View Full Version : restoring old folders

01-29-2009, 01:59 AM
Hello:I don't know if this topic has been covered before but Iam restoring a number of kodak folding roll film cameras.They all work but the old covering material is,to say the least,getting pretty cruddy and I plan to replace it,one camera at a time.My questions are:How do I remove any corrosion/gunk after I remove the coverings and what is the best adhesive to use when attaching the new material.One point worth noting the adhesive Pliobond is not available here in Canada,to the best of my knowledge and is restricted in transport by any method.

Finally,does there exist a book or article on how to d this type of work without damaging or otherwise making a mess of the project.

Thanks in advance,


Paul Goutiere
01-29-2009, 03:38 AM
Often with old cameras the skin is glued on with common shellac. Shellac is soluble in alcohol; like methyl hydrate.

You can use shellac to re-glue leathers by allowing some shellac to partially dry in a old bowl until it gets a little sticky. Apply this to the camera and the leather.
Practice a bit. The process is easy and reversible.

I have use a material called "ATG" tape by 3M as well with great success. Picture framers use the stuff.

"Pliobond", is merely contact cement. Available in Canada as "Lepages" contact cement. This is great stuff but is very permanent and many camera restorers will never use it.

01-30-2009, 12:20 AM
For what it is worth, I've got these tips.

For the gunk adhering still to the aluminum/steel surfaces, try water on a test patch. Hide glue was also used to glue coverings onto metal, in which case the patch might just come loose with a slightly damp sponge. If that doesn't work, then it probably was shellac, and you can use other solvents in the same gentle manner--you won't hurt the metal. I've also popped stubborn bits off with jewelers' screwdrivers.

For white spots on aluminum, these are usually aluminum oxide, a very hard substance. Use a fine grade of corundum sandcloth to burnish these spots down to the metal, and you are done. You can also sand off rust, but if you use rust remover, make sure it is very thoroughly cleaned off at the end.

"Green gunk" around screw and rivet fittings is another form of reaction between dissimilar metals. Use a split wood matchstick or toothpick to scrape the stuff away, wipe clean with a cloth, and put a thin layer of clear nail polish over the area; this helps impede further oxidation around the contact.

I use hide glue wherever it will adhere to metal, as it is water soluble and thus re-doable. If hide glue won't adhere, water soluble glue stick adhesive (acid free from scrapbooking shops) is another good, reversible choice.

I hope this is helpful; weigh it among other expert's advice as well.

01-30-2009, 02:10 AM
Hello Paul:Thanks for the info.I found a company called Micro-Tools and they stock both leatherette and Moroccan Leather to re-cover old cameras.Any thoughts on which material is best?.


01-30-2009, 02:13 AM
Hello Don:Thanks for the info and little tricks of the trade,so to speak.I found a company called Micro-Tools that stock both leatherette and Moroccan Leather as cover material for old cameras.Any thoughts on which material is best and where I could find hide glue here in Canada?.


Paul Goutiere
01-30-2009, 02:46 AM
I've never used hide glue, but I think Lee Valley Tools may carry it.

But... should you want a water soluble glue I have used picture framer's glue which is both water soluble and will stick to metal as well as wood. I'll bet
your friendly picture framer will give you a 1/2 cup full for free or very little.

The leather used for book binding is by far the best as it is quite thin, thinner than that sold by Micro Tools. Google "book binding materials".

01-30-2009, 07:29 AM
Hide glue comes in two forms, pre-mixed and dry which must be melted. Most woodworkers prefer the dry stuff, as it is always fresh, and has no preservative in it. Both hide glue and shellac are on Lee Valley's website. Both would be available from any woodworking shop as well.

01-30-2009, 09:59 AM
In case you decide to get all crazy with your leatherette, try this:

01-30-2009, 10:56 AM
The craft store Michaels carries some thin leather squares that I used to restore a beaten up Moskva 5 folder. Check it out you may like it plus you don't pay shipping as you would with materials from Micro Tools.:p

John Koehrer
01-30-2009, 11:48 AM
You can find shellac at some auto part or hardware stores, it's used for sealing gaskets.
It may be soluble with alcohol(don't recall 100%)

01-30-2009, 07:12 PM
Thanks all for your suggestion and help.I'll let you all know how the first camera turns out.