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Experience with Contenti rolling mill?


#1

Hi,

I am trying very hard to find an acceptable entry level rolling
mill. Since my research budget is only $100 per month, I need to make
every dollar count.

I’m interested in buying the new Compact Economy rolling mill, shown
on Contenti web site, rather than taking a chance on buying
someone’s abused Durston, for $198 with $60 shipping.

Part of the reason I am interested in this mill is that extra
rollers can be purchased separately, even flat ones that I could
later machine patterns upon.

Does anyone use this particular mill and if so what is your opinion
of it for use by a beginner?

Thanks,
Andrew Jonathan Fine


#2

I got Economy rolling mill is great with wire sheet is hard says 4/1
its not its 3/1 rollers can take 1 to 2 hours to swap out if you do
not play hide a search with springs

Jen


#3

I have one, and I also use one at a jewelry studio I hang out at. I
use it mostly for flattening wire and twisted wire for filigree. I
have used it some to thin sheet and to put pattern on wire. I have
not used it for drawing down wire. For what I have used it for, it
has worked great. I hope to use it to roll down ingots that I have
cast from my scrap, though I am not sure if it will have the strength
to do that. I suppose it matters more how patient I am; making sure I
anneal often enough so the mill doesn’t have to work so hard!

Theresa Bright
http://www.BrightsFantasy.com


#4
I got Economy rolling mill is great with wire sheet is hard says
4/1 its not its 3/1 

Jen, I assume you’re talking about the gear ratio. Sheet the full
width of the rolls can be difficult, but these mills cannot take high
stress loads anyway. So you have to anneal more often, and tighten
the rolls less per pass than you might with a studier mill. Doing
that, makes it not so hard. If you’re having to work too hard to turn
the handle (assuming you’ve got normal strength) then you’re probably
putting a bit too much stress on the mill.

rollers can take 1 to 2 hours to swap out if you do not play hide a
search with springs 

1 to 2 hours? Really? Maybe it’s just practice. But it doesn’t take
me longer than fifteen minutes, and usually more like ten. Now, I’ve
got the needed wrench for those top bolts right by the mill, no
hunting it up, and I"ve done it a few times so there’s no question of
what to do. And I don’t usually bother leaving the plastic gear
covers on, so that speeds it up a tad…

Personally, I rather like these little mills. Cheap, which is good,
and if you don’t exceed their capacity, they seem to work fine. For
me, for flat stock, I use it as a final finishing mill, rather than
for breaking down thicker ingots. I’ve got an old (1930s, maybe) flat
mill (American made, I think. No label) that’s a workhorse, but with
it’s age, the rolls are a bit rough. So having the little mill there
to smooth over a piece to the final measurements after getting mostly
there with the bigger mill, is nice. And some of the texture rolls
are useful. So is the half round, etc…

These things don’t compare, quality or durability wise, to the much
higher quality Dursons or Cavallin or Dinkel mills, but at their low
cost, they’re still pretty handy. I’d avoid the Chinese copies,
though. Even cheaper, in all senses of the word. Too much so. The one
Harbor Freight mill I saw was almost useless compared to the Indian
made ones it tried to copy.

Peter Rowe


#5

What Peter said…

I bought my rolling mill from Kenneth Singh years ago and it’s still
going strong and it sounds like I’m harder on mine than Peter is on
his. I have no problem with paying more for a mill. I bought this one
as a starter but it’s served me so well I simply haven’t bothered or
needed to buy a Durston yet.

As for switching rollers, I just timed it at 8 minutes 17 seconds
without pushing it, so Peter’s estimate of 10 minutes seems about
right. I’m reasonably facile but not unnaturally speedy, and frankly,
I find it an enjoyable and somewhat mindless interlude between more
challenging tasks.

It may help to plan your milling to minimize changes. Even though
roller changes aren’t an issue for me, I like to cast ingots, hammer
them out on my big anvil, then roll out sheet and wire stock for a
few weeks at a time. When I want finer sheet, I roll it as needed,
taking light passes as Peter describes.

David Barnett
SW FL Gulf Coast


#6

don’t, don’t, don’t!

  1. a pasta mill will do the same job almost as good : )

  2. You buy a mill once to last all your working life, a durston you
    can give to your grand kids.

  3. the contenti can only handel plate of 2.5 mm tops, a good mill
    6mm.

  4. the mill stands on the begining of the julery making prosses
    crappy mill crappy plate.

  5. textering can be done faster with a good mill and steel plates
    (Oppi Untracht p. 67).

