Buying My First Rolling Mill

Hello rolling mill users,

I’m about to buy my first rolling mill after wanting one for a
zillion years. I’ve looked at some in catalogs of various suppliers,
and spoken to one or two sellers. Each touts the fine qualities of
his own line but there is little comparative I’m
essentially going to be a glorified hobby-level worker for my
remaining years - selling some work but not likely to embark on
anything like heavy-duty production. It would be easy enough, I
suppose, to simply fork over the big bucks just to be sure I’ve got
"the best" but maybe I don’t need the very top of the line. Maybe I
just need a reasonably reliable tool without built-in problems,
something that will not sabotage my work, something simply good

I’m already old enough to know that “you get what you pay for” but I
also know the correlation between price and quality doesn’t always
graph out in a straight line. So please spare me from pompous advice
to blow huge holes in my tool budget if it isn’t necessary. In other
words,don’t advise me to buy a Mercedes if a Honda will get me where
I’m going.

I’d love to hear from people who’ve had the chance to use various
makes over time and have developed some opinions about their
qualities, good or bad. I’m also happy to hear from folks who sell
the things (but please identify your connection or interest if
that’s who you are). At this point the opinion of users seems more
useful to me than the pitches of sellers.

I’ve was almost tempted to buy a relatively inexpensive model,
(Pepe), but I’d be uncomfortable doing that unless I heard from
someone who can tell me he/she has actually used one for 5 or 10
years without problems. I talked to one supplier of that brand who
almost sold me on it. He suggested I read a certain on-line review
if I didn’t believe his blandishments. So I looked up that review
and found it not the glowing endorsement he had promised. Maybe he
never read it himself.? In the relatively small size of what I need,
there seem to be brands ranging in price from $250 - $2000 or more.
So I suppose I could replace a Pepe several times over if the first
one wore out or got wonky, but I’d rather not waste my time that

Anyway - anyone who has a few minutes to offer an opinion, I’d be
grateful for the benefit of your experience. Please use brand names.
I’m wanting to have something that can help me reclaim my sterling
scrap and which I can use for ordinary basic rolling mill
tasks,making sheet, wire, texturing surfaces. I think about 3 inches
width of flat sheet would be the minimum adequate size. Would it be
cost efficient to buy two or more sets of rollers for the same mill,
say one full-width flat and one with a variety of wire shapes? Would
changing and adjusting rollers be a straightforward process or is it
endlessly finicky?

Also - any advice about relative ease of service, parts availability
etc from various suppliers might be helpful.

Thanks in advance
Marty Hykin - Victoria BC -


This is the site I got mine from and the item number on the page.

Item S-223 The price was 169 when I bought it.

First let me say, I don’t think you can hurt a rolling mill short of
your wife throwing it at you, or in my case, knocking it onto the
concrete, it really dinged the concrete and did nothing good to the
plastic handle other than that there was no harm done. They are very
simple machines and by nature of purpose, very sturdy. If you roll
mild steel, make sure any oxides are removed as they will mar the
roller faces. This would include pressing plate etchings into silver
or gold. Our dust here has a lot of quartz and topaz in it and this
also will mar the faces. I would suggest starting with new metal, I
prefer cold rolled, it is cleaner to start with and holds the
features of etching longer for embossing.

I have used the flat rollers quit a lot, the pattern rollers that
come with it are pretty unimpressive for my taste, and it only rolls
half round or triangle wires. If you can machine anything, it is a
very simple mill to make your own rollers for. I have made rollers
for various shapes and it has turned out pretty well. I tried etching
a roller, but it is much simpler to etch a plate and roll it through
with your work piece. I don’t know if all the rolling mills can do
this, but on mine I can tweak one side and roll in a wedge shape on
my wire which makes an interesting feature for a bezel, wire inlay or
jump rings. Yes it does make the wire curl, but I am going to bend it
anyway so what the heck.

As far as maintenance, I just oil it on occasion and about once a
year pull it apart for a full cleaning. There is really not much
there to worry over except the faces of the rollers. The side to
side accuracy for the full 3 inches is. 0003 inches or - .0001
depending on how careful I am in putting it back to square after
trying something new or pulling it apart to change rollers.

