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Economy Rolling Mills


#1

I am still learning…a student jeweler by far, and see the
usefullness for one of these machines. I have seen a economy
mini-mill offered on ebay for just over two-hundred dollars…and
what appears to be similar from Harbor freight tools for just under
200. on reading into the H/F one: Cen-Tech model 04832 I see that is
comes with five rollers so you have the ability to swap in different
ones as needed. it is smaller than some at three inch width, but the
rollers are 1.675" dia. so think will be sturdy, yes they are
hardened. it has a 3:1 gear ratio.

says max wire.197"
min wire.031
and max sheet.079
min sheet 35 ga

(i have not seen the specs on teh larger units honestly) my question
here is as i am a “starving student” should i buy this unit and use
for a couple years until i can afford a larger one, or go without and
wait until i am able to afford something from one of the main top
five manufacturers? I know that when i had worked wrenching on
aircraft and automobiles we would use the higher end tools as they
are guarranteed and usually better quality…and know im most
professions this is so.

I see that some of the economy jeweler tools are of extremely
inferior quality, but have been told by quite a few jewelers that
they often still use the cheaper items as they arn’t used as much so
don’t wear or break.

so before i go on any longer here. does anyone have feedback or any
insight into my delema?

thank you!
Paul


#2

I bought one of the harbor freight ones recently on the
recommendation of a goldsmith I know. It seems to be fine so far…I
work with filigree, so I’m only using it for wires. Haven’t tried to
change the rollers yet…you get two flat rollers, one with wire
patterns for half round and triangular, and the other two have some
kind of textured patterning on them…not fancy patterns…more
textures. My goldsmith friend uses it almost exclusively with the
wire roller for making/sizing down ring shank wires.

I’m sure it won’t tolerate as much as major brand, but it seems good
for the money.

Jeanne
www.jeannius.com
www.rhodes-moen.com


#3

Paul,

First ask yourself these questions. What will I do with my rolling
mill?

Is it a piece of equipment which I will use often? Does my work call
for the occasional roller printing for a decorative piece? Or would
the rolling mill be perfect when I need a piece of sheet or wire from
an ingot of gold?

Personally, I want tools that I can grow into, not out of. If I were
to sell my rolling mill today, I could actually sell it for more than
than the original purchase price. I keep it it tip top condition and
grease it when necessary. Every few months, I take out the feeler
gauges and re-align the rollers if necessary.

Investing in a good rolling mill is like thinking about a car
purchase. It is a lot of money and you get what you pay for. Also, a
decent rolling mill from a reputable company has good customer
service. They are companies that stand behind what they manufacture.

For my money, I would make the big purchase and go with a Durston. I
have two in the school and have served me well for 12 years and the
school for 8. I take care of them, they take care of my work.

Certain pieces I can scrimp on. When I needed 10 engraving balls for
an engraving class, I didn’t need to go to GRS, I found another
source. Some pliers, a hammer, but I love tools and tend to purchase
the best quality I can. The flex-shaft is another choice. I use a
Foredom TX which works great for my needs. I don’t need a fancy
reversible motor, but might if I was left handed. Some of the work I
do requires a bit of torque, so the TX really delivers. But for some
who use their flex shaft about three times a year, one of the Chinese
economy models would be fine.

-k

Where green things are FINALLY poking their heads from the ground.

Karen Christians
M E T A L W E R X
50 Guinan St.
Waltham, MA 02451
Ph. 781/891-3854 Fax 3857
http://www.metalwerx.com/
Jewelry/Metalarts School & Cooperative Studio


#4

I have an economy model from contenti - I think it was about 250.00
and I love it. It suits my needs for now quite nicely. If somewhere
down the road I want to upgrade, I figure I can sell this one and put
the $$ towards a new mill. But for now, this is great! It allows me
to do what I want and it was within my personal budget. I guess I go
with the philosophy, buy the best that you can…and for me, this was
the best I could do right now. :slight_smile:

http://www.doxallo.com/


#5

well, i have an economy rolling mill. it is made by PePe. i got it
several years ago when i was a few years into my business. it cost
$250.

