material to make lens boards : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Please discuss some of the materials I can use to make lens boards for my Zone VI 4x5 (4" square". j zarick, cincinnati Ohio

-- joe zarick (, November 10, 2001



You can use wood, metal, or plastic. Wood is probably easier to cut, drill, and finish but may be subject to warping. To help overcome this problem, I use 1/8 sheets of plywood which are available from The plywood comes in walnut, cherry, birch, red oak, and white oak and costs from $11-25 depending on the type of wood. Each sheet is 24x32 inches. I normally use an exacto or utility knife to cut the plywood. This insures a clean and exact cut and is generally safer than using a table saw or bandsaw. I also use a drill press and forstner bits to cut holes for the lens. You can also use a hand-held power drill.


-- Dave Willison (, November 10, 2001.


When making homemade boards I have used an opaque material by the name of "Lexan". This is very comparable to plexiglass but I find it a more rigid product and easier to work with. I just use my router to make the edges to match my requirements and then drill the appropriate hole and seating hole for my shutter size. The Lexan I use is black in color, very robust and will not warp or change size due to heat or cold. I visited a local shop that uses Lexan for production and for a few dollars they gave me 10 pieces of scrap that were about 7 inches square. This is a nice material to use but you do need power tools to perform the necessary tasks.


-- GreyWolf (, November 10, 2001.

Another Zone VIer out of the closet!!

Home depot has 1/4 X 6" X 2, 4 or 6 feet long hardwoods that have a very pretty grain. You would need to have the ability to make them very similar to the originals with grains going in opposing directions to prevent warping.

-- Jim Galli (, November 10, 2001.

I haven't actually used this for lensboards, but it should work like a charm. Go to the local plastics supplier and ask for black "Sintra". It's an expanded PVC material common in the sign industry. Cuts easily and can be planed and sanded like a soft wood. Quite stable. Comes in even mm thicknesses. Made by Alusuisse Composites, Inc.

-- Conrad Hoffman (, November 10, 2001.

I use the thin plywood available at model shops. It is five or seven layers of very thin veneer and is strong and stable.


-- Doug Paramore (, November 10, 2001.

In a pinch you can easily make a lens board using mat board. Cut to size & tape two or more together for reinforcement. For more permanent boards the comments above this one are good.

-- Dan Smith (, November 10, 2001.

I've used the "hobby board" to which Doug Paramour refers for Deardorff boards and it works great. For the Deardorff, I used two layers to get the "double-corner" that helps to keep out light. If the board isn't quite thick enough for your camera, you can use some felt to make it more snug. This will give you a tighter seal.

If you have a wood camera, you can usually do a pretty good job of matching the color of the camera using those small cans of stain.

-- neil poulsen (, November 11, 2001.

I've been using 1/8" aluminum tooling plate for lensboards, most recently for a Calumet 4x5. Aluminum can be cut/machined easily using CARBIDE-TIPPED wodworking tools.

-- Ed Balko (, November 15, 2001.

Ok, here's another material I've used: fiberglass circuit board from Radio Shack. It is copper on both sides to add rigidity and make it light tight. It can be worked with common tools. It is about the right thickness for Wista type boards. I made a pinhole holder with this for my Tachihara. The copper also tarnishes for a nice look.

-- Gary Frost (, November 16, 2001.

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