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Build a Portable Film Drying Cabinet

Commercial film drying cabinets can be expensive and not entirely fit for my purpose. Therefore, my previous portable film drying cabinet was a basic fence wire frame covered by a PVC garment bag. While the cabinet cost less than $10 to construct it was a crude solution, unstable at rest and difficult to transit through this house without piercing the cover.

The New Cabinet is a Frankenstein

The time finally came when I needed to build something just as portable but a lot more robust and serviceable than the first one. It’s a Frankenstein, but it’s effective. It’s ugly, but it works.

To understand the constraints I have in this large old house you need to understand that I process film in a bathroom on the below ground floor. The cabinet can’t be left down there and we have cats. So I have to carry the film drying cabinet up a tight set of stairs, through a bedroom, along a hallway, through a split level kitchen, past another toilet bathroom area, into the back of a laundry and up another even tighter and steeper set of stairs that turn a 90 degree corner up into my work space in the roof. A height constraint means 1600 millimetres is my approximate limit.

Step One: Gathering the Components

The frame is made from 15mm plumbing pipe available at the local hardware. You’ll need 10 x 1 metre lengths.

Plumbing pipe components laid on a wooden surface

The Bottom lengths to be cut (on the left of the image): 4 x 250mm; 10 x 80mm; 4 x 20mm. There are also 4 stop ends and 12 T Joints.

The top (on the right) includes the following lengths to be cut: 2 x 425mm; 1 x 310mm; 2 x 300mm; 2 x 250mm; 4 x 110mm; 9 x 80mm. There are also 4 round corners and 12 T joints.

Four 1 metre lengths join the top to the bottom section.

You will also need a 1700mm (or larger) PVC wedding gown cover, a plastic storage container with a base approximately 445mm x 305mm (to sit your frame inside), thick bubble wrap 800mm x 350mm, a 6 metre strap used for securing vehicle load, a small amount of gaffer tape and some woodwork glue.

Assembling the Frame

It would be too verbose to explain exactly how the frame is constructed. The bottom construction (again, on the left of the image) uses stop end plugs attached to 20mm pieces of pipe to make the base less likely to tip over. The top construction has an extra piece between the two topmost struts that allows a rubber band to suspend the drying film from a peg. Four 1 metre lengths of pipe join the top to the bottom. All the pipe joins were filled with a small amount of woodwork glue.

Bottom construction on the left and Top construction on the right

The Other Bits Make it a Frankenstein

With the frame assembled you will need to cut a hole in the base of the PVC garment cover and pull it over the top of the frame. Then make a slit in the middle of the back so that it slips completely over the frame. Tape the thick piece of bubble wrap squarely over the gaping hole you created.

Stand the frame covered in PVC garment bag inside the plastic tub with the zip facing toward you and connect the 6 metre load strap from one tub handle across the top and back to the other side. These should be reasonably tight so the straps can be used as carrying aids.

I placed a few strategic pieces of gaffer tape to attach the bottom of the PVC garment cover to the inside walls of the plastic tub. And just to keep the dust out I purchased $3 of thin bubble wrap and pushed it gently into the gap from the outside.

The Devil is in the Detail

The reason I created a portable film drying cabinet in this fashion was because this can be disassembled easily for regular cleaning.

The straps help with manoeuvrability and provides structural support between the frame and base. And the tub allows for robust transit around the house. Every component is there for a reason. I may still put bubble wrap on the inside where the slit has been covered because I’ve found dust will find a way in there eventually and it would be easier to clean with that hole covered.

Finally, if something else comes along that improves a single component I can toss the old part and use a new one in it’s place.

If you do find the same constraints as mine and need a portable film drying cabinet take a stab at recreating this one. It cost under $80 (not as cheap as the wire one I used to have at sub-$10) but it’s sturdier and certainly cheaper than a commercial product. Or create your own purpose-built Frankenstein.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark (aka nortypig) and I live in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a photographer making pictures with film. A web developer for money. A business consultant for fun. A journalist on paper. Dreams of owning the World. Idea champion. Paradox. Life partner to Megan.

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