Press "Enter" to skip to content

Darkshop Posts


All the information on this site should be considered ‘as-is’. Reader beware, use at your own risk, etc. That said, none of these projects are particularly challenging- most involve very old designs and very old processes, and are achievable with very basic materials if you have the patience. While I’m happy to answer specific questions, I don’t have the time to provide drawings, measurement, step-by-step instructions, or assistance modifying the designs to suit your needs.


I wanted to make the first version of this DIY Jobo motor base with a direct drive instead of a pulley system, but couldn’t modify the lead screw shaft that came with the motor (or for that matter even couple it to the drum roller shaft) without a lathe. Continue » Jobro

Tripod remodel

Old tripod with updated hardware

Having a metal lathe is pretty sweet, even if it means having to remake all the things I made when I wished I had a lathe. The cobbled together spikes on my tripod is one such thing, made from a mix of plumbing parts and lag bolts, so I made some new ones from .75″ stainless round stock and some off-the-shelf hanger bolts. They weigh about the same as the old arrangement. Continue » Tripod remodel

Gitzo G1570M

I’ve always really liked the idea of this tripod head, but having been designed to support 15+ kilos it’s less than ideal for light weight cameras.  The side tilt is especially resistant to small adjustments,  at least on the versions I’ve had- the friction in the pivot means I go way too far the other way when trying to make small tweaks, and this usually goes back and forth for quite a few cycles before I give up and just adjust the tripod leg to level the head. But I really like the huge platform, the low profile, and the panning base which my Ries head doesn’t have. I’ve bought one of these twice now. Obviously I sold the first one, but after looking around at what else was available for a couple years I finally bought another one and decided to learn to love it. Or take it apart. Continue » Gitzo G1570M

“Shop” “upgrade”

I finally got a mini metal lathe, as well as a new mill. I really wanted a used 10x toolroom lathe, and searched on and off for one for about 4 years now. But after getting realistic about the expense of shipping an industrial lathe from somewhere in the Rust Belt, how worn-out a machine in this class and my price range would probably be, rewiring my shop to use a 3 phase machine, and insulating and heating the shop to protect such an investment,  I finally just bought some new import machines that will run on my shop’s 120v/20A circuits. Continue » “Shop” “upgrade”

Compendium shade

Since these shades are available second-hand pretty cheap, this is a silly thing to make unless you have an oddball front standard. I’d made one years ago for my old 5×7, but it was a little bulky to use for my new camera. After spending the morning trying in vain to find the outside dimensions of the Toyo-View compendium hood I just made one out of materials I had on hand.  Why do retailers list the size of the bloody box it comes in, and not the sizeof the unit itself? I went through the same thing trying to find a low profile cold shoe. Continue » Compendium shade

5×7 Part 4, erratum

Camera turned out well, but though I would compile a list of the things I wish I could do over- and probably will have to do over at some point. Will update the list as new ones are discovered.


 I cut the shaft flush with the bed, and tapped and Locktite’d 6-32 studs into each end for the focus and lock knobs. Would have been better to leave the shafts long on the focus side and pin the knobs to the shaft, as done with the gears themselves. The studs are fine for locking knobs, but probably too weak to handle the torque from the focusing knobs over time.

Continue » 5×7 Part 4, erratum

Improved 5×7, now with real five and seven

I was so appalled by the state of my shop at the end of the last project that I decided to clean it up and repair a lot of the worn out tables, jigs, and machinery so it would be all ready to go whenever I’m ready for a new project. I dissembled and adjusted the mill, organized the bits and end mills and router bits, tuned up the drill press and made a decent table for it, rebuilt my table saw/router table outfeed table, trued up all the fences and fixtures, replaced the workbench top, and generally organized and cleaned throughout. The shop still isn’t fit for visitors or even a heavily cropped jpeg tour, but it will be much less annoying to spend time in it now.  Continue » Improved 5×7, now with real five and seven