A Pin That Rolls Merrily Along

Fletcher's Mill Rolling Pins.

Fletcher’s Mill (formerly Vic Firth) Rolling Pins.

  • Big
  • Small
  • Wood
  • Marble
  • Handles
  • Straight
  • Tapered

There are so many choices these days for rolling pins. I have my favorites as I’m sure you do, too.

My interest in pins and pie baking began when I was little and watching my grandmother get out her big wooden rolling pin, with the unpainted handles, and roll out her beautiful light, flakey crusts that crowned the lemon meringue and apple pies that graced our holiday table. After she was done, it was carefully wiped down…never washed…and stored in the baking drawer for her next creation.

Before I settled on the French tapered rolling pins that I love and use at my classes, I too had a big wooden handled one of my own just like hers. Then I tried a marble one, without handles that came my way and I still have although the handles have long since been lost. I like its coolness on hot days and the weight of it feels sturdy and substantial. But, it feels too big for my hands so it sits in the drawer and comes out only when folks ask about different pins I might have for them to see.

One day I went into a kitchen store in Seattle (sadly no longer in business as so many independent places are) and of course I found myself gravitating to the baking gadgets, cookie cutters, measuring cups and spoons at the back of the store. Of course the rolling pins were there along with pastry cloths and pastry frames.  There must have been at least fifteen different pins to choose from … maybe more.

Which one to pick? Which one would be best?

I had no idea…only that I felt compelled to pick each of them up and, in turn, hold them in my hand to feel weight and heft, size and shape. I was searching for something, a feeling, that would let me know THIS was my pin.

I picked up two at a time, one in each hand, making laps around the store. After about three times of going along like a modified drum major, I was asked, “Can I help you?” “Are you finding everything you need?”

“Yup, I’m doing just fine” and picked up another for some more laps. It’s no joke that years ago when asked what my favorite sport is I immediately said dough rolling!

After about 45 minutes of this, I found that I was returning to the same pin, a slender tapered one, with a smooth and silky feel to the wood. Light in color, it looked like something I thought a professional might use. Made in the USA from rock maple by Vic Firth. That sounded good, too. The wrapper on it had a picture of a man holding timpani mallets. Years later in my classes occasionally a comment was offered, from those in the know about such things, that Vic Firth is THE mallet guy. But, at that time, I had NO idea who he was. I just brought it to the counter, bought it and with excitement drove home to try it.

I think it would be safe to say it was love at first roll and I’ve been using it exclusively since. I have bought more of these beauties over the years to give as birthday, wedding, and holiday presents, given them as thank you’s to folks who have hosted me for workshops in other cities … and now I have a small arsenal of them for my own personal use as well as my Art of the Pie workshops at Pie Cottage.

Vic Firth no longer is in the rolling pin business and I was concerned that I would no longer be able to get these wonderful pins. I wondered what had happened. So, I set out to find out and here’s what I learned after emailing the drum division of his company.

Fletcher’s Mill, a small company in Maine, bought the equipment from Vic Firth a couple of years ago. So next, I found their website and emailed them. I received a reply and we set up a time to chat (great customer service!). They assured me that “Yes, these are the same pins.” I ordered two just to be sure. When they arrived and I unpacked them, my hands immediately told me that they are the same wonderful pins I have enjoyed and I am overjoyed to be able to let you know all this!

I don’t know where my grandmother’s rolling pin ended up and I sure wish I knew because I would love to have the one I saw her use sort of like a good luck charm. I like to imagine that someone found it at a second hand store and it’s still being used making glorious pies like hers…well, almost like hers! In the meantime, I’ll keep rolling along merrily, with the one that fits my hand like a glove.

Share Art of the Pie

Comments

  1. Lesley Connor says

    I live in the UK and had read about the Vic Firth rolling pins and had been unable to get one here. I found out that they were now being manufactured by Fletchers Mill and in a “trip around the world” one is arriving (I hope) in my Xmas stocking. I found a supplier on E-Bay based in Australia, who my husband ordered it from, so from the US to Australia and finally to my kitchen on the English South Coast will arrive my rolling pin ready for post Xmas baking!

    • says

      What a journey your pin will have been on. It will have such history. I think you will love it! By the way, the instructions on the wrapper say to oil the pin before use. I have never done that. I let the fat in my doughs take care of that for me and then I just wipe it down after with a paper towel. After thousands of pies, my pins have a beautiful patina.

  2. says

    That was so nice and I enjoyed reading your comments. I am so glad you love the french pin. What are your thoughts about the bakery pin? Have you used that one as well? I’ll bet your pies are as delicious as your grandmothers! I am the customer service rep for Fletchers’ Mill and proud to say we are carrying on the quality products that VicFirth made previously. We purchased their gourmet line back in December of 2012, so this is our first year in business with this line. Maine Wood Turning has been in business for 40+ years, located in New Vineyard, Maine, but they have 3 divisions now: Maine Wood Concepts, Lutz File & Tool, and Fletchers’ Mill. Adding the Fletchers’ Mill Gourmet line has been a wonderful addition to their business and it is people like yourself who make us appreciate our efforts and the fine quality of our mills and rolling pins. Thank you for sharing.

    Debbie

    • says

      Hi Debbie-
      Thanks for checking in. I haven’t used the bakery pin but would love to sometime. You were so helpful when we chatted on the phone several months back. I appreciate the GREAT customer service!
      Kate

  3. Bill Whitbeck says

    Loved the mention of Vic Firth, well known tympanist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra! He began making drumsticks and tympani mallets himself when he couldn’t find any production ones that were made to his satisfaction. Firth is a legend in the world of percussionists. He later branched out to salt and pepper mills, and rolling pins. I have used Vic Firth mallets and sticks for years, and there are no others out there that compare. Vic Firth sticks were in my hands when I played the Carnegie Hall concert in 2006.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


7 − three =