Wood for Lensboards

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by James Bleifus, Dec 4, 2004.

  1. James Bleifus

    James Bleifus Member

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    After a recent shopping spree I find that I have more lenses than boards. My camera, a Kodak #2 5X7, seem to want an 1/8 inch board. But finding an 1/8 inch cut in cherry wood or mahogany is proving tough. Can anyone offer any suggestions where I should look? Instead of Cherry wood or mahogony, would birch be a hard enough wood for a lens board? Thanks!

    Cheers,

    James
     
  2. rjs003

    rjs003 Subscriber

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    As a wood worker, let me offer the following. Find a woodworker in your neighborhood and ask him or her to cut the needed blank for the lens board. You should expect to pay for the wood and about an hours worth of his time. This will still be lower cost then buying used off e-bay.
    By the way my personal favorite would be Black Walnut. Beautiful but pricey.
     
  3. Deniz

    Deniz Member

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    I use Basswood from a local Michael's crafts store. cuts easy and works fine.
    I sure would like cherry too but oh well..
     
  4. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    My preference is to laminate two thin pieces of conventional 3/16" stock, cross-grain and heart-to-heart, and then cut a rabbet along the edges with the shaper, and route out the center area of the back side. That way, you end up with more of a light trap around the edge. Another option is 1/8" plywood, available at many hobby shops, but usually not carried by Home Depot-type stores. Again, laminate for greater strength and the light trap at the edge. Any tight-grained hardwood is OK.
     
  5. bmac

    bmac Member

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    Pergo
     
  6. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    Most of our local hobby shops, carry many different kinds of thin hardwood, I have purchased poplar, cherry, walnut birch and a couple of others in small sheets which are about 3 feet long 6 inches long and 1/8" thick for about $4.50 a sheet, which gives you enough to make quite a few boards. I live in a small town and we have 4 shops here, so I am sure that the larger towns would have more.


    Dave
     
  7. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    Brian, your Pergo suggestion . . . floors me. :wink:
     
  8. bmac

    bmac Member

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    it works reall good if you can find it in the right width. Totally stiff. Dimensionally stable, and has a nice external finish.
     
  9. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    True. I was making a Pergo pun.
     
  10. Jon Shiu

    Jon Shiu Subscriber

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    Birch would work fine. I made a few boards for my Calumet C1 and sold all the metal lensboards I had. I read somewhere that thin plywood can be cut with a knife instead of a saw. Haven't tried this yet.
     
  11. jimgalli

    jimgalli Subscriber

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    Model T Ford of cameras

    Was hauling an old desk to the dump for a friend when I noticed the bottoms of all those drawers were gorgeous ash plywood. Made lots of lens panels out of that and then there was the fiberboard that Dagor 77 packed a couple of ground glasses in, made a few out of those. I need to make several for my 5X7 2d also. Wish I was clever enough to make a 4 1/2" to 4" adapter board but my wood working skills and tools preclude anything that delicate.

    Had the old 2D 57 with the Graflex focal plane shutter out today while I was getting my bride a Christmas tree. Had the double Protar VII 9 1/8" lens in barrel so was using that old focal plane shutter. I've found it needs about a 6 pound weight balanced on top to settle that old shutter down. Film will be a revelation whether all this Model T era stuff can still make nice pictures!
     
  12. Mongo

    Mongo Member

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    I use 1/8" birch plywood that I get from a local art supply store; most hobby shops carry it as well.

    I've made boards for my Shen-Hao (the same as Technica boards), for my 2 Cambos, and for my Calumet C1. The wood's always been very stable, easy to work, and can be stained or painted as desired. And it's cheap, too...an $8 piece of 12" wide wood gets me about 6 or more lensboards depending on the cameras I'm working with. I use a box cutter and a Dremel tool for all of the shaping work, and wood glue if I need to combine pieces (as, for example, a C1 board). I think the longest it took me to figure out how to make a board (for the Cambos) was about 10 minutes. It really isn't rocket science...and you get the satisfaction of making something that really works. As an added bonus, the boards are generally lighter in weight than metal boards.
     
  13. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Lately I've been using hardboard from Home Depot. Comes in 1/8" and 1/4" thickness. Is almost free. Looks ugly but if somebody really cared it could be veneered. Works easily with machine tools but I'm not sure it would work well with hand tools. Usually I just use wood scraps but this stuff is easier.
     
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  15. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    My wife and I hbuilt a new house two years ago, so I spent the first winter building a darkroom. When the lumber yard delivered the sheetrock, they used a damaged sheet of 1/8" hardwood wall paneling to protect the bottom sheet of sheet rock from being damaged by the bet of their truck, and they left the paneling with the sheetrock. This paneling is a laminated material - a nice hardwood (mahogany?) skin over a fabricated substrate.

    This summer I had to make a board for by Zone VI. I bought a strip of 4" x 1/8" basswood at the lumberyard. Cut a 4x4" square with a hole for the Copal 0 shutter. Then, I cut a piece of the paneling 3.5" square, and drilled a hole in the center of it that is larger than the ouside diameter of the retaining ring on the lens. Then, I glued the paneling to the basswood making sure that the grain of the basswood is at 90deg to the grain of the mahogany paneling. Finally, stained and varnished the basswood, and painted the back a flat black.

