Not that this would really help anyone, but I knew a guy who was an expert at making one off medical machinery (prototypes) and he was going to make a ULF camera out of honeycombed aluminum. He showed me the material and it was incredibly light and ultra stiff. I don't know what happened to the project though as I lost touch with him. He was definitely a dreamer. And a material to think about.
I used Oak for my first DIY camera, but found it hard to machine (I'm not an experienced woodworker), and prone to splitting. But I like it's "look and feel".
Originally Posted by JohnArs
It was also used for the bearing surfaces and cog gears for windmills because it resists wear so well.
Originally Posted by Bill Harrison
To answer some of the questions, oak is not on the list because it seems prone to warping. My guess European Pear is not used because it doesn't look interesting. The carbon suggestions are interesting, but not for a DIY kit, certainly not for an inexpensive one. I am concerned about the dust machining would cause on CF. As far as wood combination, inlays, etc I will leave that to the builder ;) since my taste might not be necessarily the same as others ...
If it is a kit for the masses, then it probably should be some kind of wood for the masses, Hickory, Ash, or some other common hardwood.
I've often thought that a DIY kit that uses an RB or RZ 6x7 back. Maybe a mono rail with only a little bit of movement in the front and rear standards. Just something that wouldn't be too expensive to get into a view type camera that would take "common" film backs and lenses. Basically a starter view camera that might allow someone to get their feet wet and decide if they wanted to go bigger or get out.
The plan is to have options, from an absolute basic kit to something (a lot more) elaborate, with some options to upgrade at a later time. I'm trying to avoid the concept of a "throw away" camera, even though the "masses" seem to like it. I finalized for the most part the "full feature camera" design, now I'm working on the more inexpensive versions. I'll be traveling for the next 2 month so with no access to a shop, I'll be doing the CAD work.
Originally Posted by Greg_E
I've always liked working with Walnut, machines nicely, smells good, looks good, not to dense so not to heavy. Another thought would be Sitka spruce, good for aircraft and musical instruments, would it be good for camera's?
Well if I was to have a REALLY nice camera made from wood I think Cherry with a nice clear polyurethane coating would be my choice. For a basic camera Ash would probably be fine and if left in the sun for a while it darkens up really nicely. Walnut and Mahogany are really nice too, but I think the reds in Cherry would be my preference.
If you feeling like doing a freebee and have some time to design it, throw together a billet aluminum 6x7 that will take an RB or RZ back and I might give that a go on my milling machine. It's all hand crank so nothing too complex.
Roger, you ask about the suitability of sitka spruce for a camera. Not a good choice, in my opinion. It is very stiff for its weight, which is good. But it vibrates very readily, which is the reason why it is used for the soundboards of string instruments. Just tripping the shutter could cause it to vibrate....
Several people here seem to be picking different woods more or less because they look nice, or ,even worse, because they just happen to have some lying around. Since different woods have different qualities, I would much prefer to choose wood type on the basis of qualities desirable in a camera, such as
2 High bend strength for weight.
3 Hard wearing.
4 Tendancy to vibrate.
There is also a good case for choosing different woods for different parts of a camera.
To follow up on this discussion, I made some renders on some of the woods mentioned here. Please feel free to comment on your preferences. The renders are here : http://www.diycamerakit.com/renders/.