View Full Version : Cutting film

7-Nov-2009, 18:31
Where do you guys cut the film? In darkroom or in a dark tent?
I was thinking about buying a rotatrim, but 24" won't fit in my dark tent.

Clarence Rhymer
7-Nov-2009, 20:59

I always cut in my darkroom. I seem to need a lot of room to work around the cutter, and also to set things close at hand in an specific layout, so I can find them in the dark. I use a Dahle 552, because that is what I happen to have, but have also used a knife type when I had access to one. I can't image working in a dark tent. I am sure others do with no problems.


Oren Grad
7-Nov-2009, 22:25
In the darkroom, for sure. Rotary cutter only now - originally I tried a guillotine cutter, but the film had a tendency to slip to the side and come out with a skewed cut.

I've lugged my big Rotatrim into the darkroom, but I've also picked up a much smaller rotary cutter, intended for general office use, that I'll be using instead when I need to cut small sizes.

7-Nov-2009, 23:40
Definitely the darkroom. I have my rotary trimmer clamped to a base with some home made guides.
I use a pair of IR goggles to help line everything up.
It makes it so much easier especially when a sheet or aerial film gets away from you.

8-Nov-2009, 08:24
Thanks everyone, I will go ahead and order a 24" rotatrim instead of 18". And maybe a pair of IR goggles.

8-Nov-2009, 14:49
A couple of questions about dust:

Is it inevitable?
What tips are there to minimize it?

I'm thinking of using a Rotatrim to cut 8x10 to 5x7 for emulsions that are no longer available in 5x7.


Oren Grad
8-Nov-2009, 17:07
What tips are there to minimize it?

Things to consider:

* Keep the room at a reasonable humidity to minimize static electricity.

* Do the cutting on an open workbench with good clearance all around, and wipe down the work surface and the cutter with a damp cloth before the cutting session. Of course, make sure everything is dry before you proceed.

* If necessary, wipe the outer surfaces of the boxes you'll be taking film from, and storing it in, to make sure they're clean and won't deposit dust in your work area when you handle them in the dark. If you'll be storing freshly cut film in a different box, blow out the inside of the box before you put any film in it.

* Wear a face mask and/or shower cap. Make sure hands are clean and dry.

* Plan your workflow to minimize handling of the film and the time it spends exposed to the environment - consider the placement of the "source" and "sink" boxes for your film, your cutting sequences if multiple cuts are needed and the notching punch if that's needed, and the use of cutting guides to make placing the film on the cutter quick and sure. If necessary, practice in the light with photocopy paper or some other cheap substitute to see what works most smoothly for you.

8-Nov-2009, 17:33
Thanks Oren, all good ideas.

Living on the bank of a river about 400' from the ocean, dry air/static is the one thing that I don't have to worry about :)

ronald moravec
10-Nov-2009, 14:16
I got some off brand 4x5 from a dodgy source once and it was a hair too wide to fit in a holder.

Used my Rota Trim to shave around .005 " the long end. Did it to a whole box.

Tape a matt board stop to the top unless you can ead in the dark.

Careful sliding the film under the plastic edge guide. I would lift the guide.

Protect from dust and work emulsion up.

10-Nov-2009, 18:07
I have done this quite a bit, as I got quite a lot of 8X10 film around 2000/2001 from a studio that was closing up, and I only shoot 4X5. So, using a Rotatrim, and taking most of the precautions Oren mentioned, I cut, and then shot several hundred sheets.
I found that my technique improved towards the end of my run of the 8X10.
I did have the occasional bit of dust, but not too much. As the film was so cheap, I was able to shoot some extras, if it was an important subject.

Larry Gebhardt
10-Nov-2009, 18:34
I used the rototrim stop for the long side, and made a matboard spacer for the short side that I put against the built in stop. That way I could cut both sides in the dark easily. Instead of notches I rounded the upper right corner with a scrap-booking "corner rounder" my wife had. Snipping the corner with scissors would work well too.