Rolling mill disappointment

You mentioned Rolling Mill experts in your post and inferred that
they “lived” on Orchid!

Who would that bee?

I can’t, even after paying for a private lesson for the thing, get
my stuff to “work properly” on the rolling mill. I end up with
crooked metal, faint imprints and lots of disappointment. No matter
what I try (tighten/sandwich between metal or paper/et), I get the
same results.



Hi Lori,

This might be a long shot, but your rollers might be not aligned

If by chance each side of your rollers are not exactly parallel it
will cause your metal to curl when rolling.

I might suggest closing the rollers as close as you can get them (be
sure not to over tighten the rollers) and then remove “if possible”
the center adjusting mechanism and gently rotate the gears on the top
of the mill to make sure that they are rollers are touching and then
replace the center handle.

This should do no harm to the mill and hopefully will take care of
your situation.

Good luck.

James Dailing


Please send us the specifics of what you are doing with your mill.

  1. What you are intending, i. e. what you want the mill to do.

  2. If you are using it to add textures or designs to your metal,
    what are you using to make that texture (please give details, like
    depth of textural plate, material of texture “plate”, etc.)

  3. What kind of mill are you using?

  4. How are you determining the evenness of the the opening between
    the rollers of your mill?

  5. What is the kind of metal to which you are attempting to add

  6. Have you annealed your metal?

Once you answer these questions, Orchidians will chime in and may be
able to eliminate your frustration with your rolling mill.

Hang in there,
Linda Kaye-Moses

Hi Lori,

Your problem might be with the rolling mill. The crooked metal is
caused by your roller being out of alignment. Try searching the
internet, I found a YouTube video of how to correct mine after I
re-installed the newly ground rollers (big thanks to Matthew
Durston!!). The other ‘trick’ is to gently pull on the metal as it is
being fed into the mill to keep it straight. This takes some getting
used to, so start with scrap.

Assuming that you have annealed the metal, the faint imprint is the
tightening issue if you are using a precision handle, which is one
that does not extend past the base of the machine in height. A
compound handle, which extends past the base of the machine, uses the
additional gear on the machine to allow you to easily compress the
metal as you feed it through while gently pulling on it.

For a really deep imprint, I frequently deform the textured item
beyond hope for re-use. Thanks to galvanic etching I am getting the
depth of texture without the muscle work-out and the avoidance of

Keep experimenting to see what works for you. A pro on the art-show
circuit was using her ‘mistakes’ as backing on the other side of her
textures. After a couple of passes it created a completely unique
look that she is now wishing she could reproduce.

Email me off-line at FSGmetal at gmail with where you live and I will
see if we have a member in your area that might be able to help you
in person.

Our group is open to everyone -regardless of skill, location, or
metal type.

Jean Marie DeSpiegler
Florida Society of Goldsmiths

Have you looked at your rollers? They may need to be synced up. One
side of the roller bars may need to be aligned with the other. This
is done on the top with screws, but not seeing your rolling mill hard
to say exactly where. Next does there appear to be any etching of the
rollers? Small pits and other spots? Do you keep it clean and lubed?

To check alignment run a piece of card board through where you have
just tightened it down enough to easily run it through. Then look at
it sideways. See how the cells are collapsed. If one side is smooshed
more than the other, you have a problem. That will make your metal go
sideways when going through the mill. It might only be minute, but it
will cause big problems. Especially if you ar switching out rollers.

Any blemish on the roller will also translate to your work. Take
great care of those rollers. Getting them reground to mirror is very

Also get a good rolling mill. Your shoulders, and work will thank

The cheap $200 jobs will do the job sort of, but when you work with
a good one, you will see a world of difference. They are also much
easier to care for.


I can't, even after paying for a private lesson for the thing, get
my stuff to "work properly" on the rolling mill. I end up with
crooked metal, faint imprints and lots of disappointment. No
matter what I try (tighten/sandwich between metal or paper/et), I
get the same results. 

Lori, I didn’t see your original post(s), but one thing in this
latest stands out to me. You’re talking about roll printing. using
the mill to imprint and texture.

And that’s fine.

But understand that this use is not what rolling mills are primarily
designed to do. Their intended use is to make sheet metal, or with
groove rolls, wire, thinner, into thinner sheet or thinner wire
(usually prior to drawing the wire to final dimensions).

