Ground glass protective cover

Now that my 8×10 camera is getting heavy usage (Kari is out in the field with it as I type) I have been working on either repairing pinholes, making parts so it can be used (such as these new lensboards) or making things to protect it. The latest product: a custom ground glass protective cover.

New ground glass cover in place on my Eastman Commercial View 8×10 camera.

First off, I put the sheet of acrylic in the laser to cut out the basic shape. And while it’s in the laser, might as well etch my name and website.

I didn’t realize until I had texted this photo to a friend that what was supposed to be a right-angle bend was gradually drooping.

Then came time to learn something new: heating and bending the acrylic into shape. TechShop has tools for that, which are really pretty simple, actually: a strip of metal that heats up in a nice straight line, and a hinged thingy that one can set to the desired angle. Heat up the acrylic, press into the form, wait for it to cool.


Funny story: I made the first 90 degree bend easily, and was fairly proud of myself. I put the acrylic back on the heat strip for the second bend and thought “I gotta document this process” and then text it to a couple friends and stuff. I finally realized, while attaching the photo to the text, that my original 90 degree bend was slowly drooping under the heat. Ooopsie.

Once I slid the cover into place and it fit perfectly, not gonna lie, I was pretty happy with myself.

Got a couple of heavy steel bricks, propped it up, got the new bend made, cooled, done! As often happens at TechShop, I had a goofy grin on my face after learning something new and using it to make something that turned out roughly as I planned – and it works as planned too!


The fact that it is red is just because why not? At the time I bought the acrylic, under time pressure, there wasn’t any opaque black available. I figure the cover is going to get scratched and smudged pretty quickly, and a different material would not show it as much, but for now it’s pretty and red, and it’s more about function – protecting the glass – than form. Plus, it makes a subliminal connection to the darkroom, right?

Thanks to Kari for the photos from the desert!
Thanks to Kari for the photos from the desert!