Planing soap - what type is best?

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sue1965

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I was just curious to see how many of you use a soap planer or do you just trim your rough edges? Also, do you rinse your soap once it is done curing to give it a shine?

My thought is that some soap, especially those that are not completely square or have a textured top, look best a little rough all around. I think it gives it a more natural look/feel. Although I do think trimming the edges a bit helps so it's not so scratchy.

I am considering buying a planer and wondered if you had any recommendations for a good one? Thanks!!
 

shunt2011

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I don't use or have a planer but I do use a beveler or vegetable peeler to do the edges. I don't do anything else to my soaps as ususally there are too many and time is money.
 

roseb

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I plane all my soaps. I purchased a wooden one from Cedar Mountain Crafts that I've been using for years. If you are going to make a rustic looking bar just taking the edge off with a potato peeler works great. I make "fancier" swirled soap, so in order to see the design better you do need to plane those kinds of soaps. With that being said I'm very OCD and like the feel and look of planed soaps.
 

amd

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I wash my tops for soda ash. In the summer / early fall I was box steaming my soaps to remove the ash, but then my house got too cold for the box to keep the steam warm enough to do the job. I like the shiny look washing gives, so I will probably continue this practice.

I use a vegetable peeler to bevel my edges. I had found a tutorial that used the back edge of butter knife, but it wasn't enough of a bevel for my preference (after washing the small bevel was gone and I felt the edges were just as rough as before), so I just practiced more with the peeler until I got the feel for doing it.
 

DeeAnna

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I got a planer this past year and find myself using it often. I have a wire cutter and find the wire-cut surface is rough, compared to a surface cut by a blade-type cutter. So planing my bars is an enjoyable activity and I like the smooth velvety feel of the planed surfaces. If I went back to a blade cutter, I most likely wouldn't bother, however. I usually pare the corners of most of my bars so they are softer in the hand for the first use or two, but I don't rinse or otherwise polish my soaps.

But I'm a hobby soaper. If I was in the business of soap making, I doubt I would use a planer and I might not even soften the corners. Quickly rub down each bar with a microfiber or lint free cloth to remove specks or crumbs and pop it in the shrink wrap. As Shari said -- time is money. Do I want to spend my time and energy planing eleventydozen bars of soap that will sell for X dollars whether planed or not? I think I'd rather spend that time doing something more productive or enjoying more leisure time. :)
 

grassyriver

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I recently bought an acrylic planer/beveler combo from someone on Etsy. It's a snap to clean and makes my bars look so much more even than when I was using a vegetable peeler. Acrylic is the way to go for me. Just put it under the faucet and the soap washes right off. No rust. No ruined wood.
 

DeeAnna

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Oh, I didn't answer your question about planers. Mine is from Boyd Jackson of Pawpawswoodcrafts. You can find him on Etsy. Very nice man, ships promptly, and stands behind his products. This planer is wood and metal and is meticulously set up to take off a whisper-thin shaving. I don't have any problems with rust or ruined wood, so these concerns have not been an issue for me.
 

sue1965

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I wash my tops for soda ash. In the summer / early fall I was box steaming my soaps to remove the ash, but then my house got too cold for the box to keep the steam warm enough to do the job. I like the shiny look washing gives, so I will probably continue this practice.

I use a vegetable peeler to bevel my edges. I had found a tutorial that used the back edge of butter knife, but it wasn't enough of a bevel for my preference (after washing the small bevel was gone and I felt the edges were just as rough as before), so I just practiced more with the peeler until I got the feel for doing it.
I have never heard of box steaming before...thanks for the info. I have just been using alcohol. I will have to look into that.

I got a planer this past year and find myself using it often. I have a wire cutter and find the wire-cut surface is rough, compared to a surface cut by a blade-type cutter. So planing my bars is an enjoyable activity and I like the smooth velvety feel of the planed surfaces. If I went back to a blade cutter, I most likely wouldn't bother, however. I usually pare the corners of most of my bars so they are softer in the hand for the first use or two, but I don't rinse or otherwise polish my soaps.

