substitue trays

Discussion in 'Darkroom Developing and Printing' started by Matt Ashbrook, Feb 14, 2004.

  1. Anyone tell me if there's any reason why I couldn't use the "storage" type
    of plastic boxes they sell a Kmart or Walmart for shoes and clothes to
    develop prints in as opposed to buying new trays? I recently bought a larger
    easel very reasonably and I'd like to keep from spending over a hundred
    bucks for a set of 20 x 24 trays. So I thought I would buy a few of these
    storage boxes and cut them down to trays . Then i could get buy for about
    $25.00. They wouldn't have to last forever at that price - in case I finally
    make the digital move.

    Matt A.
    Matt Ashbrook, Feb 14, 2004
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  2. No! You *cannot* use those trays for photography! What on earth were you
    thinking? You *must* use only the Official Approved Photo-Type Trays that You
    Buy at the Photo Store. Anything else will give inferior results.

    Sheesh, when will people learn?

    It's fun to demonize the neo-cons and rejoice in their discomfiture, but
    don't make the mistake of thinking US foreign policy was set by Norman
    Podhoretz or William Kristol. They're the clowns capering about in front of
    the donkey and the elephant. The donkey says the UN should clean up after
    them, and the elephant now says the donkey may have a point. Somebody has
    come out with a dustpan and broom.

    - Alexander Cockburn, _CounterPunch_
    (, 9/17/03
    David Nebenzahl, Feb 14, 2004
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  3. Matt Ashbrook

    Jorge Omar Guest

    Yes, photo stores must make a lot of profit selling inexpensive gear at
    ridiculously high prices, or how else will the owner pay the bills when
    the world is going digital?

    Jorge Omar, Feb 14, 2004
  4. Matt Ashbrook

    Dan Quinn Guest

    Give one-tray processing a try. Dan
    Dan Quinn, Feb 14, 2004
  5. In addition consider paint roller trays, engine oil drip pans, wall paper
    paste trays, roasting pans <not aluminum>, dryer pans and trays, furnace
    trays, material handling trays and pans <sturdy, used in factorys>, etc...
    take a look here at for starters
    Rubbermaid stuff on clearance...
    and do a google for more...

    Of course, your pictures will never amount to a tinkers damn if you didn't
    pay for official photographic trays...

    Dennis O'Connor, Feb 14, 2004
  6. Should work fine, but the developer tray may stain over time.
    Don't mix up which you use for which chemical.
    Robert Feinman, Feb 14, 2004
  7. Matt Ashbrook

    Mike King Guest

    I have seen great trays at the home building center about 40x40 looks like
    heavy duty PVC made to fit under a washing machine for above grade installs
    to protect what's below from leaks. In that application it think you add a
    drain but for photo they look about perfect. About $10 US.
    Mike King, Feb 14, 2004
  8. Matt Ashbrook

    Mike King Guest

    Yes the developer tray will stain, which will then differentiate it from the
    other trays for all time. Or just label your trays.
    Mike King, Feb 14, 2004
  9. Matt Ashbrook

    Norman Worth Guest

    It depends on what they are made of. If it doesn't deteriorate in alkali or
    mild acid and doesn't exude plasticizer over everything, you are probably
    OK. I bought a set of Rubbermaid 6X8 inch trays about 30 years ago for use
    with 5X7s and other small stuff, and they are still among my favorites.
    Polystyrene, PET, and polycarbonate (Lexan), including rubber filled
    variants, are generally all right. PVC is usually OK.
    Norman Worth, Feb 14, 2004
  10. ... > > substitute trays
    Rubbermaid, another company that moved out of NE Ohio...

    There is also another old solution:

    o Make a frame from four pieces of 1x3, 2x4, AOS*...;

    o Lay Visqueen or some other heavy duty plastic wrap
    in the frame, draping it over and then tucking it

    o Fill.

    Caveat: emptying is a bitch if the trays were built on
    the floor - as I did when developing some 30x40's.

    Emergency trays can be built this way from a cut-down
    cardboard box and a garbage bag.

    Edward Weston is reputed to have used this method,
    using his rain-coat for the plastic sheeting. Urban
    legend, I am sure, but one never knows ...
    Nicholas O. Lindan, Feb 14, 2004
  11. Don't forget kitty litter boxes.
    Patrick Gainer, Feb 14, 2004
  12. Matt Ashbrook

    lloyd Guest

    .... ahhh ... now we see the significance of AOS...


