what is the best wood for my camera project?

Discussion in 'Camera Building, Repairs & Modification' started by bicycletricycle, Mar 29, 2007.

  1. bicycletricycle

    bicycletricycle Subscriber

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    I am planning on building a 4x10 expansion back for my old 5x7 linhof technica and I am looking for some advice on wood. I have an ebony and that is really nice but probably too expensive. It seems that walnut has been pretty popular. I guess hardness and resistance to expansion and contraction because of moisture are the most important factors here. i was thinking of using oak because i have some. Any advice or experience will be of great help here.
     
  2. Neanderman

    Neanderman Member

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    The best woods are the traditional ones -- mahogany and cherry. I find mahogany to be the easier of the two to work with -- cherry can be very squirrely and prone to tearout.
     
  3. Terence

    Terence Member

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    Quarter-sawn cherry or mahogany are very good trade-offs between workability, movement due to moisture, toughness, and expense.

    Oak tends to move a bit more, and the grain is more prone to tearout when making fine cuts.
     
  4. Terence

    Terence Member

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    Amusingly, my experience is the opposite. Just goes to show there's not one right answer.
     
  5. bicycletricycle

    bicycletricycle Subscriber

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    what about australan lace wood?

    I saw a 4x10 camera that some guy in LA who does not make cameras too often and it was made of some kind of lacewood. I wish i could remember his name, their was a review of his camera in view camera when terry did that series on 4x10's. Anyways i saw one at samys and it was really nice. Anyone know about what i am talking about?
     
  6. bicycletricycle

    bicycletricycle Subscriber

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    mdf

    arent some of the gandolphi cameras made of MDF?
     
  7. colivet

    colivet Member

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    Ebony, coconut, Lignum Vitae, etc
     
  8. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Early Variants were made of MDF, which is a very suitable material but no-one loved it: the late Brian Gould, who owned Gandolfi (note f not ph) couldn't see why. Eventually, in response to pressure from many photographers incuding myself they made one in 'real tree' as a show-piece and now the MDF is a special order item that is almost never special ordered. I have two MDF Variants, but my 5x7 inch back (Variants can accept 4x5, 5x7, 10x8) is black walnut -- one of the first in 'real tree'.

    Quite separately from all that, well-seasoned teak is an excellent material: I had some cameras made to my design in India in the 1980s of teak, recycled, apparently, from British-era floorboards.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  9. richard ide

    richard ide Member

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    I am building a couple of cameras from Australian Lacewood. It is a hard wood but relatively easy to work with using carbide tipped tools. My final finish will be Tung oil. One I am making for a Wild 150mm lens utilizing a Wild bellows and other components. The other will be a field camera which will use Cambo lens boards, back and bellows. The quarter sawn wood is unlike any other and beautiful to look at.
     
  10. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    Sycamore, why be conventional, get the best.
    Recycled wood would be very retro and appropriate for the times. Some of the best grain and conditioned wood is recycled hardwoods.
     
  11. Jim Fitzgerald

    Jim Fitzgerald Member

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    I think it depends on the look you are after. Find a wood that when finished gives you the look you want. There are plenty of great hardwoods. I love walnut and my 8x20 is out of Walnut. I have had to use hand tools for most of the work and I love the way the wood works. The finish is a hand rubbed oil finish wet polished to 800 grit with diamond pads and then a protective satin wax. All hand rubbed. Yes I am a glutton for punishment. But so far so good. Good luck. I will post some pic's this weekend after some assembly.

    Jim

    Stay Focused....or Soft Focused!
     
  12. BradS

    BradS Member

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    Walnut. It is beautiful and has fairly optimal mechanical properties.
     
  13. Colin Graham

    Colin Graham Member

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    What Jim said. Provided it's stable, why limit yourself? I've used tiger-striped maple, curly cherry, mahogany and rosewood. (On separate cameras that is!) I've seen others use Padouk, purpleheart, lacewood...I'd stay away from lignum vitae and the oilier exotics because it's hard to find a glue that'll stick to them and they're usually astronomically expensive and heavy. But lignum vitae does make a great bearing surface for guide rails because it's almost self-lubricating, very soapy feeling. Of course there are environmental reasons as well to use no rainforest woods, but there are certified grower programs to help ease your conscience. I think curly cherry is a great compromise because it's very exotic looking, quite stable, relatively light and domestically grown.
     
  14. bicycletricycle

    bicycletricycle Subscriber

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    I guess i was just surprised at how much my ebony moved from moisture and i was worried about choosing a wood that was more tempermental. I also would like a harder wood so that it is more durable.
     
  15. photobum

    photobum Member

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    All wood moves. That is why you must build out of quarter sawn wood. It will shrink and expand but not warp. The hardest wood is Lignum Vitae. Very dense and will sink in water. Good for mallets but to heavy for cameras. Like Ebony it would be good for a bearing surface. Oak has an open grain that can cause some tearout. I've made some lens boards out of Zebrawood and it is quite distinctive. I think you should pick a color or shade and then go from there. Light, Birds eye Maple. Medium, Cherry. Dark, Walnut, Mahogany. Very dark, Ebony, Rosewood, Coco-Bola.

    The standards are Maple (painted) Cherry and Mahogany. These woods are, strong, stable, easy to work and light for their strength.
     
  16. barryjyoung

    barryjyoung Member

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    I would recommend straight grained quartersawn Cherry. It is exceedingly dimensionally stable, it does not threaten rain forests, it is lightweight and beautiful. Mahogany second. I no longer use mahogany because I want my grandchildren to have a rain forest. Mahogaby is also much heavier.
     
  17. sepiareverb

    sepiareverb Subscriber

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    I built a 3.25 x 4.25 reducing back for my 810 from cherry. Has remained quite stable, even here in VT where the weather goes from very dry to very wet every year.
     
  18. bshaffer

    bshaffer Member

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  19. bshaffer

    bshaffer Member

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    as a disclaimer -I have nothing to do with this site or product -but found it using a quick search for paulownia characteristics -but for yrs I've heard about the dimensional stability of paulownia -esp. for boxes etc.
    barry
     
  20. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    I'd vote for Jelutong. A bit more expensive than some - but for a camera project - not very. Very dimensionally stable, and it machines like the DICKENS and has zero grain.
     
  21. phfitz

    phfitz Member

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    Hi there,

    I'm stripping a late model Ansco 5A studio 8x10, it's beech and basswood. I guess that's why it cost 2x the mahogany and brass version.

    Don't forget: teak, black ash, bloodwood, canarywood, yellowheart, koa, pacific yew, et al. I'm very sure it's a plank-by-plank choice.

    Good luck with it, please post some photos when done.
     
  22. seawolf66

    seawolf66 Member

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    Just Each of you understand the what ever wood you requires a different metheod of finishing and preparing of the wood for that type of wood, Prize cut Mahaogny requires it be sealed and then finished then if you use cherry it requires a different metheod to prep it and finish it I have always use [Behlen vanish finish's prep stuff their out of new jersey ]the last I knew, use to get their stuff thro Wades out of new york,N>Y> Have fun gentlemen, the more time you put into something the better it is:\\\Lauren