View Full Version : Split darkslide - how to make one?

Jeff Bannow
20-Aug-2013, 09:43
I'm about to make a split darkslide for 4x5. Anyone have advice on how to go about cutting / what size the split side should be, etc?

I already have the donor darkslide ready to go, and access to a full workshop.

Jim Noel
20-Aug-2013, 10:41
I cut mine on a bandsaw with a fine tooth blade.

20-Aug-2013, 11:05
Jeff, would you please explain why you are doing this? I am curious.


Jeff Bannow
20-Aug-2013, 11:15
Allows you to get 2 2"x5" images on one sheet of film.

Something like this: 100573

Jeff Bannow
20-Aug-2013, 11:17
I'm guessing 1 7/8" would be good for the opening?

20-Aug-2013, 11:20

OK, thanks. But since a dark slide by design does not touch the film will there not be light bleeding from one image area to the other? In other words, the edge you create will not be as sharp and clean as the other three sides.

Jeff Bannow
20-Aug-2013, 11:26
Because all of the light is coming basically straight towards the darkslide, there really isn't any bleed over. Also, usually you cut the darkslide a bit large so that a gap is created between the 2 images.

Jeff Bannow
20-Aug-2013, 11:26
I've used one in the past with great success, but don't have one that fits my current darkslides (Toyos).

20-Aug-2013, 11:40
I have made a few -- but not tiny 4x5 ones.

They work great. I would find the center line of the darkslide, then measure over an 1/8 inch or so (should give to a 1/4" separation between images. Find some stiff thin cardboard to make a mock-up if you only have one darkslide to work with.

Drawing of my measurements for an 8x10. Note rounded corners to make insertion easier.

Jeff Bannow
20-Aug-2013, 11:43
Vaughn, what did you use to cut the darkslide?

20-Aug-2013, 13:03
If you are worried about using a jigsaw or band saw, you could just keep scribing the chosen line with a straight edge and a utility knife until it eventually cuts through.

20-Aug-2013, 13:16
I've done this with a metal ruler as a straight edge and a fresh X-acto blade. It does take a few passes with the knife, but the cuts were accurate and clean.


20-Aug-2013, 14:57
Vaughn, what did you use to cut the darkslide?

With the soft ones I use a utility knife and a straight edge -- multiple passes. Sand paper to finish it off and to round corners. I prefer metal slides -- made using a jeweler's saw (coping saw with a fine blade), and a file to finish it. I have never seen a metal darkslide for 4x5, though. The metal ones last longer in the field and can be hammered flat if damaged.

Once cut, I blacked half of the white strip on the handle -- the blacked out portion signifying the part that was cut off.

Tim Meisburger
20-Aug-2013, 16:29
I've done it as well using a knife and patience, but as an alternative let me suggest a method cheaper and easier and more versatile than cutting a darkslide. Take the back off your camera and cut a piece of black foamcore of the right width to fit inside up close to the ground glass. This will block the light from half the film sheet, and because it blocks the ground glass it makes composition easy. When ready for the next shot just pop off the back and shift he foamcore to the other side. Using this method you can do the landscape 2 x 5 of a split darkslide, but can also make a 2 x 2.5 insert (I carry one in my bag in case I'm ever in a situation where I am running out of film and want to shoot two images on each sheet to extend my supply). You can also make an insert with a quarter removed that allows you to get four different images on each sheet (this can be useful for speed testing as you can get four different exposures on one sheet).

Cheers, Tim

David A. Goldfarb
21-Aug-2013, 05:47
I've done it for 8x10" with an X-Acto knife and a straightedge, sanding the edge smooth afterward as described above.

21-Aug-2013, 10:08
I agree with Tim's suggestion. I made a couple of cut slides for my Deardorff before realizing the back had slots where cardboard could be inserted to accomplish the same effect with way less trouble. One downside of the cut slide method is that the holders of different brands will have slightly different measurements and you're cut slide may not work with all of your holders.