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Rolling mill


#1

I was wondering… How necessary is a rolling mill? is it preferable that I spend upwards to $1000 on one? Is the quality of the $300 ones not up for the tasks?

Would it be too much hassle to try to work around having to use a rolling mill?

Those are just a few of the questions that I have in mind.

Best regards, Stefán.


#2

I made jewelry for thirty years without a rolling mill. Had a little extra money and bought an economy model for around $300. Used it till it broke and now have a $1,300 Durston. Fifteen years later I would not be without one and it is on the short list of tools that I would go into debt to replace immediately. You need a rolling mill to recover old metal, change the shape of metal, transfer designs and textures, Make a piece of stock that you are out of late Saturday night an much more. There is a lot of information in the archives and on line about rolling mills. Go to the various manufacturers websites and study what they have there. Look at jewelry supply websites and study what you see. Durston has also just come out with a less expensive line. In summary, I would say that, if you want to grow, you need, and will appreciate, some kind of rolling mill…Rob


#3

Only you can determine if it will be necessary. Have you been thinking about how you would use it?

After you know why you want one, you should spend a lot of time thinking and discussing the features that are important to you. Use our search engine to learn more about rolling mills.

I would delay this purchase for as long as possible, because your needs can change over time.


#5

Hi Stefan,
Rob’s advice is very good. He like me is an old hand and we use a rolling mill for all sorts of work, not just flat sheet production.
What tools you need will depend on what you want to make. That is directly related to your dreams! so if you going to pursue your dreams, dont be limited by the lack of tools to interpret them.
Tools are the key to metalworking on any scale, look at this modern world we live in, most products we use have metal in them that has been produced with a mill, and the following.
The basic tools are

  1. a drill
  2. A lathe
  3. a rolling mill
  4. hammers in all sizes and likewise anvils.
  5. a heat source.
    The most useful tool I have is a 1880’s drop hammer, along with all the tooling, fly presses jigs and dies. This opens the door to a whole range of products that it can only make economically and profitably…
    Thus gives me the edge over all the other metal smiths out there who dont have this.
    I bought like Rob a Durston, some 45yrs ago, and went to see Durston for some more parts so I could motorise it.
    To give you an example, I work a lot of bronze and its very difficult to find it in the specs I need.v One spec has 10% nickel in it its called cunifer 10. Its used primarily in hot sea water trunking in ships. Available only from ship breakers in 4in dia by 3 ft lengths. by 1/8in thick. I cut it down lengthwise with a jig saw, open it up to make sheet some 12in wide by 3 ft long. Ideal for my needs. Cut it down to 3in wide ( big bench shears!) in a big leg vice! then roll it after cleaning and annealing to 1/16thin thick. It ,when made up it polishes well and more importantly fire oxidises a lovely dark brown colour, for a bronze age product.
    Can only be processed in bulk with a power mill.
    I refuse to be limited in my workshop for lack of kit. I just spent $3500.00 dollars equiv in £ on dies for a 2018 project. It will give me a product no one else can give.
    Another example, I work a lot also in 316 s/steel.
    to join this I use argon shielded arc welding kit. Its really hilarious, as I use this space age tool to make a “Dark Ages” torque!.sells very well.
    So, without knowing where you are based,
    nor how old you are, or what skill level you have
    and what products you plan to make,
    advising you whether to have a mill is not easy.
    The East African mixed metal torques are made from copper telephone wire, iron fence wire and brass shell cases, by coloured gentlemen working with just a hammer, chisel , 2 prs of pliers, a wood fire and a piece of old railway line iron. sitting on a tree log somewhere in the jungle.
    nicely done!. have a couple of them here to remind me how lucky we are. So easy to make with modern tools.
    Await to hear more of your details and plans in due course.
    Ted
    In Dorset
    UK.

#6

Stefan,

I have used both an economy rolling mill and high quality mill from Durston. My experience was identical Rob’s. Within weeks of breaking the key ways on my economy mill, which I ran for 8 years, a new Durston was on my bench. My shop couldn’t run without one based on the products I make. But the bigger question is Can your shop run without one? As we speak I äm considering a second dedicated to forming sheet. Every shop is different. Id suggest you find a local smith and ask if you could see what they are all about. If you decide to buy one I’d look hard at the new Durston line. There are other quality rollers out there that will do the job. A mill is an investment. Research before you buy.

Don


#7

@Durston_Rolling_Mill @durston is also a sponsor of the forum so I am sure he can weigh in. I can say objectively, Matthew makes a fabulous product and supports it unequivocally.


#8

I sure need mine (Durston) but you could get away with buying all of your stock the size you need. You don’t pay dramatically more for materials that are rolled out by the supplier. So if you’re making all of your stuff out of a combination of certain size wire and flat stock, or whatever, you could live without one.

