Introduction: Cheese Slicer

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Show off your woodworking skills by making a stylish cheese slicer, it's a great beginner woodworking project with big results. Making your own is easy, and it's an expressive project that makes a great gift.

I'll show you how to make your own basic cheese slicer which you can then customize to make in any size, and with just about any wood you have on hand. Once you make one you'll have the supplies and the knowledge to make a few more for different types of cheese, or to give away to your friends this holiday season.

Ready to cut the cheese? Let's make!

Step 1: Materials + Supplies

I used hardwood for my cheese slicer, my local wood supplier has a scrap bin of small off-cuts of all kinds of woods (some exotic) that are inexpensive. I made a few cheese slicers, so you'll see a combination of maple, purple heart, walnut, and zebrawood in these photos.

The remaining hardware for the cheese slicer was found at my local hardware store.

  • Brass tube: 6mm diameter with 0.45mm wall thickness
  • Wire: 0.015" music wire
  • Brass strip: 1/2" strip 0.09" thick

Step 2: Cut Wood Blank + Brass Plate

I started by cutting the wood blank to roughly 2" tall by 3" wide. The blank was milled to match the thickness of the brass plate, which was 1/2" thick.

The brass plates will be placed on either side of the wood blank, and each brass plate is cut roughly 1/2" longer to create 'legs' hanging past the wood plank. These legs will hold the brass roller and cutting wire. Since my blanks were 2" tall, the brass plates were 2.5" each. Don't worry about accuracy here as we will clean up the brass edges in another step.

I then marked two points on the brass where openings will be drilled to attach them to the wood.

Step 3: Drill Brass Plates

I drilled a small pilot hole in each brass strip at the marks indicated, then enlarged the opening with a larger bit. Lastly I countersunk the openings so that the screw heads would sit flush when installed.

I also too the time to drill an additional opening into the brass leg extensions, these openings will be threaded later and hold the roller in place.

Step 4: Transfer Openings to Wood

Holding the drilled brass sides to the wood blank I transferred the opening locations and drilled pilot holes into the wood.

Brass wood screws were carefully screwed into the plates to connect them to the wood, ensuring the heads were seated in the countersunk openings and flush with the brass plate face. Any small alignment of the plate to the wood can usually be accounted for during sanding, so don't worry if you're a little off.

Step 5: Brass Roller Tube

I cut my brass tube to the same dimension as the distance between the interior of the brass plates. The tube can even be cut a little shorter, since it's designed to roll and shouldn't be snug against the inside of the brass plates.

After cutting the tube to length the ends were cleaned up to ensure there were no burs.

Step 6: Tap Roller Screw

To hold the brass roller in place we're going to use decorative knurled screws. To thread the screws into the brass plates we'll need to tap them to the same size as our screws.

A tap and die set is used to make the threads for our screw, and is a valuable tool to have around the shop. After selecting the tap I wanted I carefully tapped the hole to make the treads for my decorative knurled screws.

The knurled screws will be installed after sanding down the piece.

Step 7: Sanding

With the majority of the construction complete the entire piece can be sanded. I upturned a belt sanded and held it in a vise, allowing me to use both hands and a wide range of motion when sanding.

Make sure you have no loose clothing anywhere near the belt sander as it's really easy to get clothing sucked into the machine. You will have a really bad day if this happens.

With the belt sander on I carefully moved the piece to shape a rounded top, and a small radius for the brass legs. If you have any misalignment between the brass and the wood you can sand it flush now. Because we want to keep a nice shiny side on our brass piece I would advise against sanding the brass sides, or over the screws (which are usually brass plated and not solid brass)

Step 8: Cut Wire Notch

The cutting wire will be attached to the knurled screws, then run inside notches cut into the ends of the legs which hold it in place. The notch was cut with a rotary tool with a cutting wheel attachment.

After, the brass tube can be installed with the knurled screws. Do not tighten the screwsyet, just enough to hold the tube in place.

Step 9: Wrap Wire

For my cutting wire I used 0.015" music wire, this wire has a very high tensile strength and is thin enough to be wound easily.

Wrap the end of the wire around one of the knurled screws and tighten, securing the wire to one side of the cheese cutter. Pull the wire into the notch and tightly stretch the wire over the gap and into the notch on the opposite side, then wrap the wire around the other nut. Holding the wire in tension, tighten the other knurled nut.

A pro move would be to wrap the wire clockwise around the nut, that way you increase the tension on the wire as you tighten the nut.

Step 10: Cut the Cheese

All that's left is to hand clean your cheese cutter and apply a nice coat of food safe oil as a protective finish, like butcher block oil.

You're all ready to cut the cheese in front of your friends. Experimenting with purple heart wood can add a nice accent to your piece, or maybe you can think of some other wood combinations - there's no end to the variations of size and types of wood you can use to make this project your own!

Happy making!

Have you made your cheese cutter? I want to see it!

Happy making :)

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Homemade Gifts Contest 2015

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