner I have only taken up the space of not much more that 20x24. The rest of the sink I have a permanent 20x24 syphon wash tray as well as a 20x24 print washer. I also have room to selenium tone or bleach and sepia tone at the same time. If I print smaller prints I just use 8x10 or 11x14 trays.

    My point is, that the stacking enables me do all aspect at one time and the inconvenience of the stacking is quickly gotten used to.

    Another thing I do is use Ilfostop, stop bath which is odorless, and I use plexiglas covers over my fix and selenium etc to keep down the fumes. I have pretty good ventilation but these two fumes are nasty and with the plexi covers I rarely smell them. I just lift the cover, slide in the print and agitate the trays.

    MIchael McBlane
     
  6. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    David:

    I looked again at your drawing and I'm not sure how long you plan to be in this house or how much time you plan to spend on this hobby.

    I guess my question is about your initial concepts. Since the plumbing and electrical are going to be your main costs and hastle I really think I would be building the darkroom where the drying and display room is on the other side of the furnace.

    There you have room to grow and expand. If you spend the money for the plumbing and electrical and find that you are too cramped, which you are, you may be sorry in the long run.

    The length of pipe for plumbing is not that much and a sump pump for drainage is also not that much. What costs is the labor and facets and those prices are fixed.

    I guess what I'm saying is that, in my opinion your darkroom should be your first priority, and the other areas can be anywhere.

    So my suggestion is that you maybe, rethink the location of your darkroom to make it a room you can be comfortable working in and a room you look forward to working in as well as a room that can grow with your experience.

    Just a suggestion.

    Michael McBlane
     
  7. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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  8. David Ruby

    David Ruby Member

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    I drew it with Autocadd and converted it to a pdf, then to a jpg.
     
  9. David Ruby

    David Ruby Member

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    Thanks for the responses. I've updated the webpage with my latest plan and an elevation.

    You all have good suggestions. Most of what I'm doing is for pretty good reasons, mainly that I'm just getting into this hobby and I really want to have a space that is out of sight out of mind.

    As you'll see by the floorplan of the house, this space really is unused and out of the way which is a huge priority for me right now. I'm luckily a pretty small guy, so the small space will work ok. I agree that it's not luxurious, but i have two small kids that require most of my time. When they grow older I may take over the guest room as a very nice large space.

    Ventilation-I had originally planned on routing exhuast out the existing crawl space access which is high on the wall anyway. I've done some tests though, and since the furnace is in the room there is plenty of ventilation. If I have a problem I can always add a fan. As my mechanical engineer friends say, "the solution is in the dilution". If and when I get into the stinkier chemicals that some of you mention. I may have to re-think this. I do like someones suggestion for the tray covers.

    Stacking trays-I've acually thought about this, and this will be my solution when I grow beyond the simple developer, stop, fix, wash system that I learned at the community center.

    I've decided to locate the sink on this wall mainly because the other wall is solid concrete and I would then have to furr it out and /or come up with another routing for the system. I'm trying to make this pretty painless.

    To be honest this will be a learning experience. I got into printing a few years ago BK (before kids). I've only printed three times since (last 4 years), but haven't lost that itch. Since then I've gotten a medium format Ricohmatic and a 4 x 5 Graflex Supergraphic to tinker with. I've never even printed anything larger than a 8 x 10!. ROOKIE!!

    Anyway, I appreicate all of you helpful suggestions. I'll be lurking around these boards trying to pickup anything and everything I can. Thanks again.
     
  10. Nige

    Nige Subscriber

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    Couple of things I'll raise to let you have a think about. 1st is the placement of the enlarger at the end. this will mean you have to turn to the trays and the amount of space you have is pretty narrow, even for a little guy. By putting it (maybe on the wall) where you've got the 'cutter' (which I think would be hard to use there as you'll be reaching across) you can then just shuffle left and right up and down the enlarger/tray line. By putting the enlarger on the wall you can have enough bench space for doing things, just have some shelves underneath to store your easels and cutter. you could probaly put a paper safe to the left next to the HWS.

    The 2nd one is your sink. Not sure how you intend to construct your plywood sink, but if it involves a frame, your going to waste a lot of valuable space. An alternative would be to make your sink out of plastic sheeting. Going by my own setup (http://www.apug.org/site/main/album_page.php?pic_id=83), the sink only really needs to be an bench top with the luxury of sides in case you spill something as your chemicals are in trays and I doubt you'll ever want to fill the sink anyway. I had my sink made but in hindsight I should have done it myself and saved a packet. It's only glued together, with a bead of silicon for waterproofing. I specified 100mm sides but in reality 1/3 or 1/2 that would be ample. I have a well at one end with the drain. This area is flat which combined with the drain that sits proud (I didn't realise it at the time and with the plumber standing there at $$$/hr didn't have time to do anything about it) so the last bit of water doesn't run out, at the end of a session I sponge it out. One day I'll modify it so it's recessed somehow.
    Anyway... The upside of this is since the plastic is 5mm think, you don't eat up valuable space. If you want to see a better pic of the sink or the plans I drew for my sink (which will explain the well end better) yell out and I'll send them. (ohh the plastic sheet was heaps cheaper though the plastic fabricator I had make the sink than a hardware store when I went and got some for my splashback)

    phew.. glad I didn't have a lot to say :smile:
     
  11. fhovie

    fhovie Subscriber

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    The tray space is really important. If you use split developers and archival fixing you need 5 trays for the size print you want. (this is my dream darkroom) I would like to do 20x24. At this time I am limited to 3 16x20 trays. It can be a real challenge at times. Room for good paper safes would be great too - I pull them out of a package and it is a real pain. -Frank
     
  12. Robert

    Robert Member

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    A drawer. Plenty of info on the relatively simple mod to convert a drawer into a paper safe.
     
  13. David Ruby

    David Ruby Member

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    I actaullly plan on using a bank of drawers that I currently have in my garage. I'm going to convert the top drawer into a paper safe with a top that closes when you close the drawer. Probably like you have seen before.
     
  14. David Ruby

    David Ruby Member

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    Out of curiosity, I drew up a plan with the sink on the other wall as some of you had suggested. It would add 3 feet to the length of my sink which would be great, but I just discovered one reason why I put this sink on the north wall as I had it. The low head clearance under the ductwork is a problem, and not something that can be moved. I knew I had explored that option at one point!