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  1. #1
    KenM's Avatar
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    Making Portfolio boxes

    My collection of mounted prints is starting to grow, and storage is now becoming an issue. I currently store the prints either in a (really ugly) green portfolio (don't ask), or just stacked in my darkroom storage area. I would like to ditch the green monstrosity, and get something a bit nicer, like a portfolio box. However, trying to find a good portfolio box where I live is difficult at best - I've had no success finding boxes locally to store prints mounted on 16x20 and larger mount board.

    So, I've decided that I'll make my own. I've read up on the techniques, and constructing proper portfolio boxes, while time consuming, does not appear to be all that difficult. However, I'm not sure what materials to use for the box itself. In the books I've been reading, it appears that they *might* use something like mat board, but when you consider the bulk and weight of 15-20 photographs mounted on 16x20 mat board, I don't think mat board is up to the challenge.

    There's book board, or binder board, which is heavier and stronger than mat board, but I'm not sure how easy it is to work, never having held any in my hands. What other materials are there for this sort of project?

    Does anyone have any experience constructing these types of boxes? What materials did you use? Where did you get them?

    BTW, I know that you can purchase these boxes from various suppliers in the US (haven't found any in Canada yet), but at $75 a box (or thereabouts) plus the very expensive shipping, that's not really an option.

    I look forward to your comments.
    Cheers!

    -klm.

  2. #2
    Aggie's Avatar
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    talk to tomtom (that's her apug id). She is one of the managers at a local camera store in the SF bay area. They have a good selection of archival storage boxes. I've never paid $75 for one. I may have paid $75 for a whole bunch of them though.
    Non Digital Diva

  3. #3
    rbarker's Avatar
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    Depending on how you plan to both use and store the box(es), Ken, you might want to consider making them a bit more sturdy than the usual cardboard container boxes made for museum-style flat storage on shelves. For example, 3/8" boxwood ro pine with 1/8" ply tops and bottoms, with appropriate joinery on the corners (finger/box joints perhaps?), would provide containers that could handle the weight and be stood on edge.
    [COLOR=SlateGray]"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus." -Mark Twain[/COLOR]

    Ralph Barker
    Rio Rancho, NM

  4. #4

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    would fuming from adhesives in the ply gas out & possibly harm the photos?

  5. #5
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    Ralph's suggestion of the 3/8 inch boxwood (Linden) and the 1/8 inch plywood is what I would do. They plywood is sold by most building supply places as "doorskins", and Lee Valley (google) I think sells boxwood. If it is properly finished with poly urathane, varathane etc. and allowed to properly dry it should not affect the photos. If you can't find boxwood, spruce will do nicely.
    If I had been present at the creation, I would have given some useful hints for the better arrangement of the Universe.
    Alfonso the Wise, 1221-1284

  6. #6
    rbarker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shaggy
    would fuming from adhesives in the ply gas out & possibly harm the photos?
    Potentially, but I think that could be solved by proper finishing. I'd probably do some fine sanding, finish it with polyurethane, light sand with 600 grit, and then fill any voids with a good finishing wax.
    [COLOR=SlateGray]"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus." -Mark Twain[/COLOR]

    Ralph Barker
    Rio Rancho, NM

  7. #7

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    Wow all this talk of making boxes sounds cool, but time consuming!

    I'd rather do google search on "Portfolio Boxes" spend 15 minutes to find the cheapest and order them. Then use all that saved time to go make some new images.

    Why do we always have to re-invent the wheel?
    George Losse
    www.georgelosse.com

  8. #8
    Loose Gravel's Avatar
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    Making boxes is time consuming. Wood boxes have to be well sealed, not only because of plywood fumes, but also because of the sulphur in wood. Hollinger makes nice cheap archival boxes.

    http://www.genealogicalstorageproduc...olboarbox.html

    For fancier portfolio cases I've used Light Impressions.
    Watch for Loose Gravel

  9. #9
    KenM's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info folks, it all sounds good. It's looking more like I'll make my own boxes out of wood...

    George, I don't think I'm re-inventing the wheel. - and sometimes the journey is 1/2 the fun. I'm both a photographer and woodworker, and regardless of which hobby I pursue, it's enjoyable.

    And who says that the box itself must be cheap (read: utilitarian)? The box can be just as beautiful as what's inside, can it not? I doubt if you could purchase something for a reasonable price that would have a 'wow' effect on somebody. But if you're just using them for storage, why not. Course, if you 'wow' them with the box, they might have increased expectations of the contents

    As an aside, there's a color photographer just outside of Calgary who is also a fine (and I mean fine) furniture maker. If you purchase a print from him, you also have the option of having a custom made frame built for the photograph, made by him, in his workshop. Sure, he could purchase some wooden frame for you, but he doesn't. Why? Well, I'm sure money plays a part, but I'm also sure that he likes to present his work as a 'complete' work, made by him.

    I'm kind of leaning the same way. I've always been a 'first-principles' kind of guy in whatever I do. Buy furniture? Nope. Buy the tools, buy the raw lumber, and make the furniture from scratch. Effective use of my time? For me, yes. For others, perhaps not.

    In looking at what I just wrote, perhaps what I'm looking for is more a 'Portfolio Display Case', rather than just a storage box.

    Hmmmm.

    Once again, thanks for all your comments. They're very informative.

    PS: johnnywalker: Lee Valley - evil, evil place - my credit card gets mauled every time I walk in there. It's good thing they're on the opposite side of the city, else I'd be there weekly.
    Cheers!

    -klm.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by KenM
    I doubt if you could purchase something for a reasonable price that would have a 'wow' effect on somebody. But if you're just using them for storage, why not. Course, if you 'wow' them with the box, they might have increased expectations of the contents

    Have fun!

    For me..... (YMMV) I hope I never have to "WOW" anybody with the box that my photographs are in.

    George

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