When it comes to dampening sound and providing a non-slip surface, a typewriter pad is an essential writing accessory. If you’re like me, getting something cheap might be your first instinct. If it already seems like a lark that you’ve spent a hundred bucks or more on a typewriter, why spring for a pad? Perhaps you have the feeling that once you start investing in your machine, it’s a bit like admitting to an affair. Or at least acknowledging this might be a long term relationship. If buying the typewriter was going on a date, then getting a pad is like getting the ring.
Now you could go all in and get her a cover, after all, that dish rag you’ve been covering her with should be an embarrassment! But perhaps you’re too embarrassed to admit to your relationship with the typewriter. We writers tend to be a humble lot and avoid anything that seems flashy or extravagant. But relax, if it’s okay to get a mousepad for your mouse, then it’s totally acceptable to get a pad for your typewriter. In fact, if you would’ve purchased your typewriter back in the day at Typewriter Emporium and the salesman was doing their job, you most likely would’ve gone home with a pad, an extra ribbon, a box of paper and some carbons.
Many of the machines might’ve also included a cover from the manufacturer, designed to fit your machine perfectly. Every so often I get a used typewriter that will have one included.
Now that you’ve been convinced that it’s okay to consider a typewriter pad, here’s a round-up of some I found.
If you’re the type who has a typewriter sitting on every flat surface and you hop from machine to machine typing missives, then you need something that won’t break the piggy bank. For that, getting a rug runner is probably your best bet. It’s made of felt with a rubber backing. You’ll get more than one pad from one of these depending on the size. The bad? They tend to curl at the edges and can get a bit frayed. But they do an excellent job muting even the loudest machine.
Available from, Rug Pad Corner.
But maybe you’re not the DIY type and only have that one, special machine in need of dampening. (But if she really was that special, then you’ve probably outfitted her with a new platen and new rubber feet. Why even need a pad?) Answer: even Olympia Typewriter Company recommended a pad for their typewriters to lessen the impact of typing vibrations on the mechanicals. That’s right, pilgrim, a pad actually serves THREE purposes! You might avoid costly trips to the repair shop by using a pad. What did I say about the salesman doing their job? Smile.
For a rugged pad with a nice crinkle cut edge, this one from My Typewriter looks great on the well-appointed desk. However, the felt tends to slip on a slick desk. I really wanted to recommend this pad, but unless you have a rough surface or can adhere some kind of rubber backing, then stick with something that sticks. However, if you have a rougher desk, like the one above, the felt grabs just fine.
$28 + shipping. Available from My Typewriter.
While this one is not real thick and doesn’t add much sound dampening, it grips the desk nicely. The ridges catch the feet so your typewriter doesn’t scoot around. This is an issue with many typewriters, the rubber feet have hardened.
$24.99 Available from Mahogany Rhino (an Etsy shop)
Wool Ironing Mat
If you’re a pad purist, you’ll know they’re not totally square. They’re more of a rectangle, to better match the footprint of a typewriter. A bit wider (13.5″) not as deep (11.5″). But if you don’t mind a square pad, a wool ironing mat (13″x13″) works fantastic. Has lots of sound and vibration dampening, plus they’re under twenty bucks. But since it doesn’t have a grippy bottom, it might slide on your desk, depending on the surface. Mine held just fine with a heavier typewriter. A quick fix for this is get one of those cheap door mats (see below) and cut it to fit underneath! Scooting solved.
$16.99 (+free shipping w/ Amazon Prime) Available from Amazon.
But suppose you’re the frugal type, then you might choose this $5 option from Target. It’s a door mat with a felt-like top and a rubber bottom. It’ll keep your typewriter from straying, but don’t expect any sound or vibration dampening. On the plus side, you’ll be able to cut two or three pads from a meager investment. And it doesn’t curl on the edges! Sweet deal! While you’re there, pick up a new dish rag cover and you’re good to go! No judgements. Namaste.
$5. Available at Target stores (USA).
That loud smacking sound of the type slug striking the platen might be due to a worn ring and not just a hard platen. Look at the ring for cuts or indentations — a sure sign of too much wear. While it may appear the type slug strikes the platen first, it’s the typebar that strikes the ring first and the momentum carries the type slug with enough force to make a good imprint. If the ring is worn, the type slug will strike the platen with too much force. And if your platen is hard, it’ll sound louder. That notch in the circle below is what strikes the ring and causes those cuts. And those cuts in the ring, a sign of a beloved machine. A new platen will help dampen those sounds.
Nice set of options, and nice to find that rug runner option. I have a Jackalope Pad that is basically the same thing, works very well. (:
That’s exactly what I do. I bought mesh shelf liner at a Target and felt squares at a craft store. I cut the items to size. The result? Perfection. Thanks for sharing the tip.
The slippery felt on the desktop effect can be fixed by using shelf liner, cut to fit, beneath it. For a lightweight typewriter, a layer of shelf liner on top of the felt works. These don’t have to be stuck to the felt, the weight of the machine keeps them in place.
I have a variety of mats too, including the doormat option. I like my Jackalope best as it absorbs the clatter without being too fat under the machine and it doesn’t curl up or fray.
I love my Jackalope pad – I think I might order a couple more. Bonus: profits from sales of the Jackalope pads go to support WordPlay Cincy, a nonprofit kids’ tutoring and creative writing center in Cincinnati, Ohio that uses typewriters.
I wholeheartedly endorse the Jackalope! Here’s the link:
Felt chair seat covers from IKEA are a few dollars each and reasonably good if you layer them. Not much grip though for lighter typewriters and not as good as your options. Cheap though.
I just stumbled onto a glorious solution. I put the MyTypewriter pad on top of the Mahogany Rhino pad and the combination is extreme noise dampening while being utterly rock solid. I was using my 1940’s Royal Quiet Deluxe with a set of severely slippery hardened rubber feet.
Way to go Patrick! Now if your neighbors are still complaining, they should put a sock in it. Although those Royals do live up to their name, they are quiet!
I know i’m like a year late on this thread, but another on-the-cheap option not to be overlooked is a square of cork, normally available at your big box crafts/hobby store of choice in either 1/4″ or 1/2″ thickness, both for around $10 for a set of 4. The 1/2″ is normally made of larger chunks of cork, so it isn’t as durable as the thinner style, but they both dampen sound fantastically and generally stay put a little better than felt.
Great tip! While I’m a fan of the felt, it still needs an bottom layer of grippy shelf liner.
I just picked up a memory foam bath mat with a velour top. Six bucks at Ross. Nonslip and thick.
I love the sound of the typer, having my “Nurd Cave” in the basement helps too.
I like the door mat idea, I just need something from keeping my Olympia and SIlver Reed from doing a cha-cha to the right on my metal typing table.
I personally use a HERMES typewriter pad under my HERMES Ambassador. The rubber on the edge is a little bit cracked but otherwise it’s a perfectly serviceable pad. The manufacturers knew what they were doing.
I used to use an IKEA bath mat, but I recently bought an SM9 which came with an original black type pad similar to the My Typewriter pad, except that it doesn’t skid and it does dampen the vibrations enormously.
I’d recommend one of these wool ironing mats!
Thanks for the suggestion! Just got one in and added to the review.
I am also a drummer and slap one of these Evans SoundOff drum mutes under all my typewriters. Works really great! But you have to navigate the round vs the four feet — be sure it’s big enough! https://www.daddario.com/products/percussion/percussion-accessories/mutes/soundoff-drum-mutes/