Would this be a good darkroom countertop?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by pesphoto, Mar 5, 2008.

  1. pesphoto

    pesphoto Member

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    Im in the process of building my darkroom.
    I found this piece of countertop listed on Craigslist.
    Do you think it would make a good workspace for my dry side?
    I emailed the lister and can get it for $25. What do you think, would you do it? I have 2 enlargers to set up.
    http://providence.craigslist.org/hsh/552411874.html
     
  2. cowanw

    cowanw Member

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    Yes. I have used a laminate top and it has held up for 30 years. except for muriatic acid, for cyanotypes, that marred a circle on the wet side.
    Regards
    Bill
     
  3. AZLF

    AZLF Member

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    There is nothing wrong with using the laminate top but I think 24 inches is a little narrow for the bench top especially if you are placing an enlarger or two on it. Even if you removed the bases and bolted it to the bench top 24 inches will not be enough to work very well imo.
     
  4. Gary Holliday

    Gary Holliday Member

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    I'm buying one also at the weekend. The smoother the surface the better, some have a stipple finish and can be hard to clean.
     
  5. pesphoto

    pesphoto Member

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    Thanks fo the opinions. AZLF, that was my main concern about this particualar piece.
    I'll go home tonight and measure the baseboards for my enlargers.
    I dont want them hanging over the edge.
     
  6. dpurdy

    dpurdy Member

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    I agree that 24 inches is very narrow. I prefer 32 inches. And if the counter is going to be used in the dark it is useful to have it be white so you can see more with safe light illumination. You can of course find formica shops that will probably cut a piece whatever size you want, then it is just a matter of gluing it down.
     
  7. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    check out home depot or lowes. they often have short ends for sale at very good prices.
     
  8. pesphoto

    pesphoto Member

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    ...also a good point.
     
  9. pesphoto

    pesphoto Member

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    Thanks Ann, I have seen the precut pieces at HD and Lowe's, just searching around for other(cheaper) options I guess, but that may be the way to go.
     
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  10. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    When I was building my current darkroom, I found a scrap of roll-formed laminate countertop at Grossman's outlet that was priced right for the project

    The point that has been made about depth is important. Also, consider whether the counter top has a "berm" at the leading edge - that might be fine for most applications, but it won't work well if the depth is such that your enlarger will sit on that bump, causing it to be out of plumn.
     
  11. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    I have a white laminate top which is slightly stippled and its OK to clean as a sponge can deal with the stipple. Mine is 24 inches and this is only just enough. I have a Durst M605 and the board to which the column attaches come to within an inch of the edge. A bigger enlarger than this such as a 6x7 or 6x9 and certainly a bench 5x4 might protrude over the edge. Not a problem from a stability point of view if you have enough room to pass the board without knocking into it. Depending on the width of the darkroom a wider laminate board would be better. The weight of the laminate board is important. The heavier it is the more likely it is to resist flexing and vibration. Mine is one and three quarter inches thick. You might be OK with one inch but it depends on the total weight of things on top and the distance between fixings to floor and/or wall in terms of flex.

    pentaxuser
     
  12. pesphoto

    pesphoto Member

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    Louie,
    I have a Grossman's here in Pawtucket. Good call!
    Was it just a sheet of laminate? What did you glue it onto?
     
  13. Gary Holliday

    Gary Holliday Member

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    I'm sure I've seen your worktop in B&Q pentaxuser. Did you glue or screw the worktop to your kitchen unit?
     
  14. Mark_S

    Mark_S Member

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    I also used a piece of roll formed laminate countertop which works well, although I don't put my enlargers on it - the enlargers are on their own tables which offer more flexibility in terms of height and width.

    Mine is a neutral gray color, with a not completely smooth surface, if I were to do it again, I would look for smooth white.
     
  15. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

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    I think it would work fine for a workspace such as sorting negatives, storage, etc. I agree with the others that it is too shallow for the enlarger. I use 30 inch counter tops and that should be a minimum. I prefer white. Around the enlarger, you can get some cheap black fome-cor and use blue tack to attach it to the appropriate areas.
     
  16. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    The piece I bought was the full countertop - laminate over a particle board substrate - and with both the rolled front (the "bern") and a short backsplash. I think I paid <$30 for a 6' length. Obviously, the selection wasn't extensive (you can choose any color or pattern - provided its in stock when you walk into the store). Some of the pieces in the selection were damaged, and some were pretty tacky and not at all consistent with my taste, even in the dark. I chose a gray-blue color with a matt finish. In theory, this is for the "dry side" of my darkroom, but I also do alternative processes, and find that Pt/pd coating stains just wipe off.

    I designed the counters in my darkroom to fit into a corner. I used a pair of inexpensive kitchen cabinet units placed on either side of the corner, and cut the countertop to fit on top of these cabinets. Then, I built a counter that fit into the corner, supported on cleats attached to the walls and the cabinets. This was made from particle board and was finished with polyurethane. I mounted my enlarger in the corner. The depth of the cabinets (and hence the laminated countertop) was 2 feet, so the diagonal depth in the corner was about 34 inches - more than enough for my Omega DII enlarger.

    When you buy a length of countertop, it comes with the ends unfinished. If you buy the material from a first-line supplier, you can also buy pre-cut, matching pieces of laminate to attach to the end using contact cement. But when you buy from a surplus dealer like Grossman's, that option may not exist. I chose to simply varnish the exposed ends of the countertop with polyurethane. That's not a perfect solution, but its a darkroom, and for the most part the countertop ends aren't all that obvious.
     
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  17. pesphoto

    pesphoto Member

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    Louie, thank you for that helpful description! I like the idea of the kitchen cabinets.
    I may take a trip over to Grossmans the weekend.
    Any chance you might have a pic of the set up you descibe?
     
  18. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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  19. pentaxuser

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    Gary I assume this question was directed to me. I bought to the correct size for my darkroom(a converted bedroom) two pieces of 24inch x 1.5 inch from a local supplier. Not B&Q but they would have done. One was for the dry side and is supported by 2 Wickes double units underneath with doors and one single unit with a door. The worktop is screwed only to the top of the units and the back of the units to the wall. No need to attach top to wall. The sheer weight of the top means that the screws are simply there to stop it moving. I suspect that even simply placed on the units it wouldn't move. It has serious and I mean serious weigh at 1.5 inches thick x two feet wide and about 8 feet long.

    The other piece on the wet side is completely separate - no L shape arrangement used - and is placed on two double units from Wickes and was cut away for a sink purchased from Browns via Nova I think. As the sink is nearly as wide as the worktop, most of the top is actually missing but it still has all the strength and more to cope with a fibreglass sink which actually sits on top of where the two units are joined and has strengthening pieces across it. A long fibreglass sink doesn't have the strength to be self supporting by itself without some help.

    I am digressing now slightly but if I had my time over again I think I would try and place the sink into an open metal frame and simply store materials underneath without any doors. The door units make things look neat and cover up the waste pipe plumbing but I ended up wasting a lot of work top which had to be cut out and most of it thrown away. So quite expensive. On the other hand the custome made metal frame for the Browns sink might have cost as much as the worktop and the Wickes units underneath and the spare piece of worktop at one end allows me to support a 10x8 Nova Quad without using any sink space. The Nova Quad is heavy enough to need its own support, I believe. I'd be wary of placing it into a fibreglass sink unless the sink had full support underneath for its full length or most of its length.

    I hope this information may help others as well.

    pentaxuser