Here lies the first bit of advice. Make sure you can successfully
use the mill for it’s primary purpose. Is the mill capable of taking
a straight strip of metal sheet, and rolling it thinner without it
warping or bending to the side? If so, then at least you know the
roll is properly adjusted. If the metal bends to one side, then your
first task is to level the rolls, by tightening or loosening one of
the side adjustment screws, either raising or lowering one side of
the upper roll relative to the lower roll, to get them parallel.
You’ll never get even roll printing if the rolls don’t start flat and
even. Once this is done, you don’t need to touch that adjustment
again for a long time, as once leveled, the rolls pretty much stay
that way.

Then, in roll printing, whether you sandwich the metal between other
metal or texture objects or not, doesn’t in itself affect the metal
staying straight. What affects it is whether the total package of
metal, any sandwich, and the texture item is effectively thicker on
one side, or the middle. If so, and thus more metal is being
compressed and displaced in one place than another, then the result
will always be some form of deformation. This is normal. And it’s
not necessarily a bad thing. You may, if your desired imprint will
require this sort of uneven pressures, simply have to put up with the
distortion. The answer is to make the metal larger than the desired
end piece, so you can trim, and get the needed size piece from the
larger textured stock you produce, thus getting rid of the
distortion. Any warping is dealt with easily by annealing, then
using a rubber, plastic, leather, or other soft mallet to flatten the
metal on a flat steel surface or softer, like nylon or wood, if
you’re trying to keep a texture on both sides of the metal. The
mistake in such cases is simply in the expectation that the mill is
the only tool to use to obtain the perfect final piece. It’s not.
It’s just the main one. Then you work with the result, bent,
distorted, or whatever, to get what you need to end up with. In roll
printing, there will often be some waste material along sides or ends
to be trimmed off.

The more and thicker layers you sandwich the metal in, ie other
metal above or below the worked metal and the texture item, the
harder it will be to get a deep crisp impression, as more of the
rolling compression will take place in other than putting in the
desired impression. Your metal itself can contact the roll on it’s
underside if you’re not trying to emboss that side and can leave it

Any metal above your texture is there simply to prevent embossing a
texture on the roll itself (which is only partially hardened, and can
be textured/damaged if you’re not carefull). But softer things like
paper or lace, don’t need that protection, and may give a crisper
image without. The upper “sandwich” layer may, however, help hold
everything in position, and if it’s thin, and already fairly hard
metal (I like brass sheet. You can get fairly thin shim stock which
is already fairly hard, though soft enough to protect the roll) then
the deforming energy will stay in putting the texture into the work
piece. A thicker or softer sandwich layer will absorb more of the
compression energy, and result in a weaker impression on your work

Also, expect to have to run trials with small scraps of the work
metal and texture item, to find the proper settings to get the right
impression and resulting product. It’s not always intuitive or easy
to guess. Once you get the right result on your scrap, try tightening
the mill just a tiny bit (assuming your workpiece is wider than the
test scrap), and using that setting. If you have trouble with this,
you may need more than one trial to get it right. Again, don’t let
this frustrate you. It’s just the normal way this technique can

Once you’re used to it, and making the same end product many times,
you’ll get a better feel for just how to achieve it without all the
trial and error.

Hope that helps
Peter Rowe

The best way to level the rollers is to get some sheet preferably
somethingsoft like copper or fine silver ensure it is an even
thickness and cut it to about 5mm narrower than the rollers. Pass it
through the rollers and measure the thickness at either edge, if it
is thinner on one side adjust the rollers accordingly. Once adjusted
put a fresh bit of sheet through and measure again. You may have to
do this a few times to get it an even thickness and should always
start with a new piece of metal. Doing it by eye will not work as the
rollers may change when under pressure if there is any movement in
the bearings/ bushes. It is a bit of work but once it is set right
you shouldn’t have any problems. Also use a good quality micrometer
to measure the sheet not verniers which are rubbish for accurate
sheet measurement. If it is a cheap rolling mill then it doesn’t
matter what you do the frames and bearings/bushes are usually rubbish
and you will get flex which willcause all kinds of grief.