View Full Version : Making Lensboards

9-Jan-2010, 13:01
Hi All

I've researched many posts on here and elsewhere about making lens boards, and I'm wondering if there is anyone out there generous enough to share vector drawings that we can use to get lens boards laser-cut? This would be so helpful and make it a lot cheaper for many of us... they could be used in CAD, Illustrator or other programs.

I'm looking for all/any copal dimensions of lens boards for a Linhof Technika 4 x 5, Horseman Woodman 45, and a Cambo 8 x 10.

Can anyone help?


Gem Singer
9-Jan-2010, 13:09

Look under lens mounting.

Bob Salomon
9-Jan-2010, 14:34
A Tecnika IV and later or III and earlier. You do realize that a current Technika board has a few cut outs, besides the hole for the shutter, some precision milled bearing surfaces for tight fit and a raised circle on the back that is part of the light trap don't you? It is not just a metal rectangle with a hole in it. So making one yourself that performs properly would not be that cheap compared to a used board.

Or are you just askling what size hole is needed for modern Copal shutters? That is on the lens brochures from the Rodenstock factory or you could check with the Copal distributor in the USA (RTS) or you could just ask most large format camera dealers or repair shops.

10-Jan-2010, 03:48
Gem has the simple answer.

Bob Salomon
10-Jan-2010, 03:58
Gem has the simple answer.

Where? The OP's question can be interpreted two ways as is written.

Does he want to mount a lens to a lens board and needs to know how large a hole to bore?


Does he want to make the board itself?

The link to Grimes answers the first interpretation but not the second.

Paul Ewins
10-Jan-2010, 05:08
The Cambo boards also have a light trap on the back, although it is recessed not raised so it could be milled if you wanted to make your own. They are cheap enough second hand that I wouldn't even consider making my own though. Wooden boards are a different story and most of my 9x9 boards are made from MDF. I guess if I had access to a CNC mill and a laser cutter then it might be a more attractive prospect, but if I had to pay someone else I can't see how it could be done cheaply enough.

Steven Tribe
10-Jan-2010, 09:31
The various profiling on the back of (for example, sinar and cambo) metal lens is, as Bob and other say, only there to act as part of the light trap. In terms of constructional strength - any reasonably rigid piece of aluminium will do. A light trap can be easily made by glueing continous black felt on the back of the new lens board where needed. Choosing the felt thickness also allows some leeway in the metal thickness of the board. Cutting a piece of aluminium into squares is a lot easier than tackling the hole. I did this for late graflex boards years ago. I do the same for sinar and cambo with sizes much larger than 3 where I have problems otherwise with the recessed trademarks on the front of standard ex-factory boards with mounting flanges.

Eric Woodbury
10-Jan-2010, 12:54
I can't imagine that laser cutting is cheaper than plain milling with a circle cutter. Years ago I had a machinist cut a stack of boards for me. It was 10 or 12 boards, cut to size with the center marked and deburred. Cost me $30 for the stack. Now, when I need a board, I grab one off the stack and drill the hole with a circle cutter that fits in a drill press. The cutter is made for wood, but if I take it very slow and make sure it is sharp, it works fine. I paint them black. Never had a leak.

I have a photographer friend that worked with a very tight budget. He made his lensboards from mat board. They work fine. There are lots of solutions.

10-Jan-2010, 18:27
Hi Everyone

Thanks for all these replies, they are helpful. I actually made my own lens board for the Horseman 4 x 5 today and it works perfectly. I do realize that the Technika has the little notches etc, and thats why I just went for a simple solution today. I have access to cheap laser cutting if I can drawings then I only pay for machining, that was my main reason for asking. There are loads on ebay but I'm trying to cut costs and have many old lenses that I want to adapt the hole to.

Thanks again,


10-Jan-2010, 18:32

I also wanted to mention that because I have easy access to both CNC and laser cutting it means if I can just hand the technician the drawings they'll be cut in a few minutes... and I only pay for the material...

I thought it'd be easy to get vector drawings of any of these lens boards, no matter what copal size.


11-Jan-2010, 19:04
I have made several Cambo 6x6 lensboards, using a CNC mill and working from the "apparent" measurements of two or three factory boards. I say "apparent" because the boards are aluminum die castings, and not very precise; perhaps mine came from different production lots.

The bad news is that the thickness is not a standard stock dimension; if memory serves, it is about 0.135 inches, so 1/8 stock is too thin.

Mostly as an exercise, I milled down quarter-inch plate, but it takes a series of cuts from opposite sides or it will usually warp due to unbalancing of the internal stress.

The good news is that the thickness only matters at the top and bottom where the latches are located, and the presence of the light trap makes the tolerances fairly forgiving. So I also made a couple from stock 3/16 inch aluminum, using the proper perimeter contour and light trap groove, but only finishing top and bottom edges where the latches are located.

The piece de resistance was one board that I made to mount a huge retaining ring (Studio shutter for a big Verito) where the screw holes would interfere with the light trap. The lensboard is 3/8 inch thick except in the latch areas, and is mostly hole--the lens just makes it through the front standard opening on an 8x10 Legend.

I might still have a drawing file, but unless you want to do something exotic, I'd recommend just keeping an eye out for factory originals---they aren't that expensive or rare.

(If you want to recreate the files, bear in mind that the Cambo is metric, so you will be attempting to deduce the "nominal" dimensions from the results of a low-precision die casting operation.)

4-Mar-2010, 12:24

I also wanted to mention that because I have easy access to both CNC and laser cutting it means if I can just hand the technician the drawings they'll be cut in a few minutes... and I only pay for the material...

I thought it'd be easy to get vector drawings of any of these lens boards, no matter what copal size.


Just the thread I was looking for - I, too, thought that someone would have a simple CAD drawing. I have access to a laser cutter at work and it would be soooo easy and take 5 mins.

well, I'm would still be very interested in a drawing if anyone has one...? technika board, copal 1 especially.


4-Mar-2010, 12:42
While Bob Salomon is right about Linhof boards I've used two simple home-made boards on my Wista for over 20 years with no issues, how well these would work on a Linhof though I'm not sure.