How to Make an 8mm Film Editor

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Using 8mm film for home movies and low-end movie projects used to be a common occurrence. Especially for the latter, it was necessary to have an 8mm film editor at your disposal to work on cutting the film together. Since these are hard to come by since video took over, you can build one yourself.

Things You'll Need

  • Two empty 8mm film reels
  • Reel supports
  • Two hand cranks
  • Piece of frosted glass or plastic
  • Fluorescent light source
  • Plastic pieces for film guides
  • Four 2-foot pieces of pine
  • Glue
  • Screws
  • Saw
  • Hinges
  • Magnifying glass
  • Attach the fluorescent light fixture to one of the boards. This will be the base. You will want to use a fluorescent light because it produces less heat than an incandescent bulb. An alternative is an LED light source, but it can't be too bright. There will be little heat to damage film, however.

  • Cut a hole for the frosted glass or plastic in another of the 2-foot boards. Since you will be cutting on this, strong plastic or glass is best. Glue the frosted piece into the hole making sure the smoother side is up.

  • Cut the other two boards to use for the long and short sides. Cut some vent holes in both of the long sides. Cut a hole for the electrical cord. Use screws to assemble the box with the light inside. If you want easier access to change the light bulbs, use hinges to connect the top board to one of the sides instead of screws.

  • Use pieces of smooth plastic as film guide rails. You can glue these down so the film travels from left to right or right to left. These should be in the center of the frosted glass.

  • Attach the film reel supports in a straight line on either side of the top board. You can screw these in. You will need to add spool supports for each reel so they slide on and off easily. You can take these entire assemblies from an old film projector.

  • Attach a support that pivots to the top of the box so you can swing it. Attach the magnifying glass to the top of this. You will need this to be able to see the film frames and to avoid having to construct a lens and viewer system.

  • Attach the hand cranks to either reel assembly. This way you will be able to manually maneuver the film back and forth to make cuts.

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