Cloning the perfect rolling pin

I have what I consider to be the perfect rolling pin. My father turned it from a solid piece of maple…an equipment roller, is what he told me. It is huge, and heavy, and one solid piece with lovely handles on each end that are part of the solid piece, not screwed in or on silly little rollers. It is a massive piece that hangs from brackets underneath my kitchen drawers. I’ve tried many other kinds of rolling pins, and I only like this one.

Why? In part because it does the work for you. The weight of the thing (I tried weighing it, but couldn’t get an accurate reading) is probably eight to ten pounds. It can handle the coldest, stiffest doughs. It’s large…the rolling area is 14 inches, and it has a 3-3/4" diameter so it can do a pie crust in one pass. The fixed handles mean that if you are working with a stiff dough, you can push on the handles and the pin will move, unlike the loose handles where the handles will spin while the pin lays mired in the dough. Loosen your grip, and it glides easily in your hands.

I have a friend I bake with in a massive cooky baking day once a year. She is rolled-dough challenged…in fact, last year she bought sheets of pre-made sugar cooky dough, just because of her frustration with rolling out dough. Usually, since we have to haul all our supplies up to the church kitchen we use, I take my plastic Tupperware rolling pin…which is a challenge to use. But last year I took the behemoth…and my friend discovered what should have been clear to me before…the right tools make the task so much easier. She wants a rolling pin just like mine. So yesterday we made a trip down to Amish country to find a craftsman who can recreate this wonderful tool. We talked to three different gentlemen, who all said they could do it, just needed to check on the availability of hard maple before they can quote a price! One guy did say, “sure I can turn this…would you mind telling me what it is?” which sort of surprised us, him being Amish and all, but I guess a guy is a guy the world 'round…another guy said…“you’re not going to hit me with that, are you?”.

So soon I may have a clone of my rolling pin (and so apparently, will Lillith Fair, my friend, and my friend’s sister…we asked for four). Never have I been so anxious for a phone call! I just hope they don’t quote us a price too outrageous…

3 3/4 x 22 (?) inches is a big rolling pin. Actually, it’s enormous. Might not fit into a lot of kitchen drawers.

Sounds pretty easy to turn. I’m an amateur and my only problems would be getting the handles symmetrical and making sure that the surface was flat all the way across.

Someone even somewhat competent on the lathe could whip out one of those in less than an hour – someone really good could probably do three or four. The wood is going to be a bit tricky to find – hard maple usually isn’t stocked in 4" dimensions, although you could probably go out to the firewood pile and pick up some pretty decent pieces, as long as it was well seasoned.

If they come back and say “Umm… I can’t find wood that big…” there are options.

If you can live with the clones being only 3" diameter, rustle up a baseball bat “blank” In maple or ash, they cost about $35. If you really want 3 3/4", you’ll need to step up to a 4" square turning blank, which will set you back $78 for a 30" long piece. I’m guessing your old pin is about 22-24" long overall, so you need that length. Bat blanks are 38" long, so the tradeoff is really all about the diameter - anything more than 3" will double the cost.

These prices are from Rockler. They may be convenient, (I’m a few miles from one of their physical stores, and for the next couple of weeks, they’re offering free shipping) but there are cheaper dealers out there.

This site has it at $5 bft for a 4X4. That’s not too expensive for what the OP wants.

Good luck, I wish you had a picture of your pin. I’d like to check it out. I tried making one a while back with mixed results…ok fine it was horrible, I failed miserably. But a skilled turner would be able to do it just fine.

I’ll say under $50 for the whole thing.

Ooh, that sounds like an excellent excuse to get Junior a lathe!

No, that’s a price for 4/4 lumber (essentially 1", unfinished). Unsurfaced wood, for some obscure reason, is measured in fourths of an inch. So you’d want 16/4 inch for this project. Probably go for about $8-9 a board foot, and you’ll need about 3 board feet for this project.

