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  1. #1
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Building a Darkroom

    Hello all. I have a couple of questions in regards to building my darkroom.

    1. I have tried to make my enlarger stand stable. Into each leg (4x4 wood material), I have screwed a bolt with threads and an adjustable nut on the end, so I can individually adjust the height of each leg individually to compensate for an uneven basement floor.
    This table weighs easily 60 lbs, and it's braced, cross-braced, glued and screwed together with 5" long screws. It has a shelf in the middle and the top is a 1" thick piece of furniture grade plywood. I can't get this sturdy enough where my enlarger sits still. What am I doing wrong? I am frustrated beyond belief.

    2. I have a small window, which I plan on opening when I'm in the dark room, cover it with a piece of black painted plywood, in which there will be a little squirrel cage fan mounted with a light trap. Any good ideas on building a functioning light trap that will filter out possibly daylight?

    3. General ventilation. It's in a basement, which means moisture is a major problem in the summer due to humidity levels upwards 80% or so. Mould can easily appear. Every surface, even the inside of the walls, has been painted with mould resistant primer after a thorough cleaning process. Should the draft be that the ventilation holes are at the floor and sucked up to the window for proper air flow? I was thinking of drilling holes in the two surrounding plaster walls. The walls are built from 2x4 material and there's drywall on each side. For the 'outside' I want to drill holes at the top, and on the 'inside' I want to drill holes on the bottom (inside of the walls are painted matte black). Does that make sense from a ventilation standpoint?

    I know these questions are long, but any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

    - Thom
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  2. #2
    BruceN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by huggyviking
    Hello all. I have a couple of questions in regards to building my darkroom.

    1. I have tried to make my enlarger stand stable. Into each leg (4x4 wood material), I have screwed a bolt with threads and an adjustable nut on the end, so I can individually adjust the height of each leg individually to compensate for an uneven basement floor.
    This table weighs easily 60 lbs, and it's braced, cross-braced, glued and screwed together with 5" long screws. It has a shelf in the middle and the top is a 1" thick piece of furniture grade plywood. I can't get this sturdy enough where my enlarger sits still. What am I doing wrong? I am frustrated beyond belief.
    Screw it to the wall, or use thse "bullet powered" cement nails.

    2. I have a small window, which I plan on opening when I'm in the dark room, cover it with a piece of black painted plywood, in which there will be a little squirrel cage fan mounted with a light trap. Any good ideas on building a functioning light trap that will filter out possibly daylight?
    PM Sent.

    3. General ventilation. It's in a basement, which means moisture is a major problem in the summer due to humidity levels upwards 80% or so. Mould can easily appear. Every surface, even the inside of the walls, has been painted with mould resistant primer after a thorough cleaning process. Should the draft be that the ventilation holes are at the floor and sucked up to the window for proper air flow? I was thinking of drilling holes in the two surrounding plaster walls. The walls are built from 2x4 material and there's drywall on each side. For the 'outside' I want to drill holes at the top, and on the 'inside' I want to drill holes on the bottom (inside of the walls are painted matte black). Does that make sense from a ventilation standpoint?
    Ideally the air should be pulled from just above the backsplash on your sink, that way it does the best job of pulling the fumes away from you. Not such a simple engineering project in most rooms I'm afraid.

    Bruce

  3. #3
    Steve Smith's Avatar
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    Hello.

    Just two thoughts:

    First of all you say that your table is braced, cross braced etc. Is the unsturdiness you get a flexing of the top surface to the leg joints? The thing to remember with bracing is that triangles have inherent strength and resistant to movement whereas rectangles can easily move and become parallelograms without too much trouble. If by cross bracing you are refering to diagonal bracing then you have probably done all you can already.

    With reference to the mould resistant primer, this will only protect the walls, the moisture will still be present. A good airflow will help this situation as you suggest but depending on where the moisture is coming from, you may need to vent the inside of the wall with drywall either side as well.

    Sorry if any of this is obvious but it's better to have too much information than too little.

    Steve.
    "People who say things won't work are a dime a dozen. People who figure out how to make things work are worth a fortune" - Dave Rat.

  4. #4
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Bruce,

    you're very kind in helping me out. I'll have a hood over the sink, so that's not an issue. It's more a question of the general ventilation in the darkroom, so I don't get air trapped in there. For a while I was toying with the idea of putting in a heat recovery ventilator and keep it running all the time...

    - Thomas
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  5. #5
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Steve,

    you're right. Better with too much info... I agree with your statements on bracing. The braces are diagonally installed between side legs and the rear legs, so three sets of cross braces (they are vertical). Then there's a horisontal cross brace underneath the table top, to which it's attached. All cross braces are secured on either end, and then joint where they intersect.

    Your idea about the ventilation is one that I agree with, and my solution is trying to accomplish that. Maybe I did a poor job in describing it...

    Thanks for your help,

    - Thom

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Smith
    Hello.

    Just two thoughts:

    First of all you say that your table is braced, cross braced etc. Is the unsturdiness you get a flexing of the top surface to the leg joints? The thing to remember with bracing is that triangles have inherent strength and resistant to movement whereas rectangles can easily move and become parallelograms without too much trouble. If by cross bracing you are refering to diagonal bracing then you have probably done all you can already.

