When to trim/shape CP bar edges

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Claire Huddle

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I love the look of beveled edges on rectangular bars. Is there a right time to do that? Or perhaps I should ask if there is a WRONG time to do it? Before setting out to cure, after fully cured, or any old time I want??? Hopefully it doesn't matter, but I've never tried it and really dislike both waste and epic failures. Thank you in advance!
 

TheGecko

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I love the look of beveled edges on rectangular bars. Is there a right time to do that? Or perhaps I should ask if there is a WRONG time to do it? Before setting out to cure, after fully cured, or any old time I want??? Hopefully it doesn't matter, but I've never tried it and really dislike both waste and epic failures. Thank you in advance!
I prefer to wait a week or two, though I have lightly trimmed rough top edges after unmolding. My advice to experiment with your recipe. After you unmold, try a bar of soap...if it works, go for it. If you don't like it...wait a week and try another bar.
 

IrishLass

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I normally bevel my edges within about 1 hour or so after I've unmolded and cut them into bars, but if the bars are slightly too soft yet for whatever reason, I wait a day or so later, by which time they are usually fine with being bevelled. I probably should mention that I normally use sodium lactate and a water discount (33% lye concentration), and I also gel my soaps, so for the most part they are firm enough at cutting time to able to withstand being bevelled nicely. If I wait too long, it's a little more muscle work for me. I use a Japanese woodworking radius planer to bevel my soaps.

Ungelled soaps are a different story. I normally pour off enough batter to make 1 ungelled soap out of every one of my batches, and those can can take up to 2 weeks to be ready to bevel nicely.



IrishLass :)
 

Claire Huddle

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I normally bevel my edges within about 1 hour or so after I've unmolded and cut them into bars, but if the bars are slightly too soft yet for whatever reason, I wait a day or so later, by which time they are usually fine with being bevelled. I probably should mention that I normally use sodium lactate and a water discount (33% lye concentration), and I also gel my soaps, so for the most part they are firm enough at cutting time to able to withstand being bevelled nicely. If I wait too long, it's a little more muscle work for me. I use a Japanese woodworking radius planer to bevel my soaps.

Ungelled soaps are a different story. I normally pour off enough batter to make 1 ungelled soap out of every one of my batches, and those can can take up to 2 weeks to be ready to bevel nicely.



IrishLass :)
Oh my goodness, I'm so glad you replied as it was YOUR soaps that especially caught my eye and made me think 'I could do that... if I had the tools, knowledge, and patience!'. Especially thankful that you mentioned those specifics (all foreign to me) about your soaps so that I DON'T try to do mine right out of the mold. Have I mentioned that I love this forum? I LOVE THIS FORUM!!

I bevel mine after they have cured for 3-4 weeks. I use a potato peeler, have tried other tools and always go back to my peeler. I like them more form as I get a cleaner bevel. Too soft and they gunk things up.
Perfect! I have some bars that are just now cured and was afraid I waited too late, but I think I'll be okay. Well, as okay as a klutz like me can be armed with any tool capable of slicing/dicing/paring/rendering hideous. I'm going to give it a try this afternoon. Thank you!

I prefer to wait a week or two, though I have lightly trimmed rough top edges after unmolding. My advice to experiment with your recipe. After you unmold, try a bar of soap...if it works, go for it. If you don't like it...wait a week and try another bar.
Another super helpful reply! You guys are great! So reassuring that there is no absolute, cast-in-stone rule on when to do it, that common sense and experimentation are the way to go. Thank you!
 
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TheGecko

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So reassuring that there is no absolute, cast-in-stone rule on when to do it, that common sense and experimentation are the way to go.
Well...the are some abolutes: You can't make soap without lye. Failure is always an option. @DeeAnna is local science authority on soap making.
 

DeeAnna

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:)

I do pretty much what Irish Lass does. I like to get my soap cut and cleaned up in one operation, so I only have one mess to clean up. I also like to smoosh all of the trimmings into a little "hamburger patty" and smooshing is easiest to do when the soap is freshly made.

I did a batch yesterday afternoon and cut the bars this morning. The center bars were ready to bevel pretty much right away. The end bars didn't fully gel so they needed maybe an hour after cutting to become dry enough to bevel. So I did something else for a little bit, came back to the soap, and finished up.
 

Claire Huddle

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Also don't worry about wasting the shavings. I save all mine in a plastic container with lid, and either rebatch them or make confetti soap. :)
You know, I AM saving them, but have no idea how I will use them other than in a confetti soap. I'm not even going to ask how you go about rebatching as that is a 'whole other thing', and I promise to search before asking. The answer is probably already out there! Thanks!

Sorry...I was trying to be humorous. Should have used a winky or smiley face.
Oh good. I wasn't sure. I can LOL now though!

:)

I do pretty much what Irish Lass does. I like to get my soap cut and cleaned up in one operation, so I only have one mess to clean up. I also like to smoosh all of the trimmings into a little "hamburger patty" and smooshing is easiest to do when the soap is freshly made.

