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Make a Pizza Peel
Tools and Materials
Apparently, when Emily Leggitt sets her mind to do something, she does it. In this case, her desire to build a pizza peel for her mother, an avid baker, led to the construction of her first woodworking project. Follow along below and learn the basic steps involved in building what just might be the perfect gift for the baker in your family.
How to Make
Mill the lumber: After selecting some handsome scraps, Emily begins the building process by jointing and planing her wood to a uniform thickness of 5/8 in. If you don't have access to this type of machinery, consider purchasing wood from a local lumberyard and having them surface it for you.
Cut to parts to length: Using a simple, homemade miter box and a Japanese saw, Emily cuts all of her stock to length. With the exception of the long handle, all the components for this project are cut to the same length. As an alternative, consider using a miter saw for speedier cuts.
Arrange the pattern: Before you can proceed with glue-up, you need to settle on a pleasing pattern for your peel. Emily's peel alternates between three different wood species which will take on a deep luster when finished with oil.
Apply glue: Use a small brush to evenly apply glue to the mating surfaces. You might wonder whether it's a good idea to apply glue to only one mating surface, or to both. That's entirely up to you. Different woodworkers have different ways of going about glue-ups. Some feel that applying glue to both surfaces creates a goopy mess, while others swear you won't have a long-lasting joint without double application. In the end, either method works just fine.
Apply clamps: It's always better to use too many clamps than too few. Apply even pressure until you see glue squeeze-out along the entire length of each joint. This is the signal of a good glue application.
Scrape and plane: After scraping off as much excess glue as possible, Emily uses a handplane to even out the peel. Later, she uses the planer to bring the final thickness of the peel down down to 1/2 in.. If you don't have access to a planer, handplaning is certainly a viable option. Tapered End Slips Under Pizza: To make it a bit easier to sneak your peel beneath the pizza baking in your oven, use a handplane to taper the first inch or so of the bottom front edge of the peel.
Lay out the final shape: When it comes to laying out the rounded corners of the pizza peel, there's no major math involved. Instead, Emily uses a circular container to trace rounded corners onto the peel. Next, she'll use these lines to cut the profile at the bandsaw.
Cut the profile at the bandsaw: Emily cuts out the peel's final shape at the bandsaw. Most folks don't have machinery like this, so as an alternative, consider using a handheld jigsaw.
Refine the edges: With your peel's shape cut out at the bandsaw, you'll need to clean up your edges using sandpaper. Start with a coarse grit, like 100, then work your way up to 220-grit. Now is a good time to give the entire peel a preliminary sanding as well.
Reinforce the handle: Next, Emily glues reinforcements to the handle, clamping them into place before setting the peel aside to dry.
Refine the handle: A spokeshave is then used to shape the handle, easing the edges and making it more comfortable for the hand.
Trim handle to length: The final step in the building process is to cut the handle to its final length. To do this, Emily clamps the peel to her workbench and simply saws away the excess. Options abound when it comes to applying finish to a project like this. Just be sure that whatever finish you choose is food-safe. One simple finish choice is mineral oil, which cures quickly and is inert, food-safe, and clear.