Tenative Darkroom Plans

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by adam_klaum, Oct 1, 2004.

  1. Hello all, I am planning to build a darkroom in my basement in the near future and have drawn up some plans to use for the space available. I have posted the plans on my website here:

    Darkroom Plans

    I have never built or really used a darkroom before so if anyone can take a look at these plans and let me know if they see any fatal flaws I would greatly appreciate it. Any suggestions are welcome. Adam
  2. Adam,

    I think your plans look pretty good, however one comment. When I'm washing prints (RC mostly) at the end of the sink, I like to continually remove them as I'm working and hang them above the sink. In your plan you would have to exit the area into the work room. The reason I remove the prints as I'm working is that the edges of the RC paper will absorp water after being left too long in the wash.

  3. What's the advantage of having the door between the workroom and darkroom? I would probably just put it all in one room, and switch places with print drying rack and dry mount press. Or, I guess you could frame it in to have some separation, but just not put a door on.
  4. You are luckey. Many would kill for a set up like this. Mine is similar two room affair, but built at different times as space became available.

    My suggestions as follows:

    Change the location for the enlarger to where the print drying racks are.

    To facilate movement between the rooms, hinge the inner door on the opposite side still opening inward. The idea is to work with the inner door open. The paper cutter is near the enlarger and you can use it to cut larger sheets of paper to smaller size. Only stock the larger sizes. this gets your lenses and enlarger away from the humidity.

    The right side counter is then available for finishing operations like matting and framing.

    The drying racks should be under the right counter on slide out trays.

    Your plan is definately workable, I just prefer to isolate my enlargers more than across the aisle.

    Why do you have two doors?

    How about building in a film drying cabinet? Now is the time to plan it.
  5. Hi! Just a few ideas: I don't know if I would "jam" up my enlarger space by putting it in the corner. I bolted mine down on the counter top in the middle of my dry side and it is great to have the maneuvering ability around it. Since my ceiling was limited, I cut out a square in the top counter and move it down onto wooden braces for large prints. I also built in a paper safe painted black inside and use wing nuts to quickly open and secure with. This is on the shelf to the right under the counter along with all my papers. Under the counter on the left are easels, contact printers, etc. I also agree that a door to your workroom is not needed. Mine is open to my large workroom which I keep lit with safe bulbs during printing and it makes it less claustrophobic. My prints are dried on screened racks mounted under the sink and pull out, but trays are stored upright under the other half of the sink separated by thin plywood. All painted with marine paint. I hope some of this may help. Mary
  6. The double door can be nice if both doors are light tight and you
    ever need to allow someone to enter or leave while someone else
    is working. Also, if neither door is completely 100% light tight by
    itself, the combination of two of them may be good enough.
    What are you planning to do with the wall on the "top" of your
    plan, at the end of the darkroom? You could add more counter space
    there, or put some shelves to store various things, or maybe some
    pegboard for hanging things.
    One thing to be aware of in a basement darkroom is to make sure
    you have enough height for your enlarger if the basement ceiling
    is low. Sometimes it can be helpful to put the
    enlarger on a lower section of countertop than the rest of the
    counter, but if you do this, you may want a place to
    sit down while working at the enlarger.
    Consider plans for things like music and telephone, if you are
    so inclined. And consider ventilation and electrical wiring
    in any case.
  7. >One thing to be aware of in a basement darkroom is to make sure you >have enough height for your enlarger if the basement ceiling is low. >Sometimes it can be helpful to put the enlarger on a lower section >of countertop than the rest of the counter, but if you do this, you >may want a place to sit down while working at the enlarger.

