Building a Pizza Peel

Pizza making has been going well this month – but I’ve run into an issue with cooking the pizzas.  I use a pizza peel like this for prepping the pizza and then putting it on the grill.  The problem is that in the time it takes me to prep the pizza and then get it on the grill the dough starts to stick to the metal.  Then when Im actually putting it on the grill the heat from the grill super heats the metal peel and it sticks even more.  Trying to get a pizza unstuck over a 700 degree fire is not fun.  I’ve tried flouring and using corn meal on the peel to prevent sticking but its inconsistent in how well it works. This problem makes me hesitant to try thinner crusts because Im worried it will stick more.

When talking to my sister about this problem she suggested that maybe I was having this problem because my peel was metal.  She has a wood one and thought that maybe that helped.  So I looked around briefly for a wooden one and then just decided to build one myself.  This one took me about 3 hours to make and was supposed to be more of a ‘first attempt’ but it turned out rather well.

The build was pretty straight forward.  I found some scraps of wood that I had lying around the shop…

Two pieces of hard maple and another smaller piece of oak.  The longer piece would be the handle and the two smaller pieces the sides.  I didn’t really have a plan going into this (that will show quite nicely later on) so I just started cutting.  I glued the side pieces up and let them dry while I worked on the handle….

For the handle I knew that I wanted to curve it into the sheet part of the pizza peel.  But I didn’t really know how exactly so I marked and cut it out with a combination of the table saw and jig saw (I really need to look at a scroll saw at some point)…

I wasn’t sure how the edges would route so I went ahead and routed the handle piece to get a feel for how that would go.  This turned out to be mistake number one….

Looks nice right?  Well lesson learned – but you really need to get the board together and then figure out how to route and merge the pieces together.  When I went to glue on the side pieces I ended up with this…

Looks good right?  Wrong – I now have to guess (and guess, and guess) as to the right depth for the back of the board to go flush with the handle piece.  I would have been light years ahead to wait to do the curve until the board was all together.

Oh well – I sorted it out.  Then I used a corner guide to route the corners into 1″ rounds…

After that, I bevelled the front lip on the table saw and then sanded it smooth…

This is what it looked unfinished…

To finish it I use the same thing I use for cutting boards.  A mix of food grade wax and mineral oil.  Rubbed in it really gives the wood a nice finish and can be easily reapplied without having to sand.

So Im pretty happy with how it turned out (I’ll be ecstatic if it works better than my metal one) but there are some things I’d do different next time.  My planer is only 12″ wide so I couldn’t plane the whole thing assembled.  Instead I planed each piece independently to thickness and then glued.  This lead to an ungodly amount of sanding.  Glue ups are always hard when you want to get the right amount of pressure but not over do it so the wood bends.  I got some bending which would have cleaned itself up on the planer if it would have fit.  Oh well – it was my first attempt.

I’ll let you know how it works!

 

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