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Homemade soap is good clean fun and more popular than ever. Start by building these super-simple soap molds!
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Trim 1" from the ends of the 1"×4" poplar board to make them square with the edges. Then cut two 21" lengths from the board and set the rest aside. If you need to use a handsaw and miter box, cut just to the waste side of the lines and use 80-grit sandpaper and a wooden block to smooth the ends to the lines you marked.
Stack the two 21" pieces with the edges and one end flush, and then join them with painter's tape at each end and in the middle. Measure and cut the mold sides to length. From the remaining pieces (still taped together), cut the mold ends to length and remove the tape from all the parts.
Cutting pairs of parts from stacked lumber helps ensure the parts are equal in length.
From the remaining piece of 1"×4" you set aside, cut the press board to length.
Square-cut one end of the 1"×6" board. Then crosscut the base to length.
Using your pencil and combination square, draw a faint line 3/8" from each end along the outside faces of both sides. Then mark the lines 1" from both edges. Those will be your marks for drilling pilot holes using a #8 countersunk pilot bit.
Clamp your part to a scrap board when drilling. This helps eliminate messy damage where the bit exits the wood.
Clamp the ends between the sides and extend the existing pilot holes into the ends of the sides. Remove the clamps, add glue, and reclamp the ends and sides while you drive the screws.
On the underside of the base, draw lines from end to end and 9/16" from each edge. Then drill countersunk pilot holes as you did on the sides. Clamp the assembled sides and ends to the base so they're centered along the width of the base. Then extend the pilot holes to 1-1/2" deep and remove the clamps.
Apply glue to the edges of the sides and ends, and clamp them to the base while you drive the screws.
Drill a countersunk hole centered in the press board for the wooden knob. Attach the knob with the screw flush with the surface of the underside.
Here's a quick way to find the center of a rectangle without measuring. Draw light diagonal lines connecting the corners. The intersection of the two lines is the center.
Lightly sand all the parts to eliminate sharp edges and corners. As an option, you can give the press a water-based finish such as Minwax Polycrylic. If you do, apply two to three coats and sand lightly between coats. Your finished wooden mold makes about a dozen 1" rectangular bars of soap.
Use a handsaw to cut a 1-foot-long piece from the 10-foot-long PVC pipe. Clean any rough ends or edges with a file or sandpaper.
Place a cap on one end of the 1'-long PVC pipe and line the inside with parchment paper. To keep the pipe upright and steady while pouring the melted base, we put paper towels in the bottom of a pitcher and set the pipe inside the pitcher.
Carefully pour the melted soap inside the parchment paper lining. Let dry overnight.
Use a sharp knife to cut the soap. Makes roughly a dozen 1" bars.
For the soap itself, you can either make it the old-fashioned way -- from scratch using essential oils, and natural ingredients from your garden -- or opt for simple melt-and-pour bases available online. Choose from a variety of bases (glycerine, goat's milk, aloe vera, or shea butter) and personalize with oils, fragrances, herbs, and natural exfoliants (oatmeal, crushed seeds, or fine sand). We used about 5 pounds of base to fill our mold. Cut the soap base into small chunks and place in a bowl. Microwave 1 minute or until most of the chunks have melted. Stir in ingredients, and then pour in your mold.
To help preserve soap or give as gifts, wrap your bars in cheesecloth (#125871) or brown masking paper (#111790) and tie the ends with twine (#66510). Download the free patterns above and use them as labels.