Make Your Own Foam Core Easel ???
Has anyone tried to make an easel from black foam core board?
A friend of mine said they used one in her college darkroom but she could not remember much about it. I also read a thread here at APUG but could not fully understand the directions.
I would like to put something simple together, to quickly align and hold flat 16 X 20 paper, and to be able to make either 15 X 19 or 15 X 15 images.
Any help would be much appreciated!
PS I have read other threads regarding making easels out of plywood, I just thought I'd explore this foam core idea, before getting the jigsaw out.
You might consider making an easel out of steel an using magnets or using magnetic greaseboard substrate with magnets.
Foamcore is awfully light. An easel should weigh enough to resist accidental moving. I've made temporary easels out of scrap mat board. Taping them down to the enlarger baseboard eliminated the problem of unwanted movement.
What kind of tools do you have? Any suggestion that requires tooling that you don't have is next to useless. You mention a jigsaw... not a very accurate way to cut things. Do you have access to a circular saw? If so, you have lots of options. There are a bazillion ways to make a perfectly servicable easel, but whichever way you go, an easel must be heavy.
As Jim says, Foam core is a very poor choice. One sneeze and you've got to cross the room, pick it up, and start over. Plywood is ok, but the surface is not as smooth as you'd like. 1/2" particle board is very heavy and stable. Check out the local cabinet shop, ask them for countertop sink cut-outs. They'll be free, heavy, flat, and have a Formica surface. They'll be big enough for a 16x20 easel, and if looks aren't important you don't even need to cut 'em square.
With that as a base, you might tape down some 1/2" wide strips of matboard with double sided tape. Set them 20-1/16" apart. On top of them, tape (or glue) some 1" wide strips so they overhang the lower strips to hold down the paper and form your print border. Do this for 3 sides, leaving the 4th side open thru which you slide the paper. For the 4th side, make a few marks on those side rails to define your 15" or 19" image sizes and lay down a heavy(ish) piece of material aligned with the marks to hold the 4th edge of the paper flat (and form the 4th border).
That's one way. There are 999,999 more ways, and most of them work. It's just a matter of what you have to work with, how much you want to spend, and if you can get the job done to your satisfaction.
I use an easel made from foamcore for 16x20 and larger. I'm about to make another for panoramic prints. You don't have to have a construction similar to most easels, such as window pressing paper down. I find two edges to guide the paper are sufficient. RC paper lays flat enough, and most baryta paper can be flattened with a help of corner mounts and small weights (heavy rulers are great). I also use weak, temporary adhesives (such as double sided tapes). Of course, you won't get nice lean borders this way, but you can take care of that part with windowed matte board or other means of presentation.
I always make some sort of grids on the easel to help compose and determine the position.
I never had problems with these lightweight foamcore easels. They don't move as easily as one might think, at least on my Durst Laborator 138 baseboard. If that happens, use double sided tape or whatever necessary.
If you don't find details on the web, I think most people find it too obvious and trivial and don't bother to explain.
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I recently bought two easels from ebay. They are both made by Paterson and are for one size of paper only, one for 8" x 10" and the other for 5" x 7".
They have three closed sides and a slot on the fourth side through which the paper slides in. Then a flap is close over and the paper is ready for printing with an even border guaranteed - something which takes me ages to get right with a traditional easel.
If I was going to make my own easel, I would make it like this.
Thank you all for your replies! Because there are a million ways to do this, I just wanted to get a sense of what has worked for folks.
I wondered about the light weight of the foam core, but it seems that tape could help with that. Originally I had a plan to use plywood with a mat board window, but the plywood I bought over the summer has since warped, so I will look for something like metal or countertop instead. I read that some folks experienced light leaks and uneven borders by using mat boards for windows, but no-one mentioned that here, so I will go with that for a window.
I wish I had the money to splurge on a 16 X 20 four-bladed easel, but printing in this size will only be an occasional thing.
Thanks again! It looks like I'll be heading to Home Depot soon!!
For over thirty years, I used a piece of 1/4" tempered Masonite as an easel for the occasional 16 x 20 print. I just used pieces of masking tape to mark corners for the paper. Most RC papers lie flat enough to cause no difficulty, but FB would have been a problem. The only real limitation I encountered is that I was limited to borderless prints, but that was a small problem compared to the alternative of spending hundreds of dollars on a new 16 x 20 easel. With the advent of E-Bay, I happened to locate a used 16 x 20 Saunders easel at a bargain price a few years ago and am very pleased with it. The Masonite is cheap, very durable, weighty enough to stay where it's placed, and still gets used from time to time.
I made an easel with an acrylic base and an 8-ply mat board top hinged with linen framing tape. I ATG'd a piece of foam core to the bottom of the acrylic. It's only good for full neg printing, because you can't really get a clean enough edge for printing without a hard edge of some sort. Also, mine being made from acrylic and 8-ply is quite a bit more rigid than a foam core one would be, but still I had to either clamp or hold the the edges of the top and bottom to overcome the slight curl of the Forte Polywarmtone fiber paper I used. All in all it works and is even cool looking, but if I printed 16X20 even remotely often I would try to pony up the cash for a used Saunders.
Originally Posted by MMfoto
Thanks for replying MMfoto! I did wonder about those edges...
Yesterday at the Home Depot I traded in my plywood for a piece of melanine, and I am going to cut some 4-ply matboard windows, and like you, I will create and clamp a sandwich of materials. I guess I am just going to have to go with this and see how the edges turn out, maybe they will be pleasingly artistic???
Have a great day!