processors \ how to make a super 8 film processing rack

Items To Set Up Your Home Movie Film Processing

by Martin W. Baumgarten

You can easily build your own rack out of plexiglass and use the Rack & Tray method for very little cost. If you build a couple of these, you'll then be able to process film via full immersion, and be able to do two films in, one after the other. If you already have a set or two of 11 x 14 inch photo print trays, you'll only need to build the rack itself, a holding stand to simply loading and which doubles as a drying and film removal stand, and a cartridge core holder. If you don't have any lab material yet, you can easily build and purchase all the items you need for probably under $100.00.




1.- Plexiglass cut into three sections to build the processing rack.


2.- Set of 8 (preferably but you can work with a set of 3) 11 x 14inch print trays.


3.- Piece of 12" x 28" plywood or masonite for the film drying rack base.


4.- 4 pieces of 24" quarter round molding for the film drying rack slats.


5.- 4 pieces of 1.5" x 16" flat molding for the cross-slat pieces for drying rack.


6.- Roll of perforated copper pipe straping (to bend and make two rack supports).


7.- 2 - 2" bolts with 2 nuts each, and a few washers as spacers to assemble the cross-slat parts of the film drying rack.


8.- 8 1 inch wood screws for attaching the four quarter round molding pieces to the cross-slat parts to complete the film drying rack.


9.- 6 - gallon photo lab bottles for the chemistry: First Developer, Bleach, Clearing Bath, Re-Developer, Fixer, Hypo-Clearing Bath(if desired to shorten final wash times), and/or Film Drying agent (Photo Flo, Edwal's Film Dry or similar, which can be mixed up as needed just for a one-shot use which is best anyhow).


10.- 8 x 10 inch piece of 1/4 or 1/2 inch plywood or plexiglass to mark and cutout the design for the film core holder. This can be glued together after parts are cut.


11.- 2" x 4" x 4 ft piece of hardwood to build your Film Working Station, onto which you will mount the filmcore holder, and place a film rewinder on either end. This will also double as your film inspection stand, film cleaning & lubricating stand, and whatever other film reel & editing purposes you can use it for.


12.- 3.5 inch C-Clamp to use to clamp down the Film Working Station to a tabletop to keep it from sliding around on you in the darkroom.


13.- Laboratory graduates: 1 gallon size (4 L), 1/2 gallon size (2 L), 32 oz (1 L), a 3 gallon bucket, and one or two precision glassware or hard plasticware graduates for 12ml and 150ml (Patterson, Saunders or similar).


14.- Rubber bands, staples & stapler, and large paper clips to use as film holding straps when the film is on the film drying rack, and to help compensate for film shrinkage while drying. Also rubber bands for the film processing rack into which you will loop the ends of the film thru and staple to attach the film.


15.- A reliable darkroom thermometer, that will read up to 130F.


16.- A mixing rod to mix chemicals with large hard plastic spoons from Wal Mart etc type shops will work fine.


17.- Some empty 11 x 14 inch large photo boxes, or large laboratory film bags etc that are light tight; to hold your film and protect it, so you can turn on the room lights after loading to double check chemistry temperature, and/or do other errands and checks prior to processing.


18.- Film Chamois (optional) to fold small and gently wipe excess moisture from your film while loading it onto the film drying rack. Will prevent water spots with over 95% assureness.


19.- Some white towels to use for lab work, laying wet items on for drying etc etc.


20.- Set of measuring spoons use for cooking, cheap but accurate ones are fine.


21.- Optional: a weight scale for measuring out individual powder chemicals for mixing from formulas (if not, then you can use the spoon method).


22.- A desk or table lamp, preferrably a light one that you can move about as needed, with a 60 watt bulb minimum in it. If you have a photo flood lamp holder and can use a 150 watt lamp that will be fine also. However a 60 watt bulb works fine for reversal exposure (if using light for reversal exposure, there are chemical options also).


23.- A bottle opener, and/or pair of flathead normal pliers to open the Super 8mm film cartridges with (there are ther methods, but this works fine).


Anything else that you think you might need for your film processing setup, just add to this listing.



Martin W. Baumgarten 2000

Plattsburgh Photographic Services



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Detailed Overiew Of Building Your Own Super 8 Film Processing Rack, And How To Use It


by Martin W. Baumgarten


---> If you want to process just small amounts of film..why not build my simple rack design?! You can make the darn thing in about two hours or less. You build it from a single sheet of plexiglass, use a drill, a sharp knife, some fine sandpaper and some SuperGlue or epoxy. To process you use 11 x 14 inch print trays.


