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Author Topic: Budget rolling mill survey  (Read 3803 times)
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Moira HFG
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« on: October 18, 2015, 09:31:59 AM »

I have just made a purchase! Grin

Since I've just done a methodical search of what's available right now, I thought I'd post it in case it's of use to others.
All the economy models have 3 inch rollers, deal with non-ferrous metals up to 4mm, and weigh 22 to 28kg.
All warn that 'designs may change', so do check before buying.

1. Proops (eBay, Etsy, Amazon): Has 7 rollers; 2 plain, 2 wire, one half-round and V-shape, 2 texturing rollers (from the pic each one seems to be divided into 3 different patterns). No other information, only one picture. There is a safety cover over the gearwheels. Top appears to be held on with screws rather than bolts (I would be inclined to replace these as they will need undoing every time you change rollers). Two Amazon reviews, one happy, one not.
Price 155, free p/p.

2. Cookson's: Has 5 rollers; 2 plain, one wire, 2 fancy (each divided into 2 patterns). The manual on the website doesn't quite match the photo, but there is good info on youtube, showing you how to assemble and use it. Onsite reviews, many people happy, a few wish they'd saved for a better one.
Price about 200, I think p/p is on top of this.

3. T4J (Amazon): Has 7 rollers, same description as Proops. There's only one picture, you can't see the rollers. It's at the heavier end, 28kg, so perhaps a little more solid. No reviews posted, but Mizgeorge has recommended T4J in previous posts.
Price 249, free p/p.

4. A L Findings (jewellers-tools on eBay, alfindings on Etsy): 8 rollers; 2 plain, 2 wire, 1 half-round, 1 V-shape, 2 textures 'checks and lining'. Pics look the same as Cookson's. No weight quoted. No reviews, the listing on eBay only came up today!
Price 159, free p/p.

Others:
Second-hand Durstons: come up periodically from around 350 upwards, depending on condition.
Chinese Durston look-alikes: Unknown quality, from about 280 up with p/p.

I went for the A L Findings version. It seems to offer a lot for the money, and when I emailed the company with a question I got a personal response within minutes (on Sunday!). Review to follow.....

Moira x
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Carefulkate
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« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2015, 10:17:08 AM »

Looking forward to the review x
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JanieD
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« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2015, 10:13:02 AM »

Yes, so am I.

I've been dithering for ages, trying to decide whether to get one or not, and what brand. I was going to try and save up for a Durston, but not sure if I can justify the expense as it wouldn't get a great deal of use (I tend to etch base metals to texture them).

It would be nice to texture sterling though, and there's a great Etsy shop which sells laser cut paper patterns to use with a mill, called Rolling Mill Resource:

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/rollingmillresource?ref=shopsection_shophome_leftnav

They will also do custom patterns as well, and the textures can be used many times with metal clay.

I checked Jewellers-Tools on Ebay and the rolling mill they have listed at the moment is 179.

Jane
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Moira HFG
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« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2015, 01:16:03 PM »

Oh yes, they've put the price up by 20 since yesterday  Shocked . It could be due to the exchange rate I suppose from wherever they buy them in from.
Those texture strips look lovely. I'm looking forward to trying leaves, textiles, anything else I can lay my hands on!

That second-hand Durston on eBay looks nice - but the price may well shoot up in the last hour or two.
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Moira HFG
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« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2015, 10:05:42 AM »

I've had this mill for a few weeks now, so here's the review.

Delivery was prompt, and everything came as advertised. The casting looks solid, and the bolts were better quality than I expected. None of the parts are highly finished or polished, but they are all finished adequately for the intended use. There was no manual with it.
The only initial assembly needed was to attach the handle - though I wanted to dismantle and rebuild it straightaway so I could find out how it went together, and check all the parts for cracks or casting errors (there weren't any). There are safety covers over the gear wheels both sides.

