What am I going to forget (when building my darkroom)?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by david b, Mar 22, 2006.

  1. david b

    david b Member

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    So I am about to turn my 2.5 car garage into a 10x12 darkroom with the rest making up a lighting studio.

    The plumber has come and given me the outrageous estimate and will return in two weeks to do the work.

    But as I prepare to put up the walls and to build the darkroom, I have to ask...

    ...what will I forget?

    Any advice? Any must have features?

    Thanks in advance,
    david b (almost in albuquerque)
     
  2. ouyang

    ouyang Member

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    light tight ventilation system?
     
  3. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    I think you've already realised the most important thing - that you will forget something(s)!

    My best advice is to act on this knowledge and allow plenty of additional space so you can add in the things you later find that you need!

    Other than that, shelf and cupboard space (far, far more than you think you'll need), electrical outlets on the dry side (see shelf and cupboard space!)...

    ...and comfort! If you make your darkroom a pleasant place to be then you'll find excuses to be there, and vice versa. A few creature comforts go a really long way.

    Here's hoping you have many happy hours/days/weeks in the finished product.

    All the best,

    Frank
     
  4. jgjbowen

    jgjbowen Member

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    I wish I had a couple more electrical outlets in mine.....oh yea, and a master switch that turned all outlets on and off. A lot of my darkroom items don't have on/off switches so I have to unplug them in order to turn them off....quite the pain!
     
  5. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    Consider allowing for enlargements much bigger than you think you'll ever make and build the wet side accordingly. If ceiling height is not fixed at this point, allow for a bigger enlarger than you already own. Also, consider processes (split toning, two bath developer etc.) that involve more trays than you are used to using which will need to be accomodated. Finally, overbuild the support for your print washer. A tank large enough to wash 16x20 prints weighs an enormous amount when full of water. Good luck. It sounds like your making a dream come true.
     
  6. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Member

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    Heating that generates no light and heat insulation + a radio/CD that generates no light.

    David.
     
  7. jp80874

    jp80874 Subscriber

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    Wander through the "Darkroom Portraits" thread and see what everyone else forgot. It only has 262 posts and 38,619 views at this time. In the three years that I have had my darkroom, as my knowledge has grown, I have made more changes than to any other project I can remember. I tell myself that it was not poor planning, but rather that I have learned some much in that time, here and in classes, that I have wanted to apply.

    John Powers
     
  8. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Your sink CANNOT be too big!!! :smile:
     
  9. gordrob

    gordrob Subscriber

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    I have two circuits in my darkroom - one that is controled from a light switch outside of the darkroom that shuts everything down at the end of the day so i have no doubt that all items on that line are off when I am done. That switch also has a red lamp built in to it to indicate that the circuit is on. The second ciruit is live all the time. Both circuits are GFI protected - a absolute must in my opinion. I also made sure that I ran speaker wires and cable for my stereo and phone line as well.

    Gord
     
  10. terri

    terri Subscriber

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    I'm just jealous of all that space!

    Since it's being converted from a garage, I would think what comes first to my mind has already been mentioned: good ventilation and comfort - as in environmental controls. You cannot let it get too hot or cold in there, not only for yourself but your paper and chems.

    Good luck. Did I mention I'm jealous of all that space?? :wink:
     
  11. George Papantoniou

    George Papantoniou Member

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    Speaking of electrical circuit insallation, I think this is good:
    3 circuits, one for things that have to remain under current all the time (like the fridge), one for lighting and pumps and stuff that have to be turned off when the DR is not in use and one for the enlargers (so they are free of any interference). This is the way I installed it myself and it runs smoothly. I also installed separate switches on a board for every category of equipment (pumps, white light, safelights, enlargers, HiFi etc). This permits me to control everything from the board and adds to the safety of the system. I really found out how useful it was when one of my pumps got berzerk and I didn't have to turn the main switch off to repair it (in the dark !!!).
     
