Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Economy rolling mills

I am about to purchase my 1st rolling mill, but with limited funds
and a small studio. Big questions is, do I go for an ecomony model
or bite the bullet & get a Durston. Does anyone have experience with
this rolling mill from Contenti:

It’s pretty light, 43 lbs, made in Taiwan, not even a manufacturer
listed, so I wonder about service. I know the Durston is a superior
peice of equipment, but twice the price. I’m also aware that the
Durston, at about 70lbs, is much sturdier, but with a small studio,
the ability to move something out of the way is a plus.

What to do, what to do…any advice would be most appreciated.


If you can afford the Durstan get it - it will do everything you
will ever need.

That said, I can’t afford one and got a used no-name brand rolling
mill about 15 years ago that is about what Contenti sells, as I have
been able to get parts for it from them. For rolling textures it is
fabulous. For rolling sheet it is ok. For rolling wire… well…
it will do it… sort of… :wink: Damning with faint praise here…

So if you mainly want it for texture the Contenti mill will do that
just fine. If you think you will ever want to roll a lot of your own
wire and sheet and can afford the Durstan definitely do that! Wish I

Beth Wicker
Three Cats and a Dog Design Studio

1 Like

A rolling mill is one of those tools that you want to bite the
bullet on. A good mill with a good reduction gear will last a
lifetime and you will actually use it. A cheap mill will be hard to
use and the results from them are not stellar.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts

A Durston will:-

  1. Last you all your silversmithing life

  2. you can never break it, it will lock up before you do any damage

  3. It will have a high resale valuein say 20 yrs just about what you
    paid for it today

  4. you can motorise it at some later stage

  5. The maker will support your mill for at least 30 yrs(hes a young

  6. its powerful enough to take a 6in nail and roll it down to 1/16th
    in square wire

  7. you can add different section rolls to the overhang shaft

  8. Its a no brainer.

  9. you will need to bolt it down to a proper bench ie made of 2 by 4
    bolted together.

  10. I bought a Durston from his father 30 yrs ago, good as the day I
    bought it.


1 Like

Hello Michele,

You realize that you will get what you pay for and the Durston mill
is worth the money. However, when your finances are limited or you
are new to the game and may not know all the uses you may have for a
tool, a more modestly priced mill makes some sense. I have been using
one of those inexpensive mills for several years and it works fine,
BUT it must be bolted down to a stable surface. Therefore, moving it
around your small studio may not be realistic. Of course you could
bolt it down to a heavy board and then secure that board to a work
bench with a large ‘C’ clamp.

Still that makes the mill awkward to operate.

Other than spending the money, the only disadvantage to buying the
excellent Durston mill now, is that you may later decide that you
want a mill with larger rollers or some other upgrade. In that case,
you may be able to recover most of the cost in a resale - if the mill
is in good shape.

You are welcome to email me offline if you want further discussion.

Judy in Kansas, where a raccoon has apparently decided to raid our
hummer feeders. Canny animal literally UNSCREWED the base last night.
I’m impressed, and will be taking the feeders inside at night from
now on.

Hi Michelle,

Get the Durston. Don’t think twice. Properly taken care of, someone
will still be using it 40 yrs from now.


I bought an economy Indian made rolling mill and I absolutely loved

for about one year. Then the cast frame cracked and it was rendered
useless. I now have a Durston and I expect it will last as long as I

My economy mill was bought used at a rock show for $150 so I had no
real regrets, it made me realize how much I needed one. Still, it
would have cost me less to buy the Durston mill in the first place.

Daniel Conlin

Check Cavalini, it’s another good brand. Make sure in any case to
get the ones with the reduction gears and yes you should invest in
to a better one because it will be there for generations.


I have 2 cheap mills, one has flat rollers which I use for rolling
down sheet and for texturising. The other has wire rollers in. I have
2 because I got the second really really cheap from ebay. I have used
a Durston and can say that when I if and when have the money I will
be buying one but meantime the cheap ones are great. I can recommend
them, especially if funds are short


If you can pop for the heavier Durston mill a solution it to figure
out some way to put it on a platform with appropriate wheels or
casters. I have a massive set of mills that were platform type and
they weigh hundreds of lbs.

