The other day I posted an update on The Dry Side of my darkroom, and promised an update on the wet side soon. Here it is, again mostly in pictures. All of the following work was done last weekend.
Incidentally, some of the doubters got me feeling a little paranoid about the solidity of my dry-side enlarger bench, so I ended up putting small angle brackets on the top side of the tabletop and larger ones underneath. The resulting bench feels solid as can be. It is completely unaffected if I pull or push it in any direction except up (the front of the tabletop is not attached to the legs), and I can hoist my entire 250-lb. frame up and sit on it and it remains completely unperturbed. However, when I whack on it with my fist, the metal shelf does absorb some vibrational energy and feeds it back to the tabletop for a second or two. I might take Pak's advice and load up the bottom shelf with a couple of boxes full of books; Or, I might remove the wire shelves altogether and install two 4x4" wooden legs on the front corners. It would be easy to do. I even have some nice big brackets on hand, left over from a past project.
But back to the wet side. Here's the "before" view from the dry side looking back into the basement. This is significant mainly because it shows where the water is—the laundry sink over by the washing machine (underneath the light). That will be getting some substantial modifications eventually, but here you can see where it is relative to the rest of the darkroom.
I hired local carpenter Jim Shoemaker to do the construction. Here he is putting up the studs.
The wet side of my darkroom is simply an 8-foot section of wall in the middle of nowhere. It doesn't enclose anything; but I needed something to put a counter against, something to hang shelves on, and something I could pound nails into if I wanted to put anything up. Still and all, this is really just a fancy, built-in version of...a table. Don't laugh; I've worked happily in darkrooms where the "wet" side was simply a table with trays on it.
The wall is sheathed on one side with half-inch plywood. Doesn't really need to be, but this way I can pound a brad or screw a screw-hook in anywhere, without having to worry where the studs are.
In this picture the 8' Formica countertop (38" from the floor) has been installed, and Jim is putting up the beadboard.
The finished un-wet wet side. The ventilation intake vent is installed but doesn't yet lead anywhere; we'll get to that eventually. The height of the shelf was also carefully chosen to be just below my standing eye level, so I can see the top of it without straining.
Another view from the opposite corner. The beadboard was a beat-up sheet I've had sitting in the basement for ten years; I think Jim would have preferred I bought new, but, as I explained earlier, I want to fight the impulse to be overly fastidious about this project.
The counter height of 38 inches was very carefully chosen, however. I actually built mock-ups using my kitchen counters until I found just the right height. Reason: I have chronic low-level lower back pain. If it hurts my back at all to stand there rocking trays, I think it would make me use the darkroom less.
Finally, a view of the back side of the wall, showing shelves where I'll store developing equipment and chemicals and so forth. The shelves have been left unattached for now so I can work on the ventilation system.
Next up: power and lighting.
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Original contents copyright 2010 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.