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Feb 8, 2008 11:05 PM

Perfex Pepper Mill Problem

I bought my wife a set of Perfex Mills for Christmas based on different reviews I saw on the net. The problem is despite my attempts to adjust the nut on the bottom, the mill does not grind. If I screw it too tight- nothing, too loose and a few flakes for a lot of work. Has anyone else had a similar issue? Can you disassemble the whole thing and reallign things inside? If so, what am I looking to re-set? Thanks for any advice.

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  1. I have two separate salt/pepper sets of Perfex mills -- four in total. And I've never had the problem that you are talking about. In fact, I've never heard of it either. You shouldn't have to do anything other then open the little hatch, pour in your whole peppercorns or sea salt, then turn the handle...and out comes perfectly ground pepper and perfectly-sized salt crystals. You can change the courseness by swiveling the large nut underneath -- just hold the mill in your left hand and turn that nut clockwise for a smaller grain and counter-clockwise for larger grains. But that's it. You definitely shouldn't have to "realign" anything inside the machine. And if you try to, you'll likely void the warranty. I'd take them back to the retailer and get a pair that work. You'll know when you have a pair that works -- they are absolutely perfect.

    1. I have the Perfex pepper mills in the small (4") and large (8"?) sizes, and they both have a similar problem: the setting nut on the bottom is loose, and the mills "auto change" from fine grind to coarse grind. I haven't experienced the problem that you have, but I suspect that there are a lot of problems with the adjustments on these mills. They look good, are easy to fill and clean, but the user shouldn't have to adjust the grind several times part way through the grinding process.

      Disassembly is quick and easy because there are almost no parts to worry about. There is a shaft from the grinding handle on top, and there is the grinding tool that engages the bottom of the grinder, and there is the nut that you can hand-tighten or -loosen, and that is about it. Oh, yes, there is a spring in there, too.

      28 Replies
      1. re: Germantowner

        Hi. I'm new here, and recently bought a "Perfex" peppermill on eBay, to match my Perfex salt mill. It doesn't. I took it apart to see why it doesn't grind as well as the salt mill, and discovered that the lower mill wheel is NOT steel, as should be, but nickel-plated brass. It's a knock-off, a fake.

        1. re: gadzooks


          Is it obvious, easy to see, when the lower mill wheel is not steel, but nickel-plated brass or something else? I recently found a few pepper mills on eBay for cheap that look like vintage Perfexs and I'm curious to examine them and see if I in fact got lucky ,,, or not.

          I've used the real thing in the past and loved it, but I don't have one on hand to compare directly.

          1. re: pericolosa

            I read about those cheap look alikes. The one thing I think tells you it is not Perfex is the S or P are not on the front of them. I do not think any Perfex manufactured ones are without the initials on the front. Correct me if I am wrong. I saw them on Ebay listed as perfex and I do not think they are perfex as they have the slick plain fronts opening doors
            . So beware. Also I found a review where I found these look alikes that says they are not really worth the money and not made like real Perfex salt and pepper shakers.

            1. re: Tinkerbell

              Sorry, but I have to debunk your theory. I bought my first Perfex at Zabar's quite a few years ago and there's no P or S on it, nor were there Perfex salt mills for sale there at the time. Given that, and that I still store it in the original box, labeled "MOULIN à POIVRE," I have to conclude that Perfex only manufactured pepper mills at that time, hence no need to brand them with a letter.

              1. re: MacGuffin

                I have a small Perfex style pepper mill that I bought in the 1980s. There are no markings on it, no name or S or P. I have no idea what I paid, or whether it even came in a box.

                My only complaint is that the capacity is low, requiring frequent refilling. But with the hopper, refilling isn't a pain.

                1. re: paulj

                  That's about when I bought mine--I know it wasn't the 70's so it would've been the very early 80's--long before the Euro appeared on the scene and the exchange rate against the franc was pretty good. I remember it was expensive even then, probably in the $30 - $40 range. I live alone and to tell you the truth, I never fill the hopper. I keep my peppercorns in the freezer and add them to my Perfex as needed. Freezing keeps the flavors vibrant and fresh.

              2. re: Tinkerbell

                I've had a Perfex pepper mill since 1975 that I purchased in Fortunoff's in NY. It's an original made in France which cost me $75. It does not have a P on the front.
                I've not had a single problem with it until now. The little cylinder which I hold to turn the lever has broken off. I've been looking for a replacement piece with no luck.
                Any ideas where I can purchase a replacement?

                1. re: GinnyV

                  No, if you find one, let me know where you get it. I have a large one for pepper that cost close to $200 and then I have the two smaller ones for salt and pepper. I would like to buy a backup cylinder especially with almost $350 within the 3 of them. Scary. Thanks for letting us know this can happen. I will try and hunt for you.

