View Full Version : Print Out Paper Frames - I might make some...

7-Dec-2009, 02:18
Hi all,

Having embarked on a journey with my FKD camera, and using paper negatives, I'm thinking about printing a positive using a printing out frame. I'd like to make a 'proper' one, with a hinged sprung back, felt padding, likely to be of Oak, proper threaded inserts and brass knobs to adjust the spring tension.

But in order to make it worthwhile ordering the stainless steel to make the springs, I'll likely need to make several - not a problem, but I won't need twenty of the things!

First off, is anyone interested in a 10x8" printing out frame? If I can get a rough idea of numbers first, then I can work out the cost of making one.

So, I'm only interested in finding out if this is something that others might be interested in - I certainly won't be taking anyone to task if they change their mind!


Gene McCluney
7-Dec-2009, 13:51
There are a number of contact printing frames already available commercially, and some of them are quite nice.

8-Dec-2009, 01:37
Hi Gene,

Yes, I've been looking around at the commercially available ones, and I'm sure some of them are indeed quite nice. But I'm not after 'quite' nice, I want 'really rather nice' ;)

I'm going to make my own anyway, and I just thought that it's pretty much as easy to make five as to make one, if others were interested.

Over on APUG, several people have provided suggestions and ideas, and some expressions of interest, so armed with that knowledge I've a much better idea of what it is I'm creating. One thing for example, is to make something that is easy to use for those who suffer from problems with manual dexterity.


Vlad Soare
8-Dec-2009, 03:22
I'd be interested in a good contact printing frame if the price were right. I've been contemplating buying one, but was always put off by the high price of commercial models.

However, I'd prefer it a little larger than 8x10". I usually work with 9.5x12" (24x30cm) paper. This paper size is easier to find in Europe than 8x10", and if I were to contact print an 8x10" negative I think I'd find it easier to use an entire sheet of paper (albeit slightly larger than the negative) and cut off the excess later, than to cut each sheet in the darkroom so it fits a smaller frame.
Also, 9.5x12" paper completely covers a sheet of 135/120/4x5" negative sleeves, which makes it perfect for making contact proofs. 8x10" paper is too small for that.

I'd buy a good 9.5x12" contact printing frame if it were reasonably priced. So, if it isn't too difficult for you to make it 9.5x12" rather than 8x10", then count me in. :)

8-Dec-2009, 03:47
Funnily enough Vlad, the comments that I've had so far have all said to make it larger than the obvious sizes - so an 8x10 destined for 4x5 use, an 11x14 for 8x10 and so on.

So, if you needed something for 9.5x12, would an 11x14 be enough for you too?


Vlad Soare
8-Dec-2009, 03:55
Thanks David, 11x14" would be great.

8-Dec-2009, 05:34
OK, I think I have enough expressions of interest to make of these at that size, so I'll create some drawings and work out a costing for them, and let you know in due course.

Thank you,

10-Dec-2009, 13:45
Well, I've made a start on manufacturing a traditional contact printing frame for print-out-papers.

Here you can see one of the stainless steel leaf springs, and the four brass knobs that I turned on the lathe today. The threaded inserts for the wood have arrived, and I'm hoping that I might get an hour or so in the workshop over the weekend to start on the Oak frame.



19-Dec-2009, 10:55
Quick update on the printing frames, as I've now made the outer frame (Oak) on the prototype version, stamped out some new leaf springs from stainless steel and made a leather handle for it. Here's a few images...




Vlad Soare
20-Dec-2009, 23:21
Wow! It looks great.
I can't wait to see it finished. :)

28-Dec-2009, 13:51
Just a quick update on the printing frame, as I've been able to get out into the workshop today for an hour or so. I managed to create the back plates, sand them down and affix the stainless steel leaf springs. I've also cut the replaceable glass (you can remove it and put in a 5x7 glass negative instead. Here it is so far...


It's not quite finished yet - there's still the brass hinges to put on the back plates and glue the felt in place too. Then it's just about done!

Best wishes to you all,

29-Dec-2009, 11:06
That's one nice printing frame. Thank you for sharing.

I've contact printed many paper negatives over the last decade, the majority of my darkroom prints have been made that way. I've found just a sheet of 1/4" thick window glass, oversized, and a sheet of black craft foam under the print, work just fine in the darkroom when using an enlarger as light source for contact printing. For my purposes, having a contact printing frame like what you've built would be overkill; useful perhaps for when using the sun as the lightsource for alternative processes, but unnecessary in the darkroom. I just apply pressure by hand to my oversize sheet of glass, around the edges, during the exposure. And if/when (more like when) the glass develops a scratch or other flaw, it's easy to have another one cut and the edges ground down when its not part of a frame.

I'd also like to mention that at times I contact print paper negatives with a slight black border around the image, on an over-sized piece of print paper. I do this with a thin black paper sheet to mask off the border of the print paper, sandwiched between glass and print paper, and center the paper negative into the window of the mask opening while sandwiched under the glass; I then carefully slide the glass back and forth, or even rotate it, to do final registration adjustments to the position of the paper negative in relation to the paper window opening. The sheet of black craft foam under the sandwich holds the underlying print paper in position.

This technique could not have been performed using a traditional wood-and-glass contact printing frame. I mention this not to be argumentative, but to suggest that there are alternative contact printing methods and techniques which do not lend themselves well to the traditional printing frame approach.

And dang, I wish I had your woodworking skills, that is one nice frame. Peace.


29-Dec-2009, 15:23
Hi Joe,

You are quite right in that it's complete overkill and over-engineered! But that's what I set out to do... I wanted to make one that would last for years and years. It's been great fun, from turning the brass rod to make the knobs, to creating the joints and shaping the wood.

I built it because once I start coating my own glass plates, I'd like to contact print them on to handmade print-out paper (I made some paper this morning as it happens), and I'll be using daylight to do it.

So, whilst you get to create black borders and have a simple system that works very well indeed, I get to make something and be able to check on development via the split back!

By the way, I didn't find your post in the slightest bit argumentative! It's lovely to hear how other photographers / printers go about their work.

Anyway, here's a couple of snaps of the finished product (with the exception of polishing the brass knobs that hold the handle on)...


29-Dec-2009, 15:59
Absolutely gorgeous, David. I can hardly wait to order one!

Vlad Soare
30-Dec-2009, 00:39
I second that. :)

31-Dec-2009, 13:17
I'll start on phase II of print frame building in a couple of weeks time, this time incorporating a few of the improvements that I've learnt from building this one.

In the meantime, I've ordered some Potassium Ferricyanide and Ferric Ammonium Citrate to make some cyanotypes using this frame, and I'm currently just knocking up a Blanchard brush to brush on the chemicals. Here's the handle...


10-Jan-2010, 09:30
Just to finish the story, I thought I'd post an image of the printing frame in use, for real :)