the image above, taken with the 270 shows the minimum focus point. I just tried it again with the 135 and was able to fill the frame to what was approximately 1:1 - as far as what I observed in the ground glass. Yes I did rack out the bed the full length and the minimum focus was very short. It gave me results that are what I expected from the 270mm. It's all starting to make sense to me now.
If an object is to be recorded smaller than the subject, the lens to subject distance is greater than the lens to film distance. If the image is to be larger than the subject, the lens to film distance is greater than the lens to subject distance.
Since you are just getting started, here are a couple of things I found helpful when shooting close-ups in large format.
When setting up, it is usually faster to get the image about the right size on the ground glass by moving the entire camera, ignoring focus completely, then, after a position is found, focusing with the front standard. Sometimes you need to change lenses, but you won't have to reposition the camera much.
Being able to move the camera closer/farther from you subject is more for fine adjustments is often more helpful than focusing with just one standard, since it affects focus and image size together. A camera with both front and rear focus is really helpful in this regard since it allows you to effectively move the entire camera back and forth by moving both standards at the same time the same direction. Otherwise, you have to move the tripod or loosen the rail clamp and slide the whole camera in the clamp (for monorail cameras).
Longer lenses need lots of bellows draw; use shorter lenses for close up work so the camera won't be so unwieldy. It has no impact on depth-of-field, which is a function of the magnification, not the focal length per se. I use a 135mm for 90% of my close up work. For a given bellows draw, the shorter lens will give you the most magnification.
Don't forget bellows extensions factors. I have a chart for all my lenses and simply measure and look up the distance for a particular lens on the chart to find my factors. There are a number of different ways to determine extension factors. Search here and at the LF forum for info and choose a method that works for you.
Similarly (especially in view of the next point), don't forget reciprocity corrections. Again, I have charts for various films. Sometimes, when doing tabletop work under incandescent lighting, exposures may be a half-an-hour or more after reciprocity is figured in.
Stop down a lot. I use the near/far focusing method (focus on closest and farthest elements of a scene, measure the draw and position the standard exactly in between) and look up the optimum f-stop on a chart. Often I am at f/45 or even smaller for close work.
Use your camera movements to minimize focus spread and allow a larger optimum aperture. Especially with close work, the test of whether a movement has helped you find the best average plane of focus is if the focus spread is smaller after applying the movement than before.
Macro work with LF is going to be a lot harder than using a smaller format. DoF is generally less, manipulating the camera is harder, etc. If you want to do real close up stuff with very high magnifications, LF is less suited to that than smaller formats.
thanks Doremus, all really great advice - extremely helpful for this NOOB. I won't be doing macro work with LF. This was more to fill the 4x5 film with the jewelry and pottery. I'll be contact printing as well. Ordered some Lodima paper too. I used to use AZO paper all the time back when I work in prepress, but that was with lith film from an imagesetter. Wish I had access to one of those huge vacuum frames still.
With 4x5, a 4x5 subject filling the frame is 1:1 magnification and requires a bellows-extension factor of 4x. Even filling the frame 8x10 will need a bellows extension factor of about 2x.
If you want to fill the frame with a 1" piece of jewelry, wouldn't you need 3 or 4X, not 1:1?