Suitable modern/available wood types for camera building

Discussion in 'Camera Building, Repairs & Modification' started by nick mulder, Jun 4, 2010.

  1. nick mulder

    nick mulder Subscriber

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    Hello,

    I'm building a camera and am not slave to period wood types but at least want to get the best I can locally and easily - I mean 'modern' in the sustainable sense ...

    Do any of these woods types scream dimensional stability ?

    Ash
    Oak
    Douglas Fir
    Kauri (local stuff, I love it for furniture)
    Kwila
    Matai
    Macrocarpa
    Rimu
    Saligna
    Pupleheart
    Blackwood
    Cherry
    Sapele (what they pass Mahogany for here)
    Teak
    Walnut
    Maple
    Jatoba
    Jarrah


    The only quartersawn stuff I've found so far is Victorian Ash (Australian state of Victoria). Eyeballing the wood, it's dead straight off the shelf yet for comparison some of the cherry I looked at were as twisted as home baked breadsticks... But truth is I'd like a darker or warmer toned wood than the Ash.

    How do I learn to speak timber merchant language to get what I'm after ? - The cynic in me suspects I look like a real greenhorn when I walk in, so I fear they'll throw me stuff they can't sell otherwise :tongue:
     
  2. Sully75

    Sully75 Member

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    Sorry...are you in Australia? That's going to affect your decision quite a bit.

    My guess is that American Cherry would be great...stable, beautiful and locally sourced, if you were in the states.
     
  3. richard ide

    richard ide Member

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    Teak, Jatoba, Purpleheart and Walnut come to mind. One you forgot is Lacewood. I am building a camera with it at present. The figure of quartersawn is incredible. Pick one which will have interesting patterns. Make really tight fitting joints and use epoxy. Finishing with several coats of Tung oil will give a waterproof covering so any change in dimension from humidity will be minimized.
     
  4. nick mulder

    nick mulder Subscriber

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    I'm in New Zealand, the timbers mentioned above are what is available locally - a lot of them are imported obviously, even the Kauri, which is the local word for it ... (malaysian and Fijian Kauri for instance)

    Aside from the usual suspects (wikipedia, google) are there any good websites on wood - like a compendium of species variety, comparisons and similarities ?

    I don't want to go out of my way to find say American Cherry when maybe say Rimu which is a local wood is a perfectly good and similarly beautiful and structured wood...
     
  5. johnnywalker

    johnnywalker Subscriber

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    This is a good resource for the physical properties of woods. I have the disk and haven't used the online site, but it's supposed to be the same. Check out under species list or data base. If you need any help with the scientific names or the terminology send me a pm.

    http://www.thewoodexplorer.com/
     
  6. richard ide

    richard ide Member

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    Sorry, I erroneously assumed you were in Australia. I forget the name but there is a beautiful wood that is being dug out of bogs in New Zealand, several thousand years old. You might check out Fine Woodworking, as they have a website to complement the magazine. Look for a book on wood written by Bruce Hoadley which gives information on many species. I think the U.S. Forest service also has information on woods available. Of course, once you have a species name, the web should be able to provide details.
     
  7. nick mulder

    nick mulder Subscriber

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    Richard, you're referring to swamp Kauri - the real stuff - unfortunately a lot of it gets cut into radial disks that make very ugly clocks

    from this:

    [​IMG]

    to this:

    [​IMG]

    It's amazing stuff but those clocks - what the flip !?!?! A fish ? It's like the guy on the radio the other day that says he likes to carve whale bone into dolphin pendants - I just don't get it...

    Here it is at that site:

    http://www.thewoodexplorer.com/maindata/we45.html (great website)

    They use the phonetic spelling however... (weird) - I have a cameras worth chunk of the Fijian variety that's been sitting in the garage for about 6 years and not moved a bit - it isn't quartersawn but the middle of the slab is thick enough to pull out the same strips of wood would which be the same cut if I had quartersawn in the first place... The further you go away from centre the more angled the grain will be...

    Aside from pulling up pages on each wood type and comparing side by side that site would be great if you could compare specifications, ah well, I'll only learn :wink:
     
  8. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    It doesn't matter the species of wood used for cameras, what does matter is the stability of the wood, and its resistance to seasonal movement(effects of humidity and temps), and the ability to stay true without warp or twist.. Second criteria would be ease of machining. Some woods just cannot be brought to size and joined easily, and making small parts dictates that to some degree. Another aspect would be how well the species accepts adhesives and the chosen finish, natural oils resistive of glues and chosen finishes.
     
