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Recommendation for a rolling mill

I’ve saved my pennies and now have approximately 6000 pennies to spend. I’d like to know some opinions on my first rolling mill. I’m thinking about a Pepe as I’ve seen them, but I am undecided about spending all my tool horde money on one item. What do you think I should get, as there seems to be a few different mills running about. I’m limited on space so I don’t want anything huge and unmovable. Should I get a Pepe, or should I get something less expensive no-name brand or should I continue to save for a Durston?

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Looking for a rolling mill tool for your jewelry projects? We recommend:

$60.00 won’t get you much. Maybe a spare set of rollers, used, without the mill.

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$600. I’m not known for my math calculation thank heavens

I hope that is $600, not $60. A rolling mill is a big investment. I started with an economy model and it served me well. I eventually got a Durston 130. It serves me really well. Good luck…Rob

Same. Cavallin then Durston. Both did the trick. I don’t think you always need the top of the line tool when money is tight. Get one that does the job for now.

Later, when you have the cash and are sure what you want you can reward yourself with a primo mill. Or maybe an Nakanishi micromotor, or…?

Wait till Kevin Potter with Potter Press comes out with his rolling mill.

Save more pennies, nickles, dimes and even a few dollars. Get the best mill you can. Pepe is a great brand. The mill will last you for many years. Don’t go cheap - even on a first mill. It may be your last. I don’t make enough money to buy cheap anything. It wears out too fast and must be replaced.

Buy the Pepe or save for the Durston?? The answer is … depends :slight_smile: It depends on how broke you are, and what you are wanting to do with the mill. I’ve owned both one of the low end mills (made in india) and now have a Durston C130. Lots of folks will advise you to not waste your money on the Pepe and hold out for the Durston, but if you can never scrape up enough pennies to get the Durston in SOME situations the a Pepe is better than no rolling mill at all. I used my el chepo for years … I bought the Druston because my needs, skills, and budget changed. It may be best perhaps to try to think of what you might want to do in the future as well before you jump in. Here are some things to consider (sorry, I like bullets):

  1. The Pepe will do fine for very light duty stuff like rolling thin sheet down, light duty roll printing, squishing some wires, etc. The Pepe will not handle thick cast ingots, serious roll printing or anything requiring a lot of oomph (pretty sure that is a technical term). You’d have to set the Pepe side by side with the Durston to really understand the difference … there is no comparison in size, bulk, quality of build, etc. A Pepe is just not a Durston like a VW is not a Porche. If you anticipate you will be doing anything other than light duty stuff … try to save for the Durston.
  2. Think about if you want a combo or just flat rollers. It would be a misfortune to think all you wanted to do was do some roll printing and got a wide flat mill … only to discover late you might want to make reuse your scrap and make some wire. Again, the most important questions is … what are you going to do with the mill, now and 10 years from now. My philosophy is buy a combo mill with big enough flat area to serve your needs and get the wire section too. I got the extension rollers as well … cost difference is minimal and you can do some funky things with twisted wire.
    3)Don’t buy by name alone … Durston makes some less expense mills trying to compete with the low end market that don’t have reduction mills. Unless you have muscles like a bodybuilder you are probably going to have a hard time rolling down ingots or roll printing with those :slight_smile: I’d rather have a Pepe with reduction gears than a Durston without. Just my preference and I’m not a weakling.
    4)Be cautious with used mills. Sometimes, you can pick up a great buy on ebay or elsewhere … sometimes you get burned. Been there, done that. I mentioned I’ve owned the Pepe and the Durston C130 … and a third mill I bought off ebay … we won’t talk about that … makes a great door stop. Watch out for rusted rollers, rollers with dips, broken gear teeth … you can’t see those things on ebay.

My 2 cents. Figure out what you want to do and let that guide your purchase decision. Last caveat … learn a little about how to use a mill before you jump into using it. The Durston is monster … but you can ruin it totally very fast if you abuse it. Search the archives on rolling mills … the manufacturers all seem to think you should know how to use the damn thing if you are buying it. I “think” someone finally published a book on how to care for and use a mill … but I forget who.

