Rolling Machine Primer


A rolling machine is a device made for simplifying the task of rolling your own cigarettes, tobacco or otherwise. There is certainly a venerable tradition in rolling by hand; however, the speed and ease with which you can roll using a machine is tough to beat, not to mention that you can learn to roll absolutely perfect joints using a rolling machine with little or no experience.

Rolling machines come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but most function basically in the same way. The most common type of rolling machine is a small, hand held version with a frame made of clear plastic or acrylic, two plastic spindles mounted on the frame, and a tough plastic belt that wraps around both spindles. Variations range from simple rolling mats to complex metal boxes with ejector levers and other such nonsense. The simple clear plastic machines will be the focus here, as they're cheap ($2.00 - $10.00), small, and nicely utilitarian.

You can usually find rolling machines and rolling papers at most gas station convenience stores. Your local tobacconist may also have them, but many people find it much more fulfilling to buy their drug paraphernalia from a head shop.

So, how do I use it?

Most of the time when you buy a rolling machine there aren't any instructions with it, which doesn't help the first timer because the machine itself isn't exactly intuitive. However, using the machine is simple enough to break into Three Easy StepsTM:
  1. Load the machine - open the rollers, tuck the plastic belt down between the rollers, and fill the resulting trough with the goods.
  2. Roll the core of the joint - close the machine and, either using just your thumbs or your thumbs and forefingers, roll the rollers toward yourself until the plastic belt makes ¼ - 1 full rotation around the spindles, depending on the density and amount of substance you packed in.
  3. Roll the paper around the core - with the machine still closed, put your rolling paper in between the rollers, glue edge at the top and facing you. Roll the paper into the machine (using thumbs and forefingers, rolling toward yourself) until the gummed edge is almost in the machine, whereupon you lick it and then roll it in, too.
That's it. Open the machine, and out pops the fruit of your labor. Hopefully you'll get a perfect joint from the deal. But let's not leave that up to chance....

How to roll a perfect joint every time

The primary thing to remember is that the inside of the joint needs to allow good airflow in order to burn. If you roll it too tightly, you'll end up with the "unsmokeable brick" that won't let enough air pass through.

Rolling too tightly is where most people are likely to go wrong at first. It's an easy mistake to make, but even easier to fix:  just don't turn the rollers so many times!  Rolling the belt only halfway around or less will make a dramatic difference in the quality of your sticky.

A few other tips to keep in mind:
  • Use the right amount of weed and/or tobacco - if you use too much, the joint will roll too tightly and will be hard to smoke. If you use too little, you'll get a sorry, skinny little joint that will cause you shame and embarrassment. You know you're using too much if the rollers are hard to close or exceptionally hard to turn.
  • Roll the belt and spindles evenly - if you place your thumbs flatly across the tops of both rollers and pull down (towards yourself) in short, even strokes, you'll have the best results.
  • Pinch the rollers together when rolling in the paper - this helps the plastic belt grab the little bugger and pull it through.
  • A perfectly rolled joint will be about the diameter of a commercial filtered cigarette, maybe bigger, and should be somewhat springy if you squeeze it, like a commercial cigarette. It should smoke slowly and evenly, and should provide an easy draw.
Also, if you're serious enough about smoking up to buy a rolling machine, you might also consider a spice grinder. Spice grinders are handy not just for simplifying the task of breaking up your stuff, but also breaking it into the perfect consistency for rolling into a joint. These grinders can be found in head shops and are usually cheap. Well worth the purchase price, and then some.