I've made a few bag bellows...coincidentally for 5X7 cameras! I use a four panel design that seems to work well. Basicly you need to figure out how much max draw you need...that plus 25% will be the length of the panels. The front standard height and width plus 1/4" on each side will be the front height and width that you'll cut. You need the 1/2" on each dimension to glue and stitch the 4 panels together. The back follows the same plan. The maximum width of the panels I place about 1/3 to 1/2 of the way from the back, depending on the type of camera. The width can be enough to fit inside the rear standard of a field camera, or much larger. The wider the widest point, the more possible movement, but lessens your max draw. Each panel should be an elongated hexagon when cut. I use two layers of material on each panel...the lamination can be done either before or after you cut the panels. Then just glue and stitch the edges together while inside-out. You can make up boards to fit the front and rear standards that make interchangeability easy. Paint 'em flat black & attach each end of your new bellows with glue and a strip of wood beveled at a 45 on each end. Voila! They usually take me a couple days of casual work to complete. That was an explanation about as clear as mud, I bet!
I just completed a DIY bag bellows and tried it for the first time this morning. I used a set of plans for the bag that I found on the web (http://www.foto-net.de/net/dyo/gross_ww.html), while the frame was duplicated from the frame of the standard bellows on my Zone VI.
I used a vinyl fake leather outer layer and a felt inner layer (per the web plans) - conceptually, that's OK and probably would be fine with a monorail camera. But its pretty stiff and makes it difficult to install the bellows on a field camera (where the bellows is installed from the rear and must fit through the rear standard). If I had it to do over, I would use something more flexible - perhaps a couple of layers of black velvet.
The bag was stitched by hand using needle and polyester thread.
The frame was made by glueing up strips of maple to the right dimensions. A key lesson there is "measure twice, cut once". (Don't ask!) I used polyethelene glue - it worked very well.
I attached the bag to the frame using two-component epoxy. I used some scraps of the maple (some of the material that was only measured once) as a caul - wrapped it in polyethelene so that the glue wouldn't stick, and then clamped it with spring clamps while the glue dried.
Last edited by Monophoto; 05-30-2006 at 03:41 PM. Click to view previous post history.