    I've only used this for a few months, but so far it has served me well. It was fun to make and was far less expensive than purchasing a new lensboard.
     
  16. noseoil

    noseoil Member

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    If you need to, a hobby shop has thin plywood which can be glued up into the correct thickness for just about any application. Ralph's suggestion about a rabbet cut is a good one, since light travels in a straight line. If you don't have a shaper or a router for the edge cut (essentially, a long notch cut completely around the edge of the board which would normally be too thick to fit inside the groove for the lens board in the front standard), two thin boards can be glued up to make a stiff board which fits into the recess, has the notch acting as a light trap on the back side and mounts the lens properly.

    Be sure to make several extra boards if you are going to the trouble of doing this work. Have the blanks made up so you can drill them and glue them up as needed for a copal 0, 1 or 3 as needed. The front boards should fit well into the recess, the back boards should have enough clearance to allow an easy fit around the inside of the openeing in the back side and room for the shutter and mounting ring.
     
  17. sergio caetano

    sergio caetano Member

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    If YOU are gonna make it, you may try any of suggestions given. If you are gonna pay for professional work, ask for the best material for that purpose: aluminium.
     
  18. photobum

    photobum Member

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    Any hobby shop carries plywood for airplanes. Baltic Birch is best. Then hunt down some "Band-it" brand craft veneer. Woodworker's supply has it among others. The veneer comes in packs of 8x12 sheets and you glue it with contact cement. I use mahogany for my boards. It's neat to mix woods with a contrasting pattern too. Band-It brand is made by the Cloverdale Company PO Box 400 Cloverdale, Va. 24077
     
  19. Stan. L-B

    Stan. L-B Member

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    Some very good advice above. Nevertheless, it is also well to remember that all woods are living.It may sound strange but all woods move to some extent with the change of temperature and humidity - which is the reason why hard woods with tight grain are preferred in decorative cabinet making and the like. I would avoid all forms of ply if the board is to be used over long periods, but agree it would make a satisfactory improvised panel.
    Even famous artist of old came unstuck by not selecting the correct woods with little movement for their art work. I would go for ebony personally. Good luck Stan. L-B
     
  20. johnnywalker

    johnnywalker Subscriber

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    "Doorskins" would be a good material, and probably the stuff monophoto was talking about. It's a tropical hardwood plywood, looks something like mahogany but isn't (sometimes marketed as "Philippine Mahogany").

    If any plywood is properly varnished you won't have to worry about it delaminating. If it is properly dried when it is varnished it is most unlikely it would be dimensionally unstable.

    Real ebony is very rare and expensive. There is some wood out there marketed as ebony which is simply black wood, or a wood stained black. Not to say it wouldn't work, whatever it is.

    Any of the plywoods mentioned would work if they are the right thickness, and 1/8 inch is fairly common. And they can all be stained before varnishing to look reddish so they won't clash with the mahogany or cherry.

    p.s. I disagree with Stan's comment re the plywood. Plywood is much more stable than a single layer sheet of wood.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 6, 2004
  21. Steve Hamley

    Steve Hamley Member

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    Since no ones mentioned it, you can get some nice hardwood from cigar boxes. Mahogany, spanish cedar, etc. Probably won't be the correct thickness, but very good wood and often very pretty too.

    Steve
     
  22. Stan. L-B

    Stan. L-B Member

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    To clarify the question of using plywood. The reason I would be cautious using plywood gernerally is that there are so many types available. To reiterate, all wood is
    is a living material, this applies equally whether it is in single plank, block or ply form.

    I agree that generally ply is less prone to movement than most woods particularly the softer grades. Nevertheless, there are a number of ply woods that would be most unsuitable. These may be those plys made from any of the resinous wood types. It is also necessary to consider the glue used for the binding.

    It is just as important to know whether the ply is a 'round cut' or 'plank cut' Avoid the ply made from round cut veneers as they will tend to crack when any coating is applied to their surfaces.

    The better quality plywoods will be 'plank cut' and these are likely to be the marine grades which are most suitable - if ply is to be selected over other materials.

    If only a stand by panel is required then a good quality dense hard board will be more than up to the job and will not move at all, it is also very easy to work. Even so when coating ply or board be sure to give both sides equal coverage of sealer or coating.
    Stan. L-B
     
  23. Donald R. Cassling

    Donald R. Cassling Member

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    You might try black plexiglass. It comes in large sheets that are 1/8" thick, is relatively inexpensive, can be cut, drilled and sanded, and is firm and sturdy enough to work well as lensboards. I've used black plexiglass for all my lenses and they work well. I sand the inside surface of the board so that it has a flat matte surface that doesn't reflect light, and I leave the outside surface shiny. I originally got the idea from Bender's website, and it works really well.
     
  24. mfobrien

    mfobrien Member

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    Umm, what's wrong with masonite? I have several lensboards made from it. Dimensionally stable, stiff, and easy to work with and downright cheap.
     
  25. mark

    mark Member

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    A second for masonite. It works easy, and routes beautifully. It may not look purddy but I'm out to take pictures not impress anyone. Since I don't leave my camera set up in a down pour water is not an issue.
     
  26. photomc

    photomc Member

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    Good stuff here..but what do you guys use to cut the hole for the lens? Guessing you center it and then cut based on lens?