                  1. re: GinnyV

                    Oh, my. Thanks for pointing this out. I bought mine not long after you did (same vintage, no P) and will now be especially careful. I seem to recall that I paid a lot less for mine at Zabar's, though. I still keep it in the original box. :)

                    1. re: GinnyV

                      Hey, I found your repair kit. Look under (Norpro pepper shaker) on ebay. They are $11.00 Norpor Pepper Shaker for a few cents over $11.They are identical to our Perfex Ginny, you can buy one and take the part off the top to put on your Perfex pepper mill I bet. I just bought one for a part myself. I could not find repair parts anywhere I looked. Let me know if you get it. Be sure and do it quick. They have sold a ton of them/looks like 50 in a year.

                      1. re: Tinkerbell

                        Ginny V be sure and remember it is Not under pepper shaker but under (Norpro heavy duty metal 4" fine to course adjustable pepper mill grinder) exact words finally. Sorry taking me so long in getting this written, took 3 times. The part on it may be fine or you may just decide to use this one and not tear it apart. Might be wiser. Perfex or however spelt, seems to be a little wabbly if that is the word. They cost a lot to be that way.

                      2. re: GinnyV

                        (Norpro Heavy Duty Metal etc etc pepper grinder) is how it starts out. See if you can pull it up and remember under Ebay

                        1. re: Tinkerbell

                 (Granted, there's some irrelevant stuff here but you get the general idea: you can post links.)

                          1. re: MacGuffin

                            Thanks, MacGuffin for making this easier for anyone to pull up. I love my perfex ones and I probably would use a part off these to repair them if ever need by. My one Perfex pepper is the largest ever made I think. So the turn handle is larger and heavier piece of metal. The little ones I bought one of these yesterday to keep for spare part. I never could find a handle you could use to repair yours/I think it was the little twisting handle that broke on yours if I am correct. Good luck. If ever found, individual parts for Perfex would probably cost more anyhow than $11. So this may be what you need to keep your Perfex working.

                            1. re: Tinkerbell

                              Believe me, it's a good idea to invest in one of these for parts! Thanks for posting--I know I sure as hell wouldn't have known about these knockoffs if you hadn't posted.

                              1. re: MacGuffin

                                Glad you got my note. I already bought one after your note you know concerning problems, I did not even wait a minute to start looking. They cost too much to not be able to get this part. It should give them another few years and hopefully China or whoever will still be selling the plain front ones. I hate to pile up two or three but it makes you wonder if maybe a good idea, ha. Lets compare when they come in the mail. I hope the parts look strong.

                                1. re: Tinkerbell

                                  There are many better peppermills available that do not require as many hoops to jump through.

                                  1. re: John E.

                                    Hoops? Spare parts for an all-metal mill are hoops? I've had my Perfex for nearly 40 years with no problems at all; I can't think of too many "better" mills, including the looker I loved that crapped out (stripped gear), despite its lifetime guarantee. And it's a safe bet that we owners prefer the esthetics of our Perfexes as well.

                                    1. re: MacGuffin

                                      You are one hundred percent correct on your comment, MacGuffin. I feel the same way about my Perfex ones being forever. Thanks for letting me know you have had yours for forty years without a problem. Can not beat that. That is most likely why the little handle went, ha. I do have the one told you about for backup parts. I have never found a place they carry them. If you do, let me know. By the way, I found a place for other different kitchen item parts but not these. I was looking for parts for my Farberware. They do carry some parts for our older kitchen items however.

                                  2. re: Tinkerbell

                                    It just occurred to me: has anyone thought to contact the manufacturer about spare parts?

                                    1. re: MacGuffin

                                      I still have my bill of sale and box for the $200 one from where I bought it. They are still selling them and it is a lifetime warranty. If something happens to it, all I have to do is return and they will give me credit. I hope they continue selling them as I can tell you this, I will just have them send me a new one, ha. Sur La Table is where I bought it. Talk about quality. Why spend $50 for these other ones, wooden etc, that last just a few years, John E. I have had this one forever and talk about grinding pepper, wow. I use it more than the tiny 4 1/2 inch one as less time keeping pepper refill in it taken up. But, I love to take the salt and pepper ones to the table so like the small ones for that reason. Some people like more pepper you know than we use when cooking.

                          2. re: GinnyV

                            GinnyV, did you see my post where you can get a mill for $11 and probably use the handle for your Perfex as mill is identical except for plastic at bottom next to screw. It is under these notes. I just wrote and thought it was MacGuffin that broke theirs. Mac, I found the person who needs it. GinnyV needs one. View Ginnyv notes under this discussion. I sure hope they found my note where we bought an extra one for parts since there seems not to be anywhere to buy Perfex parts. The handle will work I think for certain as mine came yesterday and same. I have looked everywhere and none for Perfex. Anyone look under this to buy one: Ebay then key in formycastle913. I bought it for $11.05 including shipping.

