Pizza Lover's Trio

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This article is from Issue 47 of Woodcraft Magazine.

Make a peel, cutter, and hanger to help with your favorite food.

Overall dimensions:
Peel: 15"w × 1⁄2"d × 31"h
Cutter: 15"w × 1⁄2"d × 51⁄2"h
Hanger: 15"w × 1⁄2"d × 51⁄2"h

Anyone who’s baked a pizza in the oven knows the hassle of pulling out a hot grate and finessing the pie onto a cutting board with a spatula. Then there’s dividing the pie into cleanly cut equal slices. These problems quickly go away with a pair of pizza specialists, namely, an edge-glued peel and crescent-shaped pizza cutter, both sized for a large pie. To store the complementary maple and cherry set, I designed a simple wall hanger to keep your eye-pleasing pizza helpers at the ready. When you build the trio, expect to find tricks for laying out large arcs, beveling curved edges at the router table, and cutting perfect keyholes.

Prepare the stock and glue up the blanks

Note: For efficiency, prepare the stock for the parts of all three projects at the same time. These include the peel parts (A, B, C, and D) and the cutter and hanger parts (E and F).

1 Start with 3⁄4"-thick material, and then cut the parts oversize by 1" in length and 1⁄4" in width, working from the Cut List. Include the shorter parts in longer parts of the same width. To ensure that parts lay flat, first face-joint them and then plane them to 1⁄2" thick.

2 Joint one edge of all parts. Now rip them 1⁄32" over the final width, and then joint the sawn edges for the proper width of each part. Crosscut the shorter parts (D) from the longer parts at this time.

3 Position the parts on your workbench, using the order established in Figure 1. To reduce warping and cupping, orient the parts so neighboring pieces have opposing end grain. With all the peel parts (A, B, C, and D) correctly arranged, glue and clamp them together in two sections for better control. Let dry, and then glue the sections together, as shown in Photo A (I used Titebond III). Using a scraper, remove excess glue after about 15 minutes, while the glue-up is still in clamps, or use a wet cloth and clean rinse water.

4 Repeat the glue-up process for the cutter and the wall hanger parts (E and F), again making two smaller sections first. Ensure that the parts roughly align at one end of the glue-up for crosscutting the blank later.

5 After the glue has dried on both blanks, remove the clamps and clean up the surfaces with a scraper and sandpaper. Set the cutter and wall hanger blank aside.

Glue and clamp the peel blank in sections, using clamps to keep them even at the seams.
Clamp the peel blank to a carrier board to make the bevel cut. Add a 2"-wide rest 31⁄2" above the table to keep hands safely away from the blade.

Deal with the peel

1 Crosscut the peel (blade) end at the tablesaw using a sled or miter gauge and auxiliary extension fence, squaring it to the edge. Now cut the peel to overall length, trimming the handle end. 

2 To form the 7° taper on the peel’s blade end, clamp a 3⁄4"-thick MDF carrier board to the back face of the peel blank and a rest to ensure a safe cut. Raise the tablesaw blade to 3" and tilt it to 7° away from the fence. Position the fence about 7⁄8" from the blade so that it leaves a 3⁄32"-thick end. Make the cut on a scrap piece to verify the correct position. Then cut the peel’s taper, as shown in Photo B. (Later, you’ll sand it, resulting in a 1⁄16" edge.)

3 Referring to Figure 1, lay out the shape of the peel on the back side, marking the body radii. Locate the 7⁄8" hole in the handle for hanging the peel, and use its center point to scribe the handle radii. Now bandsaw the peel blank to shape and sand to the lines. Save the cutoffs for use with the cutter later.

4 Chuck a Forstner bit in your drill press and bore the hole, backing the handle with scrap to prevent tear-out.

5 Rout 1⁄8" round-overs along the peel’s edges, where shown in Figure 1, and then sand the peel to 180 grit.

Now for the cutter and hanger

1 Return to the cutter and hanger blank and cut it to 

12 × 15". Lay out the centered crosscut line in Figure 2. Now, make a simple trammel from a thin strip of wood measuring 1⁄4 × 3⁄4 × 16". Measure and mark 1⁄2" in from the ends of the strip. Then drill a centered hole to fit a small finish nail at one end (I used a #3 nail). Drill a hole at the other end to fit a pencil. Both holes should result in a snug fit. Next, insert the nail and pencil in the holes.

