The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

bread slicers?

bobm1's picture

bread slicers?

Hi all. does anyone know of a manual slicer for whole loaves?

baltochef's picture

If you are asking about a manual, hand-powered, multi-blade bread slicer than I do not think one has ever been invented, or marketed..

The only manual, hand-powered, single-blade bread slicers that I am familiar with come as standard equipment on every human being on the planet..They are, of course, a pair of hands and arms wielding a serrated bread knife!!!!..

There are antique hand-cranked meat slicers that are available refurbished and ready to use..The most famous of these is the Berkel, a company from Italy that still markets electric slicers and other kitchen equipment, some of which I have experience with..

There were hand-cranked bread & meat slicers produced and marketed before & after the advent of electricity, but every picture of one on the net that I have seen shows these tools to be far more simplistic than the Berkel meat slicers..

The first electric multi-blade bread slicing machines trace their history back to the first quarter of the 20th Century..A prototype machine, invented by a Mr. Frederick Rohwedder of Davenport, Iowa was destoyed in a fire in 1912..His first fully working machine was sold to the Chillicothe Baking Company, of Chillicothe, Missouri where it was first used on July 7, 1928..

Wonder Bread, baked and marketed by the Continental Baking Company was the first sliced bread to be sold nationwide, starting in 1930..


Janknitz's picture

to remember going into a store, selecting a loaf from a glass case (like they sell meat and deli nowadays) and asking the person behind the counter to slice it.  The bread would then be put into a multislicer machine and sliced.  I was very litte--around 5 years old (early 60's)--last time I remember seeing that! 

So does anybody have suggestions for getting nice, even, uniform slices at home???   I'm always at an angle vertically if not horizontally--lousy eye-hand coordination.  Very frustrating.  I used to have one of those "bow knives" that had the wooden guide attached to a serrated blade and I STILL had problems. 




xaipete's picture
baltochef's picture

How many members here at TFL regularly replace their serrated knives with a new one??..Very few, I would bet..

And therein lies the greatest impediment to obtaining straight, even, vertical slices of bread..DULL SERRATED KNIVES!!!..To be absolutely blunt, most cooks, and the vast majority of chefs that I know, have serrated knives that are as dull as dirt!!!!..

Most of the chefs that I have worked with think I am crazy because I replace the serrated knives in my toolbox AT LEAST every other year, sometimes, usually, every year..

I do this because it is a cast irn pain-in-the-butt to PROPERLY sharpen a serrated knife outside of the factory where it is manufactured..There are only a handful of knife sharpening services in the USA that have invested in the extremely expensive grinding machinery that is required to properly sharpen the flutes on a serrated knife..

If one is proficient at sharpening regular blades, as I am, then that person can do a so-so job of sharpening the flutes of a serrated knife with a 1/4" to 1/2" diameter diamond or carborundum hand held stone such as are sold for sharpening wood working gouges..The problem, as any person proficient in sharpening knows, is maintaining the same angle between the edge of the blade and the sharpening tool down the entire length of the knife blade..If the sharpened angle changes between one flute in the knife blade to the next, then the blade drags and tears as opposed to cleanly cutting..I have an old diamond sharpening steel that I carry around with me to sometimes use to do a rough, quickie hone on a serrated knife that is too dull for the task at hand..End result of my experienced efforts??..A sharper serrated knife than when I started sharpening it, but NOWHERE near as sharp as a factory new knife..

All of the drag-through and electric sharpening gadgets that I have used to try and sharpen a serrated knife do nothing but ultimately ruin the knife's edge..There are usually some short term gains in sharpness, that are offset by a long term breakdown of the blade..

To properly sharpen a serrated knife the blade must be clamped down solidly so that the entire length of the blade is well supported while the sharpening is attempted..The problem with serrated knives is that they are narrow from the back of the blade to the edge, leaving little room to work with once the blade is clamped down..Thus it makes the entire process very awkward, with one's fingers often getting in the way of the shappening tool..

All these factors, along with a general "I simply don't give a damn" attitude towards serrated knives, makes the vast majority of them in peoples homes pretty dull..Paraphrasing from Rodney Dangerfield, "Serrated Knives Don't Get No Respect!!!!"

Since 1995 I have purchased 3 Ludwig-Schiff 7" offset serrated knives, and 4 Ludwig-Schiff 10" offset serrated knives..

A properly sharp serrated knife should cut through most bread crusts with only light downwards pressure..The blade should SAW through the crust and crumb, not SLICE through them..Hard crusty breads, such as this website is dedicated to, should only require at the most medium downwards force in order to start sawing through the crust..

