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Thread: DIY Dark Slides, some thoughts and a question

  1. #1

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    DIY Dark Slides, some thoughts and a question

    I'm in the midst of starting to make some 14x17 film holders. I thought I'd be doing this a couple of years ago, but stuff got in the way. But back in 2017-18, I did a lot of searching for materials and others' experience, and I've now gone through the same process.

    For dark slides (and septums in double-sided holders) folks have used and recommended metal (steel, spring steel, aluminum; even titanium [though that may have been a joke]), plastics (styrene, acetal [Delrin], and others), and even thin plywood. The one I considered most strongly back a couple of years ago was XX Garolite. After lots of thought and research, that's where I am again.

    I have made 4x5 and rollfilm holder dark slides from thin steel and they worked fine. That's my only experience. But I've worked with both steel and aluminum for plenty of other projects, and find them unacceptable. Steel is heavy and expensive. Aluminum is soft and expensive. Styrene is inexpensive but weak in larger sizes. Acetal is, again, expensive. In fact, expense is the primary reason I came back to most favoring the Garolite. But it is also lightweight, of good rigidity, workable with the tools I have, available in a variety of sizes and thicknesses, AND it sure seems to be what the dark slides in some of my old holders are made of.

    However, in more than one place, I've read that it is not always opaque. Obviously, this is bad. But here's my question: would it not be a simple solution to just spray paint it?

    There's no way I could attempt this project without doing my best to limit the spending involved. I just had a discussion with my wife about just how much I already spend on my hobbies, even though some of them actually bring in some funds. I stopped her by suggesting I could take an interest in bass boats, or a Harley. Still, the low price of Garolite makes it a really attractive option, and I'm not seeing an issue with guaranteeing opacity through a rattle-can of black paint. In fact, if I choose to do this, I can buy the less expensive brown stuff. Though maybe I should, anyway? (I guess that's another question.)

  2. #2
    Jim Jones's Avatar
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    Re: DIY Dark Slides, some thoughts and a question

    I wouldn't trust paint to adhere well enough when subjected to dark slide use. Also, applying it in uniform coats may be difficult for non-professionals. Perhaps an expert on today's paints will give us authoritative information.

  3. #3
    Jac@stafford.net's Avatar
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    Re: DIY Dark Slides, some thoughts and a question

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Jones View Post
    I wouldn't trust paint to adhere well enough when subjected to dark slide use.
    I question the need for painted dark slides. I use plain steel on my medium formats with no problems.

  4. #4

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    Re: DIY Dark Slides, some thoughts and a question

    Thanks for the thoughts.

    The only reason I'd want to paint them is because some folks have reported the Garolite is not entirely opaque. I'd just as soon not do it. However, I've done lots of painting, professional even. That it won't adhere adequately is my concern as well. Rats!

    I guess I'm hoping someone will chime in with their own experiences with Garolite working just fine for them. Is there a similar but better choice?

  5. #5

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    Re: DIY Dark Slides, some thoughts and a question

    I've never had a problem with the 1/32" XX-grade Garolite from McMaster Carr, but I haven't made any holders since 2013.

  6. #6

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    Re: DIY Dark Slides, some thoughts and a question

    Hmm.... I guess the thing to do is to order a small piece to check it out for myself. It would stink to order the amount I need for my project***, only to find that it is not absolutely opaque. On the other hand, what if I order the small bit, find it opaque, then order the big stuff, only to find it is not. I guess this is all part of the fun?




    ***Enough to make several 14x17 dark slides, since I plan on making three (I think)

  7. #7

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    Re: DIY Dark Slides, some thoughts and a question

    There are different kinds of Garolite. In another thread where DIY dark slides were discussed, I suggested using black FR4, also known as G10 or Garolite G10. This is a fiberglass reinforced epoxy that is used for better quality printed circuit boards, and is stronger than the phenolic XX stuff. The natural color of FR4 is a sort of translucent yellow green, but you can get it in dyed black. It's not really very expensive, unfortunately I don't think McMaster-Carr sells it in 1/32" thickness, but I think some other plastics suppliers do.

  8. #8

    Re: DIY Dark Slides, some thoughts and a question

    I have some old dryplate holders and the dark slides all self destructed. A friend 3-D printed replacements for me using solid fill PLA. They were not completely opaque, but three coats of a matte black paint spray solved that problem.

    Peter.

  9. #9

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    Re: DIY Dark Slides, some thoughts and a question

    For a dark slide that big I would use 1/16" thick material and since I was the one who originally reported a problem with the XX version of Garolite I would consider using the FR4 version that reddesert mentions.

  10. #10

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    Re: DIY Dark Slides, some thoughts and a question

    How would getting and painting 3d printed slides and then painting them be any different from getting Garolite and painting it? Jim Jones wrote in comment #2 that the paint might have adherence issues, and I think he might be right. Would FR4 (about which I know nothing) be different?

    I went and bought the wood for making the camera and film holders, and they had a large scrap 1/32 plywood that I bought. It's enough to make three dark slides. Do folks think that would work? The thing is, I made a telescope tube that I covered with a skin of 1.5mm (a little less than 1/16th-inch) flexible plywood, and the skin was not opaque until I coated the inside with crushed walnut shell and flat black paint. So I'd probably need to paint the plywood, too. (Since it's a different kind of plywood, I'll check to make sure.)

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