Cutting down 8X10 film : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I have ordered a box of 8X10 E100VS so I can cut it down to use with my Canham 5X7. I have a rotary trimmer that I bought at an office supply store and have been "practicing" with it. However, I am not getting good "cuts" with it. Should I be using a typical paper cutter with the blade that comes straight down, or do just need to get a better rotary trimmer. Suggestions and help appreciated from those who are cutting down their own film. Thanks. Jim

-- Jim Becia (, May 27, 2002


I don't think that rotary trimmers are suitable for cutting film. You always have to slide the sheet(s) under a location strip, and this is asking for scratches and slippage to occur.
I've got a small (unguarded) guillotine type cutter that I use in the darkroom. I stick markers on the bed of it with a couple of layers of plastic tape for repeatable and accurate cuts. And yes, I still have all my fingers, thanks. Your mileage may vary.

-- Pete Andrews (, May 27, 2002.

I plan on doing this as well. I have heard that knife trimmers are subject to paper creep. That is, as you cut the paper or film, it will creep slightly inward. There is a posting under 5x7 call "5x7 instead of 8x10" that talks about this.

Please let me know what you finally end up doing so that I may benefit from your efforts.


-- Stephen Willard (, May 27, 2002.


I cut down film all the time, most of it 9 1/2" aerial film on long rolls, the stuff is quite thin and tricky to deal with but once you get the hang of it, it's easy.

I use a craft knife and always cut at least two lengths at a time, usually four to six. I have a board set up for cutting, that has a metal strip taped down as a back stop, this gives me my film width, I'm usually cutting 6 foot long lengths. The back stop is set to 1mm less than the width I want, I lay the film down and push it against the stop, I always have the top film facing down and the others below facing up, never have problems with scratches or damage.

The I lay down another metal strip over the film and tape it to the edge with 1mm sticking out, this is my cutting edge and I run the knife along the metal strip as a guide. I hold the knife underneath the board, blade facing up and carefully run it down the length of film making sure the blade touches the metal strip all the way.

It can be tricky at first and you have to be aware of where your free hand is all the time, I've never had any accidents or even close shaves.

You can also do something similar by using a board with a back stop and two front guides fixed in the right position at either side of the film, push a steel ruler against the guides and run your knife along the ruler. The guides are fixed at the correct length minus ruler width and you can run a groove through the board for a gap for your blade to run along. This is probably the easiest way for cutting down small film, just remember to do two at a time, emulsion facing in so you don't damage it.

-- Clayton Tume (, May 27, 2002.


I've recently had a couple of goes at cutting 10x8" film down to 10x4". I bought a 12" (maximum cut length)Rotatrim Professional trimmer (made here in the UK). It has a calibrated 'stop', so that you can accurately set the width of the trim, and keep everything square. The reason I bought the smaller one was so that it would fit in my Harrison tent. So far, I've been exposing a shot for the centre part of a full 10x8" sheet, then trimming both edges off to retain the central portion. This means resetting the stop for each cut, but it's accurate and repeatable. I take care to clean the trimmer and wipe with an anti-static brush before cutting the film, and I haven't seen any evidence of scratching so far.

I will eventually modify a 10x8" holder so that I can insert a 10x4" piece of film in the centre portion - I've bought some brass strips that I will need to cut, paint, and fix into the darkslide.

Because I've got a Jobo CPE2 processor, I can't use an Expert drum, but I've always had good results processing 5x4" film in the 2509 reel. I decided to experiment with this, and I've cut away one of the film stops and a guide rail to allow one sheet of 10x4" film to be inserted on the inner track. It's a bit complicated to explain, but the results appear to be great - even development. Before I start to load I put the black plastic retaining clip on the side opposite to where I need to start loading the film (as a reference), then I remove it once I've started to load the film, then replace it at the start/end position. The only 'problem' is only being able to process one sheet at a time, although I suppose I could open out the other two tracks. I might even look at making a central core extension to allow me to process a 10x8" sheet in a bigger drum but with the same reel - not sure if the size of the film will work against me.

Sorry if this is a bit long and confusing, but I thought I'd share it with you.

David Nash

-- David Nash (, May 28, 2002.

Thanks for the help and suggestions. I am going to try a friend's rotary trimmer that is supposed to cut better than mine. If that fails, then I'll try the paper cutter with the blade that comes straight down. Thanks again for the help and suggestions. Jim

-- Jim Becia (, May 28, 2002.

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