Your favorite "Improvised" darkroom equipment

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by bblhed, Sep 25, 2010.

  1. bblhed

    bblhed Member

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    As a was removing the clothespins from my dry film today I began to think I can not be the only one that does this. Then I wondered what other things from around the house people have used in their process, or even what things people are using in ways not intended by the manufacturer.

    So here are the questions.

    What are you using in place of a piece of equipment you could buy? As in Clothespins as drying clips, string as a drying rack, pizza box as easel, and so on.

    What piece of gear are you using for something other than it was meant for? As in Film tank as measuring cup, mixing beaker as film washer, even jobo as foot bath.

    Don't be shy we all do things with stuff that we aren't proud of, but if it works maybe someone might learn something.
     
  2. WetMogwai

    WetMogwai Member

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    I use 120 spools and rubber bands around the shower door top rail to provide a place for rubber dipped mini clamps to hold my film to dry. I'm thinking of a way to expand that vertically with string so I can dry up to 12 sheets at once.
     
  3. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    I use coat hangers and binder clips to hang dry my film. I have sweater drying screens to dry prints (they're even stackable).
     
  4. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    windshield wiper as a squeegee for prints,
    and a plastic shelved closet with the shelves removed
    as my film drying cabinet
     
  5. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    For as a film washer, I use an old plastic milk jug with top cut off with holes on the bottom.
     
  6. Noam

    Noam Member

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    I've got some litter boxes from the dollar store that make rather nice 8X10 trays. Not only that, they're even in different colors!
     
  7. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    I used 16x20 photo trays for a kitty litter box in a pinch one time. I'm not kidding :smile:
     
  8. anon12345

    anon12345 Member

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    Needed an 8x10 printing frame and really wasn't up to waiting a week for mail order. So, started with a wooden picture frame and re-enforced the corners. Made a backing board that has black felt affixed to the inside. And then I made the "Great Discovery". Aluminum bar stock when bent into a curve retains the curve indefinitely (or for a very long time). So, I shaped the aluminum bar stock into a curve by hand using a coffee can as a form. Everything else is history.
     
  9. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    I use a turkey baster to clear bubbles out of the lines on a Cibrachrome processor.
     
  10. bowzart

    bowzart Member

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    I have an old Kodak beaker, one of the thick glass pint sized ones, that i always use for proofing yeast when I make bread.

    I also have used a Merz processor (tempered cabinet) for making yogurt. Believe me, I cleaned it extremely well prior to doing this. Since nobody seems to want the old Merz S2, I am thinking that I'll remove the agitation parts and use it as a primary fermenter for small batches of red wine, which does best at 85°F. It seems to me that if you have the ability to control temperature to +/- 1/4°, it isn't real smart to let that capability go.

    I've used the black plastic trays, curved at the ends, that Home Despot sells for mixing concrete as large print trays and also have used suitcase shells for a wash tray for a tray siphon.

    This probably doesn't quite fit the spirit of the original question, but then, might be interesting to someone. Once, eating in a restaurant, a partial eclipse of the sun occurred. I asked the kitchen for a box and a piece of foil, and made a topless pinhole camera. Everyone there got to see the eclipse, albeit upside down.

    I suspect that I could come up with a bunch of stuff like this. For many years, there was no separation between photography and "life", so whatever there was got used for whatever was needed at the time. It's a bit different now, but who knows what's next?
     
  11. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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  12. Nikola Dulgiarov

    Nikola Dulgiarov Member

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    I made my own enlarger footswitches ( one for the timer, and one for a "Bulb" duration) out of some blocks of wood, 3mm plywood, and duct tape, and a magnetic stirrer from a computer fan and super magnets.
     
  13. Wade D

    Wade D Member

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    I use a 10 gallon acrylic fish tank as a print washer for up to 11x14. To separate the prints I epoxied several plastic letter organizers from the stationary store to the bottom. Drilled a hole for a hose fitting near the bottom and drilled holes along the top edge for the water to exit.
    Plastic stirring spoons from the kitchen also serve as chemical mixers.
     
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  15. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    I made my print drying screens from a Home Depot window screen kit. My film drying hangers hang from an old-fashioned wire towel rack fastened to the ceiling. My darkroom sink is a single basin stainless kitchen sink.
    I did some 16x10 prints using a picture frame as an easel, it worked but was a PITA.

    My wife discovered that 5x7 stainless sheet film tanks hold CD jewel cases perfectly, and our kitchen towels are stored in an 8x10 tank oriented on it's side.
    Oh and one of our vases looks quite a lot like an old Kodak glass darkroom graduate.
     
  16. jamesgignac

    jamesgignac Member

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    First of all: this is a great topic! :smile:

    I use the string/clothespin approach for hanging up film in a tall kitchen cabinet.
    I've also used an aquarium pump/filter to keep my print bath (a deep 16x20 tray) from collecting any dust on the surface during long printing sessions.
     
  17. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    I look for "darkroom equipment" almost every time I go to Bed Bath & Beyond ...
     
  18. juan

    juan Subscriber

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    I made a "shelf" out of PVC pipe that fits over my bathtub and gives me a second level for trays. I was in either Home Depot or Lowes one day and found on sale several prefabricated screen doors that had been damaged in transit. Small holes torn in the screen - some of the rubber insulation pulled loose. I bought two for $3 each and took them home for print drying screens.
    juan
     
  19. mwdake

    mwdake Member

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    I used my improvised 16x20 easel for the first time last weekend.
    I had a brand new 16x20 Saunders borderless easel, but I don't like prints without a border and not being able to afford the wicked prices for an adjustable 16x20 easel I made a frame for the borderless one. Now I can print 16x20 with a nice neat 1 1/2 inch border all around. I am thinking of making a narrower frame to give 1 inch borders too.
     
  20. Valerie

    Valerie Subscriber

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  21. bblhed

    bblhed Member

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    Yup, proof positive that necessity is the mother of invention, or something. I'm looking forward to reading more of these.
     
  22. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    I have a large kitty litter tray that serves as a tempering bath. Temperature control is achieved by means of an aquarium heater and submersible water pump left over from the days when I actually kept fish as a hobby. The tray is pretty deep for litter pan - deep enough to half submerge a 1L bottle. Needless to say, that's a bit deep for a film developing tank, so I use a brick as a stand for it. Another 1/2 brick serves as a weight to keep the tank from floating as it tempers along with the chemistry.

    A standard issue digital kitchen thermometer is pressed into service. These are inexpensive and can be considered as expendables if and when they fail. They're not always accurate, but they are consistent, so I calibrate it against a known accurate glass thermometer and note the differences at my standard processing temperatures.

    I too balk at the cost of obtaining an easel capable of holding 16x20 paper and I've gotten some good ideas for making one from this thread so far. Using a border-less easel as a base is a good idea, but it's still too pricey for the amount of use I'd likely give it. A nice flat piece of steel maybe 20 x 24 inches would be just about right. A few magnets and some strips of black card stock for the borders would work out just right. Now to find that nice flat piece of steel.
     
  23. mwdake

    mwdake Member

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    I too was going to make my own base for my 16x20 easel; but I managed to snag a brand new Saunders 16x20 borderless easel of Craigslist for $35.
     
  24. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    Thanks for starting the thread bblhed. Because of the thread, there's a lot of good ideas worth stealing here.
     
  25. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Too high end - it's the "Dollar Store" for me :smile:.
     
  26. dehk

    dehk Member

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    Well, shh, but I use 1 gal tea jugs for my fixers.