When Don said to check a rolling mill out in a local shop I was thinking that they might let you use theirs occasionally, if you’re willing to buy them lunch or maybe make chocolate chip cookies on the days you stop in? Now I’m hungry.
Mark


#9

I’ve known several jewelers and worked for one that never had or used rolling mills. These days, thanks to all the mill companies out there, there isn’t a great need to have a rolling mill (emphasis on the word “need”. It sure is handy to adjust some existing sheet stock or what have you into a proper thickness rather than having to order another bit of sheet or proper wire thickness, etc.)

However, if you’re like me using custom alloys and having to pour your own ingots, a rolling mill is absolutely essential. There’s hardly a day in the shop that goes by in which I don’t use my Durston.

There are of course other considerations, but those seem to be the more common ones.

Erich


#10

I have a large “over/under” Durston mill. 158mm of flat on top and the same in graduated wire grooves below. It is my third Durston. I’ve sold the others as I’ve moved up for close to what I paid.

I roll most of my own stock, recycling scrap, and making rod/wire and plate/sheet as I need it in gold and sterling. I do buy large bronze sheet but also roll out small amounts from ingots poured from the bronze scrap. I should say that I also now have a similarly sized Pepe power mill for rolling out flat stock. I bought it because i could see a point where my body would prefer the assistance of a motor when rolling out wide stock. I’m really getting to like it.

Owning a rolling mill provides me with the freedom to change guages at will, and to have new stock on hand pretty much whenever I need it (providing I have scrap or shot to begin with). I can also try something experimental and if the metal is still clean, start over should it not pan out.
I also forge in the mill. What I used to taper forge on an anvil, I now step-roll and the refine with a hammer. (Not in the case of steel.) I also create and refine surface in the mill.

So for me, the rolling mill has become an integral part of my studio practice. I use it many times a day, every day.

Just my two cents.

Take care,
Andy


#11

After considerable consideration I came to the conclusion to order the Durston Agile C130.

I prefer to have quality tools that will perform well and last a long time as opposed to getting something cheap that wont.

Thanks everybody for chiming in and offering advice, it was greatly appreciated.

Best regards, Stefán.


#12

I just wanted to add my 2 cents. I purchased a Dunston years ago and although I haven’t used it that much, because of being down due to moving, a rolling mill, to me anyway, is a necessary piece of equipment right after a torch. There are so many things that can be one with them like texturing, etc. You can buy different plates for patterns. Don’t know how you can be without one actually.


#13

We actually sell one where I work. We have one here in the studio at work, but we rarely use it other to transfer textures onto sheet. I have however used one in school and it’s important to watch what you roll through them if you’re transfering designs. You can really mess the rollers up if you’re not careful and they have to be resurfaced if you do. It always upset the instructor when he had to ship them off. I use it occasionally also if I have scrap that I’d like to use and it’s too thick of a gauge. I’ll anneal it then run it through the mill until I’m satisfied. Have fun!


#14

We make all of our own wire and most of our own sheet and tubing. I do mostly fabrication and could not imagine my life without a rolling mill.
I find it’s important to start newbies out making their own so that they can learn the working properties and limits of the metals.
Have fun and make lots of jewelry
Jo Haemer
www.timothywgreen.com
Facebook page- jo haemer Gold and platinumsmith.


#15

Since I work with a lot of scrap metal, and customer’s gold, I found I need to do a lot of rolling down of sheet metal and square stock. I did without a rolling mill for 19 years, getting by using school mills tillI f finally got my dream studio set up. I have 3 mills, 2 cheap, and 1 mid-range cost. However, if I had the chance, I would go with a Durston, and luckily, I can use a Durston at one school I teach at. If you are going to be doing a lot of thinning sheet, needing long thin strips, rolling down ingot bars into square stock, etc, then a mill is necesary. If you buy all your wire/sheet in the dimensions you need, you may not need a mill. Look at what you do in your studio and determine if you need one. Good luck!


#16

I agree 1000% with Jo on this one! The making of wire and sheet is basic in goldsmithing, and one learns many skills from this ‘simple’ act. Doing it regularly gives you a really intimate connection to the material. And ironically I would even go so far as to say that for small goldsmiths, it is imperative financially (!). I haven’t checked in a long time, but when I first started working, a given piece of gold sheet cost twice as much if you bought it ready made! I would have infinite annoying delays without a rolling mill at hand. Sometimes you have a piece which is just a tiny bit too small for what you need. With a rolling mill you can just flatten it a teeny tiny bit and bingo it’s big enough and you don’t have to stop work and order more material!

Janet in Jerusalem


#17

Oh man. . .I remember my early, pre-rolling-mill-days and those “annoying delays” you mentioned waiting for the right stock to arrive were just the absolute worst! Nothing drove me nuts faster than wanting to finish a piece only to realize I didn’t have the right stock on hand and would have to order and wait several days for the item to arrive!