Which hardwood used for this 4x5 camera body

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by catherine_constantinou, Jan 23, 2009.

  1. Hi Folks - I would appreciate your having a look at the pics of the 4x5 camera body and let me know which hardwood has been used?
    Also, could you have a look at the pic 'glass' and let me know if this is the back of this camera?
    What is the black board thing?
    If I still have your attention, I would appreciate your identifying the very heavy metal square (approx 30x30cm) in the 2 metal pics?
    And finally (are you still there?) if you can let me know if the strange mirror, wooden, tripody thing has anything to do with large format cameras?
  2. Also the brass fittings on the camera have discoloured, what would you recommend I use to clean/shine them?
    And here are the pics:
  3. Black board thing, middle panel springs up
  4. Very heavy metal square (30 x 30cm)
  5. Back of metal square
  6. Mirror, wooden tripod
  7. This is the Mahogany body , I believe it's the Honduras type. The rest I'm still try to figure out .
    The third pic is the spring back a film holder with the ground glass the fouth should feet on the third and serve as dark cloth but, it looks a little bit strange probably comes from a much older camera. The mirror thing is defenetely not the part of the camera.
  8. The wood of the camera looks like maghogany. A closer view would help to confirm.
    The first photo of the camera appears to show a camera lacking a ground glass back to focus the camera. So hopefully the glass of the third photo fits onto the camera to make it usable.
    To polish the tarnish off the brass, I'd first try the product Nevr-Dull. Look for it at hardware stores or auto parts stores. It works well with tarnish or mild corrision. If there are parts with heavier corrision there are various metal polishes available. The brass may originally have been lacquered to inhibit tarnish; since there is tarnish the lacquer is probably gone and the parts may tarnish again.
  9. Hi Frank and Michael, thank you very much, I'm adding another pic of the camera for perhaps a closer look at the wood. Catherine
  10. The camera doesn't look complete to me! If it is indeed a camera, there should be some sort of rail or bed at the bottom.
    From the look of the back and other clues, especially the woodworking style, I think it might be a hand-made enlarger, and I don't think it's very old.
    The craftsmanship certainly looks very nice, it seems very well made, but the style of the work at the corners (joints) is not like anything I've ever seen on old, antique equipment.
    The ground glass parts also were most certainly not made for this piece of equipment.
  11. Thank you Michael, I do know it was made by following the instructions in 'Building a Large Format Camera' by Jon Grepstad.
  12. Looks like mahogany to me too.
  13. Catherine please show the front of it to.
    I agree with Michael its an unfinished project and the parts there might have been thought as part to it but is a spring back on the camera right now isnt that right? Can you lift it up?
  14. Thank you Steve and Frank again, here are some more pics.
  15. The mirror thing may just have been kept as a source of suitable, seasoned wood. It helps when making a precision object like a camera if the timber is well seasoned. The wood is much more dimensionally stable (does not warp, crack, shrink etc)
    I have always preferred old 19th - early 20th century internal doors for this purpose!
  16. Catherine the first pic is the back of the camera I assume as there is the spring, show the opposite side.
  17. It looks to me like you have bits and pieces from various cameras.
    The camera certainly looks like mahogany. But I would need to see in in person to be able to say for sure. It's not at all obvious what the make is - considering the bulk of some of the wood, I would wonder if it might be homemade rather than from a commercial manufacturer.
    The black think is a focusing hood from a Graphic camera. The glass is the back from a Graphic camera.
    The black metal square looks like it may have been the back of another camera - those round things look like they may have held the ground glass in place.
    The mirror is a 'puzzlement'. Don't have a clue what it may have been.
  18. Sorry to be the dissenter -- looks like stained cherry wood to me. My house's hardwood floors are cherry and have the same grain and color. Wouldn't we need to know the density of the wood to make a final decision?
  19. jtk


