Lensboard adapter – milling and joinery

Part of a recent commission was a Deardorff-to-Technika lensboard adapter.  The mahogany was planed close to final thickness and allowed to stabilize a few days.  This lets any unresolved internal stresses or uneven moisture absorption to rear their heads, and still plane the wood to usable thickness.  Which I did.  The mahogany is well-seasoned and hasn’t given me any trouble yet, but I tend to err on the side of caution.

After final planing to about 3/8″, the single 3″ x 24″ board was ripped lengthwise to make two long strips.  From these, four pieces, just over 6″ long each, were milled.  They’re then laid out in the most pleasing grain orientation:


This orientation of pieces makes for a stable, and more easily glued, assembly. Staggering the joints introduces an inordinate amount of difficulty in maintaining square during glueup, and leaves the eye wondering which end is up/

The Tech board will be inserted thusly:


This morning, I set up the horizontal router table with a 2″ single-flute carbide straight bit and an auxiliary fence to mill the half-lap joints. I set the bit a little under the required height and work my way up to perfect alignment with slow adjustments. The resulting assembly, ready for gluing:


You can see how effective the half-lap is in providing gluing area and alignment:


Next step: Lay out the Tech board placement, glue up, and relieving the recess for the board. The circular light trap allowances are hand-carved, but that’s later.


Deardorff lensboard progress

I’ve been working on a commission for four one-piece mahogany lensboards for a Deardorff 8×10.  These are 6×6 boards, rounded corners.  The client sent along some ‘Dorff accessories to aid in fitting and color matching.

Woodworking on the four boards is nearly complete (I have yet to rout a rebate on the back of one of the boards), and all have been drilled to the required diameters.  After a little playing with colors today, I think I nailed the original Deardorff mahogany color:


When the stain has cured overnight, I’ll start spraying lacquer. Lacquer dries very fast; I’ll spray three or four coats and see what the depth and color look like. With the clear finish, the stained boards should be a perfect match for the original finish.

Also on this order is a Deardorff-to-Technika lensboard adapter. The wood’s been planed and is being allowed to “rest” to make sure any internal stress is relieved, then milling will commence. The board will be four strips of the same mahogany, half-lapped at the corners.

New project – Late Seneca View 8×10

This new toy arrived upon my doorstep today:


A late Seneca View 8×10. Forgive the poor digi-snap. This appears to be one of the later models (though PierceVaubel gives the dates of manufacture as 1901-1905); the lensboard retaining hardware is identical to that on the Improved View, which succeeded this model.

Geared front rise/fall, geared rear tilt and swing. Mahogany and cherry. Brass fittings. What’s not to love? This camera is in startlingly good shape. The wood needs very little in the way of finish renewal. It needs a new extension rail (McMaster-Carr, here I come!). The brass is in horrendous shape, but Flitz and a Dremel pad make short work of it:


And, of course, it needs a new bellows-by-Sandeha. We’re in discussions on color already.

Unfortunately, this is going to have to sit painfully on the back burner for a bit. I’m midway through a lensboard/adapter commission, and have my son’s bokken taking priority. Soon, though…

Mounting a Packard shutter externally

Now, this may be obvious to some/most/all of you, but it had been eluding me for some time: How to mount a Packard so it’s use is both simple and facilitates easy movement from lens to lens. I’ve tried the Galli shutter, I’ve tried lenscaps, but all manual means have me inducing camera shake. No good. So, had to figure this out.

And, as is becoming typical of these things, I borrowed an idea from Sandeha Lynch: a box with a slot for lensboard inserts to mount the shutter.

I’m truly blessed with a monstrous woodpile in the garage. And, I’m a packrat – I tend to keep just about all scraps of wood, just in case. So, my Packard box is made of some nicely-aged scrap cherry that’s been sitting in the garage for about 12 years.

Sandeha’s version uses box joints at the corners, an elegant way to join the pieces. I was in quick-and-dirty mode, and opted for half-lap joints:


Before joining the pieces, I ran a single groove along the inside edges on the tablesaw. This groove allows for the box to slide down over the “lensboard”. I didn’t do any stopped cuts, so when glued, the box had some joints where the groove penetrated the outside edge. Again, quick-and-dirty. I plugged these holes for aesthetics, though, with the lens mounted, they’d be light-tight, anyway.

Once glued, I made a rebate cut to allow access to the grooves:


The tablesaw makes a 1/8″ kerf; I happened to have some 1/8″ cherry I’d cut long ago, some I sized and cut a couple boards, one for each barrel lens I currently own. I carefully measured and cut openings for the lenses. These holes have to be perfectly sized – too small and the board won’t mount or may split; too large, and the Packard won’t sit securely. I always test these setups in 1/8″ plywood first.


The final assembly, Packard mounted to my B&J Ajax Portrait:


Like I said, kind of obvious once you see it, but in case someone (like me) doesn’t, well – there you go.

First sheet of film – Seneca Improved View 8×10

My “budget” 8×10 film arrived today – recently-expired Arista.EDU Ultra 100.  I wasted no time loading a holder and setting the boy in front of the Seneca.


Ah, the joys of shooting film.  Especially after shooting a lot paper.  Composition’s a bit off, and he moved, but it’s glorious to be shooting again.

Loading up for a still life presently.  Cut flowers don’t move as much as 10-year-old boys.

Installed – Seneca Improved View 8×10

Lookin’ smart in its new blue duds…

Royal Blue Bellows

The bellows, clearly, arrived today. Took about an hour to install, but the next iteration should be half that. A little bit of a learning curve fitting the front frame, but nothing hampering a beautiful finished product. I am very pleased.

Time to load up a sheet of paper (my film hasn’t arrived yet) and shoot the boy.

Bellows in-transit – Seneca Improved View 8×10

It’s an amazing thing, really, how inter-connected the various postal systems around the world can be.  Sandeha sent a confirmation number from the Royal Mail service when he sent the bellows a week or more ago.  Checked it yesterday in the US track-and-confirm system: Nothing.  But in the Royal Mail site, it stated that the bellows had passes into US hands.  Well, today, the Royal Mail tracking number works in the USPS system: The bellows arrived in the US around 1:00 pm on the 27th.  Four days ago. 

So, really, how long does it take?  I mean, it’s a two-and-a-half hour drive to NY from here; four days to make it through customs and down the road?  This is killing me!