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Durston steel is not so good as they claim in their promotionals . The rolls were rusted in a couple of days and their surface is not so smooth as my old rolling mill made 30 years ago by some friends , excellent craftsmen here in my city . This is a very important demand a rolling mill must fulfield , to have the rolls higly polished , and Durston isn’t this way . .
Why ? To avoid sanding and polishing after rolling , which means scrap and losses , especially when it comes about gold . I’ll show you next weeek how my old rolling mill looks like comparing with the new Durston DRM C 100 .
When you buy a rolling mill , the test is to scratch with your nail on the surface of the roll toward the axis direction and must sleep like over a glass surface . iI yo feel any asperity , you can be sure the rolls are not good quality .
My rolls are shining all the time , no matter if I oil them or not ( as a matter of facts I didn’t oil them at all , why should I do that ? ) . Dursrton became dull in just a few days and any temperature changing in the room brings a film of thin rust over the rolls .I think that I made a mistake when I spent 1000 euros on this machine just because it has Gear Reduction. My old rolling mill doesn’t and works better than Durston .
That’are the effects of comercials and promotion , watching movies and looking at photos where the tools are shining . The truth is not so bright . Even if I could take the rolls to be rectified at high polish , the poor propereties of the steel remains and will rust again very quickly .

Giacomo, I’d be curious to know where you think you can find a commercially available small rolling mill suited to individual goldsmiths (as opposed to the much more costly and larger mills used in factories, etc. ) that is made with polished rolls. I’ve never seen such offered, even as an option, including Durston, Dinkel, Cavallin, Pepe, various Indian and Spanish mills, or American made. Very finely ground surfaces, yes, but not polished. Now, that’s not to say i’ve not seen polished rolls, but in all cases I’ve seen, the polishing was done later, by the owners. It’s not so simple to get a perfect high polish on a rolls while also maintaining dimensional accuracy and flatness, and most goldsmiths find the surfaces left on their metal by the fine ground rolls to be quite adequate, needing polishing perhaps, but not usually excessive sanding. Also, a highly polished surface will tend to resist rusting better than a ground one, because the surface area is reduced, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen rolls made from steels that, instead of being optimized to the strength and toughness and hardness needed of the rolls, were optimized to reduce or eliminate rusting. Stainless steels don’t make such good rolls. You’ll find a light coating of a light machine oil will prevent rusting. In shops I’ve worked where the rolls were highly polished (in house, after purchase, by a trained tool/die worker), oil was discouraged, but because the oil film itself can “roll print” on the metal, reducing the fine surface on the rolled metal. Rolls not used so often were oiled, but we had to clean them before use and oil again after… And finally, as to the cost, I suspect that as with myself, prices in the current world have crept up as we all got older. What may seem like an astronomical price, may actually not be, when one looks at the current economy, wage costs to manufacturers, materials costs, and more. Yes, 1000 euros is a lot of money. But if you think you could commercially manufacture and sell, within the EU and especially somewhere like England or Germany or Italy, etc, a high quality rolling mill with the attributes you desire, for only a 1000 euros, and make enough money to stay in business, I’d be surprised. If you do find some manufacturer who can do that, well, please share.

Just to put the record strait re Durston mills, Ive one I bought some 35
yrs ago, a geared 130 , and converted or I may say added to it a power
drive. This has done some serious work including rolling wrought iron,
mild steel and even titanium round wire to square without any detrement.
And yes the rolls are/were ground and being steel have had the odd rust
through my own fault, cleaned up quite well and still accurate.,tho need
careful feeding on wide and long strip, 2in wide by 2ft long.As to
comparing it to other mills I can do that as ive 4 others, 2 victorian,
1 from the 1930’s and one from the 1940’s thats got 4in dia rolls by 4in
wide that are chrome plated. The durston is no better and no worse than
any of the others.
If you rolls rust very quickly, maybe your pickling bench is too close
and the fumes are getting to it. It doesnt take any more than a .5% damp
air from old battery acid to rust anything rear the pickle.
your Durston is under warranty the maker here in the UK will honour
any technical fault.
Im currently building another powerc mill, came by the basic frame and
rolls that need finishing the rolls are 6in wide by 3.5in dia. I need it
for 4in wide bronze sheet I need to take down from 2.5mm to 1mm and ive
30 kgs to do. 30 to 1 worm and wheel reduction box from a 5hp 1440rpm


I don’t like to participate in the battle of the titans.