  12. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    You might have to spend some time to re-adjust and re-organize what's in your new darkroom space. Once you turn the lights off and start doing the actual work for the first time, you will start to feel it and be able to find out what works and what doesn't for you.

    It's a simple process, but some people do not recognize it in the first place.
     
  13. Jan Pietrzak

    Jan Pietrzak Member

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    David,

    Living in New Mexico like you do, I would think long and hard about putting a valve in your sink drain line. So that you can put film and print wash water out in your yard. This thread has been takled about before. It should be simple to do.

    Jan Pietrzak
     
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  15. bill schwab

    bill schwab Advertiser Advertiser

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    Hey David, believe it or not I am a Plumber! It was my "fall-back" trade and put me through school many years ago. I've plumbed darkrooms for friends and associates all over the country including 3 of my own. Do you already have drainage in the garage.. or is he going to have to tap you into your sewer system underground? I'm guessing this is where the biggest part of the cost will go. The rest should be gravy. Put in at least 2 faucets on your sink if you can. A separate valve for your washers will be helpful too.
    Yes.. put in a small air compressor and "wire" the place with hose nozzles at each work station. Best thing I ever did. Be sure to place a filter at the compressor to filter out any moisture. Mine works like a charm. Have a nozzle at each enlarger station as well as one by my scanner and in the dry work area.

    Have fun! Nothing like the feeling of a new workspace made to your needs.

    Bill
     
  16. JHannon

    JHannon Member

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    Like the others say--plenty of outlets and added circuits for the power. Don't forget the high current draw of dry mount presses (if you use one). The Seal 150 alone is rated at 11 AMPS.
     
  17. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

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    Are you a father? When I finally put a darkroom in our garage, I'm going to put in a revolving darkroom door from the house into the darkroom...that way my daughter can visit anytime, and she won't feel like we have a locked door (actual, emotional, etc) between us. (She's 4 1/2)

    Murray
     
  18. resummerfield

    resummerfield Subscriber

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    If you think 8 feet is enough, build 12

    I put 2 drain outlets in my sink--one for chems, and one for clear water

    And put a pressure regulator in the line somewhere convenient you can adjust.
    Good Luck!
     
  19. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    Instead of piping music in, consider a radio and a music source in the darkroom where you have immediate control. A number of individually switch controlled outlets throughout the darkroom are handy. A quartz or mechanical clock that ticks loudly every second is great for complex dodging and burning. So is a foot control for the enlarger or timer. A few quartz clocks throughout the darkroom are a cheap way to time processes. An electric clock with neon illumination works, too, and is safe around paper. I store enough water at room temperature for washing film, and don't need a tempered water supply. If you can't keep the darkroom temperature somewhere around 70F, at least keep the chemicals, film wash water, and developing tanks at that temperature. I like to sit at an enlarger. Others prefer to stand. Either way, have a comfortable chair or stool in the darkroom.
     
  20. Troy Hamon

    Troy Hamon Member

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    I don't know what you may forget...but I agree with the other comments suggesting you should make your wet space as large as possible. I'm just finishing up my darkroom, and I put in a wet side large enough to develop 20x24. I can't even do that on my enlarger baseboard, but I intend to print some that size enlarging horizontally...not sure how many...but by golly I'll be able to do it!

    A couple of surprises I have avoided by noticing it ahead of time...the GFCI outlets have little GREEN lights when they are working. I'll probably just tape a small fragment of black-out cloth over them. CD players usually put out light. Cordless phones light up when they ring.

    Advice given to me by others on this forum: Install a floor drain. Imagine what you will do when you spill your 20x24" tray of stop bath...oops...that's a lot of liquid, and it's acidic (usually), and the easiest way to mitigate that problem is to put a bunch of additional water down, but where does all this fluid go? Floor drain. Better before than after. Might be tough if your garage doesn't already include one though (assuming a concrete slab).

