Wire soap cutters - when to replace the wires?

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dndlyon

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Hello there! Quick question about wire soap cutters...

I have a multi-bar cutter that I purchased from Bud's Woodshop on Etsy. I've been using it for over a year and have probably cut close to 100 batches of CP soap on it. I cut 4 loafs into bars yesterday and noticed that the bottom of the bars crumbled a bit in 3 of the 4 batches.

This is a base oil recipe that I've made a lot, and have never had trouble with crumbling. Most soaping parameters were what they normally are - just new fragrances that I've only used a few times in testing, I used a piece of plastic over the top of the mold to insulate (normally use cardboard), and it was slightly colder in the soaping room than it normally is. I'm not sure if any of that would lead to crumbling edges. The wires were clean and tight as I check them before and after I cut each loaf.

Could it be time to replace the wires? They look in good condition, and everything I've read says that you might never need to replace wires on a soap cutter unless they break. I'm wondering how often you typically replace your wires, if at all. Maybe I just cut the loaves too early due to the plastic "lid" on the molds. They seemed ready to cut...

I should probably just go ahead and replace them, but what a task on a multi-cutter! I'd rather be making more soap :)

Thanks for your thoughts on this!
 

shunt2011

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I've been using my Bud Cutters for years and have only changed a wire once and that's because I broke it. So I don't think it's your wire. I make and sell soap and have cut more soap than I can count with it.
 

amd

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My hubby made my multibar cutter, so I use guitar strings off Amazon - keep that in mind while you're reading my answer... I end up changing mine fairly frequently, either due to breaking wire or because the wire corrodes and will leave drag marks on my soap. I'd also like to point out that I don't clean my wires after every use, I found it easier to clean the wires after the soap has dried which may also add to the corrosion factor for my wires.
 

shunt2011

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I clean mine after every cut. I’ve been using the same wires for 3-4 years now maybe even longer. I still have a spare wire that came with the cutter when I purchased it. My ex husband made my first cutter and same, used for years and never even broke a wire. Others mileage will vary I’m sure.
 

jcandleattic

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I have a hobby cutter I got from FCS about 15 (yes, fifteen) years ago. I've only changed 1 wire on it in all those years, when it broke when I tried to cut a cold M&P loaf (I knew better but tried anyway)
They still cut as easy and as clean as the day I got it. I clean the wires after each cut. Super easy, just run a paper towel down each wire. Takes about 30 seconds.

The only maintenance I really have to do is to make sure the wires are tight before cutting. They will loosen between batches if it sits long enough...
 

Lin19687

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I have Bud cutter as well, 2(?) Years now I think.
I wipe down the wires after each cut with a wash cloth. Just a quick wipe as I usually do 8 loaves (2 cuts per loaf) at a time.
At the end of the cuttings I wipe them down better and loosen all the wires a lot... Like 8 turns per wire. To make sure it is loosened up.
Not had a chance to o replace a wire yet, and I have cut some loaves that I should never have cut so late :)

Bottom ripple for me, not really crumbling, is a timing thing and recipe. FO will change that , usually I just rub the bottom cut side a little to smooth out that ripple.
 

dndlyon

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Thank you all so very much for taking the time to respond! I have had the ripple that @Lin19687 described from day 1, and running my finger along the edge takes care of that easily. However,I have never lost chunks off the corners like I did this time. I'm also guilty of not always cleaning the wires as well as I could after every use. They were clean this time, but *shrug*.

After reading your thoughts, I opted to just clean the cutter really well and try it again before replacing the strings. Thank you again for replying - I just really had no idea and thought maybe I'd missed some kind of maintenance that I should have been doing (like changing strings every month or so). All the best!
 

TheGecko

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I've been using a cheese slicer (I just purchased a gently used Bud's...so excited) and while I wipe down the wire while cutting, I have noticed that if I don't give the wire a good wash with warm water and a toothbrush ever so often, that it can damage the bars. Tiny little bits of soap that you can't see can accumulate and then 'catch'...I can always tell when it's time to wash it when my bars get fuzzy edges.
 

DeeAnna

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Not saying this is your problem, but something to think about -- Sometimes a soap poured at emulsion or very light trace can be a wee bit lye heavy on the bottom (and correspondingly a wee bit fat heavy on the top). This lye heaviness normally cures out, so not to worry on that issue. But the slight lye heaviness on the bottom can cause the soap there to be a bit more brittle than usual when the bars are cut. This could contribute to some chipping problems..
 

dndlyon

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@DeeAnna - you hit it...exactly! I didn't think about this at all until I read your post. The top of the soap loaves did have a tiny bit of an oil sheen on top that isn't normal for these recipes. I went ahead and cut them just assuming that it was an artifact from using plastic instead of cardboard to cover them and a colder soaping room. I also did pour at light trace because I was in a hurry and didn't need a thicker trace for the design.

*smack my head* I should have realized this was it. :)

Thank you! and thanks again to everyone who posted - so glad I don't need to change my wires (and now that I've typed it "out loud" I'll end up breaking a wire the next time I cut soap LOL!)
 

dndlyon

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@DeeAnna Thank you! I usually cut from the side, so at least I only ended up with crumbled edges on one side and only some of the bars. I might just have to create a "scratch and dent" category on my website :)
 

DeeAnna

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My soap bars sometimes don't cut cleanly either, but unless the damage is major, I don't discount the price. I figure I'm making handcrafted soap, and modest imperfections are okay. I'd like to not have any oopses, but I can accept that some will inevitably happen. ;)

Sometimes I pare a little deeper bevel along the edges to remove smaller chips. For medium dents and dingles, I try to smooth them gently to make the damage less obvious.
 

TashaBird

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Not saying this is your problem, but something to think about -- Sometimes a soap poured at emulsion or very light trace can be a wee bit lye heavy on the bottom (and correspondingly a wee bit fat heavy on the top). This lye heaviness normally cures out, so not to worry on that issue. But the slight lye heaviness on the bottom can cause the soap there to be a bit more brittle than usual when the bars are cut. This could contribute to some chipping problems..
Searching for loaf cutter recommendations and found an answer to something that’s been happening to my soap. That crumbly bottom edge is a bummer. You are such a wealth of knowledge! Thanks so much!! 💖
 

Becky1024

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The wires might have loosened up. I like to tighten mine so when I strum them they make a high pitched tone.
 
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