Since mine was a simple setup, but time was not I went with the HomeDepot cabinets and counter top. Top was a pre-made 6 foot fit perfect over the three base cabinets and really was easy to install. They take a beating, but no problems. The 4x5 enlarger on the other hand sits on a rolling table made with a couple of heavy (read Heavy) grinder stands from Harbor Frieght on two pieces of MDF painted with a white primer to water-proof. It has worked for me, but given time and skills could be done better.
titrisol: The Potassium Dichromate is used in an old analizer and the guys that use it always seem to be all thumbs. Hopefully we'll soon be ditching it for a more modern piece of equipment.
gaylons: I'm liking the Ikea thing. Although my first allegiance has to be with the Orange Fortress...I own stock. But, my Beseler's base is about 28 or 29". That could be a problem on a regular countertop...
Having seen Geary's counters myself, I can attest to their beauty and practicality. And they are oh-so-manly!
Originally Posted by galyons
If you can stand the no-drip lip of the post-(pre?)-formed laminate tops, those really seem to be economical and robust. Myself, I simply used 3/4" Melamine-clad particle board the first time. Just rebuilt the dry side using 3/4" MDF glued and screwed to 3/4" maple veneer plywood. Edged it with maple and gave it three coats of polyurethane. Very pleasant to work with on the dry side, but wouldn't want to expose it to regular acid baths.
In closing, I must confess to adding a few details from Ikea myself. Their stainless shelves and rods are just the thing for the fashion-conscious pragmatist on a budget.
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Anyone can appreciate a fine print. But it takes a real photographer to appreciate a fine negative.
I too used the 3/4" Melamine particle board from Home Depot.
They sell it in 4x8 sheets and I had them cut it to size when I bought it.
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Would cabient grade plywood work? I could also put a finish of some type on it.
I also wanted to use the same material for the front room as well ( finishing area ).
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My darkroom counter top is an old wooden ships hatch that consists of three boards joined by two iron belts. It weighs a ton and measures 3 feet x 10. My father gave me the hatch years ago and when I made my darkroom I decided to make a table out of it. I contstructed the table out of 2x4's to be slightly above my waist so that I wouldn't have to bend over too much. We hung a fabric curtain around the table and use the area underneath to store chemicals.
Still the best layout for a kitchen (or a darkroom for that matter) is the "U" shape. One long leg for enlarging (dry), center of the "U" for contact printing, proofs, other long leg on the wet side with the door at the top or opening of the "U". This is still the most efficient use of space in a work area, if room permits and you can start from scratch with the design.
Melamine is ok for the dry side, but a laminated area for the sink side works well with formica, as it resists moisture and spills much better than melamine. A large stainless steel sink is nice, but it will break the budget. Gordon Hutchings has set up his new darkroom with a deep sink he made out of wood, then had it sprayed with the rubberized liner material they use for truck beds. I still like this one the best. Resists moisture, colors available (18% grayscale?), any shape is easy to build, always fits and can be made to take any size tray and drain like a regular sink. Best of both worlds, but a bit of experience in woodwork is helpful.
Last edited by noseoil; 11-06-2004 at 09:15 AM. Click to view previous post history.
I had Maple flooring strips left over from redoing my house. I glued them up into a counter top, sanded, finished with 3 coats of Watco, and made an end cap with a rounded corner. It works well on the dry side. I don't have or, with my design, need a surface on the wet side.
Cheap, because it was leftovers that I was happy to use. Nice, and it sits on cabinets I made from birch plywood with cherry faceframes and cherry drawer fronts. Custom sized drawers and cabinet heights, since I'm 6'6" tall. I love my darkroom.
Slightly off topic, but I find the most useful counter top in my darkroom is a large lightbox 3ft sq that I use to set up the negatives into the glass carriers, next to this is all the negative cleaning and glass cleaning supplys. This light box is central to my enlargers and I don't know how I ever worked without this counter top. If you have room I definately suggest trying one.
My work table was surprisingly simple, and was built to certain restrictions; namely that it had to be 21in wide max.
I built the structure out of 2x4s and 1x4s...It is unbelievably solid (manly men doing manly things )
For the countertop, I went to a building supply which specialises in second and third grade material. For $12CAD, I got an 8 x 3 black formica countertop (it had been improperly sized for the original customer). I cut this down to 6' x 21'' with my table saw. The whole work table cost about $40CAD
IMHO this is about as inexpensive as you can get.
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