    With reference to the mould resistant primer, this will only protect the walls, the moisture will still be present. A good airflow will help this situation as you suggest but depending on where the moisture is coming from, you may need to vent the inside of the wall with drywall either side as well.

    Sorry if any of this is obvious but it's better to have too much information than too little.

    Steve.
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  6. #6
    Jeffrey A. Steinberg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by huggyviking
    I can't get this sturdy enough where my enlarger sits still. What am I doing wrong? I am frustrated beyond belief.
    After you bolt the table to the floor, do yourself a favor and get a wall-mount bracing kit for your enlarger (what make and model?). This will anchor the top of the column to the wall. In my history it is the tall, unstable column that "resonates" vibrations from people walking upstairs. Attaching this to the wall will make it structurally part of the wall.

    I have an LPL 4550 XLG and I anchored the bottom into an enlarger table and then got the LPL anchor kit. The top of the column comes off and you install an "L" piece of metal that then screws into a stud.

    Also, you should think about giving your table more surface area conecting the table to the floor. Instead of 4 contact points, connect the legs together with 4 pieces of wood that are drilled into the floor and connect each. Does this make sense? Leveling those pieces is critical.

    Also, remember that for an exhaust to function, you need a source of fresh intake air. Doran makes (still?) a light-tight baffle that I installed in my wall by the entrance. Try to put this diagonally across from the vent so that air is pulled through the length of the room and exits above the sink so it takes the chemical smell with it.

    --Jeffrey
    --Jeffrey

    ______________________________________________
    Jeffrey Steinberg, K2MIT
    Scarsdale, NY

    www.jsteinbergphoto.com (my avocation)
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  7. #7
    Monophoto's Avatar
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    1. Sounds like you are following the "brick outhouse" approach to building your enlarging table. My experience is that bracing and cross bracing are fine, but the best way to stiffen the table is to bolt it to the wall.

    2. Light rays travel in straight lines, so a light trap needs corners that light can't go around. One way is to build a box with the inlet and outlet on opposite sides, but also at opposite ends of their respective sides. If the box is big enough, and the interior is painted black, that may be an adequate llght trap. You can add a measure of protection by installing baffles inside the box - two baffles each the full width of the box and slightly more than half the depth, with one attached to each face of the box (so that they overlap) create a maze-like path for air flow that light can't get through.

    3. The best ventillation is positive pressure - where the ventillator fan blows air into the darkroom. If you have a fan that blow air out, it will pull air in through both the intended ventillation ports as well as any other nook and cranny that it can find, pulling dust along with it. Positive pressure ventillation, with a filter over the fan, is the best way to control dust and is the only way to assure that you control where the inlet air is coming from. Then, to address the humitidy problem, the best solution would be to arrange to have the inlet port on the first floor of the house so that you are not pulling in the damp air in the basement.
    Louie

  8. #8

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    No need for a special bracing kit. Go to the hardware store buy two eye bolts, two eye hooks and two turnbuckles. Screw the eye hooks into the floor joists overhead and slightly behind the enlarger. Drill a couple of holes in the top of the enlarger carriage top brace for the eye bolts and hook them together with the turn buckles. Then bolt the table to the wall and the enlarger base to the table. You are now bulletproof. Until a fully loaded dump truck drives by.

    A wall mounted vent fan with a dryer vent flap on the outside should take care of airflow. Home Depot will have a bunch set up for testing. Buy the more expensive one that's quiet. My set up is lightproof and so quiet I keep leaving it on by mistake.

    A dehumidifer will take care of the excess humidity. The down side is it will add a little heat. I turn mine off in the morning if I'm going to work in the darkroom. Buy the model that allows you to set the percentage of humidity. This can be a big help if you Pt/Pd print. It also keeps it from running to much.

    I rebuilt my darkroom of twenty years two years ago. Best extra was a Bose CD radio.

  9. #9
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Would this be a turnbuckle?
    http://www.acehardware.com/product/i...Id=17123064301



    Quote Originally Posted by photobum
    No need for a special bracing kit. Go to the hardware store buy two eye bolts, two eye hooks and two turnbuckles. Screw the eye hooks into the floor joists overhead and slightly behind the enlarger. Drill a couple of holes in the top of the enlarger carriage top brace for the eye bolts and hook them together with the turn buckles. Then bolt the table to the wall and the enlarger base to the table. You are now bulletproof. Until a fully loaded dump truck drives by.

    A wall mounted vent fan with a dryer vent flap on the outside should take care of airflow. Home Depot will have a bunch set up for testing. Buy the more expensive one that's quiet. My set up is lightproof and so quiet I keep leaving it on by mistake.

    A dehumidifer will take care of the excess humidity. The down side is it will add a little heat. I turn mine off in the morning if I'm going to work in the darkroom. Buy the model that allows you to set the percentage of humidity. This can be a big help if you Pt/Pd print. It also keeps it from running to much.

    I rebuilt my darkroom of twenty years two years ago. Best extra was a Bose CD radio.
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  10. #10
    David Brown's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by huggyviking
    No.

    Try: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turnbuckle

    If you would like a (digi) pic of how I did mine - send me a PM with your email address.

    Cheers, David

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