Introduction: Paper Camera Bellows
This instructable provides detailed directions for building a homemade camera bellows with a single sheet of paper. Camera bellows may not be used among todays photographers. But in the early days of photography, many cameras came equipped with bellows for the purpose of allowing the lens to move based on the focal plane for focusing. With the invention of modern day lenses these have since been faded out of use. A paper camera bellows, however, is still a cool little object to make, and is pleasing to look at. With these steps I'll show you how to make one yourself. Enjoy.
Step 1: Bill of Materials
You will need:
- 1 piece of paper (8x11)
- 1 drafting triangle (45, 45, 90 is suggested)
- 1 ruler (standard)
- 1 letter opener
- 1 pencil
- a few small binder clips
- Elmer's glue
Step 2: Draw the Horizontal Lines
Position the sheet of paper length wise facing you. Use the ruler to make tick marks every 1/2 inches up the paper. Once this is done take the drafting triangle and draw horizontal lines across the paper at each tick mark (you can align the the bottom edge of the triangle with your paper to keep the lines horizontal). You should now have sixteen horizontal lines drawn across your paper.
Step 3: Drawing the Vertical Lines
Starting from the left side of the paper tick of 1/4 of an inch. Use the drafting triangle to draw the vertical line at the 1/4 inch mark. After this is done, starting at the line just drawn make another tick 1/2 inches towards the right. Use the drafting triangle to make another vertical line at this point. Starting at this line make another tick 2 and 9/16 inches towards the right. Use the drafting triangle to make another vertical line at this point. You should know have three vertical lines. Repeat drawing the 1/2 inch lines and the 2 and 9/16 inch lines three times, each towards the right. Once this is done you should have eight vertical lines, and four bars that are 1/2 inches wide and equally spaced apart.
Step 4: Drawing the Diagonal Lines
For this I used a 45, 45, 90 drafting triangle, I found that it worked best. Using the drafting triangle start on the first 1/2 inch bar to the left and draw diagonal lines starting to the left then to the right, oscillating as you move your way down the bar. each diagonal line should fit in a horizontal bar, then switch direction and move down. It is very important that your first diagonal line at the top left begin going towards the left. Repeat this step three more times for the remaining 1/2 inch bars, each time switch the starting direction. For example in bar two you should start to the right, opposite of what was done in bar one.
Step 5: Creasing the Lines
Take the letter opener and crease all of the lines drawn on the sheet of paper. Press hard enough that the paper will easily bend, but not so hard that it cuts the paper. Using the ruler and drafting triangle will increase the precision of each crease.
Step 6: Folding the Horizontal Lines
Fold the horizontal lines like an accordion, folding the top towards you to begin.
Step 7: Folding the Rest
Using your fingers pinch the diagonal lines to emphasize their structure. Once this is done, starting at the top pinch the diagonals while folding the horizontals. It will take effort to force the paper into shape. Work your way down the paper. The ending result should be an curved accordion shape starting to make an angle. To hold this shape, place the small binder clips along the still straight paper right before it widens.
Step 8: Repeating Step 7
Repeat step 7 three more times to get the three other corners needed. The final product should resemble a a square at its base, disconnected at one side.
Step 9: Gluing the Bellows Together
Extend the bellows to its comfortable full length, not putting stress on the folds. Use Elmer's glue to join the open side together. Apply the glue in small amounts to each flap and join the two ends together. let dry for recommended time on bottle.
Step 10: Final Product
Check to make sure the glue has dried, and that the structure is still movable. You now have your very own bellows to be used for whatever you like. I hope all of the steps were easy to follow, enjoy.
Question 10 months ago on Step 10
I am in the process of designing an SVG file for this so that I can cut out the paper and do all the scoring on a Cricut Explore Three. With an SVG file, it will also be fully scaleable. Is there any way I can upload my file to this project?
Question 1 year ago on Introduction
My "box" dimensions for the bellows is 16"x7". Not sure how to adapt your plan to fit. Can you help?
6 years ago
I'm glad that you shared this - some of us still need bellows from time to time. I accidentally ripped one out of an old enlarger recently. Now, maybe I can fix it!
And you're right: it's cool in and of itself. With the right materials, it would make a nice lampshade.
6 years ago