The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

A better Lame?

PeteS's picture
PeteS

A better Lame?

A bit of background.

I started doing some sourdough baking several years ago when I acquired a sourdough starter. As a new baker who knew virtually nothing about making bread, I scoured the internet for information.

My searches kept coming up to The Fresh Loaf.  What a find.  What a wealth of information.  And more importantly, what a great community of people who wanted nothing more than to help others and to share their experience and knowledge.  Thank you all.

I learned a lot.  My bread improved.  I am still a fairly poor bread maker as my bread is hit and miss.  But without this site, it would be mostly miss.

Let me get to my point.

As a new baker, I had to start collecting some tools.  Not many as I am good at improvising.  I had an old bread maker so I used that as a starting point for mixing dough.  I had a dutch oven from my sons boy scout days..  I had a thermapen that I use in beer brewing.  I bought a bench scraper, a digital scale, a lame and some proofing baskets.

I was happy with everything except the Lame.  While I understand that a Lame is not a critical piece to good bread, I could not understand why those on the market were so poorly designed.  After all, it is not a complicated device.  But, the one I bought had one serious flaw.  The blade kept slipping off.  And I soon realized that most on the market had the same design flaw..

So, Long story Long :), I designed my own.  My criteria were these:

Stainless Steel

Secure and easily changeable blade

Decent storage case.

 

I made some drawings and a prototype.  I found a stainless cutlery manufacture that would work with me and after the better part of a year, I now have a lame that I feel is superior.

I hope no one is offended by me posting this.  I am just a guy who thought I could design a better lame.  If it sells, Great.  If it doesn't, that's ok too as I am comfortably entering retirement.  This would be extra golf and beer money.

I will include a couple of pictures of the product and would appreciate any comments and critiques of the product.

Additionally, it is up on Amazon if you care to take a look.  Search Bread Lame Seville and it should come right up.

Again thanks to Floyd for running this site and to all who contribute.

 

Pete

 

 

kendalm's picture
kendalm

- the slipping blade.  i use a wooden chopstick for a handle and that seems to work well. There are many complaints about lames but this looks great - congrats on a real nice smart product !

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Hey Pete. I have always admired innovation. I like the clean design and I expect to get it August 1. My only concern, is the inability to change the curvature of the blade. But that may be a non-issue.

Btw- you’ve managed to keep the price very affordable. Thanks...

I hope you continue to innovate!

Danny

 

PeteS's picture
PeteS

Thanks Danny.  Yes,the curvature is not really adjustable as the stainless is pretty thick.  I looked at various lames and looked for information to determine the ideal radius.  Ultimately, I just chose something in the middle..

I would appreciate your thoughts once you get it in hand.

Thanks again,

Pete

 

 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Will do, Pete.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Although I haven’t had a chance to try the lame yet, here is my initial observation.

Amazon shipping was quick. It was nicely packaged. The lame storage container seems well thought out. The workmanship of the lamb, with one exception, is very good. The lame seems a little heavy, but I don’t expect a problem with that. The curvature of the blade support is a little shallow for me, but if after testing I want more curvature, an adjustment seems doable. It is sturdy and well built.

But I noticed a quality control issue with the angle of the threads where the thumb screw attaches. It is not drilled 90 degrees to the support. The off angle causes the blade to be tight on 1 of the blade sides and loose on the other side. See image below.

Sorry Pete, I tried to address the crooked threads via a Personal Message, but you didn’t provide an email address for your profile.

Danny

PeteS's picture
PeteS

Dan.  Thanks for purchasing and thanks for reviewing.  I thought I had an email reply set up but I will double check.  Regardless, I am happy for the public response.

I have done quality checking on a lot (several hundred) of these as it was my first order.  I was extremely pleased with what I saw.  I was happy with the workmanship.

That said, I did see some of what you pointed out.  What percentage?  Not really sure.  I will say that what you received is not an anomaly as I saw a number of them "not drilled 90 degrees to the support.".  Many are flat and look perfect, and some have an off angle.

Now, I am going to give you my honest observation.  I took two lames, one that looked perfect and one that had an "off angle" like the one you have.  

I basically closed my eyes and put upward pressure on the underside of the blade.  I did it with both lames, and both sides. 

Without looking, I could not tell the difference in how the blade "flexed" or felt.  And I applied much more pressure than one would see while scoring dough. Also, the area of the blade that is typically used for scoring is the furthest point from the screw and it (at least to me)  is more than adequately secure and stiff to score dough.

I honestly believe that in the application of dough scoring, the pressure is so minimal that the stiffness of the blade is more than adequate to keep the blade from moving whether it is  the "tight side" or the "lose side".   

