View Full Version : selfmade 8x10" bellow?

3-Jan-2009, 10:19
Hi, I try to collect all kind of information on webpages concerning bellow making,
on glues, leather, and all other ingredients...


3-Jan-2009, 11:19
I've just made a set, and I found JB Harlin's guide extremely helpful-
so much so that I found myself ignoring his exhortations to practice using brown paper...


The geometry turned out not to be a problem-
however, my selection of material did-

I used two layers of bookcloth, with 0.5mm styrene ribs, using spray adhesive-
All the layers individually seemed light enough, however, when laminated up, they're much stiffer than I'd like them to be-

I might give it another go sometime- hopefully it wont take a whole weekend second time around, though I doubt it...

The bookcloth looks good, and is itself light tight, and seems durable-
The material I used is called 'Heritage' from FJ Ratchford in Edinborough-


They're happy to send out samples-

One other thing-
you're going to have to make a 'form' to make the bellows on-
at least I did-
so factor that into the equation-

best of luck-


Glenn Thoreson
4-Jan-2009, 15:18
I just made a cardboard form, the shape and length I wanted the bellows (Kodak 2D). Then, I cut the lining cloth to fit the form with enough overlap to glue it. Fit to the form and glued the seam, then folded over and taped the overage to the inside of the form. Just to hold it taught and still. Then I cut my stiffeners and glued them to the liner cloth. No patttern involved. I just cut them to the size of the pleats I wanted and stuck 'em on there. Next came the outer covering, cut to fit. Sprayed the whole thing with glue and stuck the covering on. Taped the ends, same as the liner. Let it it overnight, then I untaped the big end and worked my way down, folding the pleats as I went. When it was all folded I put a heavy weight on it and let it sit while I went off and did other stuff. Next day, I attached the front and rear frames and put it on the camera. It worked pretty good for a first try, but it does have a problem. I used an old changing bag for the outer skin. The glue would not adhere to it worth a damn. Rubber coated and all that. It works fine and dosn't look too bad to the uninitiated, so it'll stay. No plans, no instructions, no nothing. If I can do it, anyone can. Go for it! :D

Joe Smigiel
4-Jan-2009, 15:32
Here's a page I wrote about making a square bellows (http://my.net-link.net/BA/D5/jsmigiel/bellows.html).


Peter De Smidt
4-Jan-2009, 16:01

As Joseph said, it's very important to get thin and flexible enough material. I made a square 8x10 bellows that looks good, but it's too stiff.

4-Jan-2009, 16:46
I thought I'd found a good material,
and perhaps in conjunction with a thinner inner layer, and thinner ribs, it might be-

Luckily, and with the unrealistic ambition of the absolutely ignorant,
I'd set myself the target of making a double tapered bellows,
or rather, a square joined to a tapered,
and I made the tapered first.

That section was 720mm long,
so it only stretches to around 500mm before it starts pulling itself off the front frame-

I need to find the correct adhesive to glue my fabric to metal.

The rear frame is screwed to the standard, and I assume that the Ansco might have a similar arrangement both ends,
so at least you shouldn't have to deal with that one.

I can use a 210, a single coated Fuji, with movements- but it's a strain-
and in comparison to the pleats on my F-Line, mine are workwear, utility-

I think I'd try smaller ribs, next time ( I used 18mm )
though if you're repeating a pattern, that's one decision less-

I think you shouldn't have too many problems with the Ansco-
especially if you don't need to shoot too wide-


4-Jan-2009, 19:08
I made a tapered bellows for a homemade 8x10 selfcasing camera . I used all the web info I could find in one way or another as a starting point. I did a one-corner folding test with paper to sort out the 3D of it before I started anything. I drafted all the stiffeners in CAD - to get those narrow/wide combinations. I was able to print the stffeners onto manila folder stock on a simple HP letter size printer. I obtained dark cloth from Freestyle for the inner and covered the outside with something I found at the fabric store.

I had a coupla problems
A layout on the darkcloth with a chalk pencil would be very helpful, but I found it too daunting on such a large piece of fabric- there's an 8x20 vertical project on the web wherein that was done, but I didn't see how I could pull it off using the dining room table as the lofting surface. I used rather thin (20lb) letter paper to make overlapping pints of the folding line areas, reduced that to strips etc and stuck those down to the darkcloth, fearing that the extra thickness would bite me later ( but it didn't). That way I could control the major layout dimensions by yardstick and these prints to place the stiffeners. ASIDE- In Cad I numbered each set of stiffeners- there are two sets of two account the narrow/wide geometry and the taper [ 1 to 36 and 101 to 135]- so I could keep them in order. I did a small sample of the actual layering to see if I was in trouble, and went ahead with my plan.

The other problem was that I attached stiffeners to the flat fabric, then had a tough time getting it to form the pyramid frustum, as the points of the stiffeners overlap each other, so the tips want to unglue and the assembly doesn't want to fold YET.
If you can get a coupla more hands to help, probly not a close family member, it should be a little easier.
Pleating was relatively easy, but the glue soaked thru the cover near the closing seam and that is pretty nasty looking, albeit I placed it on the bottom side of the finished bellows. I decided that as this camera is for field use I would accommodate 4x4 lensboards , sufficient for lightweight compact lenses. That made the front of the bellows rather small, which made it more difficult to angle and offset the seams, so I'd suggest a front that is about 6x6, even if yoou contemplate smaller lensboards.

Lastly, I slightly underestimated how much length would be lost to pleats, and if I can face another try I'll do it a little longer longer. I also drew up a rect6angular bellows for a 7x17 box camera project and perhaps that should have been my first try, but I wouldn't have seen the taper problems. I also need areplacement bellows for my 5x7 Conley which has an even smaller front. I still have to finish and connect a few fittings before I try out the 8x10 bellows with a 450 C Fuji to see if length is really insufficient.
Good luck and regards

6-Jan-2009, 15:09
I documented my experience with an 8x10 bellows constructin here (bellows starts around page 5).

It may not be clear in the thread, but I made a 1/3 size 'test' bellows and a full-size 'test' bellows, that I threw together using supplies I obtained locally. The full size test bellows was not perfect, but it was good enough to use (and a year later, I am still using it). I documented a list of supplies needed for a good bellows (but I never got the supplies, as my 'test' bellows seems to be working fine for me).