Monday, 28 October 2013

Improving the Shed Darkrom

  If you've been reading this blog for a while you'll know that my darkroom is in a converted shed.  If you want to convert your own shed you can see how i did it here.  My current door situation has been really annoying me however.  I have strips of velcro all round the inside of the door frame to which i attach some thick blackout plastic.  The problem i have been having is that on hot days the heat is melting the glue from the sticky back of the velcro strips and so the blackout sheet is falling down.  It's just been a real pain to have to keep detaching and reattaching it every time i go in and out of the darkroom.

  When i first created my shed darkroom i had some spare chipboard sheets left over from paneling out the inside, and i had told Jess i was going to use them to create inner doors for the shed.  Well, that was months ago and ever since Jess had been dropping not-so-subtle hints that she wanted that wood out of the dining room.  As Jess was away at a wedding all day Saturday i decided to pull my finger out and gets these doors built.

  The first thing to do was measure the inner door frame, which for my shed was 1.00 x 1.65 metres.  Alas my leftover sheets of board weren't the right size, i would have to make 4 pieces and hinge them together, but that's ok - better than buying new wood.  So, i trimmed the bottom half of the doors into two sections, and the top half also.

  After making sure all 4 sections fit together roughly it was time to lightproof the seams.  I picked some weather insulation strips up from Lidl a few weeks ago for this purpose and so set about sealing up the relevant parts of the doors.

  After applying the seal to the bottom left section of the door i screwed it into the frame (i only want the right side of the door to be openable).  I did the same for the top left section, making sure i put some seal between the two so that the seam between them would be light-proof.
  Next i started to fit the bottom right section.  If you do end up doing this then make sure you raise the bottom section up a little, otherwise the base of the door will scrape along the floor.  Once i had made sure the section fitted i screwed the hinges onto the left section, attached the right section (making sure it was raised slightly) and attached the other side of the hinge.  Make sure you put some sealant between the two pieces, running down the hinges.

  Then i did the same with the top section, making sure to push the sealant strips into all the nooks and crannies of the wood.
  After going inside and shutting the door i noticed a few small light leaks on some of the seams, particularly around where the door shut.  I bought some wider foam strips from Lidl and put these around the edges where the leaks were.
  I folded some thick rubble sacks that i bought from B&Q ages ago and stapled these over the centre seam to block all remaining light.
  To hold the door shut tight against the light seal i bought some clips from the hardware shop and placed three down the length of the door.
(google images picture - not mine!)
  I just noticed this morning that some of the thicker foam has started peeling away as the adhesive on the back isn't very strong.  I may have to superglue it down.

  So, that's the door sorted, but i still have a little wood left.  I decided to turn my attention to the electrical outlet port, aka the hole in my shed through which i feed my extension cable.  Up until now i had been using a sheet of wood which i roughly shoved over the hole and then from the inside i stuffed some clothes to seal up the hole.  Not the best.  I had a hinge left over from the doors so i cut a small rectangle of wood and attached the hinge.  I smashed off the raised exterior of the vent hole so it was flush with the shed wall.  Then i attached the hinged wood to the shed.

  I cut a square out of the flap so that i could feed the cable through and the flap would lay flush to the shed side.  I also put a foam seal around the back of the flap and attached another clip to hold the flap shut.

  I should probably staple some plastic over the flap as when chipboard gets wet it tends to disintegrate.

  And that's it - a lightproof shed for a few hours work.  The doors should also help with insulation, especially with winter so close.  Hopefully this has given you some hints, tips and ideas for starting or improving your own darkroom.

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