Monday, 28 February 2011

Making a wooden Soap Cutter

Adjustable-wire Soap bar cutter
Taken from “Making Transparent Soap” By Catherine Failor

The light, portable cutter shown here will cost very little for materials and will take just a couple of hours to construct.

It's designed to cut a 12" X 12" X 2" (30.48x30.48x5.08 cm) block of soap into any conceivable square or rectangular shape you wish to create. Professional soap- makers have more elaborate cutters with stationary wires,
but for the home hobbyist, nothing could be more simple and versatile than this adjustable cutter. You take the basic concept and create your own variation.

Two 2" X 4" X 28" boards
Two 2"
X 4" X 8" boards
Two 2"
X 4" x 3" boards
One 1"
x 2" x 28" board
Two 1"
x 2" x 20" boards
Two 14"
x 17" x 1/2" pieces
of plywood
Two 14" x 17" pieces of Formica or smooth linoleum (you should be able to find inexpensive scraps in the seconds bin of a flooring supply store)


Twenty-four 11/2" and 24 21/2" wood screws
One 3/8" wide x 2" long hex-head carriage bolt
Contact cement/glue
Medium-gauge guitar wire or 20- to 22-gauge music wire (sometimes called piano wire)
Utility knife
Hand or circular saw
Socket wrench or crescent wrench

Assembling the Cutter
Step 1: Apply the two sheets of Formica or linoleum to the two pieces of plywood with contact cement. (Note: You don't need a special cutter for the formica - a utility knife will do. Hold a ruler or T-square on the line you want to cut, and gently but firmly score it several times with a utility knife. It will then snap along the line with gentle pressure.) Allow the adhesive 15 to 20 minutes of setting time before proceeding to the next step.

Step 2: With a few 1 ½ " screws, attach the two pieces of plywood (Formica side up) to the
two 28" two-by-fours.
Leave a small gap between the two sheets - this will be the channel through which your
adjustable cutting wire can slide. Countersink the screws so their heads aren't sticking up above the Formica surface. Otherwise, the heads can slightly gouge the soap as it slides across the top.

Step 3: Using a few 1 ½ " screws, attach the strip of 1" x 2" X 28" wood to the Formica top.
This is the guide edge for the block of  soap as it is pushed through. Leave a ¾ " margin between the guide and the edge of the Formica.

 Step 4: Prepare the carriage bolt. Drill a hole through the shaft of the bolt, about ½ " down from the top. Mount the bolt in a vice, and use a 1/8" or 3/32 " drill bit; it takes just a few minutes to bore through the shaft. If you know someone who has a drill press or works in a machine shop, you might have him or her do it.This bolt will function exactly like a tuner on a guitar or piano. Later, the cutting wife will be threaded through the hole in the bolt, and the bolt will then be tightened into a wooden block.
 Step 5: Take one of the 3" two-by-fours and drill a %" hole through the entire depth of the block. This is the channel for the carriage bolt, but since it's a bit smaller than the bolt, you might need to tap the bolt with a hammer to get it started in the hole. A snug fit is important, because pressure from the soap as it's pressed against the wire can unwind the bolt. The wire then loses its tension. The best way to achieve a snug fit is to follow this procedure:
~ Using a crescent wrench or socket wrench, tighten the bolt 1" into the wood.
~ With a smaller bit – 1/16” or so – drill another hole completely through the block ½” from the bolt.
~ Now take the other 3" two-by-four and drill a 1/16" hole through that too, about l/4" from the edge of the block. Partially sink a 1" wood screw into the middle of the block.
A medium-gauge guitar wire works well- you want to avoid a wire that's too fine, as it might snap as the soap is being pushed through. An overly thick wire will offer too much resistance to the soap.  Buy one or two extra backup wires in case of breakage.  Or you can get what's called music wire. This comes in a quarter- pound or half-pound roll and is much more economical than guitar wire. It's also more difficult to find. Try calling a piano tuner or re-builder in your town - they might special order it or sell you some of their own. If not, contact the suppliers listed in Resources. A 20- or 22-gauge music wire is ideal for cutting.

Step 6: Screw or nail the two 8" two-by-fours onto the sides of the cutter. Make certain that
the middle of each block is aligned with the groove between the two sheets of plywood.

Step 7: To the tops of these 8" two-by-fours, screw down the two 20" one-by-twos side by side, leaving a slight gap between them. This gap should line up with the groove between the sheets of plywood below.

Carriage bolt. (The bolt should be tightened into the 3" block). Loop the end of the music wire once around the bolt, and tie a knot. You might have to use pliers to do this. Clip off the excess wire. If you're using guitar wire, run the length of the wire through the bolt until the metallic knob at the wire's other end hits the bolt. The knob is enough to secure the guitar wire - you don't need any knots.


Step 9: Feed the free end of the wire through the 1/16”hole next to the bolt. Now set this block of wood on top of the two one-by-twos that form  the "bridge" across the cutter. Pass the wire through the gap in the bridge, then on down into the narrow channel running the width of the Formica top. The wire should now be sticking out through the bottom of the cutter.

