NEW Roller/Platen adjusting gauge! comments…..

Comments are welcome. As I visit Briar Press I often read how new press owners have difficulty adjusting their presses. The two main issues are proper inking, and even impression. I decided to try to do something about it. One gauge already existed which is for measuring proper roller height. It is nicknamed the lollypop because of its shape. I couldn’t however find any gauge to help adjust the evenness of the platen. I know about locking up large type in the corners but I like gauges! I tried to address both of these issues. On one end is a white lollypop which is used to set roller height for proper inking. It is very easy to use and the ink stripe you create is very easy to see against the white color. In addition however, I have added two black platen height gauges that can be adjusted to fit any size platen press up to an 8″x12″ or there abouts. These black pieces are adjusted with the thumbscrew to be in a top and bottom corner of your platen. You can also adjust them to be in diagonal corners. You simply loosen the lock nuts on the platen and turn the screw in or out until you get one side of the platen evenly adjusted against the two black cylinders. Repeat this on the other side, then recheck the first side. You do this without ink, chase, or packing on the press. The cylinders are sized so that after adjustment, and you add a normal packing to the press you are very close to proper and even impression. It is especially helpful if you want to disassemble your press for cleaning and need to get it back into specs or if you just got out of whack and want to start fresh and to prevent harming type or plates. It is made of brass and delrin so there is nothing to rust or corrode. I have initially made a dozen that I will sell.

image: New roller/platen adjusting gauge

New roller/platen adjusting gauge

image: Using the roller gauge

Using the roller gauge

image: Using the platen gauge

Using the platen gauge

image: Adjusting platen to gauge

Adjusting platen to gauge

Log in to reply   26 replies so far


This looks like a good tool to have in the toolbox. How much over type high did you mill the platen adjusting blocks to allow for adequate packing?

Hi jhenry,

I went with 40 thousandths making it .958” high. You adjust to a slip fit so you know you have not overtightened and flexed the platen which gives it another 5 thousandths or so. I welcome your comments on my choice.

Hi John,
How much are you charging for them?

Daniel Morris
The Arm Letterpress
Brooklyn, NY

Hi Daniel,

I better put this in the classifieds. I am charging $24.95 plus 4.75 priority mail with your choice of letterpress or vandercook roller/lollypop gauges. (.918 or .968) I now have only 10. Any further requests to purchase please see classifieds.

John, do they come in different colors? i was thinking pink or blue would be nice. Dick G.

I’ll keep an eye out for the ad in the classifieds- I’ll take two. I’d like to pass one on to Perry Tymeson to send it out on the road. I am sure he can give it a workout.


dickg: There’s one in every crowd!

Dan: Got yours set aside. I would greatly appreciate you giving me some feedback thanks. Classified is submitted, just waiting for it to appear. They may be gone before the ad shows up.

4 left as of 1:00 10/26/2010

Can you put me on the list for a .918 one? Been meaning to adjust my press but I don’t have enough furniture to lock letters in the corners.

Jihn, I’ll take one for the platen press. Terri

Lorene and Ink Spot, Yours are put aside. Ad will appear under classifieds.

2 left

I can’t purchase one right now, but I will totally be down with version 2.0!

Hi all,

They are all sold. Please use the classified ad to make a request for a gauge and I will start making more and fill orders on a first come first serve basis. If the ad isn’t there yet it should be as soon as Elizabeth has a chance.

Thanks for such a nice response.


Build a better mousetrap and the customers will come knocking at you door.
I think you have filled a need.
You know how to use it and have found it to work well.
The proof of success will be from comments of the users.
I am an old type in the corners guy so I will not likely be a customer, but I do admire good work.

Having been sold out three times, they are now back in stock again. Please see ad in classifieds. Thanks for your support.


If you make a larger one, say up to 12x18, i would be interested.

The ad is not showing up yet, but I would like to buy one from you! please email me. Thank you!

I have used the gauge on three different presses, a 6 X 10 Kelsey, a Pilot & an Improved Pilot … following restoration. It is simple to use and is producing the desired results. Thank you John for making the planten adjustment process very simple and straight forward.

And if you make one matching the European standard type height I would be very interested too!
Gott grüß die Kunst

John, great idea, before i adjust my press again i’m going to get one from you, every 10 years i adjust them, so ship me one in November, 2020, thanks Dick G.

Vroom, I make a large one!

JamieK_77, There for sale at my website:

Ink Spot, thank you!

bogtrykkeren, I’m not brave enough yet!

DickG. So, bring it with me when I find time to visit your shop?


I’m a newbie, but i definitely think i need to adjust my platen on my 10X15 C&P. The person i bought the press from gave me the gauge as well. I’m just not sure how you would use it to make sure the platen is set properly. Does the platen have to touch the rails? How loose should the gauge be between the platen and bed?


If it is a “real” platen guage you might well use it then sell it.
If it is a roller guage then diff story.
your platen height will “Become part of your press”
part of what you do on it.

Hi Ericm, it’s both! It’s from John Falstrom’s shop. The person that sold me the press also gave me the gauge. I think the person before me messed with it and wasn’t fully dedicated to printing, so I don’t think it’s leveled properly.

leveled “properly” is according to your “needs”
this is a machine. use it to your own rquirements

Hi Sandra,

Here are the instructions:

image: Falstromgauge.jpg


each press will “apply pressure” a bit differently. it is just as effective to have a big die cutting die made. one that you can lock in without the chase. “Kiss cutting” a thin stock. give your die maker your chase and the can make the perimeter work out. i would recommend an “X” with a rectangle around it. an inch or 2 in from the total dimensions
leveling a platen is not a daily thing. makeready is