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Tenative Darkroom Plans

Adam Klaum , Oct 01, 2004; 05:18 p.m.

Hello all, I am planning to build a darkroom in my basement in the near future and have drawn up some plans to use for the space available. I have posted the plans on my website here:

Darkroom Plans

I have never built or really used a darkroom before so if anyone can take a look at these plans and let me know if they see any fatal flaws I would greatly appreciate it. Any suggestions are welcome. Adam

tenative darkroom plans


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Tom Wadsworth , Oct 01, 2004; 05:37 p.m.


I think your plans look pretty good, however one comment. When I'm washing prints (RC mostly) at the end of the sink, I like to continually remove them as I'm working and hang them above the sink. In your plan you would have to exit the area into the work room. The reason I remove the prints as I'm working is that the edges of the RC paper will absorp water after being left too long in the wash.


M P , Oct 01, 2004; 05:46 p.m.

What's the advantage of having the door between the workroom and darkroom? I would probably just put it all in one room, and switch places with print drying rack and dry mount press. Or, I guess you could frame it in to have some separation, but just not put a door on.

Ronald Moravec , Oct 01, 2004; 06:08 p.m.

You are luckey. Many would kill for a set up like this. Mine is similar two room affair, but built at different times as space became available.

My suggestions as follows:

Change the location for the enlarger to where the print drying racks are.

To facilate movement between the rooms, hinge the inner door on the opposite side still opening inward. The idea is to work with the inner door open. The paper cutter is near the enlarger and you can use it to cut larger sheets of paper to smaller size. Only stock the larger sizes. this gets your lenses and enlarger away from the humidity.

The right side counter is then available for finishing operations like matting and framing.

The drying racks should be under the right counter on slide out trays.

Your plan is definately workable, I just prefer to isolate my enlargers more than across the aisle.

Why do you have two doors?

How about building in a film drying cabinet? Now is the time to plan it.

M. Danger , Oct 01, 2004; 06:12 p.m.

Hi! Just a few ideas: I don't know if I would "jam" up my enlarger space by putting it in the corner. I bolted mine down on the counter top in the middle of my dry side and it is great to have the maneuvering ability around it. Since my ceiling was limited, I cut out a square in the top counter and move it down onto wooden braces for large prints. I also built in a paper safe painted black inside and use wing nuts to quickly open and secure with. This is on the shelf to the right under the counter along with all my papers. Under the counter on the left are easels, contact printers, etc. I also agree that a door to your workroom is not needed. Mine is open to my large workroom which I keep lit with safe bulbs during printing and it makes it less claustrophobic. My prints are dried on screened racks mounted under the sink and pull out, but trays are stored upright under the other half of the sink separated by thin plywood. All painted with marine paint. I hope some of this may help. Mary

Richard Cochran , Oct 01, 2004; 06:17 p.m.

The double door can be nice if both doors are light tight and you ever need to allow someone to enter or leave while someone else is working. Also, if neither door is completely 100% light tight by itself, the combination of two of them may be good enough.

What are you planning to do with the wall on the "top" of your plan, at the end of the darkroom? You could add more counter space there, or put some shelves to store various things, or maybe some pegboard for hanging things.

One thing to be aware of in a basement darkroom is to make sure you have enough height for your enlarger if the basement ceiling is low. Sometimes it can be helpful to put the enlarger on a lower section of countertop than the rest of the counter, but if you do this, you may want a place to sit down while working at the enlarger.

Consider plans for things like music and telephone, if you are so inclined. And consider ventilation and electrical wiring in any case.

david Starr , Oct 01, 2004; 06:39 p.m.

>One thing to be aware of in a basement darkroom is to make sure you >have enough height for your enlarger if the basement ceiling is low. >Sometimes it can be helpful to put the enlarger on a lower section >of countertop than the rest of the counter, but if you do this, you >may want a place to sit down while working at the enlarger.

I can vouch for this! I just installed a D5XL in my darkroom, which has an 81" ceiling! This puts the easel 20" above the floor. I'll have to get a 12" tall stool, or a set of kneepads! :-)

Leo Maniace , Oct 01, 2004; 08:48 p.m.

Have you considered using pocket doors instead of doors on hinges. You don't have a door swinging into your work area and pocket doors are better at keeping out light.

james megargee , Oct 01, 2004; 09:25 p.m.

A few things - For your set up, I would also highly recommend pocket doors for the obvious reasons. Also think about making your sink 10' long rather than 8'. The 2" between trays is really asking for contaimination between trays and will make working with the larger trays much more comfortable. I not clear on how deep the sink is but I would also recommend that it be 26" - 30" inside measurements to allow for moving these trays easily and for setting aside graduates, etc as you work. If necessary rob the space from the center space, the fewer steps between the counter and sink the better. Instal two water outlets, one at each end of the sink. e.g. one for your washing set up and one to keep free for mixing chemistry. Your drain should be at the end of the sink where your washing takes place so as to eliminate carrying wet prints through the dry area. Even if this means reversing your design and putting the finishing area where your print area is at present. Lastly - you can never have enough electrical out lets of shelves

Paul Moshay , Oct 02, 2004; 03:58 a.m.

You have been given a lot of great ideas Adam, listen well and you will have a world class darkroom. I built mine the same size as yours, into my garage, insulated and air conditioned to 64 degrees 24/7, it works great. The only thing I now wished I did was not to place the enlarger against the right wall. Put the enlarger in the center of the counter to allow space on both sides. Also, make sliding, pocket, doors. When I built my sinks I did not know about ten foot plywood and made an eight foot sink, go for the ten foot stuff. Make sure you have good ventilation across the sinks.

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