Monday, 30 November 2009

my solution to cleaning rollers

As promised, I'll be writing more posts on my processes, techniques and hints. Hopefully some of you will find them helpful if you're just starting out in letterpress printing. I've added a "tips + hints" category to the tag cloud to make things a bit easier in terms of searching.

After a few hours of printing - my left arm and shoulder start to feel the burn. When it comes time to clean the rollers, I usually take a break first to give my arm a rest. I do this because cleaning the rollers requires some time and the two rollers need to be cleaned one at a time. Normally, I would have to hold a roller in one hand and use the other hand to rub it down until the ink came off. With the amount of printing I've been doing, I was motivated to think of a better way to handle the rollers.

In my research, I saw a homemade box with wedges cut out on both ends for the pins of the rollers to sit in. This enables both hands to be free and shoulders relatively relaxed. The trouble with this is that I don't have any tools to construct a wooden box. No saw, no nails, no know-how. So I asked my brother (who's pretty handy with tools) if he had any suggestions. He mentioned that he saw a plastic shoe box at the local hardware store and suggested it may be easier for me to cut into and less work overall.

With that in mind, I found a suitable Rubbermaid container for $3 and planned to drill holes in both ends to slip the pins through. When I got it home, I placed one of the rollers in the box diagonally and discovered (with great delight) that it sat perfectly from edge to edge. The size of the box allows the roller to sit securely inside and it's still able to spin which is great for the actual cleaning. Unfortunately, the box was too light to sit still while I cleaned a roller, so I placed my heavy Boxcar base inside to weigh it down.

The box is also adequate for holding the ink disc if you're inclined. I usually leave the disc on the press to take advantage of the spinning mechanism but it's always good to have options.

So, how about that? No pieces of wood, no jig saw, no cutting, no nailing!


small caps said...

Good idea! I will try this, have nearly the same plastic box. Do you use a cloth or a brush for cleaning?

snap + tumble said...

small caps - Glad you found the post useful!

I use a cloth.

UPDATE: I have since drilled a hole on each end of the box so that the pins slide in making it more stable!

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