Making your own bellows

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by, Jun 28, 2002.

  1. Is there a good resource anywhere on the internet which gives
    instructions for building a set of bellows?

    My cheif domestic financial advisor has suggested that I must refrain
    from extending my capital expenditure (the wife won't let me buy new
    equipment), so I'm looking at building my own bellows for a cambo 5x4
    camera. I bought the standards and rail of this camera some years
    ago, and used it as an enlarger. I've since been given a 450mm Zeis
    APO Tessar repro lens, which is way too long for my Tachihara.

  2. Graeme,
    I understand about the cheif domestic financial advisor situation. I tried to make a set of bellows for a Graflex speed graphic several years back. They ended up being so thick the camera wouldn't close all the way. When I showed my wife what happened after all my hard work she took pity on me and said I should order a set from someone who knew how to make them properly. I'm telling you, it's all in the approach as to what her reaction will be!
    If you must make your own, though, here is a site that may be of some help.
    Doug Bardell uses a different approach than I did, so it should work.
    Good luck with future finance committee meetings.
  3. I made a bag bellows for my old Omega enlarger out of some naugahyde. Dyed it black and fitted it to the enlarger. It is better then the old accordian bellows in that there is more space inside for ambient light to be absorbed. You might try this approach instead of making an accordian bellows for your camera. I use a bag bellows on my Sinar F most of the time for the same reasons. It also makes for easier movements.
  4. Thanks to all who have responded. I've also been browsing since I wrote the question, and in the interests of providing information for the next person who can't get their budget approved, the following URL seems to be the best:

    Instructions/plans for complete construction of a wooden monorail camera are also there.
  5. Graeme
    I made a bellows for my enlarger about a year ago, like you I hunted all over the net for info. I used some of the info from the url you posted but ran into problems, I needed a tapered bellows and the info was for straight, I discovered the design is quite different.
    My first attempt failed.....everything was looking good until I got to the point of no return and discovered they wouldn't fold up. It was no big deal, not much tied up in materials and I learnt a lot.
    The next attempt worked ok but there are small problems I would fix if I had to make another. Suggest you have a few goes making them out of paper before you try the real thing.....they're actually quite easy to make but time consuming.
    I have on file some info I found on the web somewhere? that came from Deardorff, shows how they constructed theirs. Send me an email if you want them, I think they're big files and may take some time to send/receive.
    You can see the bellows I made here
  6. you might want to check out this I just saw on ebay...
  7. you might want to check out this I just saw on ebay..
  8. Hi Graeme: Try Camera bellows Ltd., in the UK.
    They're very reasonable. I'm sure a new bellows from them wouldn't break the bank.
    Incidentally, how have you been using the Cambo as an enlarger without a bellows?
  9. I think we all know about the CFO situations!!! As Pete suggests, Camera Bellows!!!!!! I just got my Linhof III done by them and got it back this past Thursday and let me tell you, it is beautiful! It cost me about $150 USD including mounting and shipping. You will spend less if they do it due to all the time and materials you have to use to make your own.
  10. I had previously made some bellows, but the design that I was working from was flawed and didn't fold correctly (the stiffeners were placed incorrectly). They worked OK for the limited amount of extension that the enlarger needed, but there was no way they would stretch the required 50cm for the lens that I plan to use, nor are they flexible enough to accommodate movements. The URL that I posted above shows the correct method (and also how to make bag bellows).

    US$150 is still well above the budget. I've nearly completed the bellows now, and the cost will be less than AUD$30 (about US$17) and about 20 hours of work.

    Thanks to all who responded, especially Clayton, who sent some great (though very detailed) PDFs detailing construction of tapered bellows.


    PS: Call me ignorant, but what is 'the CFO situation'?
  11. Graeme,

    I would second (third?) Pete's suggestion as a new set of bellows may be cheaper than you (or your business manager) think. Even if you make your own you still have to buy materials.

    However if the cash flow situation is serious you might try Camera Bellows Ltd or their US equivalent for materials. Here is another alternative as a possibility but I have not tried them myself :

    good luck
  12. Tell her that she needs to go to the supply house with you to pick the color of the material, no , not for the bellows, for her next and subsequent new shoes that she's going to build!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  13. As a final note to this thread, my bellows are finished and being used successfully.

    My light tight layer is triple layer curtain lining material, stiffeners were made from a manilla folder and the inner lining is black light-weight cotton (like calico). Spray on contact adhesive was used to stick the layers together. 3mm aluminium plate (outside dimensions precut) was obtained from a local engineering firm for the end plates. Total cost of the project: AUD$45 (approximately US$23)

    How do they work? Very well - no light leaks, 100% opaque, very flexible.

    How do they look? Awful! The outer layer is white, and could easily be improved with a coat of black spray paint, but I'm happy with the practicality of a white belows. The seam of the belows is not parallel with the sides. The end plates are rough, but functional. But I've got a working cambo 5x4 monorail camera for less than US$200 (including the back, which made up 50% of the cost).



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