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Thread: Building a darkroom

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Feb 2000

    Building a darkroom

    FINALLY, building a darkroom. Let me rephrase: I gave up on building a darkroom and I am hiring a contractor to build the darkroom. I will do most of the finishing touches. Any good advice from anyone who has been through it recently? It will be primarily a black and white darkroom, although I may be adding colour equipment. I already have a colour enlarger (4x5 De Vere). Any pitfalls, things to avoid, things to remember?

    I also one specific question, so far: a lot of darkroom books have the trays in a long sink. Is the sink necessary for that? Big sinks are expensive and I thought a wipeable counter would be fine. I have been using a temporary counter for ages and I spill very little. Why the sink?

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Dec 1999

    Re: Building a darkroom

    di you see the article in the July issue of View Camera?

    IMHO a sink is a necessity

    steve simmons

  3. #3
    Jim Jones's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Rural NW Missouri, USA

    Re: Building a darkroom

    Few things are necessary in a darkroom. Many things are convenient. I got by several decades in several darkrooms without a sink, and often without running water. With care, a counter like you describe and a floor that also is easily cleaned will certainly work. In a custom darkroom consider wall mounting the enlarger. Properly done this permits huge enlargements. Provide many outlets with ground fault interrupters. Include ventilation.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Feb 2005

    Re: Building a darkroom

    I just had 20x24 trays on a piece of plywood sitting on two sawhorses in a finished garage. Water was from the gardenhose tap. Not the most elegant set-up, but it worked fine for me, and it was cheap, had to be at the time.

  5. #5

    Re: Building a darkroom

    You want a sink, but you don't need a sink large enough to hold all your trays.

    I designed my darkroom to have two smallish sinks, plus a countertop (with a storage shelf below) in between. My usual working arrangement is to leave the sink on the left end entirely free (to allow hand-washing, chemical mixing, implement rinsing, or whatever else I may need on the fly), place the develop/stop/fix trays on the countertop, and place a tray siphon-based wash setup in the second sink on the right-hand end. There's enough room left in the second sink to allow for a holding tray if I'm printing FB, or a tray of toner or Sistan if I'm printing RC. There's also a second faucet on the right-hand sink, so that I can have a source of water there even if the tray siphon is hooked up.

    Install as good a ventilation system as you can.

    You can never have too much countertop space or storage space. Put in as much of both as you can fit into your space.

    Put filters on the water lines and GFI on the electrical outlets.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Feb 2000

    Re: Building a darkroom

    Sorry, I should have said that I am DEFINITELY getting a sink, just not a huge sink that will hold all the trays. It is quite a large sink however, with an Intellifaucet.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Baton Rouge, LA

    Re: Building a darkroom

    Make your whole counter area around the sink into a sink. Put a lip on it and and a drain and fiberglass it. It is cheap and will save a lot of grief if you do spill something.

  8. #8
    Cooke, Heliar, Petzval...yeah
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Re: Building a darkroom

    I built my darkroom in my basement all by myself. It took me four months from putting walls up, till complete finish. The size of my darkroom is 14x11 feet. I have a hand made 3x8 feet wood sink, fridge, freezer, dry side is 14x4 feet table wet size 3x8 feet sink and 3x4 feet table. Three indepensent circuits with 16 plugs, three independent lights circuits - dry side, wet side, and safelights, air purifier, ventilation, heating and cooling.

    Costs - around 7 Grand. I love it because I built it. Everytime I come, I feel my work.
    My friend told me if I would hire a contractor, it wpould costs me twice as much.
    Peter Hruby

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Dec 1997
    Baraboo, Wisconsin

    Re: Building a darkroom

    I wouldn't say a sink is a "necessity" for your trays. I used a utility room as a darkroom for about four years and put the trays on top of the washer and dryer. Nevertheless, a sink big enough to hold your trays (and print washer) is very nice and when I built my last darkroom I had a carpenter make a plywood sink big enough to hold the trays and the washer. It's just a lot neater, easier to do things like clean trays, etc. but certainly not a necessity.

    If you have the sink made instead of buying one you can customize it to fit the available space perfectly and it shouldn't cost very much. I think labor and materials for mine were about $500, $100 or so of which was in the plumbing fixtures. I also had some shelves built underneath the sink for storing trays and other things which saved some space. You can coat the plywood with a variety of waterproof materials, I used a Benjamin Moore product called "Moorelastic" and it was still going strong after six years when we sold the house. If you do build a sink make sure the drain is located in one corner, not the center, and the sink is slightly tilted towards that corner (i.e. don't have the sink exactly level) so that it will drain well.
    Brian Ellis
    Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you do criticize them you'll be
    a mile away and you'll have their shoes.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    nuevo mexico

    Re: Building a darkroom

    A sink is necessary. You definitely want one. I have a 6 foot sink and it is too small, so I am going to build one out of plywood and have it coated with Line-X for about $250.

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