  6. cheep mills cost your time!

so get new GOOD mill.
Kif


#7

I bought my mill from Contenti, along with other equipment in 2003.
I’ve never had any problems with any of the pieces. I researched as
much as I could and asked jewelers and was already going to RI, so I
bought from them because of their excellent staff, and their
interest in explaining all the variants of each item I was buying.

I bought mid to high end in each of the pieces. An Arbe buffer with
fan, a Pepe guillotine and the Italian Combination Rolling mill
(130mm rolls) with gear reduction, and an opening of 5mm.

I use my roller daily, wire, flat stock and texturing. It took me 8
years to pay off all my equipment and I take very good care of it. I
don’t have any grandkids, but I’m sure all of my equipment will be
working long after I am gone. LOL

You might be referencing the low end mill, but I think implying that
Contenti products are on the same par as a pasta mill is being a
teeny bit contentious.

Dinah


#8
You might be referencing the low end mill, but I think implying
that Contenti products are on the same par as a pasta mill is being
a teeny bit contentious. 

I’ll second that, I’ve always had pleasant dealings with Contenti,
and they carry the same usual range of products, both in price and
quality, as other dealers, though they don’t carry as many of the
really exclusive high end things. Plus their prices are sometimes a
bit lower than others, though it’s gotten to be a fairly competetive
market. Still, it pays to check.

As to even those small mills from India, also sold, by the way, by
Otto Frei, who are hardly known for carrying junk, they have their
definate place.

They are not, by any means, the equal of a fine durston, Cavalin, or
Dinkel mill. But they also cost about one third what those do, and
have a few interesting capabilities, not the least of which is an
extensive array of available pattern rolls are rather amazingly low
prices compared to pattern rolls for the european mills. And they are
most clearly not past mills either (though those too, can be useful,
for metal clay or polymer clay). They do not have the capacity in
thickness of the heavier mills when rolling from an ingot, and they
don’t have the ability to take as big a “bite” with each pass. But
they do work, if you respect their limits. I actually have two of
these little things, in addition to bigger better mills. One is set
up with a favorite pattern roll, and the other one, I put one of the
flat rolls on a lathe and polished it to a high polish. I’d not dare
do that to the costly rolls on the bigger mills, but if I screwed up
this one, a replacement isn’t a lot of money. And it worked, so now
I’m able to use that roll as a “finish” roll, after using the bigger
mills to get sheet almost to thickness. Then a pass through my little
polished roll gives me a really nice surface.

If looking at rolling mills, be sure to compare apples to oranges.
Expecting a little 250 dollar mill to compete with an 800 dollar
Durston is silly. But that doesn’t mean it’s useless. I would agree,
though, with people who’s suggested that if you’re going to own only
one mill, as is the case with many people, especially when starting
out, that the bigger and better european mills are a wiser choice.
Later, if you see one of these little Indian mills on ebay (as I
did, twice…) then you might choose to think it might be useful…
In my case, it certainly has been, even if you could also say it’s
superfluous… (grin. What can I say. I’m a tools packrat…)

Peter Rowe


#9

Kif, I didn’t ask the question about the Contenti rolling mill, but
am in the process of saving for one. I am so glad you took the time
to give that which is valuable for new people like me.

I made a mistake purchasing the pepe jump ring maker/grobet flex
shaft. It was sold as a set. I felt like such a great shopper, and
that I got a great deal. NOT, The flex shaft is 1/8th horsepower and
does not have enough a-s as my husband so charmingly calls it, to
cut through the rings, without mangling them. I have ruined so many
silver jump rings. I thought it was just me at first and I am
nothing but determined, so I did ruing plenty before I went to my
husband for help. Now I am saving for a foredom 1/3 horsepower flex
shaft, so I never run into that problem again. I hope this saves some
other people. It is very confusing to me because my husband says
there are many things that you can get away with purchasing less
expensive items, such as files. He claims I am wasting my money
paying for Frederick Dick files, when less expensive ones will hold
up just as well. My husband is a very talented mechanic, welder, and
metal artist, but he does not do jewelry!! Any comments out there?

Thank you, Cynthia
Cynthia Cameron Design


#10

I am the owner of a Harbor Freight rolling mill, but have also had
the pleasure of using a Durston mill several times. They don’t even
compare.

There are things that the Durston will do that the the HF can’t do.
There are other things that the Durston does excellently that the HF
does with mediocre quality. And most everything that the Durston
will handle efficiently is tedious with the HF.