Parts - If I ever need any, I’ll buy another mill or make the part I
need. I would be really surprised if they carried any, it’s an import
and it would probably cost more to get the parts mailed in than it
would be worth.

Like you, I am a hobbyist and as such would rather spend my money on
new material, classes and cool rocks as long as the tools I buy meet
fit, form, function and survivability I am happy. The only thing I
finally went and bought a good one of was a draw plate for wire. I
pull wire a lot more than I thought I would, I now have one in
carbide. Until I had enough experience to know what I would be doing
and how much, it would have been a hard sell to get me to spend the
$100 to pull wire, especially since my first draw plate only cost me
$8. I guess I feel the same about rolling mills, the cheap one has
lasted this long and is showing no signs of cashing in.

If you are really going to be doing that much plate and wire, you
may want to consider the motorized versions, this one has a 4 to
ratio and it don’t take long to start getting cramps and get a stand
you can bolt to the floor.

Good luck on your decision.

I have a very very inexpensive rolling mill—Karet, made in India.
It came with flat rollers, and several other rollers for wire. I
have had it for about 5 years and so far have had no problems at all
with it. I use it to do texturing, Roll heavy gauge sheet into
thinner when needed, and have even rolled out thin sheets of silver
foil to use in enameling. I purchased it from Kenneth Singh (think I
have the correct spelling), who was very helpful in advising me how
to set it up, adjust the rollers etc… I have no reservations in
recommending it, especially as you will not be doing any heavy-duty



I just want theough the same problem, albiet from a different

I am in the final stages of opening my first store, and I needed to
outfit my shop. I went to the Tucson show and inspected several
different manufacturers mills, and I setteled on a Durston. Not
because it was the most expensive, but because I felt that it fit my
needs the best. Durable and multi functional seemed to be the best
way for me to go. I got a mid-level model, about $750 US, and will
now have the ability to work with a fair sized sheet as well as
square and half round wire. I also looked at mills that were cheaper
with interchangable rollers, but, having knocked rollers out of
allignment before, felt that the extra money up front for a larger,
multi functional mill might save me the time and aggrivation later
on. I have not used a Pepe mill in the past, but I have used their
benders and stone set ring enlergers. I have felt them to be of good
quality, especially when you look at their cost versus other similar
pieces of equipment. I will be, in fact, purchasing one of each of
those for my shop. I guess the real question is how much do you
think you will be using the mill? have you given any thought to gear
reduction? I am a spry 32 year old, and I opted for reduction gears.
I like a good workout, but rolling out an ingot to 20ga would be a
little much!

Hope I have been of some help!

Jim Turner

Hi Marty,

I’ve owned 3 rolling mills over the years, all Durston. In each case
I upgraded and sold the older mills. They really hold their value.

I have never had a problem with any of my Durstons-- although I
recall that some people may have-- check the archives.

Durston seems to be the new standard. For a long while I saw mostly
Cavillin mills from Italy. I don’t see many of them in catalogues
these days. Certainly Frie and Borel and Rio sell offer mostly

One thing to keep in mind: while it is true that you can buy several
Pepe mills for the price of a “Mercedes” mill, you’ve got to count
the down time-- shipping, shopping, etc. I’ve really come to rely on
my mill. It seems that tools that you most rely on seem to fail (if
they fail at all) just when you need them most.

Think about how often you will use the tool and for what. If your
rolling a lot of ingots or wide sheets, I’d pony up for the better
quality mill.