Here's the parts straight out of the box, with the 6 alternative rollers. There's a pair for rolling down wires, and 4 top rollers; one half-round, one V-shaped, and 2 texturing rollers which each have two patterns:



The next thing was to fit it to a board, as I don't want to screw it permanently to the bench. This is a bit of scrap hardwood. I cut a piece that would fit inside the body of the mill so it wouldn't wobble about. And I discovered that the cover for the gearing sticks out, hence the dip chiselled into the front:





I've only used the smooth and texture rollers so far. Changing the top roller isn't too troublesome, but changing both is quite a fiddle, as you have to take the big gearwheel off. If you want to roll wire regularly I can see the point of those combination rollers!
There are no measurements on the top, if you want to set accurate gaps you need a set of feeler gauges. I'm not convinced the gap between the rollers stays absolutely level as you turn the adjusting handle - some of my things seemed to come out more deeply impressed one side than the other - but maybe I didn't have it adjusted quite right.

Once set up, I've had a lot of fun with it! All my experiments have been with annealed 0.3mm copper.
First the texture rollers: here are the four patterns that came with it. And then I tried running copper through the smooth rollers with different bits of lace trim from my sewing stash. I really like the result!





I've made some bead caps and tried picking the detail out with gilder's paste - think perhaps I should have stuck to LOS!
And - best result so far! - I punched out some circles, folded them in half and ran them through the mill progressively thinner until they were about 3 times longer than wide (There are no graduations on the adjustment, but I found that turning the handle one cog tooth at a time worked fine). Then I hammered the edges a bit, and opened them up. Leaves!





In summary:
I'm very happy with my purchase. It's quite a basic tool, but for someone like me who wants to make bits and pieces to go with their glasswork, it's ideal. Mostly I'll be using it with the smooth rollers, and experimenting with interesting textures from fabric, leaves, cut paper etc.
I can see why if you were taking up metalwork seriously you might want a better quality mill - I expect you'd get a precision engineering, better quality steel, and a proper polished finish. Also graduated adjustment. But you'll pay an awful lot more for it.

Incidentally, I took notes as I took it apart and reassembled it, so I could write my own manual for future reference. If anyone wants a copy I'm happy to send it, just PM me.

Moira

« Last Edit: November 06, 2015, 10:21:01 AM by Moira HFG » Logged

flame n fuse
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« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2015, 12:34:01 PM »

Thanks Moira, very informative, and I love those leaves!
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ruth
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« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2015, 05:19:46 AM »

You have done more with your rolling mill in weeks than I have achieved in a year or more. Those leaves are fantastic.

Ruth
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spexy
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« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2015, 06:43:14 AM »

Those leaves are fantastic! Thanks for sharing your experiences.
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Pat from Canvey
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« Reply #8 on: November 07, 2015, 03:36:16 PM »

Very interesting Moira.
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ajda
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« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2015, 04:03:28 PM »

I can see why if you were taking up metalwork seriously you might want a better quality mill - I expect you'd get a precision engineering, better quality steel, and a proper polished finish. Also graduated adjustment. But you'll pay an awful lot more for it.
You are right, Moira. I bought one a few years ago very similar to yours and it was good enough for a while. You can't roll sheet thicker than about 3mm and the gearing makes even that quite hard going - but for the kind of thing you've demonstrated with 0.3mm copper (and those leaves are great!) it'll do the job. One of the things I do is to melt down my scrap silver, cast ingots and roll them out to make sheet or wire and it can't really cope with that kind of work - so I started looking for something better. The Rolls Royce of rolling mills (Rolling Royce perhaps?) is Durston and I was lucky enough a few months ago to pick up a big old one 2nd hand for just over 300, complete with cabinet stand - the equivalent new would be about 1500. So it's worth keeping an eye out on eBay if you are interested in upgrading some day. There's a big difference in engineering and build quality - it weighs a ton and will probably last forever...
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Enchanted Cobwebs
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« Reply #10 on: November 08, 2015, 01:45:14 AM »

Love the leaves! I have a durston and shame on me I only use it to make square wire, must do more with it
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Now I can play all day as I retired from the 'proper' job....
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Sarah9959
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« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2016, 03:22:17 AM »

Just read this, and wanted to say what a wonderful review Moira - so well thought out and thorough and great pictures. It has been very useful to me.

Thanks a lot for this.

Sarah
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