  9. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    Whilst stability is important in that you don't want something to shrink so, for example, you cant slide the film holder in, it's not so important as it would be for a musical instrument. Just about everything which relates to the position of the film to the lens is adjustable on a view camera anyway.

    If this is your first camera, I would suggest making it out of something fairly easy to work with and easily obtainable such as mahogany or one of its 'lookalikes'.


    Steve.
     
  10. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    Honduran mahogany was the standard for pattern makers because it was so stable. Excellent choice, but not listed. Sapale is considered "medium stability" ,but it is beautiful.

    Here is one reference that may help, but it is targeted at flooring. Of the list, Maple, Walnut and Cherrry (if American variety) would be good choices.
     
  11. pentax4ever

    pentax4ever Member

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    Tung oil isn't even close to being waterproof, I'm afraid. It is, however, relatively easy to touch up. A marine spar varnish might be a better choice if the camera is going to see a lot of time outdoors.
     
  12. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Epoxy is big, big overkill, and, in fact, only makes things tougher on you later should you ever need to perform repairs that involve reversing a joint. In woodworking, there are almost no joints that really call for the use of epoxy. AR glue such as Titebond or Titebond II are absolutely fine. A well-built wooden item should not be held together primarily by the glue, and should almost always have reversible joints. The glue should just provide permanence and reinforcement to the wood-on-wood joints that provide the real stability. The well-carved, tight-fitting joints that you mention are the answer, not epoxy.

    Also, as someone has already mentioned, tung oil is far from "waterproof," but it is a good choice for the finish, IMO.
     
  13. richard ide

    richard ide Member

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    I have to disagree about Tung oil not being waterproof. AFAIK Tung oil is the only organic oil which is. I have proof in the furniture I have made and finished with it. After 20 years absolutely no staining and I never use coasters. The finish is as good as at the beginning. Look into the effects of polymerization of the oil.
     
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  15. Whiteymorange

    Whiteymorange Member

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    Teak and Purpleheart are on your list. Teak was the wood of choice for "tropicals" in the days of plate cameras because of it's resistance to changes in response to humidity. Purpleheart will eat your cutting tools and is very heavy, but it's like iron in its stability. If your budget/woodworking skills run to these dense hardwoods, they might make a really beautiful camera
     
  16. pgomena

    pgomena Member

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    I'm no woodworker, but we own a garden furniture set made of jatoba. It is very hard, very heavy, and impossible to repair if a screw pulls out. (It's too hard to drill with ordinary tools.) I pity the workers who made the stuff. Long tabletop slats also warp badly. It is relatively weatherproof, however, and has lasted us for 10 years and will last twice as long yet. I wouldn't want to make a camera out of it.

    Peter Gomena
     
  17. Ty G

    Ty G Guest

    Cherry, cherry, maybe mahogany, and cherry? I am a bit partial, but it is easy tooling wood, that is not overly prone to chipout and finishes great. The worst thing is to spend all that time on making it, then when it comes to the finishing, it looks like crap and you cannot fix it, because the whatever stain used has soaked deep into the endgrain. I made a camera of birdeye maple, but the chipout on the box joints was close to unacceptable. Teak, well, you may need to do research on gluing it, because it is very oily wood and wants to repel glue. Walnut, well it looks like walnut, I don't like it on a camera and it is not easy to get a good beautiful finish with. I have never used it, but I have seen lots of projects made with it. I am not a fan of the way it looks. I am working on a camera out of curly cherry right now.
     
  18. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    A camera made from Purpleheart would be awesome to look at, at least for a year or so until it oxidizes and turns to brown.
    Teak isn't so tool-friendly either, but it would make a sturdy, if somewhat heavy camera.
    My first choice would be cherry, but I like to stick with domestic woods, plus cherry smells good when you cut it.
    I agree with 2f/2f that epoxy isn't necessary, and would make repairs difficult, though it's sometimes used for stuff like Teak which has a lot of oil which can make joining it with white glue difficult sometimes.
     
  19. nick mulder

    nick mulder Subscriber

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    Ty - 20x24" studio Q forum Ty ?

    Nice camera - I'm making a similar style tailboard, but with two folds around the centre, like the Century - rear movement will have a similar mechanism to a Deardorff, shift if ever I need it will just be two tilts ... I was wondering why the bellows was so huge at the front end, and indeed why such a large front standard, I've been introduced to some very large lenses online recently, Dallmeyer 8D I think, some HUGE Darlot cone centralisateurs and my own Voigtlander which as large as it is still pales in comparison to the aforementioned lenses but I still wonder about the lens that your standard and bellows could carry !