This said, my rolling lill is a durston 130 with 11 grooves, a flat part
and extension rollers together with a 4:1 reduction gear…
It’s more then 20 years old serving me without ANY problem.
I was fortuned to buy them via Rio Grande instead of buying them in
Europe… the price was about $450US cheaper in America … at that time.
I’ve seen people buying small mills and breaking the rollers in a few years.
If you’re looking into buying a good rolling mill, don’t go with the small
ones even when they are attractive in price.

The surface of my mill isn’t polisched but it lookes pretty shinning to me
using once in a while some steel wool to clean them.
I turn the rollers so they push the steel wool away from the rollers.
Little particles of material will be removed leaving the rollers in an
excellent shape.
Just to make sure that you don’t get the wrong picture, my rolls are still
parallel and close evenly.
The little trick with a sheet of paper works well to check your rollers.

The only measure I took is having some rubber foam on top of the highest
roller and bottom of the lowest roll.
The foam is cover with neutral vaseline where they meet the rollers to keep
them from rusting.
My mill looks dirty but the rollers are kept in superb condition just by
keeping them slightly greased (you don’t even see the vaseline film).

As far as polishing concerns me, well, I follow the steps of polisching
I agree that highly polisched rolls shortens the labor but try to find them
if they ar not home made.
I don’t see them available by cavallin, pepe or Durston.
I do see them occationally with small mills BUT htey have a layer of choom.
This layer will crack in time anyway and I do not recomment people of
buying this type of quality.

Durston might not have the best steel but using them for more then 20 years
rolling gold, silver, mokumé and schibuichi means something to me.
May be that Cavallin or Pepe has better steel, I don’t know.
The proof is in the pudding. I don’t see the need of buying them all and
compare them.

I’m am a happy camper with my mill from durston.
Serving me for more then all those years but a qiality stamp on them.

Some poeple like to stick with their branche and I don’t blame them.
If I have to buy a new mill, I’ll go again with Durston but my quess is
that I not survive my mill.

Polishing is done by me and not by my rolling mill but I understand the
benefit of havint them polished.
Mi mill is made for rolling, not for polishing metal.

In respect to all of you.


I’ve had made 5 pairs of rolls over the years for my rolling mill . I designed myself and it was made in 1987 by four excellent kraftsmen .One was a turner and the other two were working on grinding and milling machine, and the fourth was a specialist in hardening steels.
I can’t polish the surface of the rolls except I would be an idiot or an amateur, knowing that I will ruin that perfect surface the rectifying machine has done . And yes , the surfaces of my rolls are like glass , that’s my demand everytime I asked new pairs of rolls from my friends . They have such a machines and one must see the rectifying machine to understand how it works . The cemented roll ( not hardened ) are fixed in a high speed lathe and a huge grinding stone wheel is lowered on the surface of the rolls , rotating at the same high speed , but in reverse direction . The stone wheel is mounted on a device that is moving along the axe of the roll , grinding microns of it and it’s the most beautiful view to watch how the rough and black oxidized surface of the roll became shine like a mirror , under a courtain of sparks .
That operation must be made three times , using finer and finer stone , untill the rolls are reflecting the images like a mirror . This is a very precise operation and is included in the cylinders designing , so the turner must make the crude cylinders one millimeter thicker then the final item , so the rectifier can remove that three layers of material , 0.30 milimeters everytime when the new stone /grit is changed .
This is made also for straightening the eventual bended portions of the cylinder during hardening and cementing . The rolls must not be hardened then tempered by heating them in potasium salt at 800 C then cooling in oil and then heating again at 300 C . This way the steel is elastic not brittle and the rolls will last a lifetime ( even more ) . I know enough about steel tempering and what’s the best material for the perfect rolls to be in possition to say that the steel Durston use for their rolls is not the best quality .
As I said before , I can prove everything I say with images , video or not . But that’s a boring discution , like footbal teams , everybody likes a label and my team is the best . I’m not interested in footbal ( or soccer ) so I leave , telling you that : Buy a solid structure rolling mill ( like Durston or Pepe ) and find someone who is able to make new rolls for you , best quality steel , professional hardening and tempering and perfect surface finishing ( rectifying ) . Whatever will cost , you’ll have a lifetime rolling mill standing in perfect condition without the need of caressing it all day long by oiling and lubricating . And btw , my rolls bearings are made by graphite bronze , a self lubricate material , the best for a professional rolling mill . Maybe I’ll show you my rolling mill one day , to understand what a perfect tool must look like . Have a nice day to you all …