    I can vouch for this! I just installed a D5XL in my darkroom, which has an 81" ceiling! This puts the easel 20" above the floor. I'll have to get a 12" tall stool, or a set of kneepads! :)
  8. Have you considered using pocket doors instead of doors on hinges. You don't have a door swinging into your work area and pocket doors are better at keeping out light.
  9. A few things - For your set up, I would also highly recommend pocket doors
    for the obvious reasons. Also think about making your sink 10' long rather
    than 8'. The 2" between trays is really asking for contaimination between trays
    and will make working with the larger trays much more comfortable. I not clear
    on how deep the sink is but I would also recommend that it be 26" - 30" inside
    measurements to allow for moving these trays easily and for setting aside
    graduates, etc as you work. If necessary rob the space from the center space,
    the fewer steps between the counter and sink the better. Instal two water
    outlets, one at each end of the sink. e.g. one for your washing set up and one
    to keep free for mixing chemistry. Your drain should be at the end of the sink
    where your washing takes place so as to eliminate carrying wet prints through
    the dry area. Even if this means reversing your design and putting the
    finishing area where your print area is at present. Lastly - you can never have
    enough electrical out lets of shelves
  10. You have been given a lot of great ideas Adam, listen well and you will have a world class
    darkroom. I built mine the same size as yours, into my garage, insulated and air
    conditioned to 64 degrees 24/7, it works great. The only thing I now wished I did was not
    to place the enlarger against the right wall. Put the enlarger in the center of the counter to
    allow space on both sides. Also, make sliding, pocket, doors. When I built my sinks I did
    not know about ten foot plywood and made an eight foot sink, go for the ten foot stuff.
    Make sure you have good ventilation across the sinks.
  11. I built one in my basement and have been using it for over a year. Mine is a bit bigger: 14 x 14.
    Recommendations. Have one door not two.. gives you flexibility to rearrange the layout and you don't really need the second door (most basements are pretty dim anyway). Provide air movement by either routing a basement vent on your HVAC system to the darkroom or install a simple bathroom ventilator in one wall (mine is switched with the fan assembly at the bottom of the inner part of the wall and the exit at the top of the exterior side of the wall). Install both a safelight and white light circuit. Hope this helps
  12. Thank you all for the great and fast responses! I made these plans mostly from reading Ansel's "The Negative" and "The Print". He mentions a separate workroom which is why I set it up this way. I had originally had a 10ft sink in the plans but then thought I could only get 8ft plywood. I liked the 10ft better as it theoretically gave me much more room for trays. That being said, I would have to nix the inside wall and door for the larger sink. Can anyone think of a reason why I couldn't just make this one big room instead of two smaller ones? This would also effectively put my enlarger in the middle of the counter space instead of against a wall.
  13. Here is a reworked plan based on what I said above.

    Also, I have not begun planning the vertical space (i.e. shelves) yet. There are certainly some vertical options here. Like the Print Drying Racks could be on the floor under some additional counter space next to the sink. At this point I am trying to take the first step and decide what needs framed in and how large to build the sink.

    Thanks for the good ideas all of this is very valuable information. I'm going to print out this thread and keep it handy throughout the process.
  14. Excuse me, I'm digital now, but you might consider mounting the enlarger to the wall. I had a wall mounted D2 which was solid enough to climb onto. I did not use the baseboard and this left me with an unhindered counter where I loaded 4x5 film, etc.
    I do miss it from time to time.
  15. I would move the print drying rack to the dry side and use the wet side space for a print washer. You need a solid cart (on casters?) that is low so you can put the print washer on it at an ergonomic height. It would be nice to have a floor drain but that might not be possible in the basement. Maybe you could configure some way to drain a print washer into the plumbing rather than through the sink.

    Consider wall mounting the enlarger and designing a drop table into the counter top. But beware if you have a washer/dryer in the basement because of vibration.

    Put some verticle dividers under the counters for storing large boxes, framing glass, large mat board, etc.

    Be mindful of ventilation and allow for fresh air intake into the room.

    Put electrical outlets above and below counter height. Use halogen track lights for task lighting over wet side and dry side. Use incandescent lights in the middle of the ceiling for general lighting. Keeping the halogens on can build up heat. Plan for appropriate safelights for your setup.

    For the amount of money you are putting into this, consider a Nova Quad 16 x 20 slot processor which will save you a ton of sink space. I have mine on a cart right next to the washer using about 4 square feet of space. While you are at it, get a used Jobo CPP processor on Ebay.

    Consider some antifatigue matting from an industrial supply store (prices vary alot).

    Put a stainless steel ledge above the sink or some sort of drying shelf.

    Think about the plumbing above the sink. I have hot and cold water filters feeding into a Hass Intellifaucet valve that branches into 3 different valves that have metal nipples attached to flexible hoses. One feeds the print washer, one the film washer, an one free.

    Think about where to put a trash can.
  16. I would not use a pocket door. Much more difficult to make light tight. I would use a flush panel steel exterior door with an aluminum threshold and magnetic weather stripping . Much easier to make light tight and keep locked. Also relatively inexpensive.
  17. Also, something to think about:
    30 inch deep cabinets +
    36 inch door +
    30 inch deep wet side

    = 8 feet.

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