Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Food: Recipes, cookbook reviews, food notes, and restaurant reviews. Unless otherwise noted, I have personally tried each recipe that gets its own page, but not necessarily recipes listed as part of a cookbook review.

Sealing the bread slice guide

Jerry Stratton, January 29, 2020

Side view of bread slice guide

The original, without mineral oil.

My scrap wood bread slicing guide had only one problem: I didn’t know how to protect it or stain it. In the comments, Charles the Simple suggested:

…common mineral oil will seal your slicer. Available at any drug store, just wipe on when necessary.

I got some cheap mineral oil from Walmart—their store brand—and wiped it on several times over several days letting it soak into the wood after each application. The wood, as you can see in the photos, looks nicer now than in the original. In fact, the after-photo doesn’t do it justice. It looks a lot nicer than it used to; I am not a professional photographer (as any reader of this blog is painfully aware) and cannot get the photo to look like the real thing.

I wiped it on by pouring a little oil on the wood, and then spreading it using a paper towel; when done, I used another paper towel to wipe away any obvious excess. Even after wiping the excess away, the wood does make the wood feel oily until it soaks in. It takes a day or two after each application for the wood to start feeling normal again. I did not use the guide for slicing until then, because I didn’t want any bread to soak up mineral oil. While drug-store mineral oil is labeled as safe to eat, it’s usually found in the laxative section. I enjoy whole-grain breads but I don’t need to enhance that aspect of it.

While the main purpose of the mineral oil is sealing the wood— protecting the wood against humidity in the air and from any water in the breads I slice on it—it also highlights the wood grain. It resembles a very light stain. Every once in a while I put more on—just as I would with a wooden breadboard or rolling pin—and every time I do it gets better looking. So if beauty is truth, then this is a necessary step in making a bread slice guide.

Roast Beef Sandwich

I could never have evenly cut thin slices without a guide.

After well over two years of use I can heartily recommend building this guide or something like it, customized to your own needs. It hasn’t quite revolutionized my bread-eating habits, but it’s come close. It is especially useful for cutting thinner slices that I would never have been able to successfully cut without a guide. The roast beef sandwich I posted on National Sandwich Day is much more roast beef than bread. That was only possible because of this guide.

I think the only change I would make if I did it again would be to use screws instead of nails to fasten the walls in place. And that’s only because I would worry less about it coming loose, which it isn’t doing.

As I wrote in the original post, when I originally made this I considered making a block to go next to the slice, so that it wouldn’t bend as it cut. With tall loaves and thin slices, thin slices can bend over and break in half before the slice is completely cut. But the easy solution continues to be simply putting a cardboard box next to the slice—boxes of tea are perfect for the job, or a can or jar about as tall as the loaf of bread I’m slicing.

In response to National Sandwich Day: Do-it-yourself bread slice guide: If you have a table saw or chop saw, making a bread slice guide is a snap.