I’m not using sulphuric or any other acids in my room , being in love withh my tools . The only acid I’m usin at my bench is a pickling dry acid in which I can put my hand without any harm . But everybody has secrets and I’ll stop here , telling you that Durston was a dissapointment for me . Unnecessarily heavy and some details making me think that was made without consulting a professional gold or silver smith .
For example , the square grooves in the cylinder are made in the inappropriate way , the largest channel is in the middle of the cylinder and the thinnest are at the end of the cylinder . Not mentioning the turnery rules saying that deep channels must NOT be made in a middle of a tempered piece which is supposed to be under huge pressure , like it is a rolling mill cylinder . I saw in my life many rolling mills damaged ( cylinders broken exactly where the biggest chanels were cut ) .But making the thinnest channels right near the end of the cylinder , making it very difficult to see and inaccesible , this , my friends , was a detail that made me think that Durston has no idea about what a jeweller needs at a rolling mill .
Every day working with thin wires became a nightmare when using Durston and many times I lowdly cursed and shout when I use that piece of iron . Also m making the pointer of the channels by PLASTIC , that’s a silly free from some professionals like Durston . That pointer must be made by iron , brass or bronze to last . I reccognize I’m a bit angry on Durston because I feel cheated spending so much money on that machine which is under the quality I usually ask for good jewelry tools . But all I say can be proved easily , for whom has a Durston rolling mill in the workplace .

Mario di Maio has the best quality rolling mills I ever saw in my life , it’s pity the world of today’s manufacturers and comerciants are adopting the chinese style : make it worst and cheap and take their money faster . This way good quality tools became ( when can be found ) more expensive and the examples of quality are not known by the new generation of kraftsman . A label can ask a lot for an item they made , but when their quality is as - or under - many other , they don’t deserve any respect and attention .
I am very conservative , but when a label dissapoints me I let them down and try something else to fulfield my quality demands .

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Your 2nd paragraph, you say,
That the deepest groove is in the middle of the roll. I suggest that you
have a fake Durston as I personally knew Mr. Durston senior, and he was
a 1st class engineer. He would never do that. The only other possibility
is that the mill you have does not have the original rolls.
check with Durston. Im sure they will confirm my thoughts.
You also say unnesserseryly heavy, how heavy? all good mills are heavy.!!
Mine has aluminium bronze bearings for the rolls.
what kind of reduction gears does it have? epicyclic or strait gears?
Mine has the latter.
I personally went to meet Mr. Durston at his factory and he sold me
spare outrigger rolls so I could turn my own sections and also a spare
drive gear to which I mounted a double B section V belt pulley some 12
in in dia.
The 1st stage is a 3hp motor with a 2in to a intermediate shaft with a
12in single pulley A section, then a 3in double b section to the op pulley.
It doesnt slip at all.
If I want to hand turn it for taper rolling I take off the top pulley
and put back the handle.


Have a look at the close-up view of the authentic Durston rolling mills on Durston’s website. Giacomo is correct. The deepest grooves are in the middle of the roll.