    Lloyd Erlick Portraits,
    2219 Gerrard Street East, unit #1,
    Toronto M4E 2C8 Canada.
    lloyd, Feb 15, 2004
  13. Matt Ashbrook

    Dan Quinn Guest


    To my knowledge 20x24 litter boxes are not made. My kitty litter
    box is 14x18 outside and very nearly as large as I've ever seen.
    I've noticed that kitty could use a little more room to maneuver.
    I may order a 16x20 print tray to use as a kitty litter box.
    As for 20x24 prints, I'd think one sturdy print tray would do.
    Dan Quinn, Feb 15, 2004
  14. Some have used a trough which can be made of plastic drain pipe and end
    caps. Use your imagination. See-saw the print through the liquid.
    Patrick Gainer, Feb 16, 2004
  15. Matt Ashbrook

    otzi Guest

    On the telly last night I saw a doco on war photographers, missed his name
    but as part of the story, vis 2000, there was a section on setting up an
    exhibition. The darkroom worker was shown sinking a rolled up print and re
    rolling it back and forth. I know not the result only that the story waffled
    on about density, sky and redoing the print (24x30) to the photographers
    satisfaction to the tune of four goes for the exhibition.
    otzi, Feb 16, 2004
  16. Matt Ashbrook

    otzi Guest

    Erroneous tab press!!

    To continue, -- if the described method works OK one doesn't need such large
    trays. Has any one an opinion on this method of paper control?
    otzi, Feb 16, 2004
  17. Matt Ashbrook

    Jorge Omar Guest

    I've seen a posting in from a pro lab man in which he
    recommended such a method for huge prints.

    And I've used in the past paint rollers in the shower box floor, with
    shower water as stop and final wash - but then I don't advise using it in

    Jorge Omar, Feb 16, 2004
  18. Matt Ashbrook

    bob Guest

    If they are PVC, and not ABS, they might make good sink material, too,
    since they already have sides.

    bob, Feb 16, 2004
  19. Matt Ashbrook

    bob Guest

    I picked up some stainless steel drywall mud tray at the home center on
    clearance. I think they were under $5 each. Have not used them yet, but if
    I do, I will need to cover the edges.

    As to the original question, I think the one advantage "official" photo
    trays have are the depressions in the bottom that keep the prints from
    sticking, so while shopping for alternatives, you might want to try to find
    something like that.

    bob, Feb 16, 2004
  20. Good point. They serve several purposes:

    o Letting chemicals circulate behind the print

    o Keeping the print from sticking to the bottom so that
    it can slide around the tray when agitated: not so
    critical when the emulsion is face up, but needed
    when the emulsion is face down.

    o Forming a channel for water to get under the print
    when the print is lifted from the tray - especially
    critical with large prints: I once found myself holding
    two jagged corners as the remainder of the print slid
    gracefully back into the tray.

    I have (had) trays with:

    o Flat bottomed stamped steel with black paint. Prints
    didn't stick, as the trays were 3x4" (?). Came from
    a Kodak ABC photo lab kit: everything needed to make
    B&W prints in one small box. Rusted, didn't last
    more than a few weeks. 40's vintage.

    o Hard rubber, shattered when dropped, don't remember
    the pattern. 50's vintage.

    o Sharp ridges: Ok, but the ridges can image on the
    paper or film if the emulsion lays against them too
    long. Hard to clean, the ridges interfere with a
    cleaning sponge and accumulate gunk at the ridge
    root. The trays I have are injection molded and
    made by FR and Yankee (I prefer the FRs) - 60's

    o An embossed X, a nice smooth surfaced and rounded X:
    OK, but large prints stick to the tray at the corners,
    are hard to pull and don't let the chems circulate as
    well as they should. Additionally, if the print sticks
    to the bottom it is hard to get a print-tong/fingernail
    under the print to lift it. Made with vacuum forming?
    70's vintage.

    o Array of bumps: The best of the lot - the bumps are
    smooth so they don't image on a face down sheet;
    they let chemicals at the back of the sheet; the
    sheet is kept off the bottom of the tray across
    the whole surface. Again, looks like vacuum forming.
    80's vintage. Made by 'Cesco/Photoquip'.

    Another example of the evolution of everyday items, for the
    Petroski fans out there.

    If I were embossing my own trays I am not sure what I would
    do to dimple them: blobs of RTV; glue strips of 12 ga round
    plastic to the bottom; duckboard/lath; glue buttons; a few layers
    of nylon screening?

    I know: glue the bamboo from old print tongs to the bottom
    in a sort of random grid.

    * * * *

    Isn't it amazing what one can write about to postpone an
    unpleasant task?
    Nicholas O. Lindan, Feb 16, 2004
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