---> Really mainly design it yourself to suit your needs....but you go to the hardward shop and buy a piece of plexiglass that's 13" x 14 inches. You then have then cut off two 1 inch strips for you that are 14 inches you end up with 1 piece that's 11 x 14 inches, and two 1" x 14" strips.  You center those two strips on the sides of the main piece and superglue/epoxy them into position. These act as rails to keep the film from touching the bottom of the trays. You then drill a hole in the upper left hand corner of the unit...and one in the lower right hand corner and one in the upper right hand corner. This is where you will attach your film.  Place a rubberband thru this hole and loop it thru itself.


 ---> Then to finish the unit...take a 50 ft roll of scrap film or leader...or good film and be careful. Now loop an inch thru the rubberband on the upper Left hand corner and then staple the loop.  Now carefully wrap the film around the unit over and over with the emulsion up until  you come to the end...and then adjust the end of the film to a loop and place it thru the rubberband on the last hole in the upper right hand corner or lower right hand corner. Now...carefully space the film apart from itself with your fingers and you'll see that the film is about 1/8 to 1/4 inch apart from itself. Make some pencil or china marker markers on either side of each film where it crosses the two ends of the 11 x 14 main piece on the top and bottom as you're looking at it. Then remove the film. Now using a knife or other sharp cutting implement...cut or whittle out small 1/4 inch long curved notches where you made all the china marks.  Then use the fine sandpaper to sand the curve smooth and rounded


 ---> Clean it up...and you're ready to process film!


 ---> Practice loading film with scrap first...until you get the hang of it.  If you want to get fancy....make a stand to hold it.  Epoxy a small stainless steel bolt on either side of the frame dead center. Or, just drill a hole on either side dead center and tap it for a small bolt that you can screw in and remove as you need to.  Make a holding stand using piping strap, bend it as in my drying rack design notes.....and attach the two stands onto a an 11 x 14 inch piece of plywood.


 ---> NOW, you can rotate the unit as you're loading it...quite easily...or for ease of drying the film...or for ease of removing the film to a takeup reel after it's dry. Actually...the processor will stand on a table top when you set it down and keep the film from touching...just as when in the processing that is all you do to dry the soak in Photo Flo or other wetting agent...shake it out well, and let it sit undisturbed to dry.


 ---> Processing is done in total darkness....right after loading.  I recommend having a large size film changing bag or light tight box to hold your rack(s). So you can turn on the check temperature of your solutions...go eat...use the restroom etc.


 ---> When you're ready to fill the first tray up with water at the same temp as your chemicals...this is your prewash.  Then transfer it to your developing tray....develop the film in the First Developer for 6-7 minutes at 68F, then rinse or stop bath for 2 minutes, then into the Bleach bath.....which after 30 can turn on the room lights, then rinse in water for a minute or two, then into the Clearing Bath for 2 minutes, then rinse in water for 30 seconds to a minute...


 ---> Then reversal exposure using a 60-150 watt light....if using only a 60 watt lamp...use it in a desk lamp with a reflector...and at about 6-8 inches from the film...expose each side for at least 30 seconds. Then process film in your Re-Developer for 6-8 minutes (depending on which film type it is...PXR or TXR), rinse or Stop Bath for one minute... then Fix for 5-6 minutes in a rapid hardening Fixer....wash for 15-20 minutes at 68F-75F, Photo Flo and dry...and you're done!




---> Processing is done in total darkness....right after loading.  I recommend having a large size film changing bag or light tight box to hold your rack(s). So you can turn on the check temperature of your solutions...go eat...use the restroom etc. 


 ---> You REMOVE the film from the film changing bag or box OF COURSE!  You have all your trays set up for the entire process and move from one to the next....or just setup the first three or four trays.....and then when you're in the rinse after the Bleach for example or any other inbetween can change your chemical setup...pour those you're done with into their bottles and move on again.


Good luck!


 P.S.  To use this design for Double 8mm or Double Super 8mm film or 16mm film in lengths up to 30 ft, just change the size of the curved notches you cut accommodate the 16mm film width, all else is the same.



Martin W. Baumgarten 2000

Plattsburgh Photographic Services