This tool consists of a roller of wood or metal mounted on a spindle, to which are attached a frame and a handle. Around the wooden roller is a wrapper of leather, on which is cut or stamped an imitation of the grain of a certain wood. The leather used for the roller is of thick hide. The pattern is sketched on one side, and then the ground is cut away to a certain depth, just as a block cutter would do for printing. In some cases the strip of leather is made fast to the roller, and only just covers it; in other cases the leather will be three or four times the circumference of the roller. The distemper graining colour is brushed over the work to be grained, and, while it is wet, the roller, which has previously been damped with a wet chamois leather, is passed over it, and as the roller passes along it takes up the colour in patches of the exact shape of the pattern on the roller used. This is then softened with the badger-hair softener, and overgrained. By a judicious use of these rollers, using only a part of the circumference, and changing the direction, the patterns may be obtained in great variety. The mottle of satin-wood, mahogany, ash, and birch is well imitated by these rollers, and also the beautiful feathers or curls in mahogany and satinwood.
The mottle of these woods has very little variety, so that one or two patterns suffice for all; and this class of woods is peculiarly suitable for imitation by these rollers. To use the rollers for the imitation of mahogany, satinwood, birch, and maple, lay the colour, mixed in beer, on the surface, pass the roller over it whilst it is wet, soften, and overgrain with a hog-hair overgrainer, previously combed to separate the hair. The roller should occasionally be passed twice over the same place, and in some parts plain spaces left, so as to prevent a repetition of the patterns. Put in the maple eyes by hand in the usual way. Before over-graining the graining should bo covered with a coat of turpentine, gold size, and a little varnish to bind it, so that the colour may not be removed by the overgraining. For oak, lay the colour on as regular as possible, and comb as in ordinary work, a little common flour paste being added to the water colour, to enable it to stand the comb. Then pass the roller over it, and the badger, in the same direction as the combing. Overgrain same as mohogany, after the application of the mixture of gold size, varnish, and turpentine. The rollers must be kept quite clean, and free from grease or oil.
Before commencing work wet the rollers thoroughly with a sponge and water, and rub them with a wash-leather or dry cloth, so as to remove any water remaining on the surface. Whilst using the rollers, have a piece of wash-leather at hand, over which they should be frequently passed to keep them quite clean, and prevent the accumulation of colour on their surfaces, which would clog up the pattern. After use, wash them well with a brush and water, and let them dry gradually; do not apply heat, as that is likely to crack the surface.