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89 Drew Lane
Middlebury, VT, 05753
United States

406 219 8313


Keep up with the goings-on at Birdwalk Press, from the celebration of our wonderful couples' weddings to stationery insider tips.

Filtering by Tag: roller

Our Ink Roller Box

Ian Johnson

Keeping your ink rollers round and true is one of the essential responsibilities of a letterpress printer.  These soft rubbery things are incredibly precisely cast, and are soooo easily dented or distorted.  Leaving them on an ink disk or plate for even an hour can damage them irreversibly, so it’s of utmost importance to have a safe home to store them in, rather than on the press.  


We couldn’t find anything online that was just right (or affordable) to keep our rollers in.  There are roller boxes here and there online, but we needed one that could store six 8x12 C&P rollers at the same time and there was nothing available.


So I made one.


Six rollers at a time!

cheap utility pulls


I’m pretty proud of it.  While I don’t have any woodworking skills or a shop to speak of, it came out pretty well.  I designed it all in Sketchup, and built it in the garage.  Actually, I still need to cleanup all that sawdust…  please don’t tell Mina:).


The design uses two levels which each hold three rollers at a time, and keeps them suspended above the bottom and separated from each other.  Therefore as George Bluth says, we have… “No touching!”  The nifty part of the design is that both sets of shelves are removable from the box itself (while holding rollers), so you can remove each set independently while never having to set a roller out on a surface.  Maximum functionality!  


I’ve had a few requests to make these for sale, but as I said, I sort of have no idea what I’m doing.  I wish I was efficient enough to be able to produce these commercially, but I definitely am not.  This took me over three days of solid work to produce.  However, if you would like to build one yourself I’ll happily provide the Skectchup plans.  Just shoot me an email!  ian -at-



getting greasy, nbd

removable trays

roller tray detail

roller tray detail

without the top tray

Letterpress Hack: Distribution Roller on a Platen Press

Ian Johnson

For a while we’ve been noticing ghosting on our Old Style Gordon press.  It’s a problem that happens with large print areas where the ink is removed from the roller(s), and the ink disk can’t re-ink enough to cover the loss.  The rollers are then left with a “ghost” of the plate, causing the proceeding prints to end up printing lighter or patchy.  


Old Style Gordon default roller setup


Since our press is and oldie (but a goodie!), the roller design wasn’t the best thought out.  There are three roller arms, but the lowest arm baaaaarely gets far enough up the ink disk to actually be inked.  However, those two rollers alone often aren’t great at masking ghosting so we came up with a fix for bigger prints.


Distribution roller clip

Distribution roller clip


Enter the distro-clip!!  Using some brass rod from the amazing Kenyon Noble (we tend to have local hardware store pride in Montana), we bent a set of clips to hold a third roller on top of the two already in place.  This roller never touches the plate, but it serves an equally important role.  The extra surface area provided by a third roller helps to evenly distribute ink between the rollers, as well as cache ink from the ink disk for longer.  


ink distribution roller


It’s been amazing the difference this has made.  Prints that were previously coming out patchy or salty are now even and deeply colored.  This has been a great way to extend the capabilities of our old Gordon, and now it can keep up with the most pressing (no pun intended) of jobs.