Fake Dursrton ??? ha ha ha … you make my day … and from where to buy a fake Durston , from China ?
No kidding , but it’s just I said before , some people are posrting like they are somefootbal team fans , whatever came from their team must not checked or put on any doubt .Just write “Durston” on Google and you’ll see hundreds of pictures in Hirez , showing that details I told you about . And you didn’t see them when you were at Durston in person ? Hmm …
I have 43 years of experience in matalsmithing and I make many of my tools , so I can’t be treat like an ignorant . My rolling mills are straight , without any reduction and they work easier and smoother than Durston DRM C 100, even they don’t have gear reduction or motors . Of course I roll no more than 200 grams ingot at once , but that’s what I need for gold at least and the same for silver . If you use Durston ( but you don’t , because you don’t know how a Durston rolling mill looks like ) for heavy tasks like pre thinning iflat big ngots prior to the next level of smoothness in a good quality JEWELER rolling mill , everythink will be OK . But don’t say Durston rolling mills are for jewellers ( both goldsmith or silversmith ), because it isn’t . .
I have two rolling mills made by myself ( one is a combo and the other is flat ) and both of them have excellent steel cylinders . No rusting and perfect shining surface . I worked mostly gold and I didn’t need to use sandpaper , as you can see watching the hundreds of videos I have on the net among the years .
And I work only handmade hollow technique , so my items are very light and resistant .
The only thing I have to do after finishing assembling the pieces are few fillings and straight to buff polishing , because the surface of my material ( sheet mostly ) is like the one of the cylinders : mirror .
And about galvanizing the cylinders … I have to say that this must be a bad joke and shows such a low level of knowledges about the trade . A goldsmith MUST know how his tools are made and to be able to repair them , or to make new tools . Not to buy a van of accesories and useless substitutes from big companies , whos main interest is to keep the hobbists at the lowest level possible , to sell them all the crap tools , including semifabricated items . I did made a short video on Ganoksin many years agfo for a person who was complainig of not having a rolling mill and being unable to make wire in her own workplace . I make wire without the rolling mill and show the video to them all . The name of the video is " Wire without rolling mill" and you can find it in Ganoksin archives . At least I hope they keep it .
So , my friend , life teached me that the bigger the company , the lowest the quality . They are big and rich and don’t need to show respect for the customers . A small company does things better , because they need customers and the person which gave his name to the company is still alive , or at least his closest relatives . And the name must be keeped clean and glorious . Think about that when you buy an expensive tool . Look , a great label name rectifier is over 600 or even 1500 euro and a very good one from Taiwan is only 200 dollars , doing the same job , and the small chinese rectifier has better design and functionality than the old model of the big company . But that’s too much to talk about being dependent of big companies and what they want you to be . I have a lot of work to do and writting here on this subject is simply a waste of time . Try to watch some of my videos ( they are hundreds under Giacomo or Skilman nickname ) and you’ll see I don’t lie anymore . have a nice evening .

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Giacomo, I am assuming you are the master who has his videos on the German website If you are the same person I would like to thank you for those videos and truly hope you will continue to contribute with your knowledge. Thanks I have been a fan of your work for awhile now

There are many private craftsmen in the trade of working with steel , just type " looking for a turner " or rolling mills cylinders or someone who have a private business in making steel tools . They are plenty all around the world .
Now , regarding a good rolling mill for a small shop … I have to admit I liked a Pepe Tools model , very classic , somehow similar to an old but very efficient German model . I can’t tell you about the cylinders quality , they all looks beautiful in the photos ( even Durston’s ) , but you can buy a cheap Pepe and make your own cylinders to a professional turner or a private company with this profile . I am sure they charge you enough to spent the same money you gave on a Durston , but you’ll have your own tool , made by your requirements . Hardness , good speed steel and flawless surface cylinders . No heavy weight or die cast structure , because you don’t roll industrial quantities . And you don’t have the force to break a simple rolling frame , believe me . A bad annealed cylinder , yes . I break myself two pairs in time , when I started working white gold , 15 years ago . Then my friends made new pairs , based on the new properties of the metal to roll - white gold . And everything was perfect , untill these days the cylinders are perfect condition , and my friends company was vanished , in the economic crisis , few years ago .
I am really worried where I will make the next cylinders or cuppling gears or even new tools . All the personel was fired and I lost contact with many of them .
So try to “tune” a Pepe rolling mill and you’ll be the happiest man .