How to achieve the cleanest cuts

SoapMakingForum

Help Support SoapMakingForum:

alexanderte

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2016
Messages
64
Reaction score
27
Location
US
The part of the process that I so far enjoy the most about making soap is unmolding the loaf and cutting it. Since starting out I’ve improved my skills somewhat, but I’m sure there are more to it than what I currently know.

I always cut after 24 hours. I currently use a straight metal cutter. Using a ruler I make marks for every 1″, and then I cut it as straight as I can. I’ve ordered a miter box that will hopefully make the cuts more even in thickness and with a straighter angle.

I’ve recently started to clean the metal cutter between cutting each bar. I find that this helps keeping the cuts clean, especially if the loaf is on the soft side. When unmolding I try to release the loaf near the table to avoid dents. I use a spatula to get the soap off the metal cutter if it sticks instead of using the fingers.

I have ordered a soap planer to make them look cleaner. I think, or at least I hope, that this will make a huge difference.

Because I don’t have unlimited amount of cash to spend on soaping stuff, I’ll stick to this method for a while. But I’m wondering about even better ways of cutting. Are wire cutters better than the metal cutter for achieving clean cuts? I assume that it doesn’t make any difference if I use a single bar cutter or a multi bar one. Are there other tricks that I should know about?
 

mzimm

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2016
Messages
202
Reaction score
312
Location
North Carolina
I've got both a straight metal cutter and a multi-bar wire cutter. I also have a planer/beveler for cleanup after cutting. I think you're doing a lot of great things already, so there are just a couple of other tips I've got.
Try to wait to cut until the loaf is a little harder than you have so far, and see if that makes a difference in the appearance of the cuts. The straightness problem will most likely be solved by the miter box you've ordered.
Also, with the metal cutter, try dipping it in water just before a slice. This helps cut down on drag marks.
After cutting through a loaf from top to bottom, slide the cutter out from side-to-side instead of back out the way you came.
When cutting, whether with a single metal cutter or multi-wire, I always get my best cuts if I go very, very slowly through the soap.
I do like my planer/beveler, and you probably will, too, but there will most likely be some of your soaps that are just best left alone in all their rustic glory, so be ready to embrace the imperfect!
 

IrishLass

Staff member
Admin
Moderator
Joined
Feb 11, 2008
Messages
17,282
Reaction score
11,089
Location
Right here, silly!
Although I do own a multi-wire cutter, I actually prefer using a large kitchen knife to cut mine, because my wire cutter just does not cut as cleanly as my knife (the wire cutter gives me lots of drag marks).

To get the straightest cuts possible with my knife, I make good use of my ruler and mark out notches on the nearest and furthest edges on the top surface of my soap, and I also make top-to-bottom notches all the way down the side of the soap that's facing me. When done making my notches, I line up my knife's blade on either edge of the top surface notches and then press straight down, making sure that the knife follows along the line of notches that I made top-to bottom on the side of the soap facing me. This allows me to get wonderfully straight cuts. Sure, it takes a little longer for me to make all my notches than it would for me to use the cutter, but since I'm just a hobbyist whose batches are only between 1 lb and 3 lbs, it's really not a hassle for me.

I also have a planer to smooth off any imperfections, and a beveller to prettify and soften/round my edges so that they are more comfortable to hold in the hand.

I gel just about all my soaps and use a 33% lye solution, which allows me to unmold and cut my batches in as little as 1.5 to 2 hours to as much as 18 hours, depending on my formula. For un-gelled soaps, I wait up to a 48 hours before cutting because the soap is much too soft before then.


IrishLass :)
 

dixiedragon

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 1, 2013
Messages
6,472
Reaction score
4,905
Location
Birmingham, Alabama, USA
I agree with the wetting. It really helps!

Another tip - if you do a pencil line, turn the soap log so the line is vertical. That way the knife or wire drags a bit of color from the pencil line, it will merely drag it further down onto the line.
 

Arimara

Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2015
Messages
3,434
Reaction score
2,545
I can see where wetting the blade would make cutting the soap easier. To be fair, I'm comparing it to cutting perfect slices of cheesecake and the like.
 

kchaystack

Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2015
Messages
1,906
Reaction score
2,080
Location
Monroe, LA
I think you are just cutting too soon. I know my 100% OO soap I made on 1-Jan took 3 days to be hard enough to cut.
 

Lee242

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 12, 2015
Messages
173
Reaction score
32
I use a block scraper(more than likely same as you)
I also use 3 pieces of plywood 1 on bottom longer than the sides and 1 nailed on each side 4 1/2" across the bottom and 3 1/2 tall. Open on top.
Mark soap block move it to side edge where the bottom is longer and cut.
 

earlene

Grandmother & Soaper
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Apr 30, 2016
Messages
8,113
Reaction score
8,326
Location
Western Illinois, USA
I also like the cut with a clean slightly wet blade. Lately I tried spraying the blade with alcohol to see how it compares to plain hot water. I am not sure there was much difference, though. But I do like the extra sheen the alcohol gives the cut soap.
 

Cindy2428

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2014
Messages
1,052
Reaction score
822
I can't cut straight to save my life and I depend on my single wire Bud Cutter and my 18 slice loaf cutter from Nurture Soap. For my slab molds and M&P, I have had improved success with my 2-handled cheese knife. I can work over the top and can press down straighter improving my cuts.

I did try the miter box - the groove was a little too wide. It was an improvement over marking though.
 

Latest posts

Top