The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Slashing tool

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PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Slashing tool

There's been a fair amount of discussion here about various tools for slashing: lame, razor blades, serrated knives, scissors, etc.  More often than not, I just touch up an already-sharp paring knife with a steel and slash the loaves with that.  As long as the dough isn't too delicate, it works fairly well without dragging.

 

What I've been wondering, though, is whether an x-acto knife might be a useful tool.  They could stand in pretty handily for a lame, it seems, since they have razor-sharp blades and a handle.  Has anybody tried that yet?

 

PMcCool

grepstar's picture
grepstar

I've used a utility knife blade without the handle with some success. It seems that they dull pretty quickly even though they're only cutting through dough.

melody's picture
melody

I use a long knife that was too big to fit in my knife rack. It always wears the sheath it came in, unless it's being uses to slash a loaf, and is NEVER, EVER used for anything else. (Just ask my poor husband.) It works pretty well, especially when I remember the advice of Julia Child to "go to it with the courage of my convictions." On the other hand, a friend of my husband's is an avid amateur baker, and also a physician. When asked what he uses to slash his loaves, he replied, "A scalpel." When I heard this, I swooned with envy, and have no longer been completely enamored of my long knife. So, where does a non-medical type get hold of a scalpel? I don't know this person well enough to ask him--and I don't want to look like I expect him to procure one for me. But a scalpel...mmmmm

jm_chng's picture
jm_chng

Anything sharp will do the trick. But that's the key, it needs to be sharp, then you need to be able to manipulate the tool easily. If it falls into the two camps it'll be a good tool. Lame's are cheap and easy to come by that's why so many people use them. As someone said you can just use a coffee stirrer from Starbucks and a razor blade to make your lame. If you can get a piece of something sturdy to thread through the blade that you've got a classic lame. 

Jim

merrybaker's picture
merrybaker

Add electric knife to your list of bread-slashing tools.  I haven't tried it, but read about that on another forum.  I'd think the x-acto knife would be harder to clean than some of the other options.  If you try it, let us know the results.  In fact, what we need is for someone to run a comparison test of all the different methods, and to film it and put it on You Tube.  Are you listening, Floyd?  :D 

Floydm's picture
Floydm

I am.

So many good ideas, so little time.

Francine's picture
Francine

Hi Floyd,


 


This is Francine, I was the one that pitched the electric knife; works great! I think because of the speed.  I still held the knife at a slight angle; however, I did go ahead and order a Lame from K.A. so I could try to learn to do it as shown on some of the videos.  


Francine 

slaughlin's picture
slaughlin

This is my first post but I've got to say this is a great site and community.  I'm in the medical field and the I use an 11 gauge scalpel.  Usually dip it in olive oil first.  I really makes a great slash.

kevroy's picture
kevroy

I have docked tens of thousands of loaves (I'm not kidding) with single edged razors in a holder from the hardware store, the kind with a wooden handle, and usually used for wall paper hanging. Of course, an olive oil dipped scalpel sounds positively unbeatable.

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

I've tried a scalpel (I use them in my work) but it didn't work any better than the lame I bought from a bakers supplier - the sort with a plastic handle and plastic removable cover. The lame is curved and I always drag the dough. It works - but takes several attempts, each going a bit deeper. Am I just being too cautious? I worry that if I really go for it viciously and quickly, the dough will collapse.Best ever slash was with a serated bread knife, but I try not to keep using that 'cos I want to do it "properly" ! -  like the big boys do!!!Incidentally, how do you slash the bread at all, when it is in a red hot Le Creuset pot??? All advice welcome - I don't want severley burned wrists!
Andrew

jm_chng's picture
jm_chng

Yes you can do it too hard and deflate your dough. If the dough is very well proofed it is very easy to deflate. Don't worry about it if you dough is well proofed slashing isn't so important. You'll get used to it. Slash deep if it is not so well proofed and so on. 

Jim

grepstar's picture
grepstar

I'm horrible at scoring, but occasionally I get a good one in and it seems that if I do it quick and confidently, like pulling off a bandage, it turns out best. That being said, I'm often second-guessing myself and go too slowly and get a jagged cut.

I've been in search of double-edged razors, but the local hardware store didn't have any. Am I just at the wrong hardware store or should I be looking at a different type of store? 

