View Full Version : Advise on Arranging Small Darkroom Equipments

11-May-2011, 18:10
Thanks in advance.
Will transfer soon to another home that include a small darkroom supplied with water, big sink(70") and 16" fan only. I was using a spare bathroom and tents for daylight processing film/paper up to 11"X14" only.
Map of the darkroom is attached.
It is too small and found it hard to pre-arrange my darkroom equipments in safe way. Appreciate any contribution.
Largest sizes equipments that will be arranged in the darkroom are:
Enlarger with base board 28",
Processor sized 21" width,
Trays 20"X24",
Drums, bigger one can process up to 24" print plus base roller,
Cutter with length 28",
Drying cabinet width 20".
My questions specifically are:
1- What's the proper counter/table height(from the floor) and width(front/back) ?.
I'm 65 Inch and prefer to work setting on small chair with wheels. My previous counter height was 18" to 25" only and was happy with that. The sink that already installed in the darkroom is 35" from the floor and I feel better if it is lower than that.
2- Any problem could be arisen later if the counter height is low(say 22") ?.
I know enlarger and washing sink should be operated at a higher counter level. But thinking of other tasks(tray processing and processor machine) if could be operated at low counter height.
3- Where to put permanently the dry counter(and its equipments) to be in safe from the wet counter ?
The room is only 66" wide, and the standard counter here is 24" wide. Two counters(one on each side of the room) will be 48". The remaining space along the room for me to move in is only 18".
4- Any idea, suggestion or advise will be highly appreciated,
Thanks so much.

MIke Sherck
11-May-2011, 18:25
Heck, your darkroom is considerably larger than mine. Make paper cut-outs of your equipment to the same scale as your drawing so you can arrange and re-arrange until you get something that works for you. If standard counters are too wide, make your own: it's a trivial job. My work tables are 18" wide, which on the dry side is room for a Beseler 45 enlarger and on the wet side, holds 11x14 trays easily. If I want 16x20 I use a tray ladder to hold them staggered vertically. The center aisle is 30" wide, which is close but workable. One key is that not everything needs to be on a table-top in the darkroom, ready for action. Most of my film, for example, is stored in cabinets outside the darkroom; I bring it into the darkroom when I need to load film holders. The drying cabinet doesn't need to be in the darkroom at all. Similarly, the paper cutter is outside the darkroom; when I need it I bring it in, cut what I need and put that into the safe, then take the cutter out again. Inefficient? Yes, but you have to work creatively with the space (and budget!) that you have.


Bill Burk
11-May-2011, 18:29
My sink is 41" from the floor and I am 69". I made it that way on purpose for standing. Looks like you'll be doing that.

11-May-2011, 19:34
When I built my darkroom at my parents house, I custom built the counter to the height I felt comfortable using, to heck with a "standard" counter height.

I second Mike's comment. In a limited space darkroom, not everything has to be IN the darkroom. Similarly not everything has to be out and available at all times.

Nathan Potter
11-May-2011, 20:24
The best thing I ever did in my last (current) darkroom was make all the furniture removable for when I move again. Two sink units connect to the hot and cold water supplies using washing machine flexible hose. Two enlarger units are stand alone. 2 X 4 foot light table is stand alone. 2 X 4 foot deep sink and combination exhaust and laminar flow hood has built in light table for film inspection and drying and is also stand alone. Room size is 8 X 12 feet. Work surfaces are at my most convenient working heights.

Two stand alone 3M hepa filters run continuously in the room and incoming conditioned air (heating or cooling) is coarse filtered (prefilters in duct feed).

An incoming water line is filtered in 10 um, 1 um and final .22 um (optional) sequence as needed.

Cooling water is obtained using a Peltier cooler (1000 watt), and heating is done using dual 1500 watt hot water heater elements in inline configurations. All water flow control is by bellows precision valves (Whitey among other mfgs.)

Particle monitor check in the laminar flow hood shows better than class 10 environment, perfect for zero defect film drying. The general darkroom area runs around class 100 if I wear tyvec labcoat and booties and a hair net and let things stabilize for a few minutes after entering.

Most important thing for cleanliness is zero clutter - keep all stuff enclosed so it is easy to periodically wipe down the walls and furniture.

Well I once got pissed off at the dust so I kinda went to extremes but never have regretted it. Some things to think about though, depending upon how critical you choose to be.

Nate Potter, Austin TX.