I would like your honest opinion on that.  Also, Floyd, please feel free to chime in.

Dan, if I sound defensive, it is not my intention.  Nor do I feel that way.  In fact, I find your observation to be fair.  I am giving you my honest assessment as to why I believe the issue to be more aesthetic than functional.

Just my humble opinion.

Thanks again,

Pete

petes999@gmail.com

 

 

 

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Pete, have you thought of including a small plastic washer that is cone shaped ( narrow end on top ) with an opening larger than the screw? That might allow it to flex and put uniform pressure on the blade, even if the thumbscrew, or the threads, are not exactly right. 

PeteS's picture
PeteS

Thanks for the input Barry,

I sincerely do not feel that an additional washer would add anything to the functionality as I feel that there is already sufficient pressure on the blade (even in those where the screw does not flatten against the base) for the intended application. 

As I mentioned in another post, the leading (primary)  scoring edge is the farthest point from the screw and I don't see an issue there.  Danny, care to chime in?  I value your opinion.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Pete, I checked and you are now setup for Private Messages. Maybe Floyd had to set it up.

Danny

Thanks Floyd for the image and reply.

PeteS's picture
PeteS

Thanks, Good to know

 

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Mine appears to be flat.

Haven't had a chance to try it yet, nor thought deeply about whether a tilt/crooked threading would cause scoring problems.  

PeteS's picture
PeteS

After contemplating your post, I decided to do a closer quality check on my product.

Rather than doing spot checking, I have decided to open and personally inspect ever single piece to insure that buyers will only receive product that is perfect.  

Luckily, there is only a small number that do not meet the highest quality standards. These will be removed from stock and not sent as inventory to Amazon.

I appreciate the input and the community support.

 

Thanks again,

Pete

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Pete sent me a sample, which I just received. I can testify that it has a nice weight to it, feels great in the hand, and, yeah, appears like it should solve any slipping blade issues.

My scoring is abysmal. I'm not sure it'll make any difference in that, but I'm looking forward to trying it soon.

Amazon link is here.

PeteS's picture
PeteS

Thanks Floyd.  And I appreciate the link.  I didnt want to overstep my bounds.

Thanks again,

Pete

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

See my reply above. I’d like to know if the angled threads is an idividual flaw or if the entire batch was made this way.

Dan

Portus's picture
Portus

When baking, flour absorbs the natural oils in my hands.  As a result implements have the knack of sometimes slipping from my fingers/palms.  So whilst the lame is most attractive and has some innovative features, my preference would be for a knurled handle.  Perhaps I suffer tactile deficiency :-)

PeteS's picture
PeteS

Portus, I hear you.  I appreciate your input.  I did look at various handle options in the design phase, including a dimpled handle.  Ultimately, I decided to go with the smooth one.  I appreciate any and all suggestions and will keep them in mind for future design mods.

Again, I very much appreciate your input.

 

Pete

 

Beatrice's picture
Beatrice

Hi Pete, I was just searching for a good scoring lame and popped into your post! Do you ship your lame to Italy? I am very interested :) 

Thanks a lot for your fondness and passion!

PeteS's picture
PeteS

Thanks for the note Beatrice.  I have done some quick checking and the shipping looks to be prohibitive.

I will keep it in mind though.  Again, thanks for your note.  Made my day.

- Pete

Howard Wong's picture
Howard Wong

The design looks fantastic. Hopefully shipping to HK will be available in the future. The most basic Amazon shipping to HK is usually quite affordable but again i do not know the cost to the seller.

tgrayson's picture
tgrayson

Looks nice. I would probably buy it for the storage case alone. :-) I keep my lame in a plastic bag solely so that I don't cut myself when reaching into the drawer. It's not a very robust solution.

Thanks for making an improvement in the world.

Old Baker's picture
Old Baker

But the ultimate effectiveness of a lame is in the blade and the ability of the user, not a fancy handle.  I use a double edge blade fitted onto the handle of a small model maker's brush.  Works just fine at a cost of about $0.20 per blade and I can turn it four ways.  The handle was in my junk box.

PeteS's picture
PeteS

I am with you.  I believe that the key to good scoring is not in the handle at all. I believe that a sharp blade in the hands of someone that knows what they are doing will yield the best results.

That said, there are lots of people who do buy lames.  And the lames on the market are, in my humble opinion, poorly designed.  I just set out to build a better "mousetrap" for those that are inclined to buy a pre-made tool.

At a minimum, I can say with confidence that the blade will not slip off while scoring :)

 

Thanks for the input.

