I built a 4x5 from one of the Bender kits, and I think its an excellent way to go. Like Alex, I'm not a novice at building things from wood or metal, so I made several additions to the kit to customize it to my tastes, but the original kit is very useable, and has good instructions.
Originally Posted by Alex Hawley
It didn't take very long to build, and its a very functional camera. Its served me well over the last decade, and its light enough to backpack while retaining all the movements. Not as compact as a field camera, but still packable.
I think I'd stick to either cherry or mahogany, Brad, due to the tight grain, stability, and ease of working. Even white oak has fairly large pores, and would require meticulous filling and sanding at the unassembled parts stage to avoid having hiding places for grit and dirt once assembled. Accent pieces made of more exotic woods might also be interesting.
One important consideration is finding kiln-dried woods, so you'll know the pieces are already reasonably stable. Even with kiln-dried wood, you'll encounter situations where internal stresses aren't disclosed until cut into smaller parts. The larger DIY chain stores are less likely to be concerned about selling only quality, kiln-dried materials.
Being as you're in Pleasanton, you might be interested in a trip to Southern Lumber in San Jose (on South First St. at the south end of downtown). They have an excellent selection of both conventional hardwoods and more exotic woods, too. Plus, they usually have scrap bins of smaller pieces of the exotic woods that you can dig through. I believe there is also a hardwood supplier in Berkeley or Alameda that caters to furniture makers, and might be worth exploring.
If you're OK with the idea of a hybrid, you might consider finding a used Toyo back. It's a two-piece design with a mounting frame that would be easy to adapt, and which provides a Graflok interface, and the Graflok-based GG portion. That's the approach I took when making a reducing back for my 8x10 Tachihara, allowing me to side-step the issue of finding special hardware. All I had to do was make an adapter frame that used a combination half-lap/miter joint for the corners to avoid light leaks.
[COLOR=SlateGray]"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus." -Mark Twain[/COLOR]
Rio Rancho, NM
Originally Posted by Craig
I've looked at the bender kit, seen a few examples and read several reviews. I am considering that option but, am still bent (pun?) on creating my own design right now.
Thanks for the tip on Southern Lumber. Minton's Lumber (455 W. Evelyn, Mt View) also have an amazing selection of exotic hardwoods. I have settled on cherry. I would prefer rosewood but, it is too expensive considering my scrap to finished product ratio.
PS nice back! I am, coincidently, looking for a Toyo/Omega View back for my 45F. The one I have works but the gg carrier rattles a bit.
Originally Posted by rbarker
A friend did research on Deardorff and the mahogany in use for their designs and came across an interesting theory. During prohibition (alcohol) many of the bars were torn down and the interior woods tended to be mahogany. Because it was stable (dried for years), cheap, available and nice to finish, it was used whenever possible. Just a theory.
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Cherry and mahogany were both chosen for the same reason: good stability and easy workability. Mahogany is the wood of choice for patternmaking for the same reason. The beauty of the wood is really just an added plus.
Originally Posted by GaussianNoise
Ideally, you should look for quartersawn cherry or mahogany as that way of sawing ensures the greatest stability. Though for a 4 x 5, that would be somewhat less critical than for a larger camera.
For an excellent resource on the characteristics of various woods, refer to:
Hoadley, R. Bruce., Understanding wood : a craftsman's guide to wood technology / R. Bruce Hoadley. Completely rev. and updated ed.
Newtown, CT : Taunton Press ; [Emeryville, CA] : Distributed by Publishers Group West, c2000. 280 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 29 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 272-274) and index.
Out of left field:
just a thought.
A few years ago I thought of building a camera out of juniper. Then I bought an aluminium camera instead - it is almost as hard
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
Crosscut Hardwoods in Seattle sells a bamboo plywood. It's stable, light, strong and eco-friendly. I've been thinking building a larger camera using it (8x10 or larger). My problem is finding plans I like. I have no problem with building it. Heck, my workshops full of the equipment and it would be a good project for our Seattle winters where you don't want to take your camera out in the rain.
Anyone know of good plans for 8x10 or larger cameras. If you live in Seattle area and would like to build one, but don't have the woodworking tools - I have the tools and it would be fun to work with someone else building these.
Originally Posted by magic823
I live in Tacoma and am definitely going to be building an 8x10 or two this summer. My home woodshop is lightly equipped to say the least. I have a table saw, router (no router table), table top drill press, chisels and clamps. That's about it. I've been thinking of using walnut but the idea of having a strong dimensionally stable light plywood appeals... as long as it's as pretty as walnut
I sure would love to work with you on a project like this. I'm a woodworking newbie and prolly have a lot to learn.