Glue for bellows construction ???
I'm about to attempt making my first bellows and I'm wondering what sort of adhesive to use to attach the stiffeners and liner to the outer material. I'll be using Porter's rubberized darkroom cloth for the exterior, manila folder material for the stiffeners, and a black "Super-Suede" 150 denier polyester fabric obtained from Outdoor Wilderness Fabrics for the liner.
I've read suggestions on Doug Bardell's site for using Franklin Sanding Disc cement, Nashua 357 or 3M Photo adhesive sprays as the adhesive. Other sites recommend using rubber cement or the type of contact cements used by the automotive industry to secure vinyl/rubber trim to vehicles.
So, I have a couple questions to those who may have assembled a bellows before me. First, is there any adhesive including those mentioned above that you wouldn't use in retrospect, and if so, why? For example, the adhesive ultimately failed, or it set too quickly or not rapidly enough, it was too messy to apply, or it interacted with the material and caused it to deteriorate, etc.
Second, does anyone have any ideas for other suitable adhesives? I'm trying to imagine what might have been used historically and I'm thinking canvas hide glue sizing might do the trick being inexpensive and reversible and I doubt it would interact with the materials adversely.
Spray adhesives would seem to me the easiest to apply, but I have doubts that something like Photo Adhesive Spray would be permanent based on how I've seen it fail in mounting photos.
I wonder if plain old white glue or PVA would work. Anyone?
Thanks in advance for sharing your experiences or thoughts.
BTW, the bellows will probably be 9" inside and square on both ends, non-tapering, and probably 24" - 30" fully extended.
I have used both rubber cement and the spray on glues, 3M also makes a spray on rubber cement that works great, the spray ons are alot easier to work with, than the roll or paint on types.
I just made myself 2 8x10 bellows(one as a backup as it's easy to screw up). I found a glue called fabritac made by beacon adesives worked for attaching the stiffeners(i found I couldn't use contact adhesive inside as we have gas appliances) and the fabritac has less fumes. To glue the outer cloth to the inner I used contact cement I think it's called weldwood. I also used it to glue some of the stiffeners for the other bellows but this time I was working outside and it was applied with a small foam brush. I would use this method again ,you just have to work outsidebecasue of the fumes.
As for the fabric I used drapery blackout material which is used to line curtains to darken rooms it's reasonably cheap $5.47 a yard and comes in 54" width( I got two 8x10 bellows out of two yards) for the lining I used cheap cotton cloth $1.87a yard from walmart(same place I got the glue). You might want to give the blackout fabric a try as it's cheap(you can but it online at hancocks fabrics). It's only downside is it comes in white or ecru,but you can spary it black with acrylic paint.
I have attached(i think) a picture of the bellows.
There was an excellent article in View Camera a few years ago about how to make a bellows. The author used Pliobond (sp?) contact cement. He was using a neoprene type material so you might want to test it on some scrap of material first.
"Fundamentally I think we need to rediscover a non-ironic world"
I have used 3M Super Weatherstrip Adhesive (yellow) with great results for the outer seam and frames. Pliobond will likely melt your fabrics so test a piece first, it is also very flammable.
For the ribs I have used auto headliner spray adhesive from:
Heads Up Industries
1009 N.W. 132nd Ave.
Ft. Lauderdale, Fl. 33323
They should be able to find a dealer in your area. They also make a 'No odor' version, both are flammable. Both work well.
Spray disc adhesive stays tacky almost forever. Photo mount is not strong enough. Never used 357. White glue or PVA might work but you have synthetic fabrics so I don't think so.
Any of the sprays are very flammable, so do be careful. Gloves are not too useful, something else to stick together. Are you mounting the ribs 1-by-1 or as a block?
Good luck with it.
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Originally Posted by Andy Tymon
Thanks for the suggestions.