2 Use the shop-made trammel to lay out the 15" arcs on the cutter and hanger blank, as shown in Photo C. While you’re at it, scribe an identical arc on a 1⁄2"-thick scrap piece for testing your router setup later.

3 Crosscut the cutter and hanger blank in half.

4 Bandsaw the cutter and hanger to shape and sand to the lines. Also, cut and sand the test piece.

5 To make the bevels (or cutting edge) on the cutter like the one in the Bevel Detail in Figure 1, install a straight-edged raised-panel bit with a 15°-17° bevel angle in your router table. (I used a 33⁄8" Whiteside bit I already owned, but included a less expensive bit in the Buying Guide.) Next, cut and edge-glue 1⁄2"-thick scrap pieces (saved from cutting the peel earlier) on the outside edges of the cutter to protect it from tear-out.

Using the simple trammel, strike the arcs in the cutter and hanger blank by pivoting off the nail.
Rotate the arced cutter in the curved router fence to bevel the V edge, using a pushpad to maintain full control.

With the bit in the start hole, start the trim router and move it toward the end of the jig’s opening for a straight, consistent, keyhole slot.

6 From 3⁄4" MDF that’s 10" wide, make the auxiliary router table fence shown in Figure 3. Here, strike an arc that matches the cutter arc. Drill the 35⁄8" hole for the router bit’s clearance, where shown. Cut the arc, saving the cutoff. Attach it with screws for a fence guard. Now, clamp the fence to the router table and raise the bit to cut 1⁄4" into the workpiece. Position the fence and rout a bevel on the arced test piece. Make any needed adjustments. Now, cut a bevel on the opposite face of the test piece to form the V edge. Compare the result to the Bevel Detail. If the two look the same, use the setup to bevel the pizza cutter, as shown in Photo D.

7 Lay out the hanging hole in the cutter, where shown in Figure 1, and then drill it with a 7⁄8" Forstner bit. Drill the 3⁄8" through holes for the two Shaker peg tenons in the hanger, where shown in Figure 1.

8 Rout 1⁄8" round-overs where indicated in Figure 1.

9 To wall-mount the hanger, make the U-shaped keyhole jig shown in Figure 4 from 1⁄2" and 3⁄4" MDF. Mark the centerline at the top of the jig’s opening. Mark the keyhole locations and hole centerlines on the hanger’s back face, where shown in Figure 1. 

If you only have a fixed-base router, use a 3⁄8"-diameter Forstner bit to bore a pair of 5⁄16"-deep starter holes where marked (skip the drilling process if using a plunge router). Now, install a 3⁄8"-diameter keyhole bit in your router, and set it for a 5⁄16" deep slot. Clamp the jig to the workpiece, aligning the centerlines. Place the fixed-base router bit into the 3⁄8" start hole, and carefully turn the tool on while holding it in place. Rout the slot, stopping when the router base contacts the jig at the bottom of the U. Or simply plunge the bit into the wood with a plunge router. Repeat for the other keyhole slot, as shown in Photo E.

10 For proportionally sized pegs to hang the peel and cutter, cut down two 31⁄2" Shaker pegs to 2". To do this, first make a reference mark at 11⁄2" on the shank of the peg, where shown in Figure 5. Chuck the shank end in your drill press. With the drill running at a slow speed and using a simple right-angle jig, cut into the peg with a utility knife, as shown in Photo F, to establish the tenon’s shoulder. If you have a lathe, turn a pair of matching Shaker pegs to the dimensions shown.

11 Use a rasp to carefully remove wood above the shoulder mark and create a  1⁄8"-diameter tenon, as shown in Photo G. Sneak up on the final diameter with a file, checking regularly with calipers. Then cut to the peg to length. Repeat for the other peg. Hand-sand the pegs to 180 grit, and then glue them into the hanger.

12 Finish-sand the pieces to 220 grit. Apply a finish (I used Butcher Block Oil). Then hang your pizza trio on the wall with a pair of drywall anchors. 

Press the utility knife blade flat to the jig’s edge and against the peg to establish the tenon shoulder at the marked location.
Switch to a rasp to form a 3⁄8"-diameter × 1⁄2"-long tenon. Use a file for final definition.

About Our Designer/Builder

Iowa native Chuck Hedlund worked for years in custom millwork, designing and building furniture and cabinets. In 1993, he began serving the needs of several woodworking magazines as a designer, master craftsman, and shop foreman. In 2008, he retired and moved to Columbus, Ohio, where he freelances as a designer and builder.


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