October 26, 2013

Update, October 2013 - new cabinet and flatfile

The darkroom has been operational for almost 3 years.  I make small changes all the time, but this recent one was more involved and precipitated by the acquisition of a small, 5 drawer flat file.  The flat file came from my wife's studio after she acquired a much larger 20 drawer unit!

I initially set it over in a corner and thought I'd just set the dry mount press on top of it.  However, the heights weren't right and I was a little afraid the weight of the press would eventually sag the top of the flat file.  So, I have re-arranged the dry side of the darkroom, and built a new under-cabinet as a stand for the flat file, which brings it up to counter height.  The dry mount press now sits on the older (and very sturdy) cabinet, and all is well.

Here is the original floor plan of the darkroom:

And here is the revised layout:

In addition to this latest change, you can see that the two sets of shelves have been eliminated.  And yes, the door does bump the small refrigerator. It's just a coincidence, but the drawing is accurate.

The new cabinet was constructed to match the others, as all were built for this darkroom.

The raw material
The raw material was white melamine.  This material is stable, fairly cheap, and works fine for utility uses.  Since it is essentially particle board, however, you can't get it wet.  Dry side is fine.  I was fortunate that I was able to draw up the plans and get all the parts but one out of one new 4x8 sheet of material.  The one remaining part came out of scrap from prior projects.

Cuts had to be planned carefully.  There is an old carpenter's adage: "measure twice, cut once."  I measure 2 or 3 times, and this is after thinking the whole project through many times.  This was the only way to ensure that I got all of the pieces out of the material I had, since there was negligible scrap and only about 3/4" room for errors.

The larger cuts of the big sheet were done with a track saw.  I am so glad that I invested in this tool back when I made the first cabinets.  It is much safer than a table saw and more accurate than using a plain circular saw.

the first cross cut
all the parts cut out

Assembly was done with pocket screws.  I have a jig that makes drilling the pocket holes easy enough, and a small cordless driver makes the job go pretty fast.

The cabinet was sized to just fit under the flat file, and then to raise the flat file to the right height so that another piece of the melamine on top as a "countertop" would match the height of the other cabinet surfaces.  I was fortunate to find sturdy and pre-made plastic drawers that would just fit, and adjusted the shelf spacing to accommodate them.

Everything is in place and I'll be back to my backlog of printing in no time.

The new "dry side"