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Picture of Soap carving for casting
How to carve a bar of soap into a smaller soap shape. Discussion of various tools that can be used for this purpose. A little silliness - the carving I made is a kind of slug thing - I'm going to cast it in plastic and glue one googly eye to the upturning end. See the flat part?
 
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Step 1: Outline the basic shape

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Draw a side elevation of the shape you'll carve on the side of the soap. Starting with 2-D on one side of the block is a good way to start thinking in 3-D.

Step 2: Carve out the basic shape

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I started doing this carving with a Dremel tool, but quickly found that a knife worked much better for the coarse work. Ivory soap at least is quite soft and carves easily. I tried a cutting blade and a grinding disk. The grinding disk is more effective than the cutting blade but both are slower than knife.

Step 3: Do the fine carving

For smoothing out the edges, the Dremel works better than a knife, especially a serrated one. Try several different grinding bits depending on the shape you're working with.

Step 4: It's soap, wash it.

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For a final smoothing, soap as a medium has this great advantage that it dissolves in water. I didn't want to put it under the tap at first, but really, soap doesn't go away all at once. You do have to rub at it. A wet finger isn't enough - dunk that baby.

I could have gotten this smoother if I'd put more effort into it, but I decided it was Fine. SO my slug will be a bit lumpy... that's OK.