Asanuma project camera – base plate construction

Nevermind the cold – I got out in the garage this morning and completed the base plate!

This all started out with a dimensioned 1/2″ thick piece of mahogany. I held it centered to the underside of the camera’s bed and traced the openings for the original tripod legs. I marked off diagonals to find the center, and measured from the tracings to the center to make sure everything was properly aligned. It was.

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The other time I made such a base plate for a camera, the clearance under the rails was enough that I could use a large machine bolt cut to length, and the head of the bolt fit into the tripod sockets. Not so with this camera – there’s less than 1/32″ of space between the rails and the bed itself. So, I used a design borrowed from Rafael Garcia – some 8-32 all-thread, 8-32 T-nuts to fit the sockets, and some 8-32 brass knurled knobs. I drilled a hole in the center of the traced openings allowing the all-thread to clear, screwed on a T-nut, and measured the necessary length on the all-thread:

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The all-thread was easily cut using a Dremel and cut-off wheel. This method of cutting doesn’t foul the threads; pressure-applying cutters, such as bolt cutters or tin snips, do foul the threads.

The T-nuts as supplied are a little too thick to allow the rail to move over the bed. As they’re aluminum, they’re easily filled to an appropriate thickness:

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A few minutes later, I was able to check the fit:

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The tripod mount is a 1/2″ long threaded insert that requires a 5/16″ pilot hole. Since the layout is marked on the reverse of the plate, I drill a small pilot through the center:

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Then drill from the front surface with the 5/16″ bit:

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I used a 1/4″ roundover bit in the router to ease the edge and did some finish sanding:

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Then I sprayed about six coats of gloss lacquer:

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After the lacquer dried, I installed the tripod bushing:

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And installed the base plate on the camera:

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The finished plate:

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It works exactly as intended, but leaves me a little disappointed; even with the relatively thin mahogany, the whole piece adds significantly to the weight of the camera. Oh, well – couldn’t be avoided with this method. Ultimately, after a good suggestion from Robert B, I may end up doing a faceplate turning on the lathe to make an appropriate roundel to fill in the hole in the bottom of the camera, which would be significantly lighter. But that’s a long-term goal.

Next, I’ll mill some lensboards, then wait anxiously for the bellows to arrive from Wales.

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2 thoughts on “Asanuma project camera – base plate construction

  1. Beautiful work, Scott! Looks magnificent.

    If you’re anything like me, you’ll find yourself in the shop one day in the springtime with a few minutes on your hands, will find yourself a scrap of wood, and will try your hand at faceplate turning a rough blank for the roundel “just to see”…and before you know it, you’ll be halfway to the replacement.

    But in the meanwhile, you’ll be able to get that camera back to work as it should be…

  2. Pretty much the same thing I did, though not so well-finished. I found those same brad-ready T-nuts, without the need to cut off the barbs, before I looked at your description. I used a regular barbed 1/4-20 T-nut for the tripod bushing and really have no idea why I didn’t do a threaded insert there. It would have been much more solid. I may re-do that part of it.

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