now i use it everyday. it works great for my purposes. in the
beginning, it “skipped” when i put too much pressure on the rollers,
but i took apart the gears and added a piece of steel, and now it
does not skip. frankly, i can do almost anything i want with this
economy rolling mill, so i will have to be a VERY rich jeweler to
buy a durston in the future.

i say go for it, better to have some use and open new ways of
working than not have one at all. and the one you are talking about
with the interchageable rollers…i have used one just like that in
a previous shop, and it was great too!

joanna gollberg


#6

Hi Everyone:

I see that is comes with five rollers so you have the ability to
swap in different ones as needed. it is smaller than some at three
inch width, but the rollers are 1.675" dia. so think will be
sturdy, yes they are hardened. it has a 3:1 gear ratio. 

I am also looking at a mini model. The one I am looking at also has
interchangeable rollers (3 of them). My question is, is there a
great probability with switching rollers in and out that things will
not be in proper alignment?

This model is a couple hundred dollars less than the one I had
previously looked at. I would love to save the money, but i won’t
sacrifice quality for a lower price.

Thanks
Kim Starbard


#7

I’ve just ordered the Harbor Freight rolling mill and should receive
it in the next few days. I’ll be glad to report on a first impression
shortly. My old mill is flat only and approximately 100 years old.
I’m not sure one could wear out a mill altho certainly something
could break.

Dr. Mac


#8

Paul

I think the lesser of the evils here, is what you could do with the
capability. Go for the less expensive now, gives you capability and
a learning tool. I bought the cheap way as I am still learning, I
have learned there are a lot of things I can do with a rolling mill,
just didn’t know it till I had one in my hands. 5 or 10 years down
the road you can go for the multi hundred dollar versions if you want
to, or maybe sooner if you start rolling ingots.

The big difference between the cheap and the expensive versions are
how thick of a piece you can run through it. The good ones from some
posts on the similar subject and web searches say they would do about
6 mm, mine will only do about 2.5 mm and mine as well as the two you
mentioned only do half round wire as they come, some of the others
can do full round.

.079 is a little over 2mm

Good luck to ya, and have fun

Terry


#9

The Harbor Freight rolling mill - was it in the store? or catalog?

I need to buy a very inexpensive mill for the class I teach.
Students want to play with textures - Art Center claims not to have
any money, and I can’t spend my own for such toys. How much was the
Harbor Freight Rolling Mill? Thanks for any info!

-R


#10

Kim

On the question of rollers, the cheap one I have the whole top plate
comes off including the adjusting screws, so no, on mine I do not
have to realign when replacing a roller. But, I intentionally
mis-align mine on occasion and they are very easy to get back to
square.

The quality in a mill is primarily in the rollers, the gearing and
how thick of material they will work.

Terry


#11

normal price is around $189 plus about $8 shipping. If you check the
site off and on, it goes on sale for $159. here’s the link for it
www.harborfreight.com Item Number 4832 . I doubt if you will find it
in the local stores, but you might if it’s a big store.

Jeanne
www.jeannius.com
www.rhodes-moen.com


#12
normal price is around $189 plus about $8 shipping. If you check
the site off and on, it goes on sale for $159. here's the link for
it www.harborfreight.com Item Number 4832 

Those rolling mills go on sale for $159.00 twice a year. I made some
rollers for mine with patterns on them, works great.

Jerry


#13
I need to buy a very inexpensive mill for the class I teach.
Students want to play with textures - Art Center claims not to
have any money, and I can't spend my own for such toys. How much
was the Harbor Freight Rolling Mill? Thanks for any info! 

I have a Karat rolling mill rather than the one from Harbor Freight.
I have drug mine around to various workshops that were within driving
distance. It’s been put through its paces, believe me, over the past
7 years. If you plan on doing mokume, forget the mini mills unless
you want to spend considerable time forging down the billet, and some
serious arm muscles too. For embossing, rolling sheet or foil, making
wire for filigree, they’ll work just fine.

