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Home Made Light Tight Paper Roll Dispenser

Discussion in 'Everything Film' started by John King, Sep 30, 2019.

  1. John King

    John King Well-Known Member

    I am in the last throws of constructing a bulk paper roll dispenser for Kodak or Fuji RA4 paper. This is version 2 and this time made from aluminium sheet. The Mk 1 version was 8mm 5 ply wood and I found that there must have been some sort of chemical fumes coming from the wood because there were odd mottled marks along each edge. (I had half expected it).

    This box, for a better name, will take a 12" x 98m roll of paper which will give me just under 235 12x16 sheets and of course more if I cut them smaller. Roughly speaking this will save approx 40% of the cost of cut sheets (Fuji).

    The construction will be with cut sheets of aluminium secured at the edges with multiple 'pop' rivets and a light tight seal between the metal faces. The only tricky part is to make a light tight slot so I can feed the roll onto my guillotine. That was also tricky with the Mk 1 version.

    If anyone would like the plans to make their own, I will post them onto this forum once it is finished and working correctly.
  2. Christopher Ould

    Christopher Ould New Member

    Hi John,

    Would be interested to see how you made your paper roll dispenser...need something along similar lines.
  3. John King

    John King Well-Known Member

    Just to give you an idea. The external box will be 1.5mm aluminium sheet accurately cut to exact sizes. The base is 13 x 12", each end side will be 12" x 13" tall The front and back will be13" x 13" The panel destined to be the front from where the paper will be paid out, will have a shaped
    part machined out to a depth of 1/8th"12.25" Long. The panels will be joined using pre-formed angle aluminium .75" deep and pop riveted every inch or so to form a ridged box shape. Between the surfaces I will be using a low odour silicone to create an absolutely light tight seal.

    The machined edge at the bottom of the front panel and the base edge will have to be polished smooth to save scratching the emulsion surface.
    I will be using a plastic rod which will fit closely inside the box and supported on 'U' shaped bearers also made from thick polypropylene. This will be the support for the roll of paper when it is inside the box. It will have to be about 3/8" thick each side.

    The lid will have the same proportions as the base but about 1/4" greater in size overall. Using 1" preformed aluminium angle, again pop riveted onto the top to form the lid edges. The inside edge will be lined with black felt to help seal the box against light.

    When the box is complete, the inside will be sprayed with matt black to eliminate the risk of light reflections. You may also line the edges of the lid with strip sealing foam to help prevent light leaks into the box.

    The slot at the base is still under design consideration, but will probably be sealed when not used to remove paper, by using another piece of aluminium angle placed over the slot and held in place with self tapping screws. Previously I always cut my paper into 12x16 sheets, usually 20 a time and stored them in a spare thick black plastic bag so I would not have to keep cutting the paper during a printing session. Smaller sizes can be cut from the larger sheets.

    The metal is being commercially cut to the size I need (not that expensive) whilst the angle metal to form the edges of the box will be sourced locally

    I found with my previous device, it was necessary to leave a tongue of paper protruding out of the slot after cutting what I needed so I could pull paper out when I needed another cutting session. The sealing angle used should eliminate leaks into the box. Most rolls of paper come with the emulsion facing outwards so feeding the paper through the slot should be fed so that the emulsion is facing down. I will keep you updated when it is finished.
    Andrew Flannigan likes this.
  4. Christopher Ould

    Christopher Ould New Member

    Thanks John, look forward to it!
  5. John King

    John King Well-Known Member

    Ignore the dimensions I gave previously, I have had to do a little rethink about them, some were too big and others too small (by a couple of mm's but enough to make life awkward.) I am about to order the aluminium on Monday and should arrive Tuesday. The pre cut sizes to my measurements and alloy angle strips are, for what they are to be used for are ridiculously cheap. I already have the rivets and the sealant so as from Tuesday I should be on the way.
  6. John King

    John King Well-Known Member


    I am getting there, albeit slowly. So far I have the lid made but has to be finished off. I have the base with 3 sides fitted and will be having a go at the front this afternoon which will be a challenge to cut out a slot with smooth edges where the paper will be passed through . My main problem is drilling and keeping the metal sections aligned until I get the rivets in place and crimped. Externally the angle strip used to form the frame will be sealed inside and out with low odour black sealant which is water based and was intended to seal metal guttering, so it will be perfect for my purpose.
  7. John King

    John King Well-Known Member

    It is almost finished. The materials used are;- Main panels are made from 1mm thick aluminium sheet. The edging strips are 1.5mm angle aluminium. It is held together with 3.2mm pop rivets. The end panels are 10"x10" square. The Base and back panel are 10" x 13". The front panel is 10" x 13" but with a slot cut out in the base 3/16" x 12". The lid is 14" x 11".

    The sealant applied to the joints inside as described in the last post is water based gutter sealer which will take 24 hours to 'go off'. The paper feed at the base will be felt lined to prevent the emulsion from any scratches and covered over with black blackout material to stop light entering. The handles are a necessity, although the roll of 12x16 Kodak RA4 paper is quite heavy.

    Additional Info
    When new the diameter of the roll across the central core is about 7.75 inches. The emulsion faces out so to allow a reasonable time to cut the paper (by the light of a DUKA safelight) the paper is positioned so that it feeds so the base only is exposed to the dim illumination from the DUKA. As with my previous dispenser I used to cut about 20 12x16 sheets and store them in a paper safe which allows them to flatten before use.
    Once wet it straightens out and does not re-curl. As you cut it, the closer you get to the central core the curl becomes quite severe so getting it to flatten before use is essential.
    I always attach a strip of pre-cut Gaffa tape to the tongue of the paper still in the dispenser which makes it easier to retrieve the next time I need to cut more.

    I now only have to fabricate the roller to support the paper. This will probably be a short length of plastic pipe cut to sized and supported on wooden bearers attached to the inside of the side panels.

    The lid at present is loose but when it holds the paper it will be secured with metal clips.

    The aluminium sheets and angle strip were bought from a company called The aluminium warehouse. If you want to have a go just google the name. They will pre cut the sheets to your dimensions with a 1mm tolerance. I found them to be spot on. The green colour is the protective plastic sheet that was on the metal when it arrived, so I decided to leave it in place. Cost, somewhere in the region of £35-38. But the saving in paper with the 1st roll of 88m length of Kodak will give me about 215 sheets 12 x 16 which is about 1/3rd the price of the equivalent Fuji paper. The Kodak paper is on a slightly heavier base as well.

    Image 1 shows the dispenser with the lid.
    Image 2 shows the narrow slot on the top front edge where the paper is fed from. (12.5" wide)

    Image A.jpg Image B.jpg
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2019
  8. John King

    John King Well-Known Member

    The paper dispense is now in full use. Two points if anyone decides to have a go at making one, the measurements for mine are a little tight for a 12" x 88m roll and would be easier to place the paper inside, The actual roll is very heavy to hold and fit into the box without a lot of fiddling about (my fingers are a little too large). I would have preferred allow another inch all round and it would not have increased the weight by much

    The light tight design had to have a few tweaks with all the seams having to be black silicon sealed and some of the pop rivets were not light proof either, but all is now done.
  9. John King

    John King Well-Known Member

    Further update

    It has now been in use for nearly 7 months and is working well. I have only had one issue and that is where I let the leading edge of the paper slip back into the box and it was the very devil of a job to get the roll out and feed the tongue out again. I cured that with a rough and ready strip of Gaffa tape stuck to the leading edge and also stuck to the underside of the case. It is still working so I have not changed it.

    I am now on my 2nd roll of 12" wide Kodak RA4
    EightBitTony and spinno like this.

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