Good luck,
Andy Cooperman


Well, I can only tell you my experience… I had a very limited tool
budget when I was in the market for a rolling mill. I had the good
fortune to have a friend who sold me a rolling mill (very
inexpensively) that merely says “made in India” on it. (?) It came
with 2 separate sets of rollers, one for flat one for wire. Great!
Except I have to totally dismantle the rolling mill, I MEAN TOTALLY,
to change rollers. Major inconvenience! Then about a year after
getting that rolling mill, another friend gave me one he wasn’t
using anymore, a Gesswein G-70. It is the one I use for everything,
but the sheet rollers are 1 1/2 " wide, and there are only 4 wire
reductions. Hmmmph… So I keep the wire rollers set up on the
“India” mill, it has a lot of reductions, and then most everything
else I need to do I can accomplish on the Gesswein. My point is, if
you get a smaller capacity mill you may feel limited by the amount of
reduction slots for the wire. I’d go for wider, because in my
experience changing rollers is a major deal. Maybe there are models
that make it easier, but I would ask. On another note, the less
expensive rolling mill seems fine quality wise, but it is always
needing to be adjusted for truing up the flat rollers. But I don’t
use that part anymore ;>

Good luck.

Marty and Paul

Rolling mills come in many sizes and quality.Most of them are good.
The Vendors will not sell products that will give them headaches and
you should buy from known Supply houses.

The Karat Rolling Mill has been around for more than 12 years. This
is a small mill with changeable rollers. It comes with Flat rollers
about 3" wide plus Wire & Half Round rollers.

Most of the buyers use only the Flat rollers as one can buy wire
overnight. Unless you are a wire Artist or have time to draw wire.

I have come across many new jewelers who think they can roll out
perfect wire and are quite surprised when I tell them no they have to
draw through a Draw plate and anneal the wire.

Other than making Flat these mills are used for Texture or Pattern &
in some cases they have rollers that come with patterns that can make
flat or patterned wire.

What you have to look for is service and parts availability.
Durston, Cavallin and Pepe are good mills. They are reputable
manufacturers and you will find the parts for these easily.

They come in various sizes and prices. Karat comes only in one size
76mm wide and it comes with 5 rollers. 2 Flat, 2 Wire and one Half
Round. It is convenient to store and is not very heavy so that you
can put away when not in use. It comes with a reduction Gear that
makes it easy to use. Parts are available easily.

Price is certainly a factor but do not overlook the after sales

Kenneth Singh
46 Jewelry Supply Inc

Hello Marty,

any advice about relative ease of service, parts availability etc
from various suppliers might be helpful. 

Well you’ve pretty much already seen responses covering the spectrum
so I guess I’ll just throw my hat into the “get a good one” ring.

I had used a friend’s cheapo mill a bit before I decided to buy my
own. It was ok, had a few problems, wasn’t exactly a precision tool
but it would squash metal and roll out wire acceptably. Poor gear
reduction though, and the rollers weren’t the highest quality steel
in the world (tended to pit for no good reason) which was a bit of a

When I decided to get my own mill I really sweated it. What brand?
Model? How wide? Can I afford it? In the end I guess I followed the
recent advice of one of the other members in that I bought a tool “I
could grow into, not grow out of”.

I bought a Durston C150. I won’t pretend it was inexpensive because
it wasn’t but I wanted a good, solid, well made, reliable mill that
wouldn’t impose any significant limitations on what I could do or how
I could do it. It a nutshell, it’s been a real gem! It’s been
particularly invaluable to me since I got into Argentium Sterling
because in the beginning sheet and wire stock were not available
except as a special (read ‘expensive’) order so I had to do my own.
That alone paid off a non-trivial part of the mill in terms of
fabrication costs saved.

The real bonus though has been Durston’s service. I’ll spare you the
details but those guys have held my hand, powdered my bum, and
generally taken tender loving care of me since Day 1. The mill is
superb, the service has been out of this world! Of course you have to
decide what this means to you and your situation. In the end I guess
I’d say that I’ve never doubted for a second that the money I spent on
the Durston was very well spent indeed.

Trevor F.
in The City of Light
Visit at

Thanks to the many kind people who replied to my query about rolling
mills, both on- and off-list. Your opinions and are
beginning to congeal into that sort of lump, impossible to ignore,
like a pebble in one’s shoe, which indicates a decision is imminent.
I figured I couldn’t go too far wrong no matter what I decided, but
it is helpful to hear from so many users that a modest or mid-range
mill will likely be satisfactory for my not-very-demanding purposes.