I actually have about 10 yards of the ecru blackout fabric on hand which I'm using to construct a darktent in order to do wet plate collodion in the field. I chose not to use it for the bellows because of its color and also its thickness. Both of the materials I have for the bellows are fairly thin and flexible and I suspect their combined thickness is actually less than a single layer of the blackout material. They are much more expensive and harder to find though. Thinner materials should make for a more compressible bellows and easier folding I think. I guess I'll find out soon.
I'm also going for a dark look with the camera and bellows (black walnut, brass hardware and black bellows). I think the white or ecru bellows would look neat on a camera with lighter wood. I also have some aluminized blackout fabric like the stuff used for changing tents and darkcloths. I think it might work ok as a bellows material, but in my head I can't quite get used to a shiny aluminum view camera...maybe someday.
Thanks for the confirmation. I though some of this stuff might dissolve the fabrics.
Originally Posted by phfitz
Sounds like the ticket. Thanks.
...For the ribs I have used auto headliner spray adhesive...
I haven't decided yet. I suspect the 1-by-1 is actually easier although more time-consuming. The block would seem to take more planning and be more prone to major screw-ups. (I can easily re-cut a single strip as opposed to an entire block.) Do you have any preference?
...Are you mounting the ribs 1-by-1 or as a block? ...
Not being funny but it may be easier to make up the bellows complete in heavy paper first to see if your design works well, folds down small enough, fits the body, ect. Then you can cut one corner to lay out the fabric.
"I haven't decided yet. I suspect the 1-by-1 is actually easier although more time-consuming. The block would seem to take more planning and be more prone to major screw-ups. (I can easily re-cut a single strip as opposed to an entire block.) Do you have any preference?"
Yes, I prefer to do it in a block. Drawing it all out on fabric and lining it up is a pain, it stretchs. Drawing it out on a large sheet of poster paper and laying it out in one piece is easier and everything is aligned the first time. Just use 2 full length dowels to hold the pattern off the fabric until it's lined up and set down the center, pull out 1 dowel to set that side, then pull the other and set it.
(This will take longer to read than to do, and it works out well. Great looking bellows the first time.)
To do it in a block you will need a steel straight edge, 1/8" paper punch, a poly cutting board and a 2 bladed knife. The knife is a standard non-retracting utility / sheet rock knife modified to take 3 blades: 2 sharp and the center spacer with the tip chipped off. You do have to shave the inside of the handles to make them fit right, you will see where. It take longer to write it than to do it.
Lay out the pattern complete on the poster paper. Punch the 1/8" holes 1/4" in from the edge on the fold lines. Connect the holes with the straight edge and knife, this will make a 1/16" slot on the fold line. The point is to leave little tabs that hold the ribs in perfect spacing and alignment so don't cut through the tabs.
Lay out the panels on the fabric and mark top, bottom and side with tailor's chalk. Set the top panel first. Align the fold lines of the side panels to the top panel and set. Do leave 1/8" space between the sides of the panels, closer will put too much strain on the corners when folded. Align the fold lines for the bottom panel to either side panel and set. If everything looks correct, glue on the inner lining. The only real pain is the inner seam but you have to deal with that either way you make a bellows.
IF you aligned the fold lines and IF the spacing between the panels is straight, the bellows with fold-up easily the first time. It will also look PERFECT.
Apologies to Camerabellow.com
Just a note on the spray adhesives - The photo adhesive is really meant for paper to paper bonds. It is also formulated to be as kind as possible to the image. "77" spray adhesive or even the elusive "99" is a much better choice when materials like fabric and paper and plastic and metal are all involved in some way. They are both quite aggressive and long-lasting and each has a good open-working time. They are better left for a minute or so before bonding, in fact (much longer if necessary.) 99 is used in place of contact adhesive by some cabinet makers for counter tops.
Use sparingly, mask adjacent areas well, use very good ventilation and a disposable mask when spraying, however - all of these adhesives really stick the old nose hairs together, I can only imagine what they do in your lungs.
For what it's worth.
Is this the same method shown on Doug Bardell's bellows-making page?
Originally Posted by phfitz