Originally Posted by dnmilikan
Count me in of the group that uses a sheet of glass instead of the vacuum frame. I print 4x5, 5x7, 8x10, 11x14 and 8x20 under glass.
When I was first printing in Platinum I used a sheet of glass laying on top of a wood base. I did that for over 5 years. Then, I bought a plate burner that had a vacuum frame. It worked great but was very big, but I had a big studio space.
When I moved into my current house, I had it in the darkroom for a number of years to use with silver based contact printing. Since I broke it down and moved it to the basement, I have been able to do a lot more work done in the darkroom. And it's much quieter in the darkroom now.
Vacuum frames work great, but they are not required. I have found printing frames are really best used with processes that need to inspect the exposure on the paper (Platinum/Palladium, POP, and others). With Silver based printing you loose the need to open the spring back to see the print exposure, so why go through the hassle of locking the paper into the frame?
The only time I every had a problem with the print and negative staying in contact with each other was with curled paper. And that can be solved with either a double weight sheet of glass or a bigger piece of paper then the negative size. Placing the curl outside the print area.
I have found that a hard surface under the print has worked better for me. A lot of people use softer materials like foam, but either wood or another sheet of glass has worked well for me.