BIG shout out to my wonderful husband Steven (thanks dearheart!) for using his wonderful brain and super mechanical/carpentry DIY skills to save us some money!
So when Michelle and I started this adventure, my husband was somewhat leery of what we were doing (understandable, as it takes money to have a hobby, much less start up a business), and was also less than enthusiastic…But once I asked nicely for something that would help us in our endeavor, he started to ask questions and to plan.
First questions were, “what does a soap cutter look like? What do you need it to do?”
Well dearheart, this is the best example of a “do it yourself” soap cutter I could find…..https://soapdelinews.com/2013/06/diy-soap-cutter-a-simple-guide-for-cutting-your-soap-into-bars.html. He looked and did some more research (not really liking what he saw, I guess), and came back to me with the next set of questions.
“What did we want the soap cutter to do? Did you really want something that simple? Are you really just going to cut your soap with a knife?”
Well, no, Michelle and I really wanted something more like the YouTube channel we watch uses (props to Ms. Julie Fain from https://www.osoapery.com, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClN5CUhtWenxWs8eD0qGlkg), but they are really kind of expensive (like $90-$120 with shipping). It kinda looks like this picture here:
He took this information and spent about a week thinking, sketching, and drawing out various ideas. I then took these ideas, and sent them to Michelle (love you Sis!), so we could discuss the various pros and cons of each possible idea. When we were done, which took maybe 2-3 weeks or so, we ended up with something close to the cutter shown above, with a few little tweaks of course.
Next, came the fun task of figuring out what type of material we wanted this cutter made from. In the last few years, my husband and I have done various renovations (mostly small) to our house that have resulted in some reclaimed lumber of various sizes and conditions. Out to the garage we went! After looking at everything we had saved, we decided to use a few pieces of a waterbed frame that we had replaced this year due to water damage. This had the bonus of not only being hard wood, but also having already been varnished!
Cutting these pieces to a workable length, that we needed to assemble, was a challenge. While we don’t have a large workshop with larger tools, I know someone who does (shout out here to my mom and stepdad for letting us use the table saw and other various tools!)
After we cut out the base, side, handle, offset block, and stop block pieces, we then headed home to the husband’s workshop. Once we were home, he proceeded to mark out, and then chisel out, channels for the all-thread piece we had bought. Next, he drilled holes for the dowel pieces (runners) for the stop block. When that was done, he used locking nuts and washers to secure the all-thread piece to the base of the cutter. He even treated it so that it will A) never rust and B) never loosen. The stop block allows us to have the ability to do variable length cuts, but also keep the edges (and our cuts) straight.
(Just a note, that while I could have helped him, usually the best help I can give is staying out of his way! ESPECIALLY when he is being creative. LOL!)
(See I do help! LOL)
Next, came the cutting arm assembly. One of the issues he had was a concern that the tension of the guitar string that we are using for a cutter, could possibly cause too much strain on the arm. This was because we chose to make it from multiple pieces of wood, rather than the solid wood piece we had originally planned. After talking about it some, we decided to send me to the local Walmart to buy braces for the inside of the cutting arm. This lent stability without adding too much weight or awkwardness.
Next, he created, and installed, a custom tension system (I love you dearheart!) to allow us to be able to adjust the tension on the guitar string. This means longer wear time as the guitar string will not be under constant tension when we are not using the cutter.
After attaching the side piece, he then fiddled with the offset block for the cutter arm. He drilled, checked alignment, found washers, played with spacing and generally tinkered (yes, I said tinkered) with the cutting arm until he was happy with the placement and action of it. This meant an easy to use motion, both up and down cutting; the cutting arm is easy to attach and detach; as well as lining up correctly to the groove he had cut into the base piece. We then tested it! We decided to place a guide for the guitar string mounted to the backside to help keep our cuts straight.
After all of that, which was almost 6 ½ hours of cutting, tinkering, running to Walmart, and assembling, we had our cutter finished! It looks AMAZING! Not only did my wonderful husband make an awesome design, he also told me that he can add an attachment to the other side of the cutter for when we get to the point (hopefully!) that we will be wanting to make larger batches and splitting them into thinner logs before cutting them.