If your blades require a lot of force in order to slice artisan breads, than the SERRATIONS ARE DULL!!!..You should get your knife sharpened by a competant sharpening service that will individually sharpen the flutes, not just grind away the back of the blade or the edge of the blade like most services do..Or, replace the knife every year, or so, with a new one..

It ranges from EXTREMELY DIFFICULT TO IMPOSSIBLE to make straight, vertical cuts in bread with a dull serrated knife..Experience and skill will only take you so far if the serrated knife is dull..

Sorry!!..Lecture and rant over!!..

As this post will indicate, I am passionate about sharp serrated knives..In all my years as a chef, I have only met a couple of other chefs that treated their serrated knives the way I do..Most carry around dull as dirt serrated knives..The hallmark of a good chef is skill using the proper tools and techniques..If the non-serrated knives in one's kit are kept razor sharp, then should not the serrated knives also be kept as sharp as possible in order to cut properly???..The same principles are just as important to the home cook as they are to the professional chef..


xaipete's picture

All of the drag-through and electric sharpening gadgets that I have used to try and sharpen a serrated knife do nothing but ultimately ruin the knife's edge..There are usually some short term gains in sharpness, that are offset by a long term breakdown of the blade.

I throw my bread knife away (not literally) and get a new one every couple of years. I figure $20 for a new knife to cut my carefully crafted creations is not an excessive expense.


Soundman's picture

on Ebay. The slices come out as close to uniform as I could want, and much more consistent than with a knife.


althetrainer's picture

I did a search online and sure enough there's one currently up for auction starting at $4.50.  But shipping cost an arm and a leg, depends on where you live.  If you're interested, check in then do a keyword search "Might food slicer" and you should see it. 

AllenCohn's picture

Cook's Illustrated did a recent review of bread knives.

Also...this is probably old news to everyone here...but electric knives do a fabulous job of slicing bread. (Again, see CI for reviews.)

San Francisco

bobm1's picture

bruce, your an encyclopedic animal! history lessons, however verbos, are always welcome by the craftsperson;). i thought i had seen such a contraption while searching for a million other things, a multi bladed frame set to a box framework with pivoting hardware that allowed the user to 'saw' through a loaf. maybe it was a dream. maybe i could make one and retire in the south of france!

i do remember going to the local bakery with my mom and having a loaf sliced in a small countertop machine as janknitz described. ( born in the early 50's ) Where did those machines go. i'd like to find a used one. probably couldn't find blade for it if i did. and speaking as a Very eperienced hand tool man who knows the value of an edge, sharpening said blades or any serrated blade myself would be lunacy.

my dad once puchased a bread knive called the crumbless cutter. very small alternating teeth. did an amazing job. many years later he managed to find a replacement but i've not been as fortunate. gonna check ebay. i'll hollar (sp) back if i find anything interesting. and thanks all for the tutilage!


nguy78's picture

It's really not that hard to sharpen a serrated knife, most are ground on only one side and the other is left flat.  Just use a bench stone and lay the blade flat side down making a couple of passes should be all that it takes.  It's gotta cut bread not perform surgery.

Ambimom's picture

Has anyone tried the Lakeland EvenSlice?  Is it sold in the US anywhere?  I bought something similar on QVC several years ago.  It came with a pretty good bread knife but it was glued together and eventually fell apart.  QVC doesn't sell it anymore.  It really DID slice bread evenly and this Lakeland EvenSlice is very close to the one I had.

Janknitz's picture

Since you seem to have to hold the bread up with your other hand to get the right pressure.  I don't think that would work well for me. 

I ended up with this which I got at a thrift store for a few dollars: 

The slices are a bit thick, so I end up using just the slot at the end and pushing the loaf up so that it's not quite so thick a cut.  With practice I'm getting pretty good at it. 

It's a bit bulky to store.  I could hang it on the wall, but I don't.  I stand it up on the end of my bread cutting board (it has a crumb tray) and I stick my plastic scraper in the slots so I can always find the scraper when I need it. 

If I ever give up bread baking, I'll put thin pieces of wood between the slots and use it as a DVD storage device (LOL!). 

Ambimom's picture

That looks like a solution that might work for me.  Now all I have to do is find one.  I've seen the Norpro one but it looks so flimsy.  The one you have looks sturdier.  Thanks for showing it to me.

kenkneeb's picture
kenkneeb (not verified)
Earl's picture

I use a Fiddle Bow Bread Knife. Works great!


Link to what they look like:

blahone's picture

This store has hand made in the USA slicing guides in regular, thick, or thin cut styles. I really love mine.