    The examples of Cherry I have seen here were quite twisty when eyeballing the length - I'll certainly revisit the wood at some other merchants.
     
  20. Ty G

    Ty G Guest

    Nick, yep, that's me. If I remember correct, the bellows at the front were 19" square. Why? .. The larger, or taller the bellows in the front, the less chance that the bellows sagging will get in the image. Also, to accomodate the rise/fall. Basically, what I did what make the front of the bellows just a bit bigger than the hole that is behind the rise/fall lensboard. Why such a large front standard? Well, I had two camera designs that I liked and felt would be good to reproduce; one of them was Luther Gerlach's camera, and Patrick Alt's camera. Luther's is 22x30 (now 25x30) and Patrick's is 18x24, I think. I made the width of the front standard just big enough for the rise/fall and all to fit. The lensboard is 10.5" and every bit of that is needed if you have period lenses, I know, I mounted two of them on the camera.

    I need to get around to posting that camera on APUG. Maybe this evening, I'll put it up here.
     
  21. nick mulder

    nick mulder Subscriber

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    This is interesting stuff - I'm doing research at the moment, trying to but out the ideal design for me... Kind of hard in isolation, in that I have no cameras to actually see, just pictures on the net - I'm afraid I might misinterpret the way something goes together and miss out an opportunity to make a better camera with the same amount of effort.

    Often when someone puts up a picture of their newest creation everyone will say 'wow! nice camera' 'great work!' etc... which is nice and all - nothing like a community of like minded spirits huh - but, sometimes upon analysis and knowing of all the variation over the years that there will be a better way to have made such and such feature - sure, some people don't need swing, some don't need a massive front standard, some people aren't fussed by the fold down size, some will be using modern light weight or at least centre balanced lenses, some don't know a dovetail or mortise and tenon from a screwed dry butt joint - so there will be a different camera for every person but still I get the feeling that after all these years and years of evolution (that kind of died (?) in the 30's (?) with the advent of smaller and smaller cameras being made out of newer metal technology, the kind of stuff that is a bit harder to replicate in a home workshop) that maybe there is actually a 'perfect camera' - it's getting in the way of me building one, this persistent niggling feeling

    I rant :wink: - guess I'm asking, did you ever start thinking this way or did you just dive on in ?
     
  22. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    What kinf of joinery do you plan ?

    What kind of camera ?
     
  23. Ty G

    Ty G Guest

    Nick, Yes, I am always trying to "re invent the wheel" I have finally come to methods that lend themselves to lower weight, increased rigidity, etc.etc. I hate to sound negative, but you are not going to perfect it on the first try. When I started doing images, tintypes, I could not afford a camera or lens for that matter, so I made my own, and made my own lens with PVC pipe and a surplus acromat lens. Then, as soon, as I was finished with that one, I looked at it and began drawing how I would do it on the next one.

    Another note, I/we have no idea of what you want in a camera. Or what time period you would like to make the camera appear, as this has a lot to do with design. Every decade in the 19th century had obvious camera designs for that period. On historical cameras, adding movements adds size and weight. However, if making similar to a Wisner, then things can be different. I use web photos a LOT to look at designs.

    "How do I learn to speak timber merchant language to get what I'm after ?" .... just make sure you are familiar with lumber thickness dimensions such as 6/4, 8/4, 4/4. I use mostly 5/4 and on my bandsaw resaw it in half and then I have two pieces of 3/8" thick for the cameras I do.
     
  24. Dan Dozer

    Dan Dozer Subscriber

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    I made my 8 x 20 out of Makore. It looks somewhat like a cross between Mahagony and Cherry but when finished is more like mahagony in color (red). Not overly hard so fairly easy to work with. Boards are easily available on Ebay for reasonable prices or you might be able to find it at a local hardwood store.
     
  25. clayne

    clayne Member

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    Nick, can you get access to reasonable amounts of Kauri or Totara? Both are native and quite resistant to rot of any kind.
     
  26. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    Look at what's been used in the past, well seasoned Cherry or Mahogany and some Oak. They machine easily and the first two have very tight grain making it easier to do fine joints. Cherry and Mahogany are nice looking woods also. There is no reason that you can't use about any species, some will be costly on the carbide though and some will fight you all the way. Ever joined Teak?

    If you are going to get picky then you will need a moisture meter too.