But, I’m still glad to have my HF rolling mill and use it
frequently. Soon I will invest in a Durston, and I already have
several local folks interested in buying my HF mill. Personally, I
think that there is a place for these starter mills.

Jamie


#11

I just saw a rolling mill for $175 at Harbor Freight. Was wondering
if it was worth it for small jobs. I’m a beginner and don’t want to
spend a fortune quite yet! Please let me know thoughts. Looks like
from your email it may be worth it. Thanks-b

Barbara Bear


#12
I made a mistake purchasing the pepe jump ring maker/grobet flex
shaft. 

The Pepe might not be as well made as the original, the “Jump
Ringer” from Ray Grossman.

It was sold as a set. I felt like such a great shopper, and that I
got a great deal. NOT, The flex shaft is 1/8th horsepower and does
not have enough a-s as my husband so charmingly calls it, to cut
through the rings, 

I don’t think this is an issue with the power of the motor. 1/8th hp
should be more than enough (It’s worked fine for me, though I have
Ray Grossmans tool, not the Pepe one). BUT, your coil has to be
securely clamped (and the Pepe may make this trickier), AND your saw
has to be properly adjusted, both centered in the slot, and the right
depth so as not to cut too deep. The latter is often an operator
technique rather than an actual setting. Also, the circular saws
have to be sharp, and you have to be cutting in the right direction.
If you’re mangling rings, it’s most likely not that the flex shaft is
not powerful enough. Rather, it’s probably something wrong in the way
you’re attempting to cut the rings. If they shift in the fixture, for
example, that will quickly make a mess.

Now I am saving for a foredom 1/3 horsepower flex shaft, so I never
run into that problem again. 

More power will help if you’re finding an underpowered motor is
simply stalling. But if you’re using the jump ring fixture and cutter
properly, even with a 1/10th hp motor, you shouldn’t be stalling it.
This isn’t to say you won’t enjoy the heavier Fordom motor. You will.
But I suspect that power is not actually your problem here. Lots of
people have fine results with motors no bigger than your Grobet.

husband says there are many things that you can get away with
purchasing less expensive items 

Yes, there are many tools where less costly ones will also do the
job. But there are also a lot of them where the step up in quality,
especially in a precision hand tool, as many jewelers tools are, will
be noticably better in terms of ease of use, length of service, and
the quality of work it does. It’s been said that often, the most
costly tool was the one which you paid the least for, and the best
value may end up being the most expensive in initial price.

such as files. He claims I am wasting my money paying for
Frederick Dick files, when less expensive ones will hold up just as
well. 

That depends on what you’re filing. The FD files are harder, and
have a surface treatment that helps to keep them from loading up. If
you’re working easy to file metals like silver, then the Dick filles
are likely overkill, at least in the larger sizes. I’ve a bunch of
chinese made files I got in a closeout from MSC once. 50 files for 50
bucks. Some weren’t much use, but others, the big bastard cut heavy
duty ones, are great for hogging off a lot of metal. But when I need
to do precision work with needle files, then for most uses, I use
the best I can get. This is usually either the FD files, or fine
escapement files, or similar very high quality, and often costly,
needle files. I also have cheap ones for ten bucks a set. Great for
wax work. Not so useful on platinum.

And the FD files are noticably better on platinum, both in the
quality of the surface they leave, and the length of time they hold
up before getting dull.

So the answer is that sometimes you’re husband is right on this. But
most certainly not always. Cheap tools are fine for quick and dirty
work or jobs where precision isn’t required. But for the finest work,
you need tools up to the task.

Now, the trick is that the best quality tool is not always the most
expensive. And that takes some work to figure out what’s what.

My husband is a very talented mechanic, welder, and metal artist,
but he does not do jewelry!! Any comments out there? 

One thing to note is that most likely, the scale of the things he
works on are a lot larger than what you do as a jeweler. So the
quality of a file cut on his work, may represent a fine surface,
which when translated to your precious metal, turns out to not be
good enough. And, of course, his scrap metal can go in the trash. You
have to be a bit more careful about not generating so much scrap.

Peter Rowe


#13

I purchased my little rolling mill from Otto Frei - the one with all
of the rollers. I love it. It cost @$350 inc. shipping. Yes, you
have to practically disassemble the whole thing to change rollers -
but even I (definitely challenged in that area) can do it. Otto Frei
(they are wonderful & their customer service is exceptional) e-mailed
me instructions on howto do it - & it really doesn’t take that much
time. I usually just try to organize my work so I don’t have to
change the rollers too often. I understand it’s limitations & don’t
try to make it do too much - take it slow & easy.

