Building an archival print washer : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Comrade silver printers,

Has any one of the learned members of this smashing forum built an archival print washer himself? Being totally disappointed by my Paterson print washer I have been thinking about moving on to a better model, if it weren't for the excorbitant prices.

If someone has a rudimentary plan for this I would appreciate a reply.


-- Mako (, December 23, 2001


Hi Mako...Somewhere in the archive of this website there is a web address that leads you to the plans for constructing a negative/print washer.

-- Dave Richhart (, December 23, 2001.

There is a site called that has a number of articles dealing with construction of darkroom equipment and I believe there are plans for a washer somewhere there.

-- James Chinn (, December 23, 2001.

I believe that Calumet has cut the prices on archival print washers. I don't want to burst your bubble but by the time you factor in the cost of the plexi-glass, construction time, and aggrevation... it may be easier to call them and say charge it. If you are good with your hands have fun and good luck. Pat.

-- Pat Kearns (, December 24, 2001.

What don't you like about the Paterson?

-- Howard Anderson (, December 24, 2001.

Thank you all.

To Howard: Many years ago I bought a Paterson archival print washer for 30x40 cm paper. However, the chaps in the UK did not take into account that fiber based paper expands quite a bit when wet. This meant that I have to trim each and every sheet of paper before I insert it into the washer. Other manufacturers take account of that but are also about thrice as expensive. So really the Paterson is for 38.5x29 cm paper.

-- Mako (, December 24, 2001.

Before building check out the washers available at Much cheaper than any others I've found. I have been considering attempting to build a washer but I'm concerned both about the cost of materials (plexiglass isn't cheap and I've not found a satisfactory alternative) and being able to establish an effective water flow with my own design. Let me know how you fare. Russell

-- Russell Levin (, December 24, 2001.

Mako: I bought the Versalab washer about four years ago and have found it to be a great washer. The thing is indestructable and will do a bunch of prints at one time. I think at the time I bought mine it was less than $200. I was considering builing one until I ran across a writeup on the Versalab. As stated earlier, by the time you buy plexiglas, cement, hoses, etc., you won't save much if any by building it yourself. Especially if you have to rent or buy the needed tools.


-- Doug Paramore (, December 24, 2001.

I also have a Versalab print washer and am very happy with it.

-- Dave Karp (, December 24, 2001.

I agree with the above 3 posts. I have been using the Versalab Washer (16x20) for over a year now and it is great. It's not as impressive looking as some of the others but you can't beat the value. I have modified mine by drilling holes for acrylic rods so that I can use it for sheet film and smaller prints without having to go fishing every time. I should note that I do own a Machine Shop and it would be tough for me to put together all the materials and then add on just a few bucks an hour for labor and come out ahead of their price. And they are not joking about it being allmost indestructible. I would also add that you should buy the smallest one you will need as this is a heavy beast when in service, unless you do 20x24 prints every day.

Good Luck,


-- R.L.(Mac) McDonald (, December 24, 2001.

James: Thanks for the address of the site It really is amazing what DIY freaks can do for their darkroom.

Russell, Doug, Dave, Mac: You have convinced me! I shall see if the Versalab folks can ship it to Germany. Otherwise, I am impressed that it has 14 compartments. Most have 10, others have 10 + 2 for HCA.

By the way, I have seen that they sell the TRD-2 Heiland densitometer for $895. If you are planning to buy one, I certainly recommend it, but buy it from Germany as it costs about the same amount in DM - Euro soon.


-- Mako (, December 26, 2001.

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