Keeping rolling mill in Good condition

I was just lucky enough to buy a durston 100 mm combination rolling mill. As I am sure you can imagine for a fledgling jewellery maker like myself, this put a massive dent in my wallet and I would like to, at all costs keep it in good condition. However my house is small and so I keep it in my shed/workshop with my bench and everything else. I live in a very moist climate and have had problems with tool rust before, would desiccant, a good oiling every so often and a plastic cover be enough to keep the precious mill in good condition or would it be advisable to take it inside the house in the winter months? Thank you for any help and advice.

  • Argentum Moon

There is a lot of good advice on line. Look at Rio Grande videos and the Durston site. My mill is in my shop in my cellar. Since it is a cellar, there is a dehumidifier running year round. This benefits me as well as my tools. Since it gets used a lot, any problems are quickly found and dealt with. The rollers are cleaned regularly with Simichrome polish and then 3 in 1 oil. Take small bites, anneal often and make sure that what you are rolling is dry and you should be good to go. Durston mills are a big investment and, with care, will last a long time. Good luck…Rob

Congratulations on your rolling mill score. The best way to protect your investment is to make absolutely sure that the metal you are rolling is clean and dry. I take soft upholstery foam rubber soak it in oil and jam it into the space at the top and the bottom of my mill so that it contacts the rolls. As I use the mill the oiled foam cleans and oils the rolls. We also keep and old cotton pillowcase on our mill when we aren’t using it.
As we live in the pacific NW we keep a humidifier going in our studio.
Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
Jo Haemer

What Jo says is perfect advice. I do the same, keep foam on the rolls and keep the mill covered when not in use. I am not in a humid shop, but have seen some real messes of rolling mills … so I always keep a light coat of oil on the rolls and rotate the gears every week or so to make sure it stays distributed (remember, 5 to 1 gear ratio means you have to turn the handle 5 times to get the rolls through one full rotation. You probably want to clean the oil off the rolls before you roll something (just wipe it off) and re-oil after you are finished. I’m probably over doing it, but a rolling mill is an expensive investment and it is surprisingly easy to destroy or seriously damage it doing stupid stuff … or ignoring it. Jo’s advice about making sure everything is absolutely dry is spot on, that includes organic material if you are roll printing. Don’t let fresh leaves for instance touch the rolls. I also am very careful to make sure I have removed all the acid from the pickle, because if you are annealing between multiple passes (and you’ll have to if rolling down ingots) you are going to have some pickle on the metal. Never try to roll something really hard like titanium or tool steel … seems obvious, but it happens. And … I have to mention this because your mill is in your home - keep small children, curious teenagers and idiots away from the mill. I’ve read horror stories about kids running nails through a rolling mill and you can imagine the results. If you manage to get pits or a nail groove on the rolls … it ain’t coming out unless you send it back to Durston to be reground. And like Don says take small bites and anneal often … I’ve heard of folks breaking the reduction gears by trying to take too big a bite at a time. I wish that Durston would provide a comprehensive users manual with their mills, but I figure they think anyone buying a mill is going to know how to use and care for it.

One thing I learned the hard way and the tip came from a buddy of mine regarding firearms, don’t use WD40. After awhile it has the look and consistency of shellac. Took many hours to clean the rollers afterwards,


We have a sticker on our rolling mill that says “ All unattended children will be sold into slavery.”

I live in Southern Florida so in addition to the steps mentioned above by Jo and others, I added one other step. I bought one of the large clear clothing storage bags at Walmart, the ones you can attach a vacumn to and suck the air out. I mounted my mill inside the bag with the bottom of the bag sandwiched between the bottom of the mill and the wood surface it’s mounted on. When I’m not using the mill I remove the mill handle and store it in a drawer. I then pull the large bag up over the mill to completely enclose it inside the clear bag, and zip it shut. (I don’t vacumn the air out) I keep a small sock full of rice inside the bag at the base of the mill, to absorb moisture. When I need to use the mill I unzip the top of the bag, pull it down around the base of the mill, attached the handle, and I’m ready to go. I keep it clean and oiled at all times. I know it may be overkill but like was mentioned before, once the rollers begin to rust you are going to get a new “pattern” where you did not want one.

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Hi @ArgentumMoon, We hope you enjoy your new rolling mill. This article about maintenance might be helpful: Keeping rolling mill in Good condition

If any other questions come up, don’t hesitate to let us know!