Hope that helps-Sheila


#14

Cynthia brings up a good point about not only rolling mills, but in
other tools in the jewelry trade as well.

“Horsepower”.

Cynthia mentioned in her post that her underpowered flex shaft just
didn’t have enough power to cut through her jump rings, so she
realized that a more powerful model would be the answer.

This philosophy certainly applies to rolling mills, torches, and
other tools, as well. One could “get by” with an inexpensive rolling
mill, just to roll out small things, as long as you’re not in a
hurry. But to roll out larger sheet or wire stock in the most time
and labor-efficient way, you’ll be happier, in the long run, with the
much more robust Durston mill with 6 to 1 gearing, and quick options
to change out rollers for other wire shapes. I swap out my various
half round rollers on my Durston mills in seconds.

I’ve always said that “you can roll out small stock with a large
mill, but you can’t roll out large stock with a small mill”.

The same for torches. Either you buy several torches for soldering
small items and larger projects, or one torch that has the capacity
for soldering thin chains up to large belt buckles. Most of us DO
have multiple torches in our studios, for all kinds of heating or
melting applications we encounter. Just don’t try to solder large
objects with a tiny torch not designed for that use.

Jay Whaley


#15
I just saw a rolling mill for $175 at Harbor Freight. Was
wondering if it was worth it for small jobs. I'm a beginner and
don't want to spend a fortune quite yet! 

What needs to be understood is that relationship between goldsmith
experience and quality of tools is quite different than above quote
implies. Experienced goldsmith may be able to make use of less than
prime quality equipment, while beginner must have the very best. I
know that financially it does not make sense, but it is one of the
ironies of life.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#16

Peter is right (as usual) about the power of the flex shaft being
sufficient. I looked and my antique Foredom CCs would be 1/8 hp on a
good day. I don’t ever recall stalling one, duplex springs twisted
into 4th dimensional shapes but that is all. My wrists are not strong
enough to handle 1/3 hp. Some thing is wrong and more power is not
going to fix it.

Without looking at motor name plates I don’t think any of my machine
collection (and I like machines maybe too much) is over 1/4 hp and
that includes some nasty big machines where the work is really
clamped down and I stand out of the line of fire.

Good expensive files are a real joy to use. I have files ranging
from dollar store ones to the nice $30 for each ones. Each has a
place and use. Expensive ones respected for fine metal work, but the
cheap ones are my favourite for wax. It is handy to shop by price but
quality for a given use is rather more important. Cheap can be
expensive or it can just save $$

jeffD
Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing
http://www.gmavt.net/~jdemand


#17
What needs to be understood is that relationship between goldsmith
experience and quality of tools is quite different than above
quote implies. Experienced goldsmith may be able to make use of
less than prime quality equipment, while beginner must have the
very best. I know that financially it does not make sense, but it
is one of the ironies of life. 

Interesting point, Leonid. It seems to me that the beginner will
first of all, be less graceful in the use of the tool, so the tool
has to be robust enough to be able to survive being used wrong, or
being forced to try and do too much without failing. Also, the
beginner may not know the various options and variations in how a
tool is used, but only knows the most obvious, or perhaps what
they’ve seen in a book. So their number of ways to achieve the
desired result will be fewer and more limited. So the tool must be
able to perform sucessfully no matter how it’s used. The experienced
goldsmith, on the other hand, will understand the limits of the tool
and be able to adjust accordingly. Also, if a given tool cannot do a
job well in the obvious way, experience will allow the jeweler to
pick an alternate way to achieve the desired results, so the
limitations of a given tool don’t then hold one back.

On the other hand, give the beginner a great tool, and it does the
job perfectly. The result, the beginner now knows only that the tool
works well in the one way it was used, and may not ever try anything
different. If you give the same beginner a lesser tool, and it
doesn’t work quite as desired, the beginner may be frustrated, but
if motivated and reasonably creative, will then attempt to find some
of those alternatives that the experienced jeweler already knows. So
in this case, he or she not only learns, eventually, how to do a
thing, but also knows several ways not to do it, and perhaps several
ways to get the desired results. More learning happens from failure,
I think, than from success. One does need sufficient success so that
motivation and confidence remains high, but mistakes and failures
teach you more about the metal than when everything just happens to
turn out fine, with no real understanding of why it did so.

Peter Rowe