I made castered platforms for the and just about every heavy or
ackward piece of equipment in my studio. I think it was just about
the smartest thing I ever did. Sure makes it easy to clean and
reconfigure things based on project needs.

With my vent hood I can move things around under it -kilns,
soldering station, centrifugen annealing with some efficiency.

Have fun with whatever you purchase.

Eileen Webb

Hey, Michele -

Just went exactly through this myself. I was going to go with the
cheap ones until my choice was made for me when an incredible Dinkel
65 mill came available locally, ending all internal debate on the
subject. Barring a similar stroke of sheer unadulterated luck like
that, though…

A third option - get access to a shared space like Artisian’s Asylum
and use theirs. Or, take “open studio” classes at Adult Education, a
community college or (around here) Metalwerx. These types of venues
have much of the expensive equipment and the access isn’t generally
that expensive. The obvious drawback is that you can’t just use it
when the urge hits and have to plan your work around it, but for me
the fact is it’s something I don’t use all the time. Alternatively
to that, I thought about networking and horsetrading to use others
equipment (for instance, I have a lathe and a milling machine and
thought about trading time on those), but I’m an older guy and just
don’t have the patience for that sort of thing any more! Your
mileage might vary, and a lot of it would definitely depend upon
whats available your area.

I’ve seen comments split somewhere between “buy the best you can,
damn the consequences"and"you can always go up later, spend the
extra money on other things”. Both arguments have merits. What I
concluded from my investigation, assuming just rudimentary hobby
use, was:

  • If you buy the inexpensive version, buy from a reputable dealer in
    case it needs to go back. Quality control is not a certainty.

  • If you try to take too big a bite on an inexpensive rolling mill
    the frame can crack or become uneven (that can easily be checked with
    a gauge). I suppose the same thing could be said about the Durston
    line, though I bet you’d really have to gorilla that mill to break it
    and I never read that someone had done that.

  • The primary difference between the price ranges in addition to
    frame quality seemed to be the hardening of the rollers. Cheap
    machines = surface hardening only, expensive = hardened all the way

  • The weight issue becomes somewhat moot once you bolt that sucker
    down to something difficult to move. * It’s wayless expensive to
    replace rollers on the cheap mills than on Durston’s or other
    expensive mills. In fact, the rollers on the cheaper mills seemto be
    considered somewhat expendable. * That being said, the cheap mills
    have a ton of “accessory” rollers, which could potentially make them
    more useful depending upon your creativity and goals.

  • The cheaper ones are severely limited on the width of metal they
    can handle, but so are the cheaper Durstons. * The cheaper ones can
    only take about 3mm height; Durston 5mm and sometimes more on the
    expensive end.

  • The middle of the road rolling mills (Pepe) have better frames but
    surface hardened rollers. I couldn’t find a ROI that worked for that
    line, but I’m sure they’re very good in practice.

  • There’s a more expensive Italian brand with a cultish following,
    but it’s as pricey as the Durston. Hope this is of some small help
    as you make your decision.

Good luck - Bob

Hi Michelle, This looks exactly like the rolling mill I’ve had for
nearly ten years now. I don’t remember if I got it from Contenti or
wherebut it says PEPE on it and I’m certain it is the same mill.
Other than a couple of very small pits on the rolls mine came in
pretty good condition with the rolls well aligned. Other than the
plastic gear cover which broke immediately it is fairly well made.
The rolls are now abit worse for the wear after ten years of living
in one of the wettest places on earth and less than 50 meters from
the sea. Overall however it’s been a great first rolling mill for me
and I still use it all the time. I’m sure a Durston is worth every
penny more but I bought this one for the same reasons as you, limited
funds and small space, and it has served me very well for my
purposes. The only thing about cheapertools is that the quality
control may not be as uniform, and you may be more likely to get a
mill that has some defect or flaw. If you decide to buy this one
inspect the mill well when you get it so that you can return it
immediately if there is some unacceptable defect.

hope this helps. Keep on rolling :slight_smile:

The rolling mill you cited is not all that economical. I mean, if
you want cheap, there are mills made in India that sell for a few
hundred less. Those are worth getting if you need CHEAP and your
needs are modest.