I did a batch yesterday afternoon and cut the bars this morning. The center bars were ready to bevel pretty much right away. The end bars didn't fully gel so they needed maybe an hour after cutting to become dry enough to bevel. So I did something else for a little bit, came back to the soap, and finished up.
That timing really appeals to me, sort of a One and Done. I'm a little baffled as to when it's best to bevel (as opposed to just smoothing the sticky-uppy edges) though. It SEEMS like the softer the bar, the better, but that's pure supposition on my part. My first attempts will most likely be, how do you say it, oh, right, pathetic. I'm just not a craftsy person but I love the look and will try until I get it. And it it looks as though I'll never "get it" I'll ask my manually dexterous husband to do it! Last night I pared down the top edges of a 4-week old batch, but was too cowardly to try anything more aggressive. There were no shavings, just powdery bits small enough to add to my laundry soap. Let there be no waste!

Thank you for you guidance, it is much appreciated. I think I'll make a new batch this afternoon and try a little beveling tomorrow. "I bought tools!", she proudly added. :)
 
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DeeAnna

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If the soap is soft like cream cheese right out of the fridge (or softer), you'll have lots of trouble if you try to cut or bevel the soap. If you can press gently with your finger and feel the soap start to make a dent, it's too soft. A wire cutter tears through the soap, and a knife sticks badly. A potato peeler or similar beveling tool just smears the edges rather than cuts a shaving.

The soap needs to have a firm but yielding texture -- like mild cheddar cheese -- to cut and bevel well. This is when you can press moderately firmly without leaving a dent, but you can feel the soap give a little under your finger. This is the point at which I like to cut and bevel my soap.

It's also an option to cut your bars at the "mild cheddar cheese" stage, but wait to bevel until the soap is much firmer -- more like aged cheddar or even parmesan. At that point the soap will barely yield or won't yield if you press it hard with a finger. Soap this firm will bevel nicely, but it probably cannot be cut easily if at all.

As a friend often says, "Practice makes better!" You won't get good until you practice, make mistakes, cuss a little, and try again until you get the hang of it. So pick the worst looking bar you have and get busy! ;) Remember -- this is not brain surgery ... it's only soap.
 

Claire Huddle

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If the soap is soft like cream cheese right out of the fridge (or softer), you'll have lots of trouble if you try to cut or bevel the soap. If you can press gently with your finger and feel the soap start to make a dent, it's too soft. A wire cutter tears through the soap, and a knife sticks badly. A potato peeler or similar beveling tool just smears the edges rather than cuts a shaving.

The soap needs to have a firm but yielding texture -- like mild cheddar cheese -- to cut and bevel well. This is when you can press moderately firmly without leaving a dent, but you can feel the soap give a little under your finger. This is the point at which I like to cut and bevel my soap.

It's also an option to cut your bars at the "mild cheddar cheese" stage, but wait to bevel until the soap is much firmer -- more like aged cheddar or even parmesan. At that point the soap will barely yield or won't yield if you press it hard with a finger. Soap this firm will bevel nicely, but it probably cannot be cut easily if at all.

As a friend often says, "Practice makes better!" You won't get good until you practice, make mistakes, cuss a little, and try again until you get the hang of it. So pick the worst looking bar you have and get busy! ;) Remember -- this is not brain surgery ... it's only soap.
Oh, I am laughing! Definitely not brain surgery. And get this -- about 2 hours ago I slapped myself (figuratively of course) and went at a 4-wk old bar with the paring knife again, but with a nice bevel in mind. It was so EASY!!! I feel like an ass now for agonizing over it for three days. Mind you, my sides aren't perfectly uniform, but that will come with practice. (Or with a beveling form thingy like Irish Lass has, heh heh. :)) Your cheesy analogies are helpful. They also made me hungry. Luckily husband made a "Fatty" (log of ground beef stuffed with cheese, onion, crumbled bacon, and hot peppers, then wrapped in (yes!) bacon, and cooked in the pellet stove with moderate smoke). Between that, my small success with beveling, and a glimpse of SF quarterback Jimmy Garappolo (oh my), I am set for the day. (I may be old enough to be his g_mother, provided all parties got an early start, but I can still appreciate beauty when I see it.)
So far, all of my 8 batches to date have been 'mild cheddar' firm at unmolding. I don't foresee mucking about with a recipe that I like and feel safe with, other than color and scent, so I think I'll be a-beveling in the future soon after unmolding. Demolding? Dismolding? I know, liberating the bars.
Happy Groundhog Day! Better yet, Happy First Palindrome Day in 909 Years!!
 

amd

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I typically bevel my soaps a few hours or the next day after cutting. Depends on how firm the soap is. I like it to have a bit of resistance against the veggie peeler so that my bevels are straight and not wonky (when soap is too soft you will find the peeler slides leaving wonky bevels). When I first started beveling, I used a kitchen butter knife on fully cured bars which made small bevels. The veggie peeler takes practice, but you get a feel for how hard to push and it becomes very zen-like.

You know, I AM saving them, but have no idea how I will use them other than in a confetti soap. I'm not even going to ask how you go about rebatching as that is a 'whole other thing', and I promise to search before asking.
I have a YT video I'm working on about what I do with my bevel scraps and misc scraps. ;) Some day I'll get it finished and posted.
 

Mistrael

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I've been having a heck of a time with patience, so sometimes I cut my soaps too early... So my bevels aren't as nice as they could be, but I am able to squash my scraps into a ball. I then use the ball as a tester, which my family seems to enjoy. (I'm fortunate to have a very supportive husband, kids, & mother who are also having fun with the homemade goods.) The test ball goes into my downstairs bathroom to be used as hand soap while the bars continue to cure a bit longer.
 
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