Pete

 

Old Baker's picture
Old Baker

I hope you didn't take my comment as being negative.  It wasn't intended to be.  I hope you sell a million. :-)

PeteS's picture
PeteS

I think you were spot on.  Its not the paintbrush, its the painter.  

gillpugh's picture
gillpugh

I know it's the blade that's important, but boy, isn't it nice to have a lovely lame in your hand when you score.

alfanso's picture
alfanso

I agree with folks who wish to own a really elegant lame holder, as this one certainly is.  And with Peter's ingenuity.  However, for me the tool and the facility involved in using a tool takes precedence.

Below are two photos of the lame holder that I have used since Day 1.  I found an old file in the toolbox that I covered in masking tape and then bent about a 1/2 inch of the tip of the business end ever so slightly to provide for a safe and secure hold on the blade while giving it a slightly greater C-curve.  To date the blade has never come loose from the holder and the tool has never even slightly slipped in my fingers.

Kudos to Peter and his design and sourcing skills, but I'll stick with mine for the foreseeable future.

PeteS's picture
PeteS

Probably better back stories also.  I like it.

Thanks for sharing.

Pete

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

Alfonso, your lame looks like it moonlights as a prison shank on the weekends.

Robin Dobbie's picture
Robin Dobbie

Oh come on it's more attractive than a shank.

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

:)

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

Just in case you shank the wrong dude. Just erase it, and shank again. 

alfanso's picture
alfanso

he said that he did 5 to 10 in Leavenworth.  Found out later that it was the 5 and 10 at Woolworth  ;-) .  (If I have to explain it, then you're too young).

Pete's creation is lovely.  But a tool is only as good as the hand that holds it.  Most folks around these parts say that I can score pretty well using it.  To some it may be a nasty little thing, can't argue much with that. But when I hold it and use it, it turns into a thing of beauty.  

I may give it a name like The Saw Shank Retention.  Maybe not...

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

"The Saw Shank Retention"

That is quite lame.

Robin Dobbie's picture
Robin Dobbie

That's the first lame I've seen that looks like it does not suck.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I think the traditional curve of the blade is not so important and is a side effect of mounting (bending) straight razor blades on a straight stick.  The bent blade doing more to hold it onto the stick than create a cutting curve.

Think about it and look at your own.   The only part of the blade that cuts the dough is the tip or corner.  The length of the blade is seldom used if at all and in looking at a curved blade, the corners are pretty straight, the curve being in the middle section of the blade that's seldom used.   So it is most important to have a tool that exposes the corner or tip of the blade than to have one that curves.   :)

I just wish I could order one without doubling the price with postage here in Europe.  I could have one sent to Mom in the states but she might unwrap it and misinterpret my intentions.  Dad just turned 93 and She's coming up on 90 years.  Bless them both, they still have their wits and take good care of themselves but, ya, could be weird.  I would have to transport it without the blades. 

alfanso's picture
alfanso

of differing nature giving their rationale for curved vs. straight blades.

https://blog.kingarthurflour.com/2017/08/04/scoring-bread-dough/

albacore's picture
albacore

I have thought about this myself and you have summed it up pretty well.

I also have other thoughts about lames:

  • Are razor blades really that sharp? When I sharpen a kitchen knife with a steel, I check the sharpness by lightly dropping the blade onto my thumbnail - a sharp blade will produce a slight notch effect. I never get that with razor blades. After all, razors are designed to cut stubble on your face - isn't this a different angle of cut?
  • Is a razor blade the best shape to cut dough? I would have thought it better to have a curve coming up to the corner, and maybe have the corner at an angle slightly greater that 90 deg, plus a small follow through section of blade after the corner.
  • Or how about a motorised blade? - a small, battery powered circular or reciprocating blade?

Lance

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Lance,  like a hook shaped carpet knife?  They are very sharp but hard to sharpen when dull.  Might give longer life - worth a test.  Not as cheap as double sided razor blades.  

I do have a sickle, just the thought of using it conjures thoughts of overkill.  

Got a circular scissors in the sewing stuff, hmmm, haven't tried it on dough, it cuts more with pressing than a slicing motion.  I tend to use a pizza cutter or bench scraper for those kind of cuts.  Blades are not cheap.

Now thinking about shark teeth, they rotate in to replace.  Bamboo wood has a sharp edge, sharpen by removing or peeling off a tiny part of the edge.  Sea shells, using the edge, clams - they have history!

Razor blades are sharp but thin, and that is why they wear out fast.  They grab my fingernail when I test them lightly but to make a ridge in the nail, one might have to use enough pressure to cut into the nail.  Careful not to slip off and take a finger tip.

