Cheese Slicer  1                            12-2016

One of the things I like doing for people is making them hand made gifts and for Christmas this year I decided to make some 'cheese slicers'. I've been wanting to do this for awhile now and this year I had some extra time so why not. I'll be making four slicers but they will all be different as I'll be using different species of wood for each one.

I bought these handle assemblies from a company called CheeseSlicing along with the cutting wires too. You have your choice of handle color (black or chrome) and I bought four extra cutting wires while I was ordering in case someone breaks one.




The first step was to decide what each one would look like so I started drawing sketches on paper to get some ideas. I drew at least a dozen patterns and picked out four that I'll be making here. The next step was to machine the sides of the material so I could glue some pieces together, which is what I'm doing below.



After the sides were machined, I glued them together and clamped it over night. I own four clamps to work with but these two are much better than the others so it took four days to glue them all. No big deal because I started on these in the middle of Novenber which meant I had plenty of time.



Here I'm machining the top and bottom surfaces with a fly-cutter. The size of the cheese slicers will be 9" X 6" when finished. This Kurt vise sure is nice because I can hold this 9" long piece, which makes is so much easier than clamping something on the table, machining around clamps, moving clamps, cut that area the clamps were resting on... and then repeat. The material here is black walnut and figured maple.



I'm machining the ends to length using a high helix 3/4" end mill. These 60 degree high helix cutters work better and are move forgiving than the low helix ones (like ones with a  45 degree helix angle) for the end grain work as they are less prone to chipping the ends.



I also used them for the sides, which gives me a nice finish as well. On the other hand, just about any cutter will work for machining the sides.



Next I'll need to drill one hole in each cheese slicer for the arm that holds the wire. The diameter of the arm is slightly under 1/4" so I wanted to drill some test holes to see how they fit. The depth of the hole needs to be 3 3/4" deep, which means the drill that you see in the middle won't work. A normal 1/4" long drill (or jobber length as it's referred to in the industry) is 4" long which doesn't leave me enough to hang onto for this drilling operation. However, I can use this jobber length drill to start the hole with and then finish the depth with a longer one.

The spade drill at the top is made to drill wood but it doesn't run very true. With that being said, the test hole came out a little large so I wasn't sure if I'd use this one or not.

The longer drill at the bottom is called 'a dreamer' which is a drill/reamer combination. If you look close you can see the first 1/2" of the tip is smaller than the rest, leaving only a small amount of material to remove after the tip drills the majority of the hole. By doing it this way, the larger portion of this tool leaves you with your desired hole size, in this case 1/4" diameter.



I tried removing or shortening the flutes to see if this would help but it still left my hole too least for me that is. I ended up using the jobber length drill to start the hole (going as deep as I could) and then switching over to the dreamer to finish with. This combo worked good and if I ever need to drill a deep 1/4" again, I'll try to remember that cutting tool.



Now that I had the hole diameter and depth figured out, the other thing I needed to do was make sure the hole was in right location. Here is what I mean: see the pencil line on the test piece of wood? This line represents the groove that will be machined into the cheese slicer that the cutting wire will be placed in. What I need to do is find out where the hole should be placed relative to the top and bottom surface. The reason for this is because the slicing wire goes around the handle as the wire rides in the groove, so you need adequate clearance for the thickness of this cutting wire.

Another thing to keep in mind is the slicing wire groove has to be deeper than the hole. In my case the wire measures at .015" thick. Plus I'll need a small amount of clearance so the wire doesn't bind so I'm adding another .015 thousands. This adds up to .030" of added depth to the slicing wire groove (approximately 1/32).

Why is this so important? Well if you put the hole close to the bottom, the groove would end up being very close to this bottom surface giving the wood a weak spot. But if you placed the hole above center this would give you some added material which would end up giving you more strength.



Another thing I had to keep in mind was milling the slot for the cutting wire. This slot will be 1/8" wide and is deeper at the back, (like the pencil mark above). I wanted to know what the thickness was at each test hole so I could decide exactly where I'd be drilling my hole at. And after looking at where the slot and the depth of each test hole intersected, I came up with what I think should work. What I decided on was to drill my hole above center by about 1/8", which will give me some much needed extra strength.


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