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The ZEN Automatic Rolling Box
"The Roll Box Just Got . . . Longer"

November/December 2002 Update of Roll Your Own Magazine
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   For those of you who have grown weary of me saying that for the most part rollers are rollers are rollers, with few exceptions, I maintain that it is a true statement. The 110 mm Rizla, Zig-Zag, Chills Super Cone hand rollers are all really useful but one pretty much works as well as another. There are issues of how long they last and how good the blankets are, as well as price, but I personally have never used a roller long enough to wear it out, so their cost-effectiveness is a moot point. Once or twice a day at most, I will roll up some great halfzware into a thin stick for a treat, but mostly I am an injector guy. Now we have reviewed Rolling Boxes ZEN 79 mm Rolling Boxbefore, (those neat little chrome cases that would seem to make rolling a stick easier) and have found them to be an entertaining novelty item and, for the most part, pretty similar. We have covered the minor but unique differences between the Rizla Rolling Box, The Gizeh Rolling Box and the Gizeh's new offering, the Mascotte Rolling Box. We felt the Gizeh products superior in quality to the Rizla although Rizla has been around a lot longer and once made a fantastic box. We have not tried one lately, but mostly objected to the poor quality of the finish rather than its functionality.

   What IS identical about the rolling boxes above is that they were all for use with 70mm papers. The Gizeh would make fatter sticks, the Mascotte and Rizla madeA Very Pretty Box similar quality sticks but all the sticks were 70 mm. Now my praise for 110 mm rollers came partly from a clear preference for longer sticks that aided in making the stronger flavored tobaccos I liked to roll, seem milder. The 110's could also be used for shorter papers but ultimately, my minimum length for an enjoyable stick was 78+ mm. Also many of the papers (which I have also noted as being more similar than not) that are my favorites are 78+ mm in length. The French Light from Republic and the Hempire products as well as the OCB from Music City Marketing and Zig-Zag Orange are among my favorites and their extended length has a certain amount to do with my preferences. We realize that the 70 mm is still the Zen  Roll Box Sample Stickmost popular rolling paper size, but we are not sure how much that has to do with the tobacco market.

   Now all of this preamble was helpful in getting to the point which is, FINALLY, someone has made a 79 mm Rolling Box. I was anxious to try it and you can see the results of my first attempts above left. Yet another ZEN product from HBI, this well appointed and quality looking device works very well with the longer papers and one winds up with a very pleasant smoke. Does it work better than a regular hand roller? Not for me. But I must admit that I have seen people use rolling boxes with incredible artistry and dexterity. I have witnessed their ability to reallyRoll Box with Randy's New Tobacco Wraps, Urban Wrappers crank out sticks.

    The ZEN automatic Rolling Box also works well with the new pure tobacco (Connecticut Shade - just like good cigars) wrappers from Randy's we look at in our Rolling Papers Section this time. A sample of a finished stick is above right. Now the only thing I would say about the Randy's, when describing its use in the ZEN rolling box, is that the wrapper would work better if it had adhesive. It is more difficult to slobber enough on the rolling paper when using a rolling box as compared with a hand roller so thinner wetter sticks are what the ZEN box will create from the Randy's. Still the box is fun to use and does look very nice and the ceremony involved in its use has shown to be effective in moderating tobacco usage.

   One word of warning, however. The instructions on the box (below left) remind one not to use too much tobacco in the unit as it will cause it to be difficult to operate. We found that to be an understatement. After I rolled a few dozen sticks to get the hang of the box, I then tried to roll a thicker (Camel unfiltered size) stick and when I Pay close attention to the instructions on back of boxapplied the extra pressure necessary to get the roller to work, I broke the thing. The upright supports (see arrows in diagram) that stabilize the blanket actually bent outward, thus leaving the box useless from then on. I know it was my fault and ZEN was very clear in warning about too much tobacco, but I have overfilled other rolling boxes before without bending the supports. In those cases, the roller simply would not function but with the ZEN, I didn't use all THAT much pressure. As I said, if you follow their directions this won't happen to you and most people don't want that much tobacco in their stick anyway. Bottom line is that this extra long rolling box is a great idea and, if treated carefully, will make wonderful 79 mm smokes. Just take ZEN's word for it when they warn of overfilling the unit, and if any resistance is felt, stop immediately and take out some tobacco. With these simple precautions there is no reason to believe this rolling box would not last for years. We have no pricing yet on this item, but if it follows the pattern of other ZEN products, it will likely cost less than the competition. If you are a rolling box person, you gotta have one of these. In fact were I into rolling more, I would have one of every brand mentioned above as they make great collectibles. ZEN makes a 70 mm box as well. However, we think you will like the flavor improvement the added length affords.

   Let us know what you think about rolling boxes and especially your experience with them. We are, for the most part, injector-heads here at the magazine and would greatly appreciate any tips and experience you have had with any of the various ones that are available. Share with us any really unusual or older ones we have not discovered by attaching a JPEG of it (please keep file sizes less than 30k), along with a brief history as to how it came into your possession.  We will likely use it in our next issue. If you have some real "treasures" share them with us and our readers. Contact us by clicking here or go to our Contact page for more information on how to get sample products to the magazine. Until next time - RYO - the ed.


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   We get a lot of mail about handrolling techniques and we feel it is pretty obvious how to accomplish this feat with simply tobacco, paper and two hands (in some cases one). So, we will continue to repeat the techniques, tricks and tips for true hand-rolling. As a preface, however, suffice it to say that hand rolling is mostly a matter of practice - not secrets. - RYO

Our thanks to Paul at ( ) for the following graphics and text

Step one
Your thumbs and index finger on both hands, with the glue facing up and at the top.

The rolling paper should have a crease about half way down, so you make another crease splitting the difference in the bottom half. Resulting in a little V shape.

Step two
Pinch a heaping teaspoon out of the pouch with your fingers and plop it in the middle of the crease

Step three
Begin to level the tobacco off and start to roll it up

Step four
Using your thumbs and index fingers, work the tobacco until it takes cylindrical form (which isn't more than a couple of rolls, back and forth) then roll it up lick and seal. If you roll it too much it gets to tightly packed and will not smoke well. Next, pinch the shaggy scraps hanging out the sides and toss them back in your pouch to be recycled. then pick an end that looks the best and using your thumb nail or finger nail bend in the very tip of the paper inside the cigarette cylinder. This makes a rim and provides you with a more stable cigarette and prevents little scraps from getting attached to your lips.


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EDITOR'S NOTE: These reviews are solely for the convenience of people of legal age who already smoke, are trying to cut down on smoking, wish to spend less money on their smoking, want to roll their own cigarettes from high quality tobacco, and, in general, wish to have a far more satisfying, and economical smoking experience when compared with smoking pre-manufactured cigarettes. We, in no way, encourage people to smoke. Further, we prescribe to a sane, more logical approach to smoking that involves common sense as to quantity coupled with a strong desire to manage the habit until it becomes an occasional, freely chosen, diversion, that can be fully enjoyed with minimal health risks. Finally, we strongly encourage those who do smoke to take it outdoors, or to appropriate environments where tobacco can be enjoyed away from those who do not smoke, most especially children.  We do not sell tobacco or related products from this site; We distribute information about our perceptions of the quality of what is available and where it can be obtained. If you are under 18,  it is illegal to buy tobacco and you should immediately exit this site. If you do not smoke, it would seem illogical to start.


1999 The Andromedan Design Company

1999 RYO Magazine
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The Andromedan Design Company

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