                            1. re: GinnyV

                              Let us know when you get my reply that you know where to get a part that will work possibly.

                          3. re: pericolosa

                            Since they do not have S and P on them sometimes, then if I bought any on Ebay, I would look for the boxed ones to be certain when buying but. I already read where two plain front ones and identical looking ones for sale were another brand. I mean they really looked identical and I thought people could possibly sell as Perfex. I think if you have actually owned them, or looked at them in stores, and if not, then I will say this, the Pefex ones do have Perfex on the bottom so anyone out there would know the difference if bought without name or regardless of S and P not being on them or on them one.

                          4. re: gadzooks

                            Depending on WHEN you purchased it "if it was represented to be a Perfex" mill you should have a 14 day recourse right against the Seller for misrepresenting WHAT HE/SHE WAS SELLING. eBay is NOT a venue for fraudulent goods. You may take it up with eBay itself OR WITH PAYPAL if you paid by that method of payment. REMEMBER FOLKS, IF IT SOUNDS TO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT PROBABLY IS........

                            1. re: jayeno

                              ...except for my $30 (shipping included) Perfex salt mill bought a few years ago. I REALLY lucked out on that one. And yes, it's authentic and was NIB. In fact, it's STILL NIB because I have yet to use it (I usually use Maldon).

                          5. re: Germantowner

                            I have been searching, unsuccessfully, for the 8" Perfex pepper mill. Where did you find one? Thanks.

                            1. re: forensicps

                              Well I finally found your question once again. I hope you receive this note. I found one and ordered it. It is absolutely beautiful and a workhorse. But the price is the killer. $213 with tax. I figure it will last me the rest of my life as I have two small ones that I have had for years and years. I just use a lot of pepper and am always filling the small pepper grinder over and over. This 7 1/2 inch one holds a bunch of pepper corns too. Sur Lu Table is the only place I could ever find one and I have been searching for a long time. I saw your note awhile back. I have questioned on other reviews if anyone knows where the larger one could be bought and no reply. So I gave up. If anyone finds them cheaper let me know. I did not have a coupon or could not find one under coupons for percentage off. However, look for one. There may finally be one and you certainly need one.

                          6. I bought the 4.5" Perfex pepper mill based upon the recommendations on this site. It is pretty great, worth the cost, maybe but the course grind is inconsistent and for the price I think everything about the mill should be perfect. I have a much less expensive mill which mills the pepper fine to course beautifully. But the Perfex is a gorgeous mill.

                            1. Paul J, you did look at the underneath of the pepper grinder? I bought mine in late nineties and they have the name on the bottom of the circle around the nut screwed on stem. I too fill them, both S&P, often but love the product I get from them. I bought a little aluminum deal that I can just pull the side out, insert and pour real easy into it and see when there is enough without spilling one bean. I really love the pepper grinders. The larger pepper one of the 2 I have is great but too expensive to buy really. I never have to fill it often like the small one. Your grinder may be like the one I saw on Ebay that is not a Perfex. If it works, great.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Tinkerbell

                                Found it - stamped on the underside of the handle:

                                "Perfex" made in France

                                Evidently it is from the days before name-brand recognition. Also it is more of a utility model, not a shiny table service model.

                                I may have bought it as early as the mid 1970s (as a single grad student).

                                1. re: Tinkerbell

                                  You seem loath to surrender your notion that "lack of P ≠ Perfex." Trust me, it ain't necessarily so and you're scaremongering. Paulj likely bought his Perfex in a brick-and-mortar establishment, in the days before the salt mill was available (not to mention the knockoffs), not recently or online, ergo he has a genuine Perfex. There are several without a P listed on eBay at the time of this post and all three are engraved under the handle (hence authentic) but not on the underside of the grinder--just like mine and unlike my much-newer salt mill which is stamped in both places. And good luck trying to find a vintage Perfex listed for sale in its original box. I just happen to have mine because I'm anal.

                                2. I use Maldon too but like it ground up better. I just have the small Perfex and what little salt I use, the small one does not have to be refilled often. Pepper I go through enough that I had to buy the large one. I was filling the small one up all the time. That is why I like the small funnel that I found as it makes it easier and I do not spill as much. Something about that little shutter I just always pour too fast. The funnel I found fits perfect into the shutter and if any salt runs out fast, or pepper corns, it seems to hold the extra better for it to travel into the grinder.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Tinkerbell

                                    Ah, but Maldon crumbles between the fingers so beautifully!