The Rolling Machine Quandary: Go Manual or All In with Electric

So you are taking the plunge and going with DIY tobacco and you are “challenged’ when it comes to rolling a smoke by hand – you are not alone BTW if that’s any consolation. 

If you are shopping for a cigarette rolling machine you have two primary options: electric or manual. The former is, of course, a better product for easily creating higher volumes of smokes in a DIY mode but for many a manual machine may be sufficient. 

The primary difference between the two, ignoring the power issues, is an electric machine has an auger and a spoon-fed style, and a manual rolling machine just uses a functional spoon feed operated in conjunction with a lever or slider.


Basic issues to be aware of when contrasting these two types of machines: 

  • Volume needs of course: how many smokes per day, week or month do you need?
  • Cost is not a huge issue; you can find a basic manual machine for under $50 bucks and a good quality electric rolling machine for under $99. 
  • An electric machine is more sophisticated than a manual product; so, you need some kind of staging area for the machine and your pipe tobacco. Although the kitchen counter will function if you don’t have a lot of space. 
  • In this age of convenience speed is certainly an issue. A manual machine takes much more time to operate vs. an electric one. But, it requires much less space and it’s portable.
  • Electric is of course more efficient than manual. You are pushing a button and are good to go on production. 
  • A manual machine requires more hands-on operation; in most cases, you have to slide an ejector lever back and forth or manipulate a handle as you operate the machine.

An Auger-style rolling machine uses a spring that rotates, located at the bottom of the tobacco hopper. You operate it by sliding a cigarette tube on the sleeve and then turning the machine on. The tobacco is transferred into the tube as the auger spring rotates. 

  • You’ll find most electric rolling machines are this type and in most cases have a setting for density and seed. The only downside to this machine is the auger spring can at times cut up the tobacco a bit too fine when the tobacco is packed into the tube, resulting in your tobacco not staying in the cigarette tube caused by a cut that is too fine.

Spoon-fed rolling machines have a long half-circle spoon that’s approximately 2-4 inches long, just about the same width as the cigarette. The spoon sits at the very bottom of the tobacco chamber and it slides the tobacco into the cigarette tube as the machine is engaged you can find this style of machine “feed” in electric and manual rolling machines.

How Manual Rolling Machines Work 

If you are using a full rolling machine the process is pretty basic: Insert your tobacco into the feed chamber at the top of the machine; place your cigarette paper on the fill tip, pull down on the lever and you do. No pun intended, not a lot of moving parts to wear out.

Three Machines we Recommend:

We’ve sold the Powermatic II Cigarette Rolling Machine for over ten years. It’s economical (under $100 bucks), it has many features you’ll find in more expensive products, and it’s lightweight, reliable, portable, and well built. Key features include: 

  • Automatic injection process
  • “Spoon style” tobacco injector
  • Electronic jam protection
  • Makes regular and 100mm cigarettes
  • Large tobacco feed hopper
  • Removable tobacco tray

The Swift Portable King Size Cigarette Machine: it’s under $20 bucks, you can’t go wrong with this handy compact rolling machine: fill the tobacco chamber, place your tube on the nozzle and pull the lever. It’s functional, low cost, and works flawlessly.

The Just Good Tobacco Automatic Cigarette Machine is the “Roll Royce” of rolling machines. You can make a pack of cigarettes in under two minutes (fast!), features adjustable “follow the light” controls for ease of use, it has two motors and a microprocessor, no there’s not an app for running it yet but maybe downstream, it’s guaranteed to work flawlessly for a year or to make 30K cigarettes, whichever is greater. 

There is no other product like it on the market unless you are paying a couple of grand and using Task Rabbit to have an operator help you produce your cigarettes in the confines of your home.

That’s our round-up on cigarette rolling machines. Whether you go electric or manual, either type of machine when combined with pipe tobacco will save you money versus traditional products.

Windy City Cigars