Step 10: Flip the cutter over. Thread the wire through the other 3" block, starting on the side without the wood screw. Pull the wire taut, wind it a few times around the screw head, and tie a knot. Sink the
rest of the screw into the wood. This will secure the wire to the bottom block. Clip off the excess wire. Now, flip the cutter right side up.

Step 11: Tighten the wire by turning the carriage bolt with a socket wrench or crescent wrench. (Make sure you twist clockwise so the bolt sinks deeper into the wood. You don't want to be tightening the wire at the same time you're unscrewing the bolt from the block). The hex-head bolt functions in the same manner as a tuner on a stringed instrument. Don't tighten it too much - wire with too much tension tends to snap under the pressure of the soap. Make it tight, but not too tight. Attaining the right tension is a matter of a little experimentation. The tightened wire should hold the 3" block of wood underneath the cutter snug against the plywood.
Your cutter is done!
Soap Cutter-001   Soap Cutter-002

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Monday, 21 February 2011

Let's make Jelly Soap

I made this last year and it was so much fun I thought I would share it with all of you.
Jelly Soap-008 (2)
Recipe Name: 'Jelly Soap'
Powders:            Gelatine               10           gr            3.6%
Water:                 Water                   142         gr            50.9%
Misc Lq:              Liquid Soap        1/2         cup         42.0%
Colour:                  Pink                      1              ml           0.4%
Powders:            Salt Fine              1              tsp          2.1%
FO:                      Strawberry           3              ml           1.0%
Tub-Jelly                              1             
How To:
Boil water, Add gelatine – stir until dissolved
Add Liquid Soap, stir gently as you do not want bubbles
Add salt – stir until dissolved
Add Colour and Fragrance oil (FO)
Pour into your mould
Place in the fridge until set. 3-5 hours
Jelly Soap-006 (2)

Monday, 14 February 2011

Happy Valentines from Riverlea Soap and WELCOME HOME Pooh bear

You are a sight for sore eyes. Linda, aka Pooh, has returned from her Island Holiday, YAY.  Hope you had a great time.
Happy Valentines day from the team at Riverlea Soap and Happy Birthday Dad.
Valentine team

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

I need help with my billing Google Apps

I need help with my billing

This has been a VERY disappointing experience Google. For such an easy function you sure make it hard work. I have been to update my billing information 3 times and my order keeps being rejected! What is with you guys??? To make matters worse I have no idea whether the damn thing has gone through or not. At the end of the whole experience I get a "rate our servcie" button AND GUESS WHAT? It doesn't work!

Monday, 7 February 2011

Cold Process (CP) Soap - some techniques

This week we are going to have some fun with a technique best used in cold process soap.

I don’t think it would work very well in Melt & Pour (M&P) as I think you will get a colour bleed. I have yet to try it in M&P. Maybe that will be another tutorial.
See our entries on equipment here and our basic recipe here. Please remember to wear your safety goggles and be careful when working with lye and run your measurements through a lye calculator found here or here or you could buy Soapmaker.

Olive oil                     680         gr            68.0%
Palm                          302         gr            30.2%
Beeswax                   18           gr            1.8%

Lye/ NaOH                127.45g
Water/ distilled         315.92g
Lye Discount:           6%
Water Discount:       0%

Fragrance or Essential oil 40g
Colour – I used green and lilac - colour to taste
Cocoa powder - a little

Heat Fats/ oils- 100 F
Cool H2O/ lye- 100 F
Heat your oils and cool your lye water
When the correct temperatures are reached add lye water to the oils
Stick blend until trace – I got to thin trace
 Separate the “soap” mixture into two
Add green colour  and half the fragrance /essential oil to the one mix and lilac colour and the other half of the FO/EO to the other mix.
Pour the base layer (green) and smooth/tap if needed. Then let it sit for about 10 minutes.  This allowed the layer to pour out smoothly and the set up firmer.  
  To get our horizontal cocoa line we are going to dust on a layer of cocoa powder.  To do this use a small sieve/ tea strainer and tap a VERY thin layer of cocoa on your first layer. You can also use a container (such as a small jar) with pantyhose as a “lid”to sift out the powder. 
 You don’t want it too thick or your soap might separate.  You still want to be able to see some patches of soap peeking through.
By this time your second lot of soap should be quite thick. Stick blend until you reack a thick trace if you need to. You want the mixture to be really gooey - somewhere around cold thick pudding.  You want to be able to make globs and have them hold their shape.

When it’s ready ( used an egg timer to time about 10 minutes), start spooning your second color.  
 Insulate the soap. Let it sit overnight or as long as your recipe requires and then cut!
Here’s a tip on cutting soap with mica/ cocoa lines. Cut the soap with the line of mica/ cocoa runing parallel to your work surface. You will get a drag line in the soap if you try to cut it any other wayrst.  Depending on what type of line you want, you can cut your loaf of soap either on its side or sitting as normal.
  Handy Hints:
*If you are using an FO that moves VERY quickly, keep your temps low and don't discount your water for best results.
*For layers with impact, choose contrasting colours, or use dark-to-light colours to achieve a gradient effect.

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