    The wooden back appears to have been built for glass plates rather than film holders. The mirror thing may have been intended to hold glass plates as well..I think there's a "fume" stage in some plate processing...
    There's no camera bed and no evidence of standards (to support front and back bellows holding structures...whatever they're called)...this might be a partially completed portrait camera rather than view camera, for which adjustable standards aren't necessary...but there needs to be some kind of bed and focusing mechanism.
  20. Now this is the cherry with out the stain just look and compare. same structure as on my Tachi.
  21. To judge as best as we can without seeing the wood in person, we need a closeup of the grain. The grain patterns are more useful than the color since the wood might be stained. From what I can see of the grain, it looks like maghogany rather than cherry. Cherry commonly has black pitch pockets.
    I think the others are right, it is either an unfinished project or pieces are missing.
  22. It is maghogany for sure. can't be anything else.With maghogany, there are very short darker lines in the grain. (To use an unscientific way to explain it). They are visible in the wood photos clearly. When I used to have a garage and built instruments, I worked with alot of maghogany and cherry. Still have several back and side sets in a relative's attic. With wood, what is more important is the grain pattern. In Frank's cherrywood photo,there are none of these short grain patterns.
  23. Agree with Jack. That is not cherry. Cherry has a very tight, closed grain. This wood is open grained. Look closeley - the surface is not totally smooth like Frank's cherry example. Rather, it you can see the open ends of the tubular vessels that once carried sap through the tree, which appear as dark spots and shadows.
    It is a tropical hardwood. It could be mahogany, or it could be any of a number of other tropical hardwoods. The common name Mahogany is now applied to a large group of unrelated tropical hardwood timber species from around the world. It could also be padauk, an African hardwood with an orange color like paprika, that is popular with woodworkers and luthiers. Beautiful stuff.
    Your mirror is oak or ash (probably oak).
  24. I don't know about 4X5 cameras; but, if identifying the wood is important; I'd recommend the book "Understanding Wood" by Bruce Hoadley. I believe he was a PhD of Timber Frame Engineering at Yale. His book is a good plain language work on the properties of wood. In it is a section of examples of end-grain patterns, as they appear through a magnifying glass. It would take an up-close examination to really, really know for sure.
    That said, I'd suggest that the quality of the joinery and overall appearance of the camera appear to be very good as far as the wood frame goes; to the point that the kind of wood involved, specifically, might not be that important. It's such an unusual piece, it's thought provoking. Those large dovetails, with fills instead of pins and tails, is unusual. Nifty idea. The joinery and the brass on there kind of make it a fashionable piece among woodworkers. Displaying good joinery is important to people into woodworking; probably very much the same way as a good view camera photograph is to advanced photographers. Overall, it's very intriguing.
  25. It can't be Padauk, I only used it on one instrument, still have some in that attic. It is a deep red color, that like Purpleheart, turns brown in the sun. The mirror? And, I can only guess, since the photo doesn't show the grain as well as the others. It could probably be Maple, or maybe, (slight chance) poplar. Maple, because of it's characteristics, is used on some string instrument necks.Which would make it desirable in this situation. It is a very dense wood. I still say the other wood is Honduras maghogany, with African maghogany a distant second choice.
  26. Thank you so much for your suggestions, very good of you all to take the time. - Catherine
  27. Hi Frank, finally I have a pic of the other side and a closer look at the wood. Regards Catherine
  28. Closer looks at the wood
  29. So the next question is this, the size of the front opening are equal to those black metal plates?.
    So, do you going or itend to work on it and finish the camera?
  30. There should be plenty of fine woodworkers or hardwood supply shops around Durham that can identify the wood species, I think NC has the highest per capita wood workers than any other state :). I'm guessing you want to know the species, so you can match it with a base you will build, to make a working camera? You can argue til the cows come home about wood species on the net, but I'd go to wood forums like wood magazine or fine woodworking for verification, but in person is your best bet.
  31. It's almost certainly maghogany. Most likely from South America because the type from Cuba is now rare and expensive.
    If you study the book, you can probably figure out what parts are missing: Some sort of bed to allow the camera to focus? Ground glass for the back. A lens board.
  32. It really can't be anything but Maghogany. I've seen enough of it, and worked with a lot of it,to know it even on the internet. Got a maghogany banjo neck I've been working on. Have an eight foot board of it to make musical spoons,and bones, now.The wood of the mirror, that one , I still say it is maple. Look at the small "L" shape piece in the lower left hand corner.
  33. Another vote for mahogany as material for the 'camera' body. As for the mirror, I can't really see it that well.
    I wouldn't go so far as to call mahogany a hardwood, though. Regardless of its classification, it's a rather soft wood and easy to work with.
  34. The funny thing about how they classify wood as "Hardwood" or "Soft". They go by the shape of the leaves. So, Balsa is classified as a Hardwood!
    But, as Frank pointed out. Maghogany is easy to work with.
  35. Yeah it's a kind of strange thing, I often thought about it to why they call it for a hardwood. But it could be so that the definition of hardwood begins with Mahogany. Good density so it's float nicely on water.
    That mirror thing had nothing to do with the camera but could been used for a kind of side projection for ex. light or picture. They used to do that a long time ago in the motion picture industry. The created effect could be nice. I can't think of anything else realy.
  36. Softwood versus hardwood is actually do with the seeds of the tree, but more simply generally corresponds to evergreen vs deciduous (shedding leaves in winter). Despite the names it has nothing to do with the hardness of the wood! So that is why balsa is a softwood.
    Jon Grepstad has information about his book at http://home.online.no/~gjon/jgcam.htm , including some figures. At the upper-left there are some links to photos of the camera. The camera is a monorail. Obviously Catherine doesn't have the monorail.
  37. Another part of the camera I've come across is:
  38. Thank you very much for the link to Jon Grepstad book, most informative. I have found some pieces of wood and brass knobs, perhaps meant for the monorail - Catherine
  39. Hi - can anyone tell me how the frame above connects with the camera? Regards Catherine
  40. Hi, I originally thought that this camera (in the making) is for 4x5 format, but seems rather large. It is 18.5 x 18.5 cms on the outside square and 11 x 11cms on the inside square. Can anyone clarify please? Regards
  41. Please note that in October 2015 my webpages on building large format cameras move to: jongrepstad.com
    Jon Grepstad

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