Saturday February 9, 2019

By Matthew Mongelia


Using our handy step-by-step video guide, anyone can learn to roll a good joint, but some who’ve tried their hand at rolling come away dissatisfied. “Why doesn’t my joint look like the one in the video?” they wonder. While rolling a dried herb into a paper tube may sound like a simple task, the devil is in the details. If anyone element is wrong, it can hinder the smoking experience and ultimately waste your cannabis – and nobody wants that. As such, many who find joint rolling difficult are hesitant to devote the resources to perfecting the craft. Never fear though, the PotGuide team is here to help!

Common Beginner Joint Rolling Problems and How to Fix Them

We receive a lot of emails from readers looking to improve their joint rolling skills. Before moving onto the tips below, if you haven’t already viewed our video on how to roll a joint, take a few minutes to watch it and familiarize yourself with the basic technique. From there, use the tips below to refine your skills and become a joint rolling master!

Keep reading to learn some of the best trouble-shooting tips to help up your joint game and get to that next level of rolling perfect joints, every time.

Loose Roll

Many new joint rollers are timid with handling the paper, and err on the side of a loose roll in order to avoid tearing the paper. Until you get a feel for the tensile strength of your chosen papers (and different materials will certainly have different strengths), accidentally ripping through the thing like the Hulk wrapping a Christmas present is a common occurrence.

To overcome a loose roll, practice your skills with a stronger rolling paper before moving to more delicate papers.

Zig-Zag Kings are a durable alternative, with a lot of paper to work with for inexperienced hands (the least amount of paper possible is the preferable way to roll, but consider this training wheels that can be staged down over time). Another creative option is to learn on JOB Crystal rolling papers. A cotton-mallow clear paper, these have the appearance of clear plastic, and are very sturdy. The transparent paper also allow you to see the bud inside and to better understand other defects in your roll. JOB Crystal papers are a bit rare to find these days, so you might need to consult a specialty smoke shop or look online. Any similar cotton-mallow papers will also work.

Uneven Pack

A bump in the middle of the joint with two divots on either side, commonly referred to as a “burrito,” is the telltale sign of a neophyte roller. This is where the thumbs’ range of motion ends, resulting in an uneven tuck. The most basic way to combat this is to be aware of it, and be sure to adjust your grip when packing and prepping for the roll step, focusing on keeping an even shape.

Make sure your grip is even and consistent while rolling.

As most people roll their joints crutch to tip (though not the only way, roll however works for you), it is natural for flower to push towards the end. You’ll also want to make sure your cannabis is evenly spread inside the paper before you begin your rolling motion.

Loose Tip

Many people struggle to keep tips or crutches in place and may avoid using them altogether. However, rolling with tip/crutch is always recommended, as it mitigates heat and keeps flower in place. Most hand rollers favor the zig-zag crimp; reliable to hold flower back from even heavy drags, and easy to adjust to size. When rolling the joint, hang half to a third of the tip out of the end, and proceed to roll the joint as usual. After the joint is rolled, simply push the tip flush into the joint to create a well packed seal. It really is that simple, and will make a world of difference.

Keeping It All Together

The hardest part of joint rolling is perfecting the roll motion, the moment of closure. This is the hardest part to acquire proficiency in and will rely the most on dexterity. Our first suggestion here is to go slow. People tend to rush at this stage, because the process is almost over. Remember to take a breath; you can do the roll as slow as you like, paying attention to each stage to make sure it’s going how you want it.

Finished Joint
Never settle! If you have a bad roll, simply start over again.

Got a bad start? Don’t commit to it, go back and try and adjust the tuck to your liking. It’s always a good idea to practice this step without finishing the joint (licking and sealing it). As you grow more comfortable with joint rolling, you’ll realize they are fairly stable and durable. Gently pulling outwards on the ends of the paper as you go can help maintain a taut roll.

Wonky Cones

A small twist at the tip of the paper can help compact the bud and seal off a joint.  However, those new to rolling tend to get a bit overzealous on the twist, and wind up with a bulging, flower-packed end that will burn a good amount of product to ash before giving a good draw. This also has a tendency to make the joint run. If you find this a common problem with your joints, the Pacific Northwest has taken to solving this issue with the divot tip. Instead of a large twist, pinch the joint paper together, give a small turn, then compact the excess paper into the end of the joint. Pressing in just slightly to make an indentation. This should take a light touch, so as not to bend the joint. When lit, this will form a more even cherry with a smooth draw. If divot tips aren’t working for you, fill in the joint with more flower before twisting it off, or to cut the paper to size, and focus on keeping the twist small and symmetrical.

Final Thoughts

Of course, joint rolling takes practice. At the end of the day, it’s better to waste rolling papers than to waste flower. So, if you roll a joint you’re displeased with, don’t hesitate to rip that sucker open and start again. Many times, the general shape of the joint will remain intact, and is easily transferred to a new paper. You can add flower to bolster parts that need it, or fluff the whole mess up and start again. It’s also important to remember that there are many different ways to roll an effective joint and that everyone has their own techniques. Feel free to use the tips above as guidance for your joint rolling journey, but if you find other methods that serve you better then by all means use them!

As you progress in your skill with joint rolling, the key factor to nicer joints lies in improving the final rolling action. Work on getting down a smooth, controlled movement that feels even throughout. If you find this step difficult to control, try adjusting your grip until you find a more stable hold that works for you. It will come in time. Until then, addressing any minor flaws along the way can elevate your beginner efforts into things of pride, eager to be shown off and shared with others. Happy smoking!

Do you have any tips for beginner joint rollers? Share them in the comments below!

Matthew Mongelia Matthew Mongelia

Matthew Mongelia is the Content Manager for He holds an MFA in Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a BFA in Creative Writing from CUNY Brooklyn College. He has worked in the industry in numerous roles for over 5 years while covering cannabis content from coast to coast. Like so many in the industry, he first became acquainted with cannabis as a medical patient, and has been a passionate advocate for the plant ever since. He is a writer for the comic Dark Beach, and has previously covered music and cultural content for SOL REPUBLIC.

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