I suppose this is in the wrong spot, since 8x10 is really large format, not medium. Anyway, this is my old Burke&James 8x10. I just came across an old print of it, so I thought I would post it. The camera is actually sitting downstairs in its original metal case (big as a good-sized suitcase).
I plan on refinishing it, since underneath the original grey paint is a beautiful wooden camera!
Here is a web site showing how nice they can look when you take the time to refinish them!
Forgot to add that your bellows seem to be in nice condition. Rather than risk ruining them by trying to remove them (unless you can fine a solvent for the glue that holds them but which won't damage the bellows themselves) I'd try first masking them off.
You might find a few thoughts on the job helpful.
I think if I were doing the job I'd try masking off the bellows with some plastic, like a plastic food bag, and near-waterproof sticky tape, the heavy stuff usually in 2 inch wide rolls known in the UK as Gaffer Tape after its use by roadies in video crews and rock concerts to hold down trailing cables. I've found it excellent stuff for masking fairly large things, much better than drafting tape.
In the UK you can still sometimes find old stock of the horrible old-fashioned highly toxic paint strippers, but for a long time now most people use a type which looks like a cross between a jelly and a liquid and is neutralised afterwards with plain water. I find it better than paste strippers. The UK brand I use is called Polystrippa but I expect you've got similar stuff in the US. I find just a spot of washing-up liquid in the washing off water helps a lot. The water raises the grain on the wood a little, but that's easily sanded off.
I see the guy on the website used a water-based wood stain. I've tried these, but don't like them much. I like spirit-based stains and rub them in with a rag rather than flood the wood by using a brush. The UK brand I use is Ronuk.
I like to refinish wood with a shellac-based polish. It's sold here ready-mixed as either French polish or Button polish. Button polish is thicker and quicker to use but it tends to hide the nice figuring in the wood grain more than French polish which is made from lighter coloured flakes of shellac.
The time-honoured method 80 to 150 years ago was to use French polish on a cotton wool 'rubber' inside linen cloth, but it's an acquired art with tricks and dodges all of its own. I learned it once, but I found it very time consuming so I usually put thin coats of the stuff on with a soft brush. The brush washes out afterwards in denatured alcohol. After about six or seven coats of this I let it dry and harden for about a week then take out any brush marks with fine steel wool and finally polish it with a metal polish wadding and a pure wax polish. It comes up like glass. I don't like modern plastic based polishes. They give a lovely finish but to my mind they look too modern and artificial.
BTW, on some antique wooden cameras you see what appear to be light coloured flecks under the polish. These weren't there originally, they're flecks of grain filler, usually chalk, which was rubbed into the wood to fill the pores of the grain and then stained to make the polishing a quicker job. Over the years the coloured stain has leached out of the chalk. The best polishers didn't use a filler, they filled the grain pores with polish and let it sink in.
These methods are the ones I used on wooden clock cases when I used to restore antque clocks for my sister's antiques business. I haven't yet restored a wood camera, but the same would apply to cameras or anything else made of nice quality wood.
I'm not suggesting you use the same methods as I did, I may be preaching to the converted and you may have lots of experience in wood finishing, but I hope you find these notes at least of some interest.
The bellows is in extraordinarily good condition...and is the primary reason I have not tackled a refinishing before this...I just didn't want to risk ruining it, and having a substantial cost to replace it!
I have the lensboard, so I don't have to fabricate one, and that great Super Angulon lens is old but still quite functional! If I am successful, I may just take it out again for some scenic shots, although it will have to be a "planned" trip, because lugging it around (and it's behemoth tripod) is not a "spur-of-the-moment" thing!
If I am successful, I may just take it out again for some scenic shots, although it will have to be a "planned" trip, because lugging it around (and it's behemoth tripod) is not a "spur-of-the-moment" thing!
Years ago I was very friendly with a freelance industrial photographer; we often covered the same shows and exhibitions in the UK and various mainland European countries.
One evening over a few beers in the hotel he told me that he started in the 1930s as a teenager working for an industrial and architectural photographer, and everything was shot on 10x8 glass plates.
They went out on a shoot with two cameras, carrying one each, in suitcases. The tripods were carried in the other hand!. He spent the first six months of his training setting up the cameras, learning how to choose viewpoints and how all the movements worked and what they did before he was allowed to make his first exposure.
He was in the army as a photographer during the war, lugging around a couple of 5x4 cameras with cut film, and after the war worked as a photographer for the Allied Control Commission in Germany. He couldn't believe his luck when instead of large format cameras the ACC issued him with TWO Leicas and a small haversack to carry the film. He said he felt like a shorn lamb!
BTW, he spoke four languages fluently, an accomplishment that had me filled with envy! My French at one time wasn't too bad, but my German was of the 'learn on the job, try to understand and make yourself understood when they don't speak English' variety. Tenses and grammar all wrong! .