Feeder Wheel Hardness

A shop owner asks about products to soften old power feed wheels. Instead, he gets advice about re-covering the wheels or switching to a replaceable tire system. October 13, 2005

We have a four wheel power feeder on our shaper that has the yellow colored wheels which I think are made of urethane. The problem is over the years the wheels have lost their elasticity and as a result don’t grip the wood very well.

We have glued a 3 foot piece of stroke sander belt to a piece of plywood and clamped that to the table, then sped the feeder up and set it on the sandpaper to resurface the wheels. This works for a short while but I would like to find something to soften the wheels. I have heard of a chemical for softening the feed wheels on printer feed rollers. Has anyone found a way to soften these wheels?

Forum Responses
(Architectural Woodworking Forum)
From contributor M:
We have siped the wheels for better grip by cutting small grooves across the wheels on the bandsaw. This is a temporary fix as I think they just harden after time and need to eventually be replaced. Western Roller is a good source.

From contributor L:
If the yellow wheels are the ones that came with the feed new, they are probably not urethane. We use Axium Industries to recover our feed wheels in a blue urethane that works much better than the factory supplied wheels. You can specify what durometer you want or just use their recommendations. They also sell hubs and tires or belts for powerfeeds.

From contributor C:
If you have a replaceable roller type system, like Western Roller, it's simply a matter of changing out the tires to a softer 60 durometer (blue) or 50 durometer (green) tire. This system utilizes a re-useable hub and throw away tires. If not, then to get the roller recovered is a process that a number of companies offer.

We found that to switch to the replaceable system offers many advantages. The ease of replacing tires in house is one. The cost is another. Having to have another set of rollers on hand, while having a set recovered, plus the time and cost of shipping on a fairly low dollar item is not very cost-effective. The tires used are a high quality urethane and a longer lasting than stock OEM rubber tires. They are also non-marring.

Here's an information page on the Western Roller Super Feed system. The SFH-1 hub is very common and uses a SFT tire that is available in 50, 60 or 70 durometer.