Leather for new bellows

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In making new bellows for LF Cameras I have a nice source of skivered sheepskins. The leather is 0.4 mm thick. Not too stiff. I am looking to line with arbatex, a leatherette cloth that is also light tight. Anyone know of a downside to this combination? Or one that would work better? For a 4x5/5x7, would the skivered leather be sufficient without the liner? I have seen a few very lightweight view cameras that use only the leather. Any experience out there on keeping the pleats where they should be rather than gradually disappearing if you leave the camera open?

-- Dan Smith (shooter@brigham.net), January 28, 2002


Dan: A few years ago I read an article, with illustrations, on making a bellows that I think was printed in View Camera magazine. Maybe some of the forum members who have back issues stashed could confirm that it was in that magazine. The bellows use cardboard to keep the pleats in place, sandwiched between the leather and the liner.


-- Doug Paramore (Dougmary@alaweb.com), January 29, 2002.

I have that back issue with the article. If you send me your mailing address I will potocopy it and send it to you. You may want to email me direct and not post your address on the board. If anyone else is interestd I will do the same.

-- Ed (zeke@idirect.com), January 29, 2002.

Dan, If you go to The Cameramakers Archives http://rmp.opusis.com/pipermail/cameramakers/ there has been quite a bit of bellows making information (although not much on leather that I recall). There are many ideas for lining materials though. Linen cloth seems to be a favorite. Posting your question to that list may get you an answer. Leonard

-- Leonard Robertson (leonard@harrington-wa.com), January 30, 2002.

I think you better try goat or rather, kid, leather. It tends to be softer than sheep , a good solution has been found from an Italian large format camera, Fatif, they have traditional bellows and another type which is made like 6 mini-wideangle bellows attached to each other, this is both soft and holds its shape wile extended. Good Luck

-- andrea milano (milandro@wanadoo.nl), January 30, 2002.

Hi Dan

This is Clayton from New Zealand, how are you? I haven't got an answer to your question but I recently made new bellows for my 4x13" enlarger so I've got an idea of some of the problems you'll come up against. The main fault with my bellows was using an outer material (not leather) that was too thick, they don't sqeeze up real tight but it hasn't been an issue so far as I'm using a 240 lens all the time.

For the pleats you need to glue thin cardboard pieces to each section, if it's a tapered bellows you'll find you end up with narrow and wide pleats as opposed to straight bellows where all the pleats are the same size. On my web site you can see the bellows I made www.bigshotz.co.nz/projects.html

I've been told kid glove leather is the stuff to use and also kangaroo leather is good but I guess you don't have too many of them running around in Utah! Somewhere in my files I've got articles on how to make them, when I find them I'll email them to you.

-- Clayton Tume (clayton@bigshotz.co.nz), January 31, 2002.

Sometimes we can get locked into one way of doing things. You could use a bag bellows design rather than an accordion bellows design.

Some times I leave my bag bellows on my 4x5 camera. I have used it with my 210 lens just fine.

-- Stephen Willard (willard@peakpeak.com), February 07, 2002.

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