New Rollers

So, I’m not a big fan of the search function here, lol. I can’t seem to find what I’m looking for. I can’t imagine that no one has discussed this topic yet…

It’s going to be time for new rollers very soon. When I first purchased the machine, it came with 3 old rubber rollers. They aren’t in perfect shape, but they are okay. They get the job done, at this point, but have a few uneven spots. I’m very careful to put the best roller at the bottom, and it works alright. However, I am thinking it might be much less of a headache to spring for new rollers pretty soon.

I have been trying to figure out whether to go with composition or rubber. I know rubber is more expensive, but I don’t know exactly why. Does the rubber provide better inking? Does rubber last longer? I just need to figure out if it’s worth paying double, for the rubber.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Graytin Press, LLC

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What kind of press? Where is it housed? What kind of printing will you be doing?

Lots of bits go into the decision of composition vs rubber. I think composition does a better job of transferring ink to type, but mice and some bugs like to eat it. And it’s sensitive to humidity and temperature changes. It absorbs water. If you have the press indoors in controlled conditions, composition might be nice, especially if you’re not planning on high volume, high speed work.

Still, rubber works very well and I chose to use that in my home hobby shop, even though composition was probably a bit more authentic. I’d lost some earlier rollers to mice and we do get an occasional wee beastie in the basement shop area.

Grayton Press,You know some things never die,compostion rollers come into that catagory.
I can’t believe anyone in there right mind would still
manufacture them.Rubber is superior in all aspects to
composition.Your comment about the few uneven spots
really says it all.Try this test on your current rollers,press
the base of your finger into your roller does the impression stay?Thern its probably composition, some old recipes
never james

Tarheel Roller Company is about the only place still making composition rollers, they also make rubber rollers. Like Arie said mice love them (lost one to the little guys) i had some melt off the cores also, last summer i had a pair of comp rollers that were old enough to vote on my kluge,, in the middle of the job they softened up and stuck to the disk, they do print very well but rubber will give you less problems. Good Luck Dick G. I use rollercraft in cumberland, RI for my rubber rollers, get the softest rubber rollers they make.

I’ve only ever used rubber rollers, all previously used, but as one looking to purchase a new set of rollers in the near future I’ll add my 2 cents worth. From what I’ve read and heard, there seems to me a majority of opinion that composition transfers the ink better and I have no reason to doubt that. But since the rubber rollers I’ve used did just fine that’s not a deciding factor for me.

Since the rubber rollers on my first press were very well used and those on my current press somewhat used when I got them I can say that rubber rollers seem to have a half-life of 99 years unless they are simply shredded. That doesn’t mean I have no problems, but I did see that they are very durable and last a long time. So I do consider that an important factor in the decision making process.

On the other hand, composition rollers have been around for something like 150 years and even though rarely used commercially they are still out there and still work great. I’ve spoken with many people who use them and they report that if taken off the press and properly cleaned and stored in a reasonably climate controlled environment, they will work well and last for several years, sometimes longer. Of course, these people are not printing 8 hours a day 6 days a week. Of course,there’s nothing scientific about that info, and I’m sure others have had bad experiences. But it did remind me about the properties of wood.

Wood? Yes, wood. I’m a cabinetmaker and have done a lot of teaching and basic helping in that field. One of the most basic things to understand is that wood is a dynamic material that even when fabricated into a piece of furniture, continues to react to its environment. It swells when humid and shrinks when dry. Part of the craft of cabinetmaking is to learn how to select, mill, join, and finish wood for a piece of furniture in such a way so as to maximize the positive aspects of the wood’s properties while minimizing its negative aspects. In other words, you’ve got to treat it right.

So I think that in general, if treated properly as befits the material they’re made from, there’s a good chance composition rollers can work just fine and last a good long time. That, combined with the cost of the rollers, is leading me to decide for the composition. I can’t possibly afford the approx. $400 for a new set of 3 rubber rollers for my 10x15 C&P. Composition rollers are about half of that and while for me still a lot of money, are at least at the outermost range of what I can save for and afford. Even if in the end they don’t last as long, it seems they will last “long enough” to get some real use out of them. It means I can have and use a new set of rollers instead of continuing with what are becoming more and more substandard rollers as time goes on. It’s a trade off, but all things considered may be the best way for me to go. But if money was not an issue, I would by rubber since I think that’s the better value in the long run.

A final thought: It would be a shame if composition rollers were some day no longer available. I do think they offer a number of advantages. I hope that enough people will find them a good value and keep Tarheel and anyone else who may be making them in business.


Front Room Press
Milford, NJ

What converted me to rubber was having to replace composition rollers three or four times a year. After having a set literally explode off of my press, I decided it is not worth the trouble. The quality of the rollers I have bought in the last few years is much better that what I used to get, if you deal with the roller maker yourself, you can get the proper durometer for your needs. Composition rollers were great for the country printer without immediate resources like we have today, they could heat up a pot and melt down their used rollers, add a little glue or treacle, slick up their mould and make them themselves. It was handy and immediate, and very stinky. I like composition rollers, but it just make sense to me, being so far away from Tarheel, to use rubber.


Rich, about 4 years ago i got prices of $85 a roller for my 10x15 c&p from roller craft in Rhode Island, they sold me rollers for my windmill for the same price, worth checking them out. Dick G.

We have purchased our rollers from Ramco Roller in San Dimas, California. Great quality and very fast turn around.