Rolling Mills

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Updated: 2/11/19, 2/8/17

Nancy LT Hamilton


Tools used on this page:

The Rolling Mill

Rolling Metal Flat


Hi Nancy
I just watched your video about the Pepetools 4:1 mill.  I am curious if I can flatten 12  gauge to 18 copper wire on it?  I don’t want it completely flat……Will hammer it after flattened a bit.  I was at Rio Grande last year and the gal out front said it wouldn’t work and techs were in a meeting…


The flat rollers flatten metal and the grooved rollers make wire.  The rolling mill (if equipped with flat rollers) can flatten whatever gauge can fit into its open rollers (without forcing it and potentially damaging the mill). If your mill opens up to a 0 gauge, then you can roll 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 – 36  gauge, etc.  I often make sheet metal and run a thick billet through until it is the gauge of sheet metal that I want it to be.  If my billet is too thick, I hammer it down until it fits between the mill’s rollers. After rolling, the metal can be textured however you’d like.

You can make the metal as thin as you want.  If you start with 12 gauge, you can roll it through until it is 34 gauge and even thinner, if you take other steps.  You can also roll 12 gauge through and stop when it’s 11.5 gauge.  It all depends on how often you run it through, how tightly you compress the rollers each time, and how often you anneal the metal.

You can also pattern metal with a rolling mill and create ovals from round shapes and rectangles from square. You can taper wire too. There are many uses.

When you say you don’t want it “completely flat” do you mean you want a curve on it or a point?  The flat wheels on a rolling mill, only flatten wire or sheet metal.  The areas that are for making wire, the grooved areas, make whatever shaped wire the mill is set up for (“D” shaped or 1/2 round, round, triangular, and square.  Not all mills make all shapes.  Most make 1/2 round.  The gauge allowable for wire creation depends on the size of the wire rolling section.  I chose one rolling mill’s specs as an example:  three “D” grooves will roll 4mm, 3mm, 2mm, 1.5mm, 1/2 round wire. 

I use a drawbench to create differently shaped wire.  See below for some links on this topic.

Additional Resources that may relate:

How to Roll Metal Through the Rolling Mill


“Question: I have a book that tells you to turn the metal end over end while rolling it. Does end over end mean leading edge over to trailing edge or left side over to right? In the same book, it tells you that a wavy sheet means you changed direction without annealing first. I cannot find anywhere on the internet where you get tips on how to roll metal correctly. Maybe I’m asking the wrong search questions.”


I have learned that to roll out wire or sheet metal you always roll in one direction, like lengthwise only, inserting the same end and side in each time until rolling is complete for that pass.  Do this 3 times or so then anneal.  Roll in any direction that you want for the next roll but, keep it always with the same leading-edge entering the mill.  So that I don’t screw up and put the metal in the wrong way, I mark the edge of the sheet metal with a sharpie and re-mark each time after soldering. That way I always know what end to put in for that session.
I suppose it doesn’t matter too much if you feed the front edge in for one pass, then pass the back end through, flip and then pass the front end through – which is what I think they (Durston’s Rolling Mill Manual) are saying.  The problems occur when you roll lengthwise and then crosswise without annealing.

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