Soap Strings of My Heart

SoapMakingForum

Help Support SoapMakingForum:

CaraBou

Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Dec 25, 2012
Messages
3,078
Reaction score
3,177
Location
Montana
I have a beautiful harp style soap cutter that dh made a couple years ago (pics below). It's been great, but by this point I have broken many of the strings and I am wondering what to replace them with. The original strings were labeled as 0.30 mm diameter plain steel for acoustic and electric guitar, brand D'Addario type PL012. They apparently aren't strong enough to handle the full variety of soaps I make as several have broke on harder soaps.

We recently went to a music shop to get new, stronger strings. The shop owner graciously (free of charge) let us take used strings she had amassed. However, she was teaching music lessons so was not able to tell us what type of strings we selected. Most of the used strings were too short to fit my cutter, and the few strings that were long enough were too thick to cut soap. They did not cleanly cut day-old soap, and are not an option for future use. I do not have a way to accurately measure the diameter of these strings but can say they are bronze colored and have ridges, unlike the guitar strings which were silver and smooth.

I would have gladly purchased brand new strings, but as I mentioned, the owner was preoccupied and we did not want to bother her. I have no clue what they were (to avoid), or what I should try next. I will go back to her, as I want to give her soap for the favor she paid us strangers. But I'd like to be more prepared.

What advice do you have for me? What thickness, material, intended instrument, etc. do you recommend? They need to be at least 26 inches long, preferably longer. As I said the originals were 0.30mm which work on most but not all soaps.

Thanks in advance for keeping a good thing going :)

cutter2.jpg


cutter1.jpg
 

CaraBou

Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Dec 25, 2012
Messages
3,078
Reaction score
3,177
Location
Montana
Isn't piano wire kind of thick? I guess I don't really know whether they are or are not -- will have to check them out. I am thinking I need something between the guitar strings I have and whatever that other size is(which I'm sure came off of a stringed instrument, not a piano). Maybe a G string is all I need (can't believe I just said that :)
 

commoncenz

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 18, 2015
Messages
595
Reaction score
760
Location
Ohio
I did a little research on this awhile back when I was looking to order a cutter. Guitar strings are measured in thousandths of an inch in diameter, come in light, medium and heavy sets and their measurements overlap.

For soap cutters, the most commonly used guitar strings are:

E string (the skinniest one on a guitar) = 0.010 to 0.014
B string(the second skinniest one) = 0.014 to 0.018
And the Unwound G string of an electric guitar =0.023 to 0.027 * Don't get the acoustic G string which will have another wire wrapped around it. You don't want this one because it would mar your soap when you cut it.



If I were you, I'd be looking at a range from the "Heavy B" to the "Light G" strings. Skinny enough to cut, but hopefully strong enough to hold up to your tougher bars.
 

nsmar4211

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 28, 2015
Messages
600
Reaction score
285
I'm surprised a guitar string would break easily cutting soap. I play bass and guitar and those strings put up with a lot. Make sure the tension is high enough that the string doesn't flex when first starting to cut soap-it should stay taut. Usually it's quick force that snaps them, so steady as she goes. I'd suspect tension issues first ....


There are a ton of different strings. Stay away from anything called roundwound, those are dual layered (the wrapped ones). Most electric bass strings are wounds so they're out. Ditto for piano. You may want to try different materials too, the steel strings are stronger than the bronze strings (steel is silver colored unless coated, the bronze are bronze/brass colored). A heavy guage B string should be pretty tough. The B on my electric guitar is 32" long on the guitar, anything shorter was probably a busted string or maybe a 3/4 scale guitar.
 

sillysoaper

Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 6, 2011
Messages
19
Reaction score
9
Location
Western Alaska
CaraBou, Your soap cutter is beautiful. Your husband did a great job. You can really see the fine craftsmanship in his work.
I have For Crafts Sake soap cutters and they use 19 gauge (.043 Dia) wire. I think its piano wire, but not sure. I almost always use a water discount for my soaps and the wires hold up really well when cutting my soap. I hope this helps in determining what size wire to get for your cutter.
 

McGraysoldtowngifts

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2015
Messages
178
Reaction score
91
Location
Williamsburg Virginia
CaraBou, Your soap cutter is beautiful. Your husband did a great job. You can really see the fine craftsmanship in his work.
I have For Crafts Sake soap cutters and they use 19 gauge (.043 Dia) wire. I think its piano wire, but not sure. I almost always use a water discount for my soaps and the wires hold up really well when cutting my soap. I hope this helps in determining what size wire to get for your cutter.
This is why I recommended the piano wire it is very strong .
 

shunt2011

Moderator Emeritus
Moderator Emeritus
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Apr 2, 2012
Messages
15,447
Reaction score
9,735
Location
Michigan
I too have the multi cutter from Bud. He uses the same wire my husband used on the one he made me. I used it heavily for three years and never broke a wire. I give my Bud cutter a run as well and no breakage. Even when I've cut salt bars.
 

Dana89

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 9, 2014
Messages
289
Reaction score
245
UMM, I have no clue, but may I borrow your hubby? He made you a beautiful cutter!
 

CaraBou

Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Dec 25, 2012
Messages
3,078
Reaction score
3,177
Location
Montana
You guys are great -- thank you so much!

I have new strings tonight - dh got them while I was at work! There are two kinds, actually: .46 mm (plain steel) and 0.430 mm (high carbon steel). Both are plain, not wound/wrapped. I found a crosswalk between those diameters and the gauges that commoncenz posted. In that chart they equate closest to .0170 inch G. In Patrick's, it's a medium B. I'm calling it a G string since at my age, that's the closest I'll ever get to one again ;) Leave it to soap to make me feel young.

I've been down to two strings for awhile, which was fine because I like the ability to purposefully place my cuts -- and to prolong the process. But I must say I'm very excited to be fully functional again! If these strings break, I know where to go for more ideas -- thanks again for all of your posts!

String Gauges.JPG
 

Todd_in_Minnesota

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 19, 2013
Messages
92
Reaction score
105
Hey Bou,
I've built a similar cutter, and had the same problem with strings occasionally breaking. Mine's especially prone to that because I use each string twice (looped over a pair of tuning pegs) so I only had to buy half the number of tuning machines (because of the cost!).
cutter-sideview-scaled.jpg
I've tried the lightest piano wire I could get, and found it to be too heavy for my guitar tuning machines to tighten adequately.
I've also tried light and heavy guitar strings.

My final solution is to use the heaviest single-strand guitar string I can get (D'addario PL020 or PL018, or Ernie Ball 1017), and cut while the new soap is still soft.
Also I cut very slowly, using body-weight to press down. And, I loosen the strings between cutting. Somehow, it seems like that should reduce the stress on them.
So far this has worked for me.
Todd
 

Steve85569

Supporting Member
Joined
Oct 28, 2015
Messages
1,914
Reaction score
2,113
Location
North East Oregon, USA
I was rummaging around and ran across some of my fishing tackle. Lights came on!

Stainless steel fishing leader! Comes in different weights and diameters with the diameters listed on the package. I'm thinking that might be something to try out. I did try one of the heavier wires I had for a single but is was between the D wound and A wound in diameter and seemed to be too big around ( or I didn't have it tight enough).
 
Top