For the home soapmaker, there is no avoiding the laborious task of cutting freshly moulded soap into bars. Many dedicated soapmakers turn to purchasing or making a soap-cutting machine to alleviate the burden of this process. However, these machines are very expensive. As of 2010, the price started at £32 for a basic, small mitre box soap cutter and prices went as high as several thousand dollars for a small industrial-grade soap cutter. The DIY-minded soapmaker can instead make a soap-cutting and moulding table to assist in simplifying the soap-making process.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- 4 table legs, 5-feet
- 2 pieces of 4-by-5-foot plywood, 2 inches thick
- 1 piece of Formica, 4-by-5-feet
- 2 two-by-fours, 4-feet
- 2 two-by-fours, 5-feet
- 24 wood screws, 3 1/2-inch
- 4 wood screws, 5-inch
- Power drill
- Tape measure
- 24 medium sized C-clamps
Screw the table legs to the four corners of one of the plywood sheets using the power drill and the 5-inch wood screws. You may wish to create drill guide holes in the table legs beforehand to expedite this step. This makes the raw base for the soap-cutting table; when you flip it upright the base of the table should be steady and secure. If it is wobbly, screw the legs on tighter.
Measure and mark 5-inch marks all the way down the 5-foot two-by-four. Cut 3-inch deep slots on these marks with the saw. Repeat this with the second 5-foot two-by-four. These two-by-fours will make the side rails on the cutting table.
Measure and mark 3-inch marks down the 4-foot two-by-four. Cut 3-inch deep slots on these marks with the saw. Repeat this with the second 4-foot two-by-four. These two-by-fours will make the end rails on the cutting table.
Attach the side rails to the table base so the bottom of the slots cut in Step 2 are flush with the table top. Drill three 3 1/2-inch screws through the two-by-fours and into the table base on each side so that they are evenly spaced.
Attach the end rails to the table base so the bottom of the slots cut in Step 3 are flush with the top of the table. Drill three 3 1/2-inch screws through the two-by-fours and into the table base on each side so that they are evenly spaced.
Place the Formica on the inside of the rails on the table base. Push it down with your hands so that it is in place. You can remove this piece between batches of soap to wash the table out. The second piece of plywood goes onto the top of the soap mixture when you're moulding and curing a batch of soap. Clamp it into place by evenly placing C-clamps around the perimeter of the soap-moulding and cutting table.
Tips and warnings
- When screwing on the side and end rails, it may be helpful to tip the table base onto its side.
- How the table works: Before filling the table with soap mixture, line the sides with wax or parchment paper to block the cutting slots. The paper should stick up over the sides so you can pull it out when you're ready to cut the soap. To mould the soap, pour the mixture into the table and place the second plywood piece on top of the soap. Clamp the top down by evenly spacing C-clamps around the table's perimeter. Allow the soap to cure and set according to the directions on whatever mixture you're using.
- After the soap is moulded, remove the C-clamps and top of the table. Pull the wax or parchment paper out of the sides. You are then ready to cut the soap by inserting a 4-foot soap table knife to cut vertically and a 5-foot soap table knife to cut horizontally. This will produce attractive, uniform 3-by-3-by-5-inch soap bars.
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