A Modern Ink Blotter
When we were contacted about making a custom rocking ink blotter, our first reaction was, “A rocking what?”. A little internet research revealed that many ink blotters available commercially haven’t changed since Bob Cratchit was using them.
Something a little different was in order, so I started sketching a few concepts up. The main idea behind an ink blotter is securing a strip of blotting paper over a curved surface so it can be rolled across freshly penned script. The archaic look of traditional ink blotters didn’t make much of a statement, especially if it is meant to be kept out on the desk. Compact forms and a different way of attaching the clamping top gave this blotter a fresher look without compromising functionality.
How it Works
The curve is not a half-circle. I made it as two conics that are tangent at the center, giving the blotter a bit of a flatter middle that gradually increases in curvature toward the ends. This gave the rolling action a nice slow pace at the middle, and allowed the blotter to engage and disengage at any comfortable angle without exceeding the edge.
The paper is very secure with just a small amount of pressure from the curved plywood piece. I considered adding textured material to the top of the main body where the paper wraps, but it was not necessary.
These Jorgensen Gear Clamps have quickly become my favorite new clamp. The exert an incredible amount of pressure very quickly with a squeeze on the handle. The only thing I’d change is making the rubber scuff pads have some sort of mechanical attachment point to keep them from constantly slipping off.
I wrapped the base in cling wrap and glued up 10 layers of veneer on top of it. When gluing your own plywood pieces, make sure the grain alternates on each layer to provide plenty of strength and structure.
I used a series of clamps at first, but the most important bit was the weighted leather strap that pulled down evenly on the veneer stack. I eventually took the clamps off and just let the belt do most of the work.
After the glue dried for a day, I cut the curved plywood to proper size on the band saw. Always be careful when cutting something like this on a bandsaw to keep contact with the table or throat plate while cutting. Never cut something “in the air” on a bandsaw.
Metal and peg
Just as a courtesy note, this was a personal project, and we do not intend to sell these cases in the Tinkering Monkey store. But, feel free to make your own just like this one, or improve upon it! We’d love to see photos if you do.