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

grepstar - try the drugstore for the double-edge razors, like the old fashioned ones used for men's shaving. I had a hard time finding them in supermarkets, I guess everyone uses those plastic twin blades now.

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

Is it possible to sharpen up and use the old cut-throat razors?? I've had an elderly relative die (aged 94) and in the house were a couple of these - blunt. But they look potentially lethal .... and have a wonderful handle!
How do I sharpen them??!!
Andrew

Jeffrey's picture
Jeffrey

Any peice of heavy leather would work.  Run it backwards, just like in the movies.  Need i tell you how many times i cut my fingures learning to sharpen knives.  Necer mind, i lost count any ways.

 

That sounds like a good tool for slashing though.

sourdough_guy's picture
sourdough_guy

Just realized that your post was over a year old but this still applies


Andrew,


2 or 3 years ago, straight razors became a big hobby of mine.  It took me several weeks of trial and error to sharpen a razor until it was shaving sharp.  I needed more than one very high grit sharpening stone to do this. After sharpening I used a very high quality strop made specifically for straight razors.  The correct technique for sharpening or stropping a razor takes many hours of practice.  Sharpening a razor incorrectly on a stone, or using the wrong grit stone, can ruin the razor forever without a lot of effort.  Using incorrect technique on a strop will either slice through the strop or ruin the razors edge.  There are shaving forums online with hundreds or thousands of posts dedicated to the art of sharpening a razor.  It is not something you can quickly learn, and then go use the razor to slash bread.  You have to spend a long time, reading, practicing, and shaving with straight razors before you become proficient enough to use them.


Vintage straight razors in good condition can sell for a lot of money on a shaving forum.  Pretty much any razor can be restored to usable condition.  Try finding out what your razors are worth, or better yet you can use them.  It would be a shame if they went to waste otherwise.


 


 


 


  

T4tigger's picture
T4tigger

I was able to find double-sided razor blades at our local grocery store right next to the other razors.  I think Wal-Mart also sells them.

beanfromex's picture
beanfromex

A smaller version of these razors, which I happen to have had on hand and tried were the razors that fit into the tool you woudls use for a pedicure.

These tools are used for removing the rind of hard skin from the heel.

The razors are about half the size of the type that my father used, and easily found.

I oiled the blade and it worked well. I imagine any beauty supply store would carry them. Here in the anchor store in the mall, there is a small "beauty" area with loofahs, etc etc, that is where I found mine.

gloria mielke's picture
gloria mielke

Excellent tools

Hi all:  I have read the dilema about the slashing tools.  Melody, you can get the scalpel from Drs. Foster and Smith, A Pet Supply Store on the Internet.

A use a wonderful double edge razor blade with a handle from the San Fransisco Baking Institute.   The handle threads through the razor blade.   Look on the Internet and get the phone number.  You have to call on the phone but the website is SFBI.com.  It works really well.

Hoyden's picture
Hoyden

Scalpels are usually available at university bookstores or teaching supply houses.  Ask for the dissection tools for the biology classes.  They are quite cheap and of course, the blades are replaceable.


There's version of scalpel with a flimsier plastic handle, but still a replaceable blade in the sewing notions sections of most craft stores.  It is wickedly sharp.


I got a lame from KA and it was disappointing.  The handle is very, very short and it has no heft.  I get a much better slash with my long serrated knife. The weight and the length of the blade add to 'the courage of my convictions'.  It makes a clean cut that is just deep enough. So why is it less desirable to use a knife?


I think the callous remover blades are worth a try too, they're just as sharp as scalpel or lame blades.

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

I use a scalpel.  They can be ordered from here:


 


http://www.widgetsupply.com/miva/merchant.mvc?


 


The #24 blades require the Large End 5.25 inch handle...,


 


Wild-Yeast



 


 

Hoyden's picture
Hoyden

Oh dear, that is a dangerous website!  All kinds of tempting gizmos.

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Yes, that is an interesting site with lots of nifty gizmos, from tick removing tweezers to gold pans. 


I haven't quite figured out under what "hobby" you'd find a surgical scalpel. 

Hoyden's picture
Hoyden

They're under the 'knives' section.  There's a search box - put scalpel in it and it will take you right to them.  


 


Their navigation could use some refinement.  LOL gold pans.