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Monday, 12 July 2010


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Good on you Mr. Johnston; it is beginning to look like a .. thought out space.

Good on you Mr. Johnston; it is beginning to look like a .. thought out space.

I'm surprised you don't have solid legs on the front of the table top, actually. From what I've seen in optics labs, people are positively paranoid about vibrations as that destroys resolution and instrument alignment like nothing else.

Maybe with two of those brackets it will be stable, with one it will just pivot around the bracket. Metro shelving is about the wiggliest stuff I can think of. I'd get the biggest brackets I could find and attach them all the way out at each end of the table and tie them directly to the wall. Maybe with an adhesive like liquid nails. Doesn't need to be stronger , just stiffer.

Of course I'm kind of a nut, just ask my old land lord who wondered why I left behind my "table" which was a 2x2x4 foot plywood box filled with concrete.

Well, I'm no structural engineer, but it seems to me that if the tabletop is rigid, which it is, and it is attached securely to the wall at two points, which it will be, then the only possible motion left is that the front can go up and down. And that vertical motion is well controlled with two metal poles.

But you know what? I'm not wedded to any of this stuff. If for any reason it doesn't work, I'll rip it out and do something else, that's all. It's just a utility room.


Its goooing to wobble!

How high is the surface of your enlarger bench from the floor? Mine (when I had a darkroom) was about 30-inches. That was comfortable for me but I'm 5'7". You're a tad taller as I recall. Is there an "ideal" height?

Just a thought Mike, and maybe this doesn't even matter for your purposes.. but can you be sure that butcher block won't warp or split if it's supported only at the edges? No darkroom in my future but I find this fascinating!

I love it..."This Old Darkroom". Let's see how Rich is making out with the plumbing.

I am glad to see the last picture -- I was worried about the stability of the butcherblock on the wimpy wire-frame table.

Carry on, good Sir!

Nice progress, Mike.

Just one thought regarding the screws to anchor the table top to the wall: if the temperature range gets extreme in the basement, the expansion and contraction of the metal supports under the tabletop might be problematic if the tabletop is screwed too tightly to the wall.

"How high is the surface of your enlarger bench from the floor?"

38.5 inches. I carefully mocked up and evaluated the height of the counter surface for the trays (my non-wet wet side), and settled on 38 inches. The height of the enlarger table is pure happenstance--it's just what the bottom half of a store-bought wire shelving unit happened to be. Just luck that it's within half an inch of the wet side. The enlarger base and easel will bring the working height higher still. I don't mind--I've had the enlarger on the bench and it feels like it will be comfortable for me.

I'll have bar stools on both sides, too. I wonder if there is a standard "bar" height, or a standard height for the tall kitchen tables that are sometimes sold with bar stools? I'll have to remember to measure next time I'm in a furniture store.


Those wire racks are remarkably stable, even the cheap ones. Must be a good piece of industrial design!

I really don't want to build a darkroom (which is good since I'm part way through building a bathroom in the space that was going to be the darkroom in earlier plans), but I'm very much enjoying reading about the progress of your project. Projects are cool in and of themselves, and I don't mind YOU wanting a darkroom :-) , I just don't much want one myself.

"can you be sure that butcher block won't warp or split if it's supported only at the edges?"

It's already splitting a bit at one end, where it was standing on the floor and got wet once in a while (when the basement flooded). The splitting is just at the edge and isn't near any of the "attachment points." Again, though, if there are any problems I'll just replace it with something else--the butcher block (it was originally laid across two filing cabinets to form a desk in my mom's office, decades ago) is just something I happened to have.


"For the enlarger bench, I'm using the bottom half of a cheap wire shelving unit ..."

You're gonna regret it.

One of the bits of "perfection" that interfered with my building a darkroom in the previous house was wanting the counter in front of the enlarger to be movable (probably by having supports at two or three levels it could be placed at) and yet stable and square (to the enlarger) in any of its positions. This was to facilitate high degrees of enlargement, obviously. (The enlarger would have been fastened to the wall with a mount intended for that purpose, probably in structural members built in at that point for that purpose.)

Maybe you'll regret the enlarger being on a not so solid bench. At least it is resting on concrete. Better than a wooden floor!

Mine is on a filing cabinet that is on castors; it rolls to just in front of the "throne" in my shared basement bathroom/darkroom.

My thoughts are that, if you give the enlarger it some time to dampen all oscillations, it'll be ok. We'll see; prints so far seem to be pretty ok; more printing coming up.


For the enlarger bench (which has the most contention so far) -- I remember buying the same thing for a friend of mine who was moving into a new apartment and wanted cheap kitchen storage space.

The memories I have of that bench were when we first put it together -- and it did not feel or look stable at all. However, when I came back two weeks later, fully loaded: it was stable. The shelf holes had settled into the legs and it was fine.

Assuming then that this structure is probably best under a heavy static load, I would be to load it up with a typical darkroom load and check the stability (and to only put the angle brackets on after it has loaded).

If it is still unstable, something heavy on the bottom rack to lower the center of gravity may also increase stability (like sandbags -- which will additionally absorb any shock). I'm assuming you'll be storing *stuff* there so, something heavy would also suffice.

After this, you can perform some dynamic load tests, like moving items around to see if the shelf moves. I think that perhaps some felt or some sort of coupling between the tops of the legs and the butchers block would be useful to absorb shock when any movement occurs (if it occurs in the first place).


A lot of this type of project is cut and try. With the wire shelving unit and top attached to the wall just give it a good wack and, looking through a hi mag grain focuser see how long it takes to settle down. Or when traffic rumbles by look to see if there is any vibration. It will probably be fine. Are you becoming 'passionate' about this project yet?

Unless the overhang of the benchtop is several inches past the edge of the wire base, I'd worry about my feet hitting that very low bottom shelf. If the shelves can be adjusted, maybe raise that bottom one a few inches?

Are you getting enough back-seat driver help on this project, Mike? :-)

Nice pics, have you considered converting them to B&W?

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