Film and Darkroom User

Film and Darkroom User (
-   Contact printing (
-   -   Homemade Contact Printing Frame (

Nabhar 5th May 2016 07:38 PM

Homemade Contact Printing Frame
3 Attachment(s)
Hi there,
I have just spent the best part of the winter putting this contact printing frame together. I'm almost there, but as it has unfolded, the most difficult decisions and choices have presented themselves right at the end. - I couldn't source a brass bar and catches for the 'door lock', so I just decided to use the oak ply, with oak ply catches. I have mused on this choice for a while before proceeding further, and I'm (almost) sure that it will be adequate enough for the tasks ahead.

My main use will be for 4x5 contact prints although I decided to use the dimensions that I have used in the vague hope that someday in the future I will be able to sit my own 8x10 negative in it.

My questions are - should I split the 'back door' ? (I understand that this facility is required for some alternative techniques, but I don't have any practical experience of these other techniques to decide if I should split or not).
Also, I have finished it using several layers of Danish Oil, and a few coats of Marine Yacht varnish to seal. - I'm wondering if this might possibly have chemical processing issues in the darkroom environment ?

I would greatly appreciate any FADU members input before proceeding further. Any general thoughts on contact printing are welcome.

I have used several layers of oak plywood, conjoined by white wood glue. The frame is absolutely solid. On the heavy side, but very nice to look at. :)


The dimensions are -
Outside frame - 40cm x 35cm
Front window - 30cm x 25cm
The frame is 28mm thick and stands 55mm on its legs.
The glass is 5mm thick and the 'foam' is also 5mm thick.

Attachment 2506

Attachment 2507

Attachment 2508

cliveh 5th May 2016 08:29 PM

What's wrong with a sheet of plate glass?

Barry 5th May 2016 08:34 PM

Looks nicely made Nabhar and I'm sure it will do what you want. Your paper and negative will not be in contact with the varnished wood so I don't see any chemical issues there. A split back is useful for some processes as it allows you to see what exposure is occurring without taking the paper and negative out of registration. I guess try it and see if you need it later? I note that there is a new contact paper called Lumix from fotoimpex in Berlin which looks interesting. Let us know how you get on.

Nabhar 5th May 2016 09:06 PM


Originally Posted by Barry (Post 108228)
I note that there is a new contact paper called Lumix from fotoimpex in Berlin which looks interesting. Let us know how you get on.

Thanks Barry,
I wasn't aware of certain papers being more suited to contact printing. Went to the site you mentioned - think it's ''ADOX LUPEX Silver Chloride Contact Paper''. Looks ideal, I'll just have to save some pennies first.

Nabhar 5th May 2016 09:25 PM


Originally Posted by cliveh (Post 108227)
What's wrong with a sheet of plate glass?

I don't know...ask your nurse. :rolleyes:

B&W Neil 5th May 2016 10:27 PM

A split back is essential if you want to inspect the exposure of an image (during the exposure) without disturbing the register of the negative to the paper.

With most of the alt processes that require a negative put into contact with a coated paper this achieved by taking the frame away from the source of UV (during the exposure) opening the split back, peeling a portion of the negative away from the paper and assessing the progress of the exposure. If the exposure is satisfactory the image taken and processed, if it requires more exposure the back is closed (the unopened part of the back keeps the neg in register on the paper) and given more exposure.

Split backs are quite easy to make and I have made several that work well.

Once you get experienced at judging the UV exposure, remembering that natural UV is different ever day and quite often changes during an exposure, you may not use a split back.

Using a UV lamp provides more control over exposure but a split back will still save you time and money.


alexmuir 6th May 2016 12:01 AM

Your frame looks great. I have acquired various frames to do 4x5" contacts. None of them are very impressive, and I have often considered DIY. Your example has made me think about trying that again. On the subject of contact papers, there are some available from FOMA. The main one is Fomalux, which is not too expensive in 8x10" sheets. It's a nice FB paper. They also made Fomalux RC, but I don't think it's still available. The Fomatone 'Nature', and 'Chamois' are contact papers, although they are often used for enlarging. Slavich make at least one as well, but I haven't tried it (yet). The difference with these papers is that they are very slow compared to enlarging papers. It's also recommended that exposure for contacts is done with a bare incandescent bulb. I have only used an enlarger as the light source so far, but intend sourcing a suitable bulb to try the bare bulb approach. Good luck with the frame once you get it into action, and let us know how you get on.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Nabhar 6th May 2016 01:44 AM

'' a split back will still save you time and money ''

You're talking my language there Neil. And good pointers on the UV business.

''Your example has made me think about trying that again''

This is where I got the inspiration Alex; the frame is shown at 20 mins.

Thanks for the paper info, I didn't expect such a field of paper choice when I put up the post but I'm glad I did. FADU strikes again with the insights, love it !!


alexmuir 6th May 2016 03:05 PM

Thanks for the link to the film, Nabhar. It was very entertaining. I have a 4x5 frame of the same design as the one shown. It was made by Kodak. It needs new glass fitted. My only gripe about contact paper is that no one makes any cut to the same size as 4x5 film. Cutting Fomalux FB has to be done carefully to avoid damaging the emulsion. A good rotary cutter would probably be best. Scissors work, but I can never cut a straight line with them!

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Alan Clark 6th May 2016 05:10 PM


Originally Posted by cliveh (Post 108227)
What's wrong with a sheet of plate glass?

I should have thought the answer was obvious. With a sheet of glass you get a black border round your image; the kiss of death to my eyes. With this very nicely made printing frame, with its rebate that masks off the edge of the paper, you will get a white border. Perfect!


All times are GMT. The time now is 10:47 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.