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Thread: Pricing Aluminum Plates and Sheets

  1. #1
    Unwitting Thread Killer Ari's Avatar
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    Pricing Aluminum Plates and Sheets

    For those who use, or intend to use, aluminum for their wet plate work.

    Options here in Canada are expensive and limited. Even with expensive USPS shipping to Canada, sheet metal goods are a bargain if bought from a US supplier.

    For wet plate work, the two that stand out are Lund Photographics and Main Trophy Supply. I've so far priced 4x5 plates in black aluminum.
    Lund has the best cost-per-plate. For 100 4x5 plates, plus shipping, Lund has a slight edge, before (and after) shipping kicks in.
    What's interesting about Main Trophy is that you can buy 12x24 sheets and they now sell plate shears, so you can cut your own plates anytime and in any size you want. More economical long-term, probably.

    Looking further, 12-inch shears at metalwork suppliers are under $200, (about half the cost of Main Trophy's shears). For the long haul, if wet plate finally sticks with me, I may get shears and buy aluminum in larger sheets.
    I know Garrett once mentioned he did this, but I'm unsure what cutting tool he used. I found these (in Canadian pesos): https://www.busybeetools.com/product...cx-series.html
    It's also possible to use a circular saw with a blade for aluminum, but I've only seen it, not tried it.

    What do you guys do - or what do you plan on doing - for aluminum plates?

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    Re: Pricing Aluminum Plates and Sheets

    I use old paper cutters. They have a long arm made of cast metal, and a wooden base. Look for them at thrift stores and used office supply stores.

  3. #3

    Re: Pricing Aluminum Plates and Sheets

    I rarely use aluminum trophy plate anymore, preferring to make Ambrotypes or negatives. However, the last time I bought trophy plate, I got it direct from Main Trophy Supply - they were the least expensive option I found (I'm surprised Lund pre-cut plates are comparable - are you sure??)

    For cutting plates down to smaller sizes, I bought an old school guillotine style paper cutter. (like this one) Its perfectly suited to cutting aluminum plates. I know several people who use one of these. Mine cost $35 on fleabay.

  4. #4
    Unwitting Thread Killer Ari's Avatar
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    Re: Pricing Aluminum Plates and Sheets

    Thanks again, Paul and Garrett.

    Paul, I priced 4x5 plates only. Larger sizes may be differently priced.

    These are both 0.250 thick

    Main Trophy - 108 4x5 plates, $80.68 or $0.747/sheet
    Lund Photo - 100 4x5 plates, $69.32 or $0.693/sheet

    Not a huge difference, a nickel per sheet, but it's there nonetheless.

    Main would be less expensive if you buy 12x24 sheets and cut them yourself.
    The Main price above includes $37.88 in cutting charges.

  5. #5

    Re: Pricing Aluminum Plates and Sheets

    I've been using Main Trophy for about 8 years. At first I had them cut the plates to size - 8x10, 5x7, 4x5, etc. After a while I started cutting my own using an old school Ingento paper cutter. Check your local Craigslist. Also, the aluminum plates are super easy to score with a utility knife and just snap. Very clean cuts. I've been using the .020 and .025 plates. I like the thicker for 8x10 and larger. Main Trophy's 12x24 sheets and cutting on your own are the most cost effective way to get your plates.

    Marc

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    Unwitting Thread Killer Ari's Avatar
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    Re: Pricing Aluminum Plates and Sheets

    Marc, I think that's the way I'm gonna go eventually.
    I ordered 100 4x5 plates from Lund, they'll serve as my learning plates.
    If I get reasonably proficient after 100 plates, I'll start ordering in bulk.

  7. #7
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    Re: Pricing Aluminum Plates and Sheets

    Quote Originally Posted by Ari View Post
    Marc, I think that's the way I'm gonna go eventually.
    I ordered 100 4x5 plates from Lund, they'll serve as my learning plates.
    If I get reasonably proficient after 100 plates, I'll start ordering in bulk.

    It took me about 40 to begin getting some consistency. I think you'll be fine.


    Kent in SD
    Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris,
    miserere nobis.

  8. #8

    Re: Pricing Aluminum Plates and Sheets

    Quote Originally Posted by Ari View Post
    Marc, I think that's the way I'm gonna go eventually.
    I ordered 100 4x5 plates from Lund, they'll serve as my learning plates.
    If I get reasonably proficient after 100 plates, I'll start ordering in bulk.
    About the trophy plate Lund sells: If they still ship the aluminum plate with the white backing, then you need to know something about using that specific material for making tintype. If you leave the developer on the plates longer than the minimum required, you will discover pale streaks going in one direction across (or up and down) the plate. For traditional home made developers, that would be about 20 seconds at the very most, and for the B&S developer, limit it to 30-40 seconds, max. It seems there is an interaction between the type of enamel used on those plates and the developer/collodion which can form unwanted marks in the collodion if the developer stays on the plate longer than the minimum necessary. Some of my early plates from 2017 have those marks on them. Its an issue that is easy to avoid, as long as you know how.

    PS: the trophy plate that Lund sells is a better black than what Main Trophy sells for making tintypes. Its a subtle difference, but clearly visible when viewing the two kinds side by side.

  9. #9
    Unwitting Thread Killer Ari's Avatar
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    Re: Pricing Aluminum Plates and Sheets

    Thanks, Kent.
    Paul, thanks for letting us know.
    As you've said elsewhere, sticking to a 15-second development time will help with technique and troubleshooting problems, and now we know it will help prevent streaking on white enamel-backed plates.

    Found a nice 18-inch paper trimmer today on CL for only $25. Much less expensive than the hardware store or Main Trophy cutter.
    You guys saved me a lot of money, thanks.

  10. #10

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    Re: Pricing Aluminum Plates and Sheets

    Quote Originally Posted by paulbarden View Post
    About the trophy plate Lund sells: If they still ship the aluminum plate with the white backing, then you need to know something about using that specific material for making tintype. If you leave the developer on the plates longer than the minimum required, you will discover pale streaks going in one direction across (or up and down) the plate. For traditional home made developers, that would be about 20 seconds at the very most, and for the B&S developer, limit it to 30-40 seconds, max. It seems there is an interaction between the type of enamel used on those plates and the developer/collodion which can form unwanted marks in the collodion if the developer stays on the plate longer than the minimum necessary. Some of my early plates from 2017 have those marks on them. Its an issue that is easy to avoid, as long as you know how.
    I don't think that is it. The glue from the plastic coating was leaving a residue that created patterns that were more obvious when plates were over developed. It was an easy fix to just wipe the plate with alcohol before pouring the collodion. It happens to both Lund and Main plates. For me maybe 1 out of every 25-30 plates have this problem.

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