View Full Version : Homemade lens boards?

Craig Allen
30-Mar-2001, 12:11
I just pruchased an older lens and before I buy a new lensboard and have it cust om drilled, I was wondering if anyone has had any luck with making their own len sboards - even something temporary?

I'd like to know if this lens is going to perform up to expectations before I sp end a bunch of money on a lensboard and drilling...

Thanks in advance for all thoughts and comments...

Scott Walton
30-Mar-2001, 13:07
It really depends on the camera. I have had a machinist friend of mine make my Linhof Tech III boards and have no problems.

James E Galvin
30-Mar-2001, 13:10
I made recessed lens boards for my old Calumet. I made them out of 1/8" brass fo r the front frame, thin sheet brass for the sides of the box, and copper clad printed circuit material for the back. I used a coping saw, file, and nibbler to cut the parts, and soldered the whole together. The Calumet has a ridge on the back of the board for a light tra p, I soldered copper wire in place. Then I painted the front white, the back flat black. For a flat board, simply cutting and stacking copper clad up to the required thickness would be easy. Copper clad is great for many constructions: it cuts easily, solders easily, and is strong and light.

Kevin Crisp
30-Mar-2001, 13:17
Finding a decent retired machinist who still tinkers is a wonderful thing. I restore cars and found one that way. I tell him what I need and he makes it. When I bought an Ikeda camera I didn't want to buy another batch of lens boards so I drew him a sketch and they cost about $9 each. You can make your own but the problem is that the stock you buy that is still thin enough for an average non-machinist to cut with shears is a little on the thin side. It does depend on the camera, the Ikeda works well with flat boards, no bevels needed. he can make anything fancy out of metal but the cost goes up. If there are multiples of the same item the cost goes down. If you're local (Southern California) let me know and I'll give you the his name. Getting back to your question, if you're just trying to see if the lens is any good, go to a real hardware store which has some sheet metal stock, cut yourself some stock in a square and gaffers tape it (is that a verb?) on the camera. Ugly is OK as long as the lens in straight in the lens board and the boards is flat in the front standard.

C.W. Dean
30-Mar-2001, 13:17
Temporary quickie lens boards can be made from almost any rigid flat material like cardboard, matt board, foam board, etc. Glue multiple sheets together to get the right thickness. Cut the opening with utility knife, coping saw, or power equipment. You can paint the back black or use black masking tape. Here is a link to some notes on attaching lenses without retainers or flanges:

Kevin Crisp
30-Mar-2001, 13:18
Or, based on the above, you could just hire Jeff!

C. W. Dean
30-Mar-2001, 13:20
Guess the link failed, sorry, try this:


Anthony J. Kohler
30-Mar-2001, 13:42
Craig, I needed some additional boards for my old Zone VI, and didn't feel like paying the stiff tariff for the factory ones. I made mine from thin plexiglass, gluing layers together for stiffness, and glued a layer of model airplane plywood on the front for looks and to lightproof them. I then spraypainted the backsides flat black and they've been in use for years with no problems whatsoever.

The nice part about using plexiglass instead of wood is that without grain, you can make whatever bevels, holes or the like that you need without chipping or cracking. Some people have an odd reaction at the idea of plexiglass lens boards, but they work just fine.

Kevin M Bourque
30-Mar-2001, 14:12
Craig -

I?ve had very good luck making lensboards aout of ?? plywood. I use a table saw to mill the edges down to the right thickness (you usually have to remove about 1/16?).

Follow this link for a picture.

http://www.cs.berkeley.edu/~qtluong/photography/lf/burke- james/restore8x10.html

If you promise not to cut your fingers off, I?ll give you more details. It?s really quite simple.

lyle allan
30-Mar-2001, 14:25
I have made a bunch of temporary lens boards using plywood bought at a local hobby store. It is about 1/8" thick and either 4 or 8 ply (used in modeling). I cut two boards, one the correct size, one just slightly smaller and glue them together. Paint them black, cut the lens hole with a coping saw, and mount the lens ring on the front with really tiny screws. I should note that these temporary boards are still in use, the oldest about 10 years, the newest a couple of months.

David A. Goldfarb
30-Mar-2001, 14:28
I've made them out of masonite, using a Dremel with the router-table attachment, to test out barrel lenses while deciding whether to have them adapted for shutters. It's surprisingly strong stuff. I've had a pretty heavy 360mm/f:4.5 Heliar on a masonite board for quite a while.

Bob Finley
30-Mar-2001, 14:30
One more idea. I have made several boards for a Linhof using an old scrap highway sign of aluminium alloy that can be cut with woodworking tools. The thickness is perfect for Linhof. It takes a little hand filing of the hole size as american hole saws are not quite right but they snap in just like my linhof and wista boards.

Dave Willison
30-Mar-2001, 15:39
As mentioned above, alot depends on the make/model of your camera. Most of my handmade lensboards have been mounted on handmade cameras or older wood field models. I generally use 1/8" plywood in cherry, walnut, birch etc. You can get a sheet of 1/8" ply from Woodcraft or Rockler along with a nice selection of other woods, tools. etc. The thin plywood is fairly flat and rigid, especially when cut in small sizes (e.g., 4x4, 6x6). It can be sanded and stained/sealed to improve stability. Normally I cut the plywood using an exacto knife which is far more exact and safer than my table saw. The edges of the board are normally beveled with a belt sander to insure a proper fit to the camera. You can also accomplish this with a file. I use either a drill press or a power drill to place a hole in the center of the board. For this purpose I use a variety of forstner bits. You might also use hole saw bits, all availbe at the average Home Depot. Hope this helps.


Bob Salomon
30-Mar-2001, 16:44
Have you looked at the back of a Linhof lensboard? That ring is a light trap.

How did you take care of the light trap?

Craig Allen
30-Mar-2001, 17:17
Thanks to all - so far...Sorry, I neglected to mention I have a Toyo Field. With the suggestions and ideas above, sounds like I can avoid the steep retail price.

Thanks again.


Bob Finley
31-Mar-2001, 12:17
Bob - Sorry I didn't go into more detail about my cheap aluminium boards but I have made two such boards for my IV and four for an old III. The boards for the three had no light trap and I never had a light leak but these do not have the ring light trap of the IV. For the IV I was worried about the light trap ring on board but also found no leaks when used without one. Even so on one of the boards I used Jim's method of copper wire but I epoxied it in place instead of soldering before painting. As I said I have had no leaks on the boards but I will admit that I use factory boards on my four most used lenses as I feel more comfortable with them. Craig's question was for quick-cheap-temporary.