    Finally, install your ventilation system to pull air directly across your developing surface, so fumes are not rising past your eyes. In my case, I brought the air intake down the wall in a big 4" ABS pipe, and ran it along 12" above my wet bench, drilling holes in it so it would suck air along its length. In my case, I went further and installed two fans, one to pull air out and one to push air in, so I can get positive or negative pressure.

    Finally...enjoy the construction project. I've had days where I forgot that part, but now it is so close, I am enjoying the final few steps a lot.
     
  21. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Convenient lighting controls, so you can switch from dark to safe to inspection with a minimum of hassle.
     
  22. david b

    david b Member

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    Wow...this is a lot to read. Thanks everyone.
     
  23. kwmullet

    kwmullet Member

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    I'm in a similar situation. I just got the bid to do the framing on my circa 1949 1 car garage to turn 2/3 of it into a darkroom, and the front 1/3 into a retreat with a revolving door inbetween, and no entrance from inside the house. First thoughts that come to mind are:

    • moisture barrier on the floors and walls (like Tyvek) You're getting a raised subfloor, right?.
    • NO florescent lights in the darkroom. They continue to emit fogging light outside visible spectrum for a while after they're turned off.
    • room for at least 2-3 people to co-exist comfortably. As a darkroom owner, you'll want to share the experience.
    • Maybe put your (primary) enlarger on a big, sturdy rollaround cart with the biggest, heaviest industrial wheels you can find so if you get a hankering to make huge prints, you can tape or magnet the paper to a wall and move the enlarger back and forth on the floor.
    • keeping your enlarger off the same circut as laser printers (their cycling makes voltage drop), or where other folks in the house are likely to plug in things with motors like vacuums. I'm probably getting a dedicated circuit.
    • outlets in the ceiling to power safelights.
    • use the thickest sheetrock you can afford with lots of insulation so (a) you can keep out as much of the outside noise as possible and (b) when you've got the stereo cranked up to 8 at 2am and you're having a good session, no one will call the cops 'cause of all the noise you're making.
    • place your enlarger where passing trucks or kids running around in the house or doors slamming aren't likely to cause vibration during printing.
    Air Supply (the concept, not the group) is an issue. In my case, we've got a higher capacity home HVAC unit than we need for the house specifically because we anticipated venting air to the garage-turned-darkroom. My current thought is to vent supply air only into the darkroom, then vent it out through an exhaust vent near the sink level to the outside. I'd keep the vent fan running on low when the darkroom is unoccupied, medium or high when it is occupied, and high when I'm doin chem mix. Occasionally, we turn off the AC or heat in the house and open the windows when it's a nice day. What I haven't gotten an answer to yet is if having that exhaust fan pulling air from the AC/Heater when it's shut down will pose a problem.

    best of luck in your garage darkroom, David.

    -KwM-
     
  24. dphphoto

    dphphoto Member

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    I got to this thread late, and most of the good advise has already been given. The only reason I'm jumping in is that my darkroom is my garage, and it's worked out very well.
    Somebody must have mentioned lightproofing already. That was my biggest concern, to the point that I had a new garage door installed, which turned out to be the most costly part of the whole operation. Even the plumber was cheaper. (I still need to use the garage door occasionally, even though both cars stay in the driveway.)
    Yes, it's a lot of space. I still use about 1/3 for storage, and yet have room to set up strobes when I need to do a little studio work.
    The worst part is winter (in Tennessee). Space heaters get WAY expensive. Dean
     
  25. david b

    david b Member

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    As for heat and cooling, I am installing baseboard heaters that run on a separate thermostat and the house hot water heater and will be using a rolling a/c unit for the summers.

    I am also having an electrician come in to install about 10 sockets on each wall plus 3 safelights overhead.

    Thanks to everyone for the advice. I will post pictures in May when the space is done.

    I am so worked up, I'm heading to home depot right now.
     
  26. Thomassauerwein

    Thomassauerwein Member

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    Air purification. something to suck dust from the air while processing and drying film.