Reminds me my knives need sharpening.  I have a few stones, a steel, and a porcelain pipe for a finishing fine edge.  

albacore's picture
albacore

No, I was thinking of the curve the other way. something like this:

But with more of a point and a longer blade section after the point

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

handle.  ???

albacore's picture
albacore

Just need someone to produce some prototypes of the new age lame blade design.

I won't be buying any #27 blades, that's for sure. They have the gruesome title of taxidermist's skinning blade and cost 36 usd a box.

However I have an old 6" Sabatier kitchen knife in the garage - maybe cut the blade short at 100 deg, grind and hone that edge? Another project coming on!

Lance

alfanso's picture
alfanso

in virtually all tools.  But there also has to be a reason why professional bakers have maintained their relationship with razor blades, curved and straight, for probably 100 years.  If there were other obvious solutions even the recalcitrants out there would eventually move away from their traditional tools.

I mentioned above that a tool is only as good as the hand that holds it.  My dinky little "shank" offers me four unique tips per blade.  On each of those corners I will get somewhere around 70-80 or more separate scores.  Therefore a single razor yields somewhere in the vicinity of as much as 300-400 scores per blade.  If the dough contains fruit, seeds or nuts then the yield drops a little.

The only other blade I use, which is a recent entry into my baking toolkit, is a ceramic knife which I began to employ when mimicking Abel's "Ziggy" scoring pattern, which he posted on TFL a mere few months ago..

In summary, there is no harm, and perhaps a lot of good, to ponder and think up potential improvements.  But I wonder if you are looking to solve a problem that really doesn't exist.  

Until that something comes around though, I'll keep my solution in tow as she's a cheap date, treats me well, and doesn't ask much from me.  After all, we two have a relationship that has lasted for years now and I'd be hard pressed to cast her aside after all the good times we've shared together ;-) .

alan

albacore's picture
albacore

I agree with all you say, Alan. I think the key is that razor blades are very cheap, available, and long lasting (though I do think the edges dull when the blades are idle for a week, as in amateur use).

However, that doesn't stop my over-active mind speculating on what might be a better shape - and maybe even building a prototype!

I also don't find razor blades that great for warm, high hydration, long proved dough (and I don't think that is entirely my bad technique), so I think there is room for improvement.

Lance

not.a.crumb.left's picture
not.a.crumb.left

and looks like everybody is coming out of the closet with their lames! So funny.....

I think it is just a matter of finding what works for oneself....

I have to say that after using a number of self-made and bought lames I always go back to just using the 'razor' pure...especially when judging the angle etc. etc....

It just seems to give me the most control and I am intrigued what Mini Oven said about the curvature as there always was a doubt in my mind but with recent results it seems to be not as much as an issue...

Happy Slashing everybody! :D Kat

 

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

PeteS, are those your hands in the photo? or, did you hire a hand model for the photo shoot?

I am not a photographer or anything, but... I have had the hassle of trying to produce clear images like those... and I am chuckling thinking of how annoying it must have been to get those photos just right. Lots of adjustments of camera angles, lighting, tilting the lame this way and that. It was probably a pretty humorous event. And... if you had to spend time finding a hand model to hire... that would really make the whole thing quite hilarious.

Or... the photos were easy for you, and I am only one who would have taken 4 hours to perfect those 4 photos.

PeteS's picture
PeteS

Bakerdad,  I had to laugh at the thought of a hand model. (made me think of a Seinfeld episode).

Actually, the pic with the hand was shot at home (as were all the pictures) with and older SLR camera.  The actual photo shoot probably took 10 minutes.  

Hands are  attached to my wife.  Quite possibly she may have an additional career path to investigate.Also, she is the photoshopper.  So, not sure how much time she spent tweaking, but i liked the results.

But, I am open to "professional" hands.  If someone would like to audition, please send some proofs.  I would pay top dollar (and I do mean DOLLAR).

 

Thanks for the laugh.  

Pete

PeteS's picture
PeteS

What a fun community.  The string of posts has been well worth the read.This really is a helpful, knowledgeable and witty community.

One has to appreciate when a discussion of a scoring tool can degrade into a prison shank thread (Saw Shank Retention? - priceless). Or take a sidetrack to hand models.  

My personal favorite is "That's the first lame I've seen that looks like it does not suck."

    High praise Robin.  Thank you. Can I use that in my marketing material? 

 

Again, thanks to all for keeping this fun, lighthearted and amusing.  Far better than a lame discussion (intended)

 

-pete