But I'm a hobby soaper. If I was in the business of soap making, I doubt I would use a planer and I might not even soften the corners. Quickly rub down each bar with a microfiber or lint free cloth to remove specks or crumbs and pop it in the shrink wrap. As Shari said -- time is money. Do I want to spend my time and energy planing eleventydozen bars of soap that will sell for X dollars whether planed or not? I think I'd rather spend that time doing something more productive or enjoying more leisure time. :)
Thanks DeeAnna! I currently had a blade cutter and thought that a wire cutter would be smoother when cutting and less likely to mark up the soap because the cutting surface is so much smaller. Thank you for the information on the planer :)
 

cmzaha

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I use this little beveler, http://forcraftssake.com/shop/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=18_24&products_id=38, on the bottom edge and sides of all soaps, because I find it easier to hold onto them in the shower. As Shunt mentioned time is money. I do not plane soaps. Takes to much time and I do not like the soap loss from my soaps. Ash gets left, I tried washing once and some customers actually felt they were used bars of soap, so ash stays and gives a different look, pluse it takes way to long to wash and dry all bars of soap
 

DeeAnna

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...thought that a wire cutter would be smoother when cutting and less likely to mark up the soap because the cutting surface is so much smalle...
That does seem to be the obvious thing and I thought that too before I got my cutter, but my experience has been the opposite. A wire, even if it is very taut, can deflect around harder bits of soap and any other firm bits in the soap. The resulting "vibration" of the wire as it moves through the soap means the the cut surface of the soap ends up with a very slightly wavy texture. It's really not objectionable and it's perfectly salable -- it's just not perfectly smooth. A flat blade (pastry scraper, drywall knife, etc.) has enough heft and stiffness that it doesn't "vibrate" in the cut, so the cut surface of the soap is usually smoother.

Carolyn raises another very good point about planing -- you end up with a LOT more waste when you plane soap than if you just soften the corners of the bars. The waste needs to be recycled somehow -- rebatch, confetti soap, etc. -- or (gasp!) must be thrown away. I am working at balancing my enjoyment of the smoothness the planing creates vs. the responsibility to deal with the waste.
 

shunt2011

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I have the same beveler as Carolyn. I use that or my peeler. The beveler give a sharper bevel.
 

topofmurrayhill

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I am considering buying a planer and wondered if you had any recommendations for a good one? Thanks!!
Well nothing is perfect that I know of but this is an interesting one. It's all acrylic including the cutting edge. It's not cheap and it planes off just a bit more than my old wooden one. However I like those side walls that serve as a guide to help square things off if necessary, and it cleans easily under warm water. Like new after every use.

http://www.soap-making-resource.com/soap-beveler.html
 

paillo

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Just ordered one of the ForCraftsSake bevelers, a little disappointed in the 10-business-day wait time because that wasn't disclosed until the end. But hey, looks well worth the wait, thanks Carolyn!

ETAL: Yup, Shunt, that's the case here too, will ship tomorrow, can't wait to give it a good workout!
 
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shunt2011

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Just ordered one of the ForCraftsSake bevelers, a little disappointed in the 10-business-day wait time because that wasn't disclosed until the end. But hey, looks well worth the wait, thanks Carolyn!
I think mine was the same way when I ordered it but I think I got it pretty quickly. Didn't take that long. Hope it doesn't for you.
 

WalterG

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Just ordered one of the ForCraftsSake bevelers, a little disappointed in the 10-business-day wait time because that wasn't disclosed until the end. But hey, looks well worth the wait, thanks Carolyn!

ETAL: Yup, Shunt, that's the case here too, will ship tomorrow, can't wait to give it a good workout!
I just received one from soap-making-resource.com. Seems to work well, but it took forever to ship. I had to contact them to see why it was taking longer than suggested. I had one on order from an Etsy seller but cancelled when his "1-5 business days" turned into 7 and was told it would be another 5....
 

paillo

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I just received one from soap-making-resource.com. Seems to work well, but it took forever to ship. I had to contact them to see why it was taking longer than suggested. I had one on order from an Etsy seller but cancelled when his "1-5 business days" turned into 7 and was told it would be another 5....
WalterG, what beveler did you order?
 

IrishLass

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I have the same acrylic planer as topofmurrayhill and WalterG. I can't remember exactly when I bought it, but I've had it for at least 4 years now, and I really love it. I had a couple of concerns going into the purchase with the cutting surface being acrylic and all, but it has worked wonderfully for me. I don't use it on all my bars, however- just those that end up with a funky surface for whatever reason, such as my soaps made in my ED silicone mold that always end up with a pock-marked surface, for example.

Although the planer has 2 built-in beveling options, I use a Japanese Round Molding plane to bevel my soaps because I like the look of the fancy, contoured bevels it gives me much better. I bought it from LotionCrafters of all places several years ago when they were selling it as "The world's best soap beveler". They no longer sell it, but as you can see from the link, you can buy it from Lee Valley Tools.

Whatever scraps I have leftover from planning/bevelling get smooshed up like clay and stuffed into one of my decorative MilkyWay molds to make a usable hand soap.

I really like having beveled edges. It makes the bar much more comfortable to twirl around in the hand when lathering it up.


IrishLass :)
 
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