That being said, I have bought other tools from Harbor Freight. They
are cheap, but sometimes their tolerances are not as close as they
could be, a little shoddy in the workmanship. Personally, I would
spend a little more to get the Karat. It’s well made for the price,
and you have the advantage of customer service, plus you can add
pattern rollers (quite a few) at a later time.


#14
I need to buy a very inexpensive mill for the class I teach.
Students want to play with textures 

If your students are going to be doing any “playing” or
experimenting, I heartily recommend that you get the very sturdiest
mill you can get for the price. You have no idea what students
(especially beginners, regardless of age) can do to the rollers
while you are not looking and they are experimenting with textures.
See if you can pick up a Durston or Karat or an old Tatum on E-Bay.
They’re very reliable machines. If any Orchidians have tried the
Harbor Freight mill, I hope they reply to this post.

Dee


#15

Wow, who would have thought of rolling mills at harbor freight? The
good news is, it looks like the same model I special ordered about 5
years ago through someone batch importing them. I wanted a cheap
mill for my home studio (I’ve got a fancy european one at the store.)
It works great and in many ways I like it better than the more
expensive one - the reduction ratio is great! So far it’s holding up
fine to my occasional use, although to it’s credit the one at the
store has been in constant use for 21 years.

Michael Babinski
Designer Goldsmith
Foxfire Jewelers


#16
The big difference between the cheap and the expensive versions
are how thick of a piece you can run through it. The good ones from
some posts on the similar subject and web searches say they would
do about 6 mm, mine will only do about 2.5 mm and mine as well as
the two you >mentioned only do half round wire as they come, some
of the others can do full round. >.079 is a little over 2mm 

And that is my concern. The harbor freight one looks tempting but
the problem is that it will only handle up to 12 gage. I want to do
texturing and you have to take into account the thickness of the
metal you are working with. The thickness of what you are using to
provide the texture. And a brass sheet to protect the roller on the
texture pattern side. I am afraid that with only 2 mm you will not be
able to do texture patterns and keep your rollers safe.

Maybe some who have used the 2mm models could comment.

Mark


#17
If you plan on doing mokume, forget the mini mills unless you want
to spend considerable time forging down the billet, and some
serious arm muscles too. For embossing, rolling sheet or foil,
making wire for filigree, they'll work just fine. 

I have used a Karat rolling mill for several years. I have not done
any work with mokume billets, but I have used it to roll 18K red gold
ingots, which are hard as nails, and require some serious compression
to roll without cracks developing. The Karat held up well. It is hard
to imagine mokume posing any more of a challenge for the mill.

Lee


#18

Jerry

normal price is around $189 plus about $8 shipping. If you check
the site off and on, it goes on sale for $159. here's the link for
it www.harborfreight.com Item Number 4832 
Those rolling mills go on sale for $159.00 twice a year. I made
some rollers for mine with patterns on them, works great. 

You should get one for the 159 price now if you know the right suffix
code. It was in a current catalog that just was recycled before I saw
the request… HF is good about honoring the special price for quite a
while if you have the code. Stores and catalogs are separate
companies share the stock but prices not always the same.

jesse


#19
I need to buy a very inexpensive mill for the class I teach.
Students want to play with textures - Art Center claims not to
have any money, and I can't spend my own for such toys. How much
was the Harbor Freight Rolling Mill?

The harbor freight mill has been listed in their mail order catalog-
not the non California store ones. The business is actually run as
two separate ones. Same general stock but there is more in the mail
order product line. Prices vary and some items go on and off "sale"
frequently. They can sell in the mail order business without charging
sales tax if the stores in other states are separate from the mail
order business. The mill was recently in a mail order catalog at
$159. They use a different 4 didget (letter -numberer ) suffix to the
stock number to indicate which flyer the item is ordered from. THey
do honor the lower price if you use the correct suffix. I just had
recycled all the flyer -catalogs when this subject came up so I don’t
have that Maybe someone does. Remember the price can
indicate a value level and that Asian (China -India) Heat treating
and quality control is inconsistent at best.

The web site catalog shows 189.99 today with a suffix of OVGA… the
159.99 price will have a different one… http://www.harborfreight.com
Item Number 4832

jesse