Asanuma project camera – 4×5 insert base construction

After planing down the scrap board of curly cherry I found lingering in the garage, I milled the parts for the base of the 4×5 insert. The wood ended up just a little over 5/8″ thick; enough for some stand-off of the holder. I laid out the widths needed from the plate back and ripped parts from the board. To the rails, I milled a small tongue to fit under the rails on the plate back. They fit!



I ran a groove on the insides of the rails for the tenons on the stile ends. I did this using the tablesaw – run the groove in approximately the center of the rail, flip it end-for-end and run the groove again. Results in a perfectly centered groove.

I set the horizontal router table for approximately the tenon thickness needed for the groove and start adjusting the height of the bit, cut after cut, in tiny increments. This allows me to precisely fit the parts. However, I always stop a little short and finish up with hand planes (in this case, a Veritas shoulder plane and a Stanley Sweetheart #18):


After adjusting the fit, I test the insert out in the back:



Confident everything fits correctly, the assembly gets slathered with poly glue and will sit in clamps for several hours:


After the glue is cured, I’ll clean up the foam-out, mill a small rabbet in the end of the insert to allow it to sit over the end retainer strip on the plate back, and layout the cuts for rabbeting for the ground glass holder.


2 thoughts on “Asanuma project camera – 4×5 insert base construction

  1. This is excellent guidance. Mine has a 6×8 inch opening for the plate holder (with the tongues). And lacking the craft to do the tongue and groove fit, I will probably do mitered corners and add a spline if I feel I need it. The carpentry on this is just amazing, so many box joints with such thin fingers and grooves.

    So two 1 inch strips and two 1 1/2 inch strips for the frame. I have a chunk of 1/2 inch mahogany I can use which is double the thickness of the base it’s doing to be mated with.

    The ground glass holder and futzing with the film plane distance and all that is going to require careful study on my part.

  2. I decided I would start on this and got all the pieces cut, some of them more than once. I spoiled a bunch of mahogany as I learned which tools are capable of cutting on the square and which aren’t. Seriously, a miter gauge with a 0° guide that isn’t actually 0°? If I wanted crooked lines, I’d rely on my eyes.

    I think I have enough of this stock to make at least the base. I realized that mitered corners work if the four pieces are the same width so I mortised out a groove on the route to run a thin spine through the joints for added strength. I don’t think I’m up to cutting down to a tenon without losing the whole piece when I (inevitably) cut too much off.

    Given how troublesome this has been, I can only imagine how thorny the ground glass holder will be. With any luck, I’ll be better able to anticipate these issues. Perhaps we can serve as the extremes of how to do this: you can be the standard to emulate and I can be the warning of what can go wrong.

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