Rolling by hand or with a joint rolling machine – which is better?

Turning by hand or with a joint rolling machine – which is better?

Joint rolling machines are sometimes considered a tool for newcomers to cannabis culture who haven't yet developed the skills to roll a joint by hand. This means they are often overlooked or dismissed by experienced smokers. However, these simple machines deserve a place in every cannabis enthusiast's kit. In this article, we'll explain why.

Advantages of joint rollers

While they may not show off your skill or creative talent when turning cross joints, these nifty little tools will certainly get the job done quickly and efficiently.


Rolling multiple joints by hand can take quite a bit of time.

Your hands are also put under a lot of strain.

Try rolling 30 smoke clouds for a party and you'll probably get a hand cramp before you've finished them all.

Even if you're an experienced stoner, it will probably take you a minute or more to roll each joint well.

With a joint rolling machine, you can complete a joint in about 25 to 30 seconds. If you're practiced and have the herb ground up and crutches ready, you can reduce this to about 10 seconds.

Using a joint rolling machine is clearly the most effective way to roll a joint without the need for industry-specific equipment, and it ensures that you make perfect joints every time.

The other option is to skip the rolling altogether and use pre-made bags and a bag packer. Some really cool and efficient electric herb grinders and cone fillers are the easiest way to make a joint.

Many smokers enjoy the ease and speed of using a good joint rolling machine, saving the meditative, hand-rolled joints for those moments when they are ready to relax.

Easy to use

Using a joint lathe is very simple. There are few moving parts and most machines are very durable and require minimal fine motor skills (which can be a problem for some people).

If you haven't yet mastered rolling by hand (or haven't even tried it yet), with a rolling machine practically anyone can roll joints with minimal time and effort.

This is the first and easiest step to stop relying on others to meet your joint needs (whether it's a more expensive joint at the dispensary or asking a friend to roll joints for you) and allows you to control your marijuana use. Sometimes after a long day, it's easier to let the machine do the work.


If you are not very skilled at hand rolling, your joint may crumble or have poor air circulation and not smoke well.

Not only is this a pain to correct, it's a waste of good weed and the last thing you want to deal with when you're trying to relax.

With a rolling machine, you'll get the same good consistency every time. Rolling by hand takes practice and you'll have something to fall back on while you perfect the art.

Standard dosage and unobtrusive

Although cannabis is becoming more widely accepted, there is still a stigma attached to it and the larger, cone-shaped joints tend to attract more attention.

The clean, uniform, cigarette-like appearance of the rolling machine does not attract as much attention in a social setting.

The standard shape and size makes one more likely to be dismissed as a cigarette, at least until you light it, as the smell can still be a potential giveaway.

Using a joint/cigarette roller ensures that all joints are roughly the same size and content, making it easy to measure your dose and see how much weed you have left for many joints.

Disadvantages of rolling machines

Despite its usefulness, using a rolling machine also has some obvious disadvantages.

All this efficiency and uniformity comes at the expense of a lack of flexibility and individual customization.

Let’s look at some of the most common complaints about casters:

Bad joint rolling machines make bad joints

Not all joint rolling machines are the same. While the devices are relatively simple, some cheaper ones are made from inferior materials. They may have sharp edges or the movement is not smooth, meaning they will tear or cut the rolling paper.

We strongly suspect that most people who complain about joint rollers are simply using inferior quality ones.

The critical part of the joint/cigarette roller is the rolling case. This can be made of different materials, from high-quality synthetic to old-fashioned vinyl.

Although vinyl cigarettes are cheap and easy to find, vinyl cigarettes tend to roll joints less evenly or make them too tight.

The leftover joints can be easy to smoke and difficult to pull, resulting in a lousy smoking experience.

Some of the cheaper joint rollers close loosely and tend to pop open if the joint is packed too tightly.

They can burst, splatter your herb everywhere and make a mess.

Look for rolling machines with a firm but not too tight closure.

The roller should fit snugly with the material inside it and be able to move freely without you having to keep it closed.

All machines require a little trial and error to find the right fill level, but if your joint roller keeps giving you problems, it's worth swapping it for a better machine.

Joint rollers are relatively inexpensive, so if you buy a defective device that you don't like, you won't have to pay a high out-of-pocket amount.

User error

Although rolling machines are easy to use, some skill is still required.

The most common mistake is not distributing the loads evenly.

If the roll is filled unevenly with a lot of herbs at one end and only a little at the other end, the result will be an uneven roll.

To achieve optimal results, make sure to distribute the papers and herbs evenly.

They look simple once you get the hang of them, but first-time users may need a few tries to get the hang of it.

One size does not fit all

Rolling machines are durable but not flexible.

With minor variations, the machines require a certain amount of marijuana each time.

Many smokers like to adjust the size of their joints to suit the occasion – a big one for a social gathering or a small pinner for a quick energy boost.

Cigarette rolling machines usually come in two standard sizes, a standard 1¼ inch rolling paper size and a 5 inch or “blunt” size. There are other non-standard sizes too, such as king size, so be sure to check the roller you are buying to make sure you get the right paper for it.

Hand rolling is an art form where you can either pack a large amount of herbs into a standard paper or get by with almost nothing.

The better you develop your turning skills, the less often you will have to rely on using a lathe as it may not always meet your needs.

If you don't like the size or shape produced by the machine, you're out of luck.


Some smokers may look down on those who use a joint rolling machine or who cannot roll joints by hand. Some cannabis snobs may look down on this craft, but if you are with smoking friends, this should not be an issue, and if someone makes fun of the joint roller, you are free not to share your herbs with them.


Finding a quality rolling machine can sometimes be a bit of a challenge and it can be helpful to try out a few different machines before purchasing.

Remember, any disdain the average marijuana consumer has for using a rolling machine is misplaced. Rolling machines are another tool in the cannabis toolbox that helps us enjoy marijuana, and their usefulness cannot be denied. There's nothing better than quickly rolling a joint.


Do lathes work?

Yes. Joint machines do work and produce smooth, consistent joints with minimal effort. Just make sure to use them correctly and buy a quality, reliable machine.

How to use a joint roller?

Open the roller and insert the paper and support/filter.

Place the herb on the paper.

Then close the lid of the roller and the joint is ejected through the hole in the lid. Moisten the chewing gum strip and stick the paper on.

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