I just took delivery of a Durston 130 rolling mill and am thrilled.
I had never own a rolling mill until five years ago when I bought an
economy model to see if I really needed one. The economy model
performed very well, but it had some size limitations and I also had
to change the rollers, since it seemed that, whatever I needed,
wasn't in the mill. The machined root of a flat roll keyway cracked
and I had a time getting the drive gear off. After dressing it up, I
was able to use it, but that is when I decided to buy the Durston. I
am about to build a new bench just for the mill and my wire drawing
setup. Since both operations require the turning of a crank handle,
I need to decide how high to build the bench so that I make best use
of my now 65 year old arms and don't wear them out. I am 5' 8" (used
to be 5' 10" but life has shrunk me a bit). My question is, is there
any wisdom regarding what the height of the bench or, more
accurately, center line of the crank hub should be for someone of my
height. I am less concerned about the wire draw crank as it is a lot
easier to turn. I am open to any suggestions and if there is
something that I have yet to consider, please include that in your
reply. Can I add that I very much like looking at Soham's videos. I
have been a precious metal worker for forty years and still always
learn something watching another artist work. Thanks Soham, I also
like your bike. I used to ride a Moto Guzzi but downsized to a
Piaggio. Now I just peddle ride a bike as I suffer from vertigo and
don't want to fall off two wheels at 60 MPH. Thanks. Rob
I'd look at it this way:
(A) how far down do you feel like bending? (B) how long is the crank
arm on the mill?
Add (B) to (A), and then adjust up another 4(ish) inches, and that's
your bench height.
(As in: set it up such that the lowest swing of the mill handle is a
few inches above your lowest comfortable reach.) Remember to account
for the mill handle being mounted a few inches up in the body of the
Although there may be a standard for bench heights, I am not aware
of one. As a retired mechanical engineer, most US workbenches
benches I have been involved with for standing work have had the
work surface set at 36" from the ground. If seated work was also
required of the same bench, the seated work was performed using a
stool of approximately 24 " height - customarily, a "drafting"
style, metal, height adjustable stool accomplished the task.
For a few specialized circumstances, I had designed custom height
benches to suit the individual performing the task by physically
measuring his/her comfort zones of highly repetitive tasks. For
tasks requiring high physical forces (possibly your cranking of a
rolling mill handle), personnel were measured for their individual
strength zones and bench height set to suit. Any lifting should be
In measuring for the task, I did nothing more than ask the
individual to demonstrate or show me the motion and position where
they felt the most comfortable work point (the position on a tool
where the actual work is done, similar to a hand position/height)
should be for their performing a specific task and measured the
height. From that height I would subtract the tool (Rolling bench
mill) work point height and the remainder would equal the bench top
Hopefully, this approach provides you with an optional way to think
about sizing your bench height - please feel free to e-mail me if
you would like any additional detail or as I would be
happy to assist.
Bob A. DeMarcki
I'm 5'10", the crank centreline of my mill is 35" from the floor,
and I find it quite comfortable.
Regards, Gary Wooding
Oh for the right stand. I ended up paying for one custom built. I
roll thousands of feet per year, but thankfully most of it is one an
electric rolling mill. I ruined my shoulder with the manual one from
all the reasons you want to prevent. One of the best things you can
do is have it fit you. Just like blacksmiths they adjust where anvil
sits you need to be mindfull of where you want your rolling mill to
stand to the side where the handle is. No matter the length of the
handle (you can't change that unless you modify it. Standing straight
up with your weight centered over your heels Extend your arm straight
out in front of you. (use the arm you will be cranking with) That
point is the right angle point at which your body will experience the
least amount of stress on your back. Mark that point on the wall, or
measure it with the help of a freind from the floor. When your stand
is built, the very center or point at which the handle is attached
should be that point where your arm is extended out.
Reason for this, is that the downward swing will be equal to the
upward swing. Now for another bit of wisdom. Switch out your standing
For minor small jobs, stand behind. If you have a lot of rolling to
do, stand to the side and crank from there. You will by using both
hands be able to minimize the stress best on your back and shoulders.
It spreads the work equally on both shoulder jhoints and gives you a
good standing point that lets you not slump over the rolling mill.
You might want a friend to help with guiding the metal through the
mill. Hard to do that with only two hands and cranking.
Another thing you need to do is prevent the stand from walking while
using it. I find my spare rolls of copper (27 pounds each) make a
good weight, plus I store any heavy items I have in the bottom as
well. If I was more stationary in my usage, I'd have it securely
bolted to the floor.
Years of a love hate relationship have gone into this. My son hates
to help, but he does it anyway. When I have big jobs I use the
electric. It was my son who hated helping to roll things out, that
bought me the electric mill. Now I need to figure out how to make him
hate using a torch so he gets me a laser welder.
Aggie. the old and cranky
What you say is probably the best way to figure it out and the way
that I have built all of my other benches including my lapidary
benches. I was just interested in whether or not others with the
Durston line of rollers might have some specific input. Thanks again
for the help.
It was my son who hated helping to roll things out, that bought me
the electric mill. Now I need to figure out how to make him hate
using a torch so he gets me a laser welder.
After which, please send him over to our place. Seriously, you've
inspired me to annoy my own son to the point of fruitful gain. I
have to learn to think like you!