This section is from the book "Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography", by J. B. Schriever. Also available from Amazon: Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography.
Dark-Room. As considerable of one's time is spent in the dark-room, this room should be made as comfortable and convenient as possible and should not be made a store room, as is frequently done. It is advisable to have it fairly large in size. It should be well ventilated, so that it will never become damp, which often occurs, due to dripping plates and water spattered on the floor, etc.
903. When possible, have a window that opens outdoors. Arrange this so it may be closed tightly by means of a shutter, thus excluding all daylight. When the darkroom is not in use open this window, and also the dark-room doors, admitting all the fresh air possible, which will help to dry out all dampness in the room and make it more healthful. Entrance to the dark-room should be made through double doors, if possible, so that one may go in or out without endangering and fogging the plates that may be in the process of development. An L-shaped entrance may be provided, if the double doors are not desired or if it is not convenient to have them.
904. The sinks should be of good size, so that large developing trays may be used, thereby enabling you to develop a number of plates at a time. The sink should also accommodate the fixing and washing boxes. Do not have too many shelves, as they only make it possible to accumulate many things in the dark-room that should not be there. Have a cupboard for plates, and a light-tight box or boxes for exposed plates. An ideal dark-room, together with its detailed description, is given in Volume II.
A Cement Sink. A cement sink, as used and de-
Illustration No. 103 Diagrams of Cement Sink
See Paragraph No. 008 scribed by Mr. A. B. Stebbins, will be found both economical and serviceable for the small studio, or in fact for any studio, however pretentious.
906. The advantages of a cement sink for photographic use are cleanliness, cheapness and absolute security against leakage. If you follow the directions you can make one that will be a luxury compared with the ordinary wooden sink, and at a trifling cost in cash and labor. The most important point is a good foundation; that is, a solid box so supported that there will be no settling or spring. Make your box four inches wider and two inches deeper than you want the inside dimensions of the sink; use good one inch lumber (it can be cheap, but should be sound; rough hemlock is all right); have it well nailed together; put it in the place used, and have the drain pipe well fitted at this stage.
907. It is recommended that the cement bottom be two inches thick; so run the pipe through the box one and three-quarters of an inch, so as to let the cement set around it, which will hold it tighter than if it were screwed in. See that it is fixed in the right place and stop it with a cork. It will be a good plan to put a union just below the sink, if you are at all likely to want to disconnect it at any time.
908. The cross section, Illustration No. 103, Figure 1, shows the box ready to be filled. You will see that all the pattern or mould needed is a wooden frame four inches less in width, two inches less in height (outside measurement) than your box. It is supported even with the top of the box by narrow strips tacked on so as to hold it in place equi-distant from the sides and two inches from the bottom; these strips are indicated in Figure 1, Illustration No. 103.
909. Now get your mason and have him put in the cement. Tell him to handle it dryer than he would for cement walks, as it will drip through some (no need of any tight joints in the box). Let it set from two to three hours, when you can pull the mould away and it is ready for troweling. Now let it set over night and it will be ready for use in the morning.
910. Get the best Portland cement, and good, clean sand. One-half barrel of cement and three bushels of sand will make a sink 3x7 feet inside. I use three parts of sand, two parts cement. If you have any confidence in your mason let him decide these points. I have put two such sinks in my work-rooms; got things ready; had the mason fill the moulds between five and six p. m.; they were ready to trowel between nine and ten p. m., and were in use next morning.
911. To finish the sink put a facing of planed lumber around the top indicated in Figure 2 and let it project one-fourth of an inch inside (this is to protect the edges). I also use a planed piece of wood in the front of the box. A coat of paint gives it the finishing touch. If you think it necessary you can reinforce the sides, corners and bottom of the sink by putting big nails or spikes in the cement. Have these completely buried and they will not rust. Heavy wires can be run in through the bottom, but if you have a solid box, good cement and clean sand, these are not essential.
912. None of the chemicals used in ordinary work will affect such a sink except strong acids. It does not absorb and retain moisture or odors; developers do not stain it, and it can be scrubbed out as you would scrub a stone sink, and it grows harder and more permanent as the years go by.
913. The cost will depend on local conditions. Cement cost me $1.75 per barrel, sand ten cents per bushel. One sink was put inside of an old wooden one, the box for the other I made out of picked up stuff. The mason will charge from fifty cents to a dollar for his work.