durometer choice

I recently purchased a rather old double-handled brayer, neglected and dusty on the floor of an antique shop. All is well except the roller must be recovered. I am wondering what anyone might recommend for the durometer hardness when I have the roller redone? Tarheel makes rubber ones at 20, and Mr. Rummonds book recommends a rating of 40. The original coating is the classic composition, but I would rather go with rubber for the new roller. I was thinking about Ramco for doing the job. I hand ink wood and metal type, printing on a R. Hoe hand press. Any suggestions on this would be appreciated!

Thank you,


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I had a hand brayer re-covered with rubber at 25 durometer, and it has worked well for me.

I imagine if you choice is 20, that would be fine, too.

John Henry

Do you intend to print anything like a linocut or woodcut, where the surface might have a bit more texture than polished wood type or the usual smooth surface of lead?

If so, 20 duro might be best. Fills in the blemishes a bit easier.


I am also a hand press printer and print on an Albion. I use a double handled brayer as well. I had the people at Advanced Roller in Southern California recover my roller and they did a beautiful job. It is the same durometer rating as my C&P rollers but is 2.5 inches in diameter. I get beautiful results with metal type, magnesium and copper cuts, and polymer plates. As suggested by both Rummonds and by Allen, I use roller bearers. The bearers actually measure nearly 30/1000 above type high. I underlay them with tape. Height of roller bearer matters as much as durometer to me in getting good inking. Once you get your roller back, do a number of test prints to raise roller bearer height by adding a layer of tape with each incremental test print until the printing looks good. Then measure with a micrometer and make that your bearer height for that roller. If your roller is too soft it will sink down on the bearers and you will get muddy printing. If you’re roller is too hard you will see skips in your inking. I recommend a durometer of around 20 to 25.

40 is a very hard durometer, not suitable to letterpress forms that vary in height at all; forms of wood type and used metal type will vary considerably. Traditionally, letterpress rollers are made in the 20s range.
I’m not going to re-read Rummonds to find this, but I would not take 40 as a credible recommendation even for strictly handpress inking. I have 45 durometer rollers on my cylinder press, but they are hardened by 24 years of use and started out in the 20s. Fine if used very carefully with perfectly level photopolymer plates, but for any metal forms I have to add a fourth form roller that is newer and soifter so that low characters get coverage.

Thank you all for writing in with suggestions and possibilities. Your input is both informative and insightful. Print Print Print!