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Enlarger table design

  1. dburian
    I found this group a couple days ago and would like to pool the collective wisdom concerning design of an enlarger table for a new darkroom setup I'm putting together. The room I have is ~11' X 14' and I shoot up to 4 X 5. The goal is to have a maximally flexible table capable of holding an Omega D5 with storage for everything that needs to be on the dry side - enlarging paper, matte board, enlarger lenses and negative carriers, dodging and burning tools, notepads and pencils for printing workflow notes, but also be large enough to matte prints. Current plans are for a table 4' deep by 5' wide by 30" high, made of 3/4 inch plywood. The enlarger base will fit into and be flush with the table top so a cutting mat can be tossed on it.

    There are two non-symmetrical columns of drawers. The left side drawers are 42" wide by 36" deep and 3.5 high to accomodate full sheets of matte board in the bottom and enlarging paper in remaining drawers. The right side column of drawers are 13" wide, 36" deep and are 3.5 " high except for a 7" deep drawer for grain focusers. This side gets all the remaining stuff.

    There is a false wall at 36" that will be under the girder of the enlarger. Behind the false back are shelves for enlarger electronics. The whole setup is on casters so I can wheel it away from the wall, rotate the enlarger on the table and print roll paper on the floor.

    My concerns and the reasons for seeking feedback from the collective group:
    what am I forgetting to account storage space for that should be on the dry side of a darkroom setup? Am I forgetting something larger than these drawer sizes? All chemicals - wet and powdered - and trays will be on the opposite wall under the sink.
    Will locking castors be stable enough? Probably won't really know until I try it. I don't see where my head swivels to print horizontally, hence this rotating design for printing LARGE.
    Has anyone tried the Rustoleum Magnetic paint with flexible strip magnets to hold down large sheets? My largest easel is 11X14 and we all know how spendy the larger ones can be.
    Anything else I haven't thought of? I'm starting from scratch and now is the time to do it right.

    Thanks in advance
    Dennis Burian
  2. davido
    hi dennis

    I would avoid the casters, just a little tap and your images could be effected. I've heard of people concerned with vibrations from a furnace ect. disrupting the enlarger. In the past, I have turned the enlarger base around and then unbolted the enlarger and turned it around to that is hangs out over the edge of the table and I can print on the floor.
    Have you thought of getting a vacuum easel? it's great for going easel-less.
    Four feet deep counter? seem a little excessive?
  3. Mark_S

    I have built 3 different Enlarger tables, and each has worked, or not worked in it's own way. The main one that I use now is 48" wide, 36" deep, 30" high and has one shelf underneath. Under the main table I store easels, and paper safes. I like the fact that this table is very solid, and has about the right about of room around the baseboard for the stuff that I typically use when printing. I can fit a 16x20 four blade easel on the baseboard and have room to work comfortably.

    I also have a table, similar size, but set up with drying racks under it - that now has a dry mount press on top of it.

    My last darkroom had a built-in enlarger table, which had a series of shelves, 12 or 13" wide on one side - those held 8x10 and 11x14 paper safes. The other side had a couple of wide, deep shelves on which I kept easels. That particular darkroom did not have a high ceiling, so the table was 24" high, and I had a box which was about 6"high which lived most of the time on the baseboard - I would use the top of the box as my baseboard most of the time, and store things under it (it was open to the front) like focus scope etc. If I wanted to print larger prints, the box would be taken off, effectively dropping the baseboard 6".

    Like David, I don't like the idea of casters - the more solid the better.

  4. selmslie
    I have built a couple of enlarger tables that worked very well. The most important feature is that they were solid and vibration resistant. You can get this done with minimal woodworking skills.

    The tops were cut from 3/4" plywood, in my case 3 feet by 5 feet. This rested on a rectangular frame of 2x4 (narrow side up) with four 2x4 legs screwed to the inside of this frame and flush with the top with the frame. A second, smaller rectangular frame about 8" above the floor was fastened to the inside of the legs and a ½” or ¼” plywood sheet placed on the lower frame.

    The entire assembly was held together with of 2-½" wood screws, two screws, counter-sunk slightly, each place the wood came together. The top surface was fastened to the top of the legs with one screw into the center of each leg. The top extended about a 6" beyond the top frame.

    All of the wood was then varnished. Finally, I stretched a sheet of black vinyl-covered cloth over the top, wrapped it around the edges and stapled it underneath. This covered the exposed edges and it was easy to clean.

    The entire table will probably be too heavy to carry so you will have to put it together in the darkroom.
  5. desertratt
    I'm about to build a small darkroom aftter 30 years or so of being without. In your case, I'd try to find some old books on the subject to use as a guide. I have built many darkrooms from the sublime to the ridiculous including helping build the press center darkroom at the Mexico city Olympics in 1968. You will usually find you want this over heer and that over there and add these things too. I would say don't worry aobut. Do the best you can and you can always rearrange things.
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