The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Curve of Lame

David R's picture
David R

Curve of Lame

Many lames hold a disposable razor blade in a curved shape. Is there a baking purpose to that curve? Or is the curve merely an artifact of the way the holder works?

I'm asking because holders for disposable blades are already made (intended for actual shaving), but they hold the blade straight.

gary.turner's picture
gary.turner

There are loosely two ways to score a loaf. You may cut pretty much straight down and get an almost even spread from the cut as the loaf springs. These cuts are uninteresting and most bakers prefer to have the loaf 'grin' back at you.

The other way is to cut at a shallow angle under the skin. Doing it this way causes the spread to appear on one side only, leaving a flap of crust on the other side. A second feature of this cut is that  a bit of the loaf is shielded by the flap from  the heat, so remains soft as the loaf springs.

The problem is that to cut the flap with a straight blade means the handle of the lame is at the same angle and you may end up dragging your knuckles across the dough. Bend the blade, and you raise the handle enough that your knuckles are clear.

gary

pmccool's picture
pmccool

messing up the loaves!  😁

Paul

gary.turner's picture
gary.turner

wrong with knuckle draggers. :rolleyes:

g

David R's picture
David R

...is that the curved blade serves no purpose except to compensate for a lack of handle design. This makes sense to me, if I follow my hunch that lame handles are only straight because of a design flaw - not poor design, just no design at all. A stick.

 

If you had a handle that was more or less in the shape of a J, and the blade holder was on the short arm of the J, then the blade could be installed straight & stable, and I'm guessing the tool would be easier to use. (You'd only have access to one edge or corner at a time, meaning when one part doesn't cut well anymore you'd have to take the blade out and flip it over, but to me that seems easy.)

 

Tradition says that a lame holder is nothing but a stick; I think that in this case tradition is assuming a virtue or benefit where really there's just a haphazard and poorly thought out improvisation.

gary.turner's picture
gary.turner

When double sided safety razor blades got popular (Gillette gave razors and blades at low or no cost to the USAEF in WWI to be included in millions of ration kits), they were tempered mild steel. Their thinness made the safety razor popular, but that meant it needed support. Mounting on a flat stick with a curve made the blade not flex so much in use. The curve also made controlling the scoring cuts surer.

Bad, or no, design? I think the curved blade aids the handle's purpose. Curving the handle  might reduce the baker's fine control by placing itself off the line of the cut.

David R's picture
David R

... that I must not have been clear in my description. I'm not talking about curving the handle in the way I think you think I mean it. 🙂

 

The effect I'm getting at would be the same as with the offset bread knives I'm sure you've seen.

 

Yes, bakers might or might not end up changing the way they hold a lame, but not losing any accuracy or sensitivity. Probably gaining accuracy in fact, by not having to compensate for the unreliable curve of the blade on the primitive model.

Just realized - my idea is a bit like the old-fashioned historic Japanese razor, in terms of the broad general outline.

 

Russ's picture
Russ

Do you mean similar to this lame?

https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00G9FEUR4/ref=oh_aui_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

Either way, I would argue (and I think Gary is also saying) that the curve of the razor also serves to put tension on the blade, which helps to add stiffness to it so it doesn't bend when you use it to score.

David R's picture
David R

... is curved too, and very lacking in support for the blade. More like this shape ...

Japanese(ish) style razor

... but with a secure clamp to hold a disposable blade, instead of the integral blade in the picture.

My point is to have the handle very far "off centre", so that there's lots of finger clearance when using it, and to have the blade securely clamped straight and square, instead of slipped on in a loose curved configuration.

Russ's picture
Russ

I think I've found your lame.

https://www.maggardrazors.com/product/cjb-wh100b-kamisori-style-shavette-uses-feather-artist-club-blades/

Personally I don't think I'd like it as much as mine, but I hope it's what you want and that you like it.

David R's picture
David R

... but force yourself to use straight lines and square corners only.

There, you've drawn my lame.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

a bent handle?

How are lames being held?  What is the action?  How many alternative ways can it be held?  What motion puts less strain on the finger, hand and elbow musculature and ligaments?  Blisters? Left vs right handed?

I want a lazer lame that hums like a Star Wars light saber.   A needle thin blade that can't break off.

David R's picture
David R

... already needle-thin, and if it's clamped securely (instead of threaded on like fish bait 🙂) it's not going to break off. See - you like my idea! 😁 (I'm not claiming you actually do, just wishful thinking)