Building a Stand for an Enlarger
I'm am finally in the process of building my new darkroom (I'll post pictures if it's ever finished!).
Space is a bit limited so my enlarger is going to sit in an kind of alcove at the back of the smallish room. I'd like to build a bench/stand for it too make best use of the space. My enlarger is an Agfa C66 (which is really a re-branded Durst M605), so its not too heavy.
I figure import things are height and stability, I've suffered from vibration
problems due to unstable benches in the past.
I wondered if any one here has had experience building stands or benches and could offer some advice/recomendations.
I've done it twice.
The first time was designed as a wall mount for my enlarger (then a Durst F60) that had a short column height. I wanted to separate the column and head from the baseboard, and provide a means of lowering the baseboard in order to be able to do larger enlargements. When I framed the wall behind the enlarger, I made sure that there were studs in the right locations behind where I wanted the enlarging station to be. Then, after installing the drywall, I cut two brackets from a scrap of 2"x6" construction-grade lumber, and attached them to the studs using carriage bolts. Then, I cut a shelf from 3/4" plywood and attached it across the top of the brackets. The enlarger column bolted to this shelf. I built cabinets on either side of the space, and put some cleats on the sides of the cabinets to hold a section of countertop under the enlarger - this section was removable and could be lowered by slipping it onto a lower set of cleats. Obviously, I had to take great pains to assure that the enlarger column was plumb and that the baseboard would be absolutely horizontal in each of its three adjustable positions.
Leter, I cobbled a retrofit to replace the F60 with an Omega DII. Same basic principle - the only difference was that because the DII has a much longer column, and the darkroom had a low ceiling, I had to make the shelf that the enlarge mounts on lower.
Two years ago, the spousal unit and I built a new home (our retirement home), and I had to build a new darkroom. Yeah, its a dirty job - - -
This time, I was working in a space where the logical place for the darkroom was in the basement directly underneath the master bath, and it made sense to put the enlarger in a corner, with the enlarge bolted directly to the countertop. While the overall basement ceiling was much higher, there was a support beam across the darkroom space that forced me to lower the ceiling in that area. I built a fixed corner shelf that is supported by cleats attached to the wall studs and to the cabinets on either side of the enlarging station. To allow maximum extension of the enlarging head, I recessed the ceiling above the enlarger.
The counter top is made of varnished particleboard. I like the feel of varnished wood, and particle board is strong, inexpensive and very smooth. I also put a front on the cabinet and mounted two switches - the black switch on the left controls the safelights, while the white switch on the right controls the white lights.
My darkroom has positive pressure ventillation, and the duct that brings air in terminates in a louver that is mounted on the side of the ceiling recess above the enlarger. That keeps the enlarging area cool and with an ample supply of fresh air. I have two safelights in the darkroom - one is over the wet side sink, and the other is mounted immediately above the enlarger and aimed up to the recessed ceiling - note that the ceiling over the enlarger is painted white while the surround is a flat black to control light reflections.
Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of the first installation, but here's a shot I did just a few days ago of the new darkroom.
I built an enlarger stand from Mills Pride pre-fab kitchen cabinet units from Home Depot. They come in a range of sizes and varieties. I topped mine with 3/4 birch veneer plywood atop a layer of MDF then edged it with maple. Doesn't have to be that fancy, but I preferred a wood top to plastic laminate. Fairly economical, yet very stable.
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I made mine...
...from 2"x1" rough sawn timber for the carcass,covered with cheap plywood.
Simple,cheap,strong enough,and I built shelves underneath for chemicals,equipment,etc.
A common mistake people made when designing something completely foolproof was to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.
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Thank all for the replies,
I imagine I'll create a plywood shelf on timber brackets, bolted to the wall, and see how it goes.
Monophoto, I really like the idea of mounting my light switches in the front of the unit. I'm going to take my timer apart to rewire it with a foot switch, so I might also remount the controls in the front of the bench. Thanks for the idea!
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Actually, my electrical design is a bit more involved. I have a master switch next to the door that controls both the white light and two banks of receptacles set aside for safelight, and also the ventillation fan for the darkroom. I also have a small red light (actually, an LED) mounted outside the darkroom so my wife will know that I am in the darkroom. The ventillation fan and LED are on as long as the master switch is on - I used the white light switch on the enlarging station switch lights on and off during a working session. Here in the US its possible to purchase both switches and receptacles in various colors, so I have brown receptacles and switch for the safelights, and white receptacles and switches for everything else. I've attached the circuit drawing for reference.
I have a foot switch for my timer - drilled a small hole in the counter top under the timer to both the enlarger cord and the cord to the foot switch. There is a second hold in the counter top behind the enlarger for the power cord to come back through. One of the lessons I learned in the darkroom in our former home is that it is very helpful to get the power cord for the enlarger off of the work surface.
I went crazy with receptacles - they are far easier to install before the sheet rock is hung, so I have more than I really need. The circuit runs around the room, and the first receptacle as it approaches the "wet side" is equipped with a ground fault circuit interruptor set up to protect that receptacle and all subsequent downstream receptacles. Or rather, to protect ME from the fatal combination of those receptacles and water!
My initial attempts at carpentry results in my wife almost dying of laughter. I then got smart and used slotted angle to construct my enlarger table and the stand for my darkroom sink. Slotted angle is basically a full scale industrial strength erector set. Just need a hacksaw and some wrenches to assemble the frame and some plywood for the table tops and shelves. Usually available at industrial supply houses.
Unfortunately the wiring in my room is already overly complex. I have a number of mains rings going through the room for the rest of the house, as well as some parts of the downstairs lighting circuit.
Originally Posted by Monophoto
I have already put in a number of mains points in the appropriate places. When I do the lighting ring this week I'll try to include provision for a switch on the enlarger bench.
As you suggest, I will drill my enlarger bench to get the mains cable out of the way - this wasn't an option in my last darkroom, but would certainly have been nice.
I'll probably stick with hanging a sign on the darkroom door so my wife knows when I'm in, but I might get more ambitious as time goes on.
If your " spousal unit" finds out how you refer to her, you're going to be in a world of pain, you remind me of my friend Brian, who was looking for a new tripod who took his wife with him to see if she could carry it !!
Originally Posted by Monophoto
Hmm. Enlarger stand. What a concept.
My rather old Simmon Omega D2 (with variable condenser upgrade, but no condenser glass, Zone VI cold light instead, though I did get the original tunsten lamp house) sits on a butcher block kitchen cart. That will neatly roll through the bathroom door and between the toilet and shower, giving me a nice working area (though a little short on "dry side" space) without making any permanent alterations to the house I rent.
Oh, I got the butcher block cart because there wasn't room for it in the kitchen after moving here...
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