Otto Frei is having a sale, and you can get some Durstons for almost
the same price as the Contenti mill. Middle ground doesn’t make any
sense to me here. Either get a truly cheap mill, or get a Durston.

Neil A.

Michele - buy the Durston if you can. You will buy one someday, why
waste money on something that will frustrate you now.

It is the single best investment in tools that you will make.
Durstons hold their value in the used equipment market so unlike most
jewelry tools, used Durston mills sell for nearly full price.

I’m interested to see what other tool my Orchid friends would
categorize as a better investment - other than education.

Judy Hoch, G.G.

Check Cavalini, it's another good brand. Make sure in any case to
get the ones with the reduction gears and yes you should invest in
to a better one because it will be there for generations. 

We’re getting some Pepe rolling mills in soon. The company has made
some good tools. Cavalin is good. We aren’t going to sell Durston’s
any more, but I wont go into details.

I was toying with the idea of purchasing a motorised Cavalin, but
hand rolling is more fun.

Regards Charles A.

A rolling mill is a one in your life time purchase, I would go for
quality and buy the durston the difference in price is worth every,
cent or penny


I purchased one a couple of years ago and went through the same
process. I ended up purchasing a Durston. The reason is the rollers
aren’t as good, on forums (possibly Orchid) they discussed replacing
rollers and having problems with alignment. The tradeoff was I could
save a few bucks now or spend the extra and save money by not having
to buy extra rollers or having a piece of jewelry ruined because the
rollers weren’t aligned.


Wow, thanks all for your advice, very helpful indeed. I am looking
for a good all around mode, for wire & sheet. I don’t do roll
printing (yet).

I’d like to address some specific comments:

Neil, Good point about ‘truly cheap’, but one essential feature for
me is combination rollers. The only really cheap models I’ve found
either don’t have combo rollers, or they only have 4 increments on
square wire. The Durston model that fits that bill, combo rollers & 7
wire increments, plus with reduction gears, is $795. Can you
recommend a website that sells the cheap ones?

Douglas, I was going to get a Pepe mill, but they seem to be sold
out locally (NYC). I was told by a local & trusted dealer that Pepe
is in the process of moving their facility & not producing them at
the moment. But it’s worth a call to Contenti to find out more about
the mill. If it is a Pepe I may go for it.

Robert, I do take classes & have been using the mills there for
years, but the classes are currently over until late September. A few
weeks ago when I absolutely needed a mill that day, I drove 2.5 hours
to use the only available one I could locate. Not being a young woman
myself, my patience has run out too, which prompted my decision to
buy one… It’s time. Also, thanks for the tip on the rollers &
surface hardening. I do always reduce in small increments though, I
was told it stresses the metal less.

Eileen, Can you tell me which casters you use? If they can be locked
tight enough to not move while putting lateral pressure when cranking
the mill, awesome, I will definitely do that.

Judy, On the raccoon front, I can’t believe how cunning they are. I
live in a somewhat urban area, a mix of houses & apartment buildings,
& am amazed at how they flourish. I watch them out the window of my
apartment at night, it’s hysterical. But where do they go during the
day? I mystifies me.

Thanks everyone for all the other comments. All very good info.

I bought one of the cheap one’s while waiting for my Durston to
arrive when Imoved to Panama. The rollers broke where the gears
attach to them. flat rollers only. So if you do not have money to
spare I would suggest that you save and buy the best you can afford.
my Durston elect mill is now 20+ years old. Still going strong…

Its nice to see all this response with good advice from everyone no
matter what their personal position! I can add that this is one of
the pieces of equipment that I saved and splurged for. I have
remained happy with my Durston since the day I picked it up. A few
years ago I thought I was going to have to sell out (from health
issues), and I had no trouble lining up people who wanted to buy my
Durston for almost what I paid for it originally. I have taken
excellent care of it, and used it only for what it was made for, but
this tool has a well earned reputation. Thomas III