Bread Lame

Both Joe and I like to make bread. In fact he was the one who gave me my sourdough starter that is magically still alive even though I am the one taking care of it.

Anyone who’s made a loaf of say beer bread, which in my experience ends up crazy sticky and runny, has probably had trouble slashing the top. A solution to this is to use a disposable razor blade and throw it out when it is dull.

My mother enjoys baking as well and occasionally she will put in an order to King Arthur Flour for ingredients/tools. When she does this she lets me know in case I also need something so we can save on shipping. Once during one of these events I was browsing the King Arthur website and I came across this thing called a Bread Lame (pronounced ‘lam’ which is only slightly less fun than how its spelled). Since I’m relatively cheap and am decent at making things with my hands I decided not to pay $35 for this and make my own.

Heres how!

Materials:

Wood: I used walnut but any kind will work. Remember though… FOOD… so don’t use like pressure treated lumber or some old wood with possibly lead paint on it.

My material

Double edge safety razor blades

The blades I bought. Any double edge safety razors will work

Hardware: I used #8 stainless steel thumb screws and thumb nuts.

Finishing oil: I used mineral oil but linseed oil is another option again remember… FOOD… so step away from the polyurethane…

Tools:

Scroll saw: I made this at the makerspace but I had the means to in my workshop in my apartment. At the makerspace I used a DeWalt scroll saw but I have a small one in my apartment that could have worked just as well (in fact maybe better but I’ll get to that).

Drill press or drill: A drill press is ideal because you want perpendicular holes but a regular drill will work in a pinch.

Sanding belt: This will help you contour the handle very quickly. The one I used at the makerspace had about a 6″ belt which wasn’t ideal but it worked. I have a 1″ belt version in my apartment that may have worked better.

High grit finishing sandpaper: I used 1500 grit

Design:

Alright lets get down to it. Ultimately we are gonna have to hold a razor blade so lets design around that. How I decided to do it is expose only one corner of the blade at a time so I get 4 edges per blade. Behind the blade I just designed some sort of handle shape. If you must err, try to err on too large. You can always take away more material but adding it is a bit more difficult.

I put the blade on the wood and traced around it
My finished design
This is how the blade will be mounted

Forming the wood:

Cut your side profile on the scroll saw. I stayed a bit out of my lines because again, you can always cut it down later. Drill your marked holes with a drill press or drill. I used #8 screws and a 5/64″ bit worked well.

Rough out your shape on a bandsaw

Here’s a sorta difficult part. We need to cut a slot for the blade. The thin kerf of the scroll saw is ideal for this. The one problem is ideally we need a straight cut which a scroll saw is not ideal for. I got around this by clamping a straight piece of wood to the scroll saw table as a fake fence. This is where my scroll saw at home may be better than the much more expensive DeWalt version I used. If you contact Dremel customer service you can purchase an optional miter guage/fence for this saw. I did not know about this at the time but my part is on order and I will probably make another lame when this part comes. This is also important to do before you start sculpting the sides. you want a smooth relatively flat surface to use against your fence.

The depth of the groove for the blade. Add a little to the length.
Cutting the slot with a makeshift fence
The slot came out a little crooked but it will work

Time to sand. This is going to be tedious. Check your piece in your hand frequently and adjust your sanding to make it fit better.

After refining the shape with a scroll saw
I whittled and sanded to get the profile in the second axis

When you are satisfied with your shape, take our your finishing grit sandpaper and start sanding some more. Try to get it as smooth as possible.

Sanding… Sanding… Sanding…

Finishing:

Air blast the sawdust or use tack cloth to rid the surface from dust. Apply your finish, add your hardware and blade and voila! Your lame is finished.

The finished product!

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