Archive for May, 2008

The skeleton

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

As I mentioned, I have most of the wood parts cut, and when I stack them up just right, they start to look like a camera. Some of it is awaiting joinery, which takes the most time and setup, and I will have to sand everything down before I can assemble it, but I think the bulk of the wood skeleton is done.

One thing I found, while stacking the pieces in order, is that one piece that is supposed to support the rear standard came out short. I think I cut it to the front standard length instead of the rear, Do’oh! I’ll have to back track and figure out what went wrong on that one.

The base has six cross supports, all mortised and tenoned to the base rails for extra strength yet still being light weight. The front standard rail has one 3″ support and one 1″ support. The rear standard rail only has one 3″ support that won’t be mortised in; I will use some screws and glue to bolster this joint, but I think there is enough surface area to make it strong.

The rear standard needs to be joined with a box joint, tongue routed into it, and a longer base cut. After that I will need to build the film holder back. The back will likely be an exercise in precision design, like the holders themselves. I haven’t found any great inspiration for it yet, but I think I have some good ideas, and will flush them out on paper.

I’m confident about my progress and design, though. The complex design is doable in the medium term, even if I couldn’t finish it in a semester. Plus, I think I will be very happy I spent the extra time to include all the camera movements once I start using it. The camera will be so heavy, that I won’t have the option of making slight adjustments without swing, tilt , and rise. Without these, I imagine I would be well in to the glue up phase and working on the bellows.

My access to the shop is over for now, until the fall, so I will probably start in on some of the non fabricated parts, like the belows, and start to sand (and possibly glue up) the pieces I have ready. When I started this, I knew it would take me a while, but this is turning into a major engineering project. I couldn’t settle for a fast, box camera, I guess.

Building parts

Sunday, May 11th, 2008

I haven’t posted for quite a while, due to vacation (a working spring break), a cold (shop can’t be used while coughing, and sneezing), and a new baby (my first, and he is cute)! I have been slowly chugging along on the ULF, though. I also figured that posting more pictures of milled wood, wouldn’t be all that useful to anyone, until they started to look like parts. I have pieces cut for just about everything made of wood now, except for the lens mounting plate, and mounting base for the lens, and the back for the rear standard. The rear standard box, base and rails, standard pivot, sliding bases, and front standard rise/fall base are all cut to dimension and awaiting joinery.

I pretty much finished the parts for the base of the camera, and even have the Aluminum slides for the base rails. I have the slippery Rulon tape, and mounting screws (both from for it now too.  All that is needed for the base before I can assemble it, is a 1/8 inch slot for the Al rails.

The Al slides where originally cut out to be the posts of the front standard, but I have realized that 1/8″ Al just wouldn’t be able to support that large lens I have, and the standard itself, so I ordered 1/4″ Al bar, which seems it will be up to the task. This little setback didn’t prove to be too troubling (though, I had to shell out a little more money for the beefed up Aluminum), since I planned on using he same dimensions for the slides. I cut them out for the front standard, but I am using them for the base slides. No big deal.


I have also built the front standard “U” shaped support, and cut out the joint for it, a double mortise and tenon, which took a while to get right. The fit isn’t as perfect as I had wanted, but I think once I add the glue, it will seal up nice and tight.


The joints are the most difficult part of the build, so I am trying to get those done first. The saws in the shop have become pretty heavily used, so there is a lot more to set-ups than just measuring. Getting everything to 90 degrees is critical and often takes more time than the cut.

I’ll post pics and more drawings next.

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