The experience of trying to decide between a number of outwardly
similar choices may be easier for some people than it is for me. I
dare not compute the number of hours of my life I have spent in deep
thought while trying to decide between 8 rolls of 430 double-ply
sheets @ $3.75 versus 12 rolls of 692 single-ply sheets @$4.39 and
so forth and so on. By way of thanks to all the generous
contributors to my decision-making process, I append a short, true
story illustrative of this sort of problem and, incidentally,
showing that my decisions are ultimately not arrived at out of sheer
penny-pinching. In fact, I may be one of the last of the big

I hope this is not too much of a digression from the serious topics
normally considered, things like finding diamonds stuck to your
cat’s bum, for example.

Marty Hykin, Victoria, BC


The real bonus though has been Durston's service. I'll spare you
the details but those guys have held my hand, powdered my bum, and
generally taken tender loving care of me since Day 1. The mill is
superb, the service has been out of this world! 

Why has the Durston required so much service from the beginning and
over the years?


Marty - This is my experience of the past 15 years - My first rolling
mill was an ancient one I got from a classified ad in the local
paper. I actually got two - a flat mill and a wire mill. The rolls on
the flat mill were somewhat bashed so I had them refinished and
hardened in a machine shop. I then had beautiful rolls but the gears
were worn and would not keep the rolls parallel. I got lots of curvy
pieces when one side was closer than the other. The old wire mill was
a treasure. Both were funky and cool - but I needed to have just one
mill taking up floor space, so I bought the double Durston - flat
rolls on top and wire rolls on the bottom. It is spendy - but works
flawlessly. I am very happy that I have an entirely flat roll, nice
and wide. I mostly use the wire mill to reduce or taper wire, I have
yet to cast an ingot to roll.

We bought a relatively inexpensive mill ($200)for the seniors class
that I taught for several years. I figured that the little old
ladies couldn’t harm a mill. Each were coached on the proper use, and
it took all of three weeks to literally break one of the gears - it
seems that they only thought they were embossing silver when you
could barely turn the crank. We got the company to replace it, and
the second one is still functioning - but doesn’t stay parallel
because the adjustment handle isn’t fixed properly in place. IMHO
cheap doesn’t pay with mills - buy a good one, and you will only need

Judy Hoch

Hello Linda,

Why has the Durston required so much service from the beginning and
over the years? 

Actually the mill hasn’t required any service at all, other than
normal greasing and the like. Like I’ve mentioned before the thing is
a rock.

No, the reason I ended up dealing with their customer service was
that I wanted to get some special rollers for it, above and beyond
the normal patterned rollers that they offer. They happily worked with
me on that, going well beyond the call of duty IMHO. They also
supplied me with some of their brown no-rust goop when I ran out of
the batch that came with the mill. There were a few other things of
this nature but I think you get the idea.

Trevor F.
in The City of Light
Visit at

my first was one of those made in India. I think they sell for
around $299 now. The flat and wire rollers where interchangeable At
first I was ok with this, after a while I found out what a pain it
can be. Other problem was that the roller ends broke. From the looks
of the metal, and this just wasnt my opinion but several other people
who I trust and respect, said it looked like the metal was not
properly made. Large crystal structures on the end where it broke. I
was able to fix that, but later one of the gears broke.

I finally broke down with tax returns and bought a Pepe 90mm flat
and wire roller. So far its a gem! I was able to get a pretty good
deal through a friend, but I think had the best price of
$385, that was with shipping and handling.

The lower cost India made mill did last me almost 4 years before it
busted. And the first 2 years I barely used it, maybe once a month at
the most. Later I used it more like 3 or 4 times a week for a couple
months, and then nothing for a month or so, and back to 3 or 4 times
a week. Basically, never used like a trade shop might.

Other problem was that the roller ends broke. From the looks of the
metal, and this just wasnt my opinion but several other people who
I trust and respect, said it looked like the metal was not properly
made. Large crystal structures on the end where it broke. I was
able to fix that, but later one of the gears broke. 

Thanks for that post Daniel. I wonder now if it would be advisable
to send my rollers out to be properly tempered before I’m telling the
same story?