Another totally reasonable approach is gluing up a few pieces of 1" maple to get to the desired dimensions. You’d need a non-toxic glue, of course. One advantage of gluing up a blank is that you could get creative with the wood choices.

Such great information. I told two of the guys they could glue up stock if they had to…as long as it was turned in one piece. Separate handles just won’t do. One guy did notice the slight variation in the shapes of the handles…he has a very good eye! It is huge…that’s why it has it’s own hanging rack under the counter. I don’t think Dad turned the flat surface…I think that was the original surface of the roller. And he was a beginner on the lathe at the time, and he thought it would be a good project for me in woodworking class in college…I had it all sketched out, but unfortunately Inever got a chance at the lathe before the end of class…and Dad died without teaching me the lathe in the basement…which hasn’t been run for nearly 30 years, so I’m not starting now.

There is a potential problem with a glue up. The hygroscopic nature of wood is unavoidable, especially in unfinished work like a rolling pin. Even if turned after gluing and curing, moisture pickup or loss will likely cause a discontinuity in the surface, with greater deviation where the glueline is further from true diameter.
IOW, a bump.
Best results obtained by cutting an 8/4 quarter grained blank twice the length ( plus handles, if integral) plus parting & kerf loss; jointing one face and laminating after halving with a rigid glue. NOT aliphatic resin ( Titebond ) common in woodshops. Lathe centres mount on the glueline.
8/4 maple should be readily obtainable in your area.
I wonder why the Amish have such cachet as craftsmen? Superior quality is seldom seen IMO.

Hmmm, I just checked a glued up with Titebond II maple rolling pin project that I (by coincidence and sloth) have had lying around unfinished all this long humid summer (and a couple of previous summers, if the truth must be known). Only one small section has experienced creep, and that’s barely perceptible – probably less than 0.01 inch. So unless you’re trying to roll optically perfect cookies, I think you’re probably OK, as long as you don’t soak the wood for long periods of time. I’d want to do some research on food safety before I used any more exotic glues like epoxy or resourcinol.

You could order a stone cylinder from a grave monument shop, that would have equal mass with less bulk. Back in the 80’s I had one of those marble pins that were in fashion back then, but I hated the free-spinning handles. Kept it in the freezer, BTW.

I’ve seen really big rolling pins used by lithographers, to cover large slabs of limestone with as few passes as possible for even distribution of ink. They’re made of wood (and covered with leather)

    Glue line toxicity wasn't my concern, but apart from hazards involved with pre-cure,the glues you mention don't have any noted hazards on MSDS. 
   Ten thousandths of an inch doesn't seem like much but is annoying to feel and insult to intentions when smooth is desired. Given a rolling length of almost 12", a bump wouldn't seem a problem for 9" pie crusts using some practiced technique.

We got the first two quotes yesterday. The first gentleman said he’s have to glue it up, which would cost more, so $55 each.

The second guy didn’t mention whether it would be glued up or solid, but his quote is $38.02.

Yes, $38.02. That 2 cents is apparently really important!

We’re going to wait a few more days for the last quote…my friend is heading off to Vegas for a few days, so unless he calls today, we may have to wait until next week.

It could be - at least in perception. I had a manager once that would ask me for a SWAG estimate & I would reply with something like $45,000. He would make the estimate to the customer be $44,985.57 so it appeared that we really did more than guess at it. It seemed to work.

Why would you keep it in the freezer? My mom has one of those, and I think it is fantastic. When i have expendible income from fixing the lottery, I’m gonna have one of those.

I’m not a fan of marble rolling pins…I find the wooden ones better at staying coated with flour to prevent sticking. I think you chill the marble to keep the dough cool.

If you have any type of shortening in the dough (butter, lard, Crisco, etc.) you generally do not want to melt it, else you lose your flaky crust (for example, puff pastry will not puff if your overhandle the dough and melt the butter.) Keeping the pin in the freezer would help keep the dough cool when you roll it out. This is also the same reason why marble countertops are the traditional working surface for pastry chefs: they keep cool.