Brace yourselves - I'm going to actually talk about soapmaking for a change. I happened to mention on a forum I belong to that I'd built my own log splitter, and several people asked me for pictures and a description. If you're not a soapmaker, this should bore the poo out of you. If you ARE a soapmaker, this is a great piece of equipment, and it was super dooper cheap.
Let me start by saying that I have very little in the way of power tools - if you have a full wood shop you can probably make a prettier version.
This thing is called a log splitter - it takes a slab of soap and turns it into logs that then get sliced into bars. Let me just apologize up front for the pics - the lighting in my workroom is not great for photos. Anyway, here's the beast:
This is built from a sheet of melamine, coated on both sides. I used it for a few reasons - it's easy to clean with a wet cloth, it's smooth and it slides on itself, and it was on sale because it's a partial sheet. Cost nearly nothing. The edges of the sheet are a little chipped, but I don't care. The top slider is roughly 30 inches long, to handle my standard soap slabs, which are 24 inches. The slit in the sliding sheet is roughly 26 inches - and going through the slit, from the overhead metal bar to the support underneath, is a guitar string (unwound E). The string is held at the top with a tuning key - I bought both the string and the key at Guitar Center, about $13 including a replacement set.
To make sure that the top slider stays absolutely straight when it slides back and forth, I made a channel in the support and attached a thin square molding strip.
This is the slab of soap I'm going to split into logs. It's a twenty pound slab of Raspberry Fizz, and it smells wonderful. It's going to be split into three logs, each 24 inches long and 3.5 inches wide.
I've brushed the top of the slab with some silver mica before cutting. Now the slab is in position on the top slider, just touching the guitar string.
The first log has been split from the slab and removed. I've repositioned the slab on the edge of the slider, again touching the guitar string. I'll just push the slider along, with slow even pressure, and let the wire make the cut for me.
Ignore the sound. I didn't realize our camera would record video, so I wasn't talking. Duh.
This is the log after splitting, turned onto it's side.
After a few hours for the logs to dry, I'm now cutting them into bars. This batch was made with coconut milk, which tends to add a blue tone to fresh soap - these will cure to be a violet shade with white swirls. It's on the curing rack, letting the dehumidifier do it's thing.
I estimate that this cost me about $23 to build, using nothing more complicated than a circular saw and a drill.
Questions? Feel free to ask!