Sunday, 20 January 2013

Soap cutter– a Tutorial

I have been eyeing out a multi bar soap cutter for a long time. This Christmas I decided to make one as I could not afford to buy one and pay for the shipping with the exchange rate the way it is.
This is what I wanted:
cutter in action soap4…. or similar
This is what I got: or made
DSCN0012-001… and I will show you how I made it.
It all started with a trip to London and a picture from my father in law.
Walter's cutter
Walter makes pottery and is quite inventive with the gadgets he has made to make his life easier. He uses this cutter to slice his clay into exact sizes so his cups etc. will all be the same size/ weight. He very kindly drew mw a picture to take back to South Africa so I could make it.
My cousin always called me “Little Miss Mc Gyver” so I decided to try and make this cutter for soap. How hard can it be??? I was armed with my tools and a little bit of wood work knowledge from my Dad and Grand dad. Wish I had paid more attention…
Anyway, here goes…
You will need:
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  • Some good quality HARD wood. The size of the wooden pieces will be determined by the size you want your cutter to be. I cut mine - 15x2.5x4cm (2 pieces) and 47x2.5x4cm (2 pieces)
  • Pine is too soft
  • Drill
  • Cordless screw diver or hand held
  • Wood screws
  • Screws with a closed end and thread on the length of the bar. A little like a cup hook. ( as you can see I have a “lot” of knowledge with the names of things)
  • Clamps (optional but really useful when you can only find 2 hands)
  • Wire/ string for the cutting line
Method:
  • Take your 4 pieces of wood – 2 long and 2 short and place the shorter ones inside the longer and make a box. This is where the clamps come in handy. Clamp the pieces at 90 degrees to keep them in place while you drill and screw the wood together. TIP make she your shorter pieces go INSIDE the longer ones – this makes the box stronger.
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  • Once the box is created, mark spaces on the longer pieces of wood where you will thread the wire through. Drill the holes with the smallest drill bit you have. You really want these holes to be small. I know this because …… I made them too big! Well actually I used the smallest bit I had which was not small enough. Anyway I did fix this. I used an electrical ferrule and hit it into the holes to make them smaller. I am glad I did this as it will also stop the wire cutting into the wood
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  • Do the same on the other side – making sure that the holes are opposite each other. i.e. if you started marking and drilling the holes from the left, make sure you do the same on the other side but from the right. Hope this makes sense.
  • Now you have both long pieces of wood drilled with holes exactly opposite each other the correct distance apart that you want to cut your soap to.
  • Now on one side only drill with a bigger drill bit and make the holes bigger – this is the side that your cup hook type screws will go into. Tip Choose the correct drill bit size for the cup hook screw things! I chose 1 size smaller so I would have to really screw them in tight.
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  • Once all the bigger holes are drilled on the one sides screw the cup hook type screws into the wood
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  • Once they are all screwed in take your wire and cut it into lengths to fit the width of the cutter
  • This is now the tricky part: tie the end of your wire onto something like a bead and pull it really tight. Then thread the wire through the hole and attach it to the screw. Pull it as tight as you can then tie it. Turn the screw into the wood and it will tighten the wire as you go
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Now for the test. Cutting logs of soap…
I have to be honest – it did not work very well and these are the reasons, I think...
  • I did not use wire. I used fishing line and I noticed it has too much play or stretch. I will change it to a high tensile strength wire and see if that works.
  • I also cut the line and tied it to the hook screw then threaded it through the opposite hole across to the next hole and back down the the next screw hook. i.e. a u shape. This put the line on the very right of the first hole and on the left of the next hole so the spacing was not the same. So you really need 1 piece of wire for each length.
Anyway I will feed back with updates when I have more time to play. I really think this cutter could work with a few minor modifications. I think what I am trying to say is it will work!! I so desperately want it to work.
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Riverlea Soap
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