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A peel is the utensil used to transfer loaves into the oven: peel. Source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peel_(tool)Image source: Wikipedia

I've done a couple of them using some wood boards I had on hand. I made them for a home electric oven. But now I'm planning to make one from scratch for a wood fired oven.

What characteristics should one look for a peel?

Specifically:

  • What characteristics will have different materials: plywood, block of wood, metal, ...
    • If they are made of plywood, what kind of glue should be used to join the boards?
    • What kind of wood? Which metal?
  • Should they be flat? Wedge shaped (like the one in the picture)?
  • If they have a detachable handle, what system would be faster to change? Less prone to loosen?
  • How to choose the length of the handle? The material?
  • Any differences between a home oven one and one for a professional/large oven?

Note: I originally wrote the question thinking in making a peel, but actually it should be interpreted as how should a peel be, independently of how you manage to get it (make it, buy one, ...).

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2 Answers 2

In my home oven, I just use a plastic cutting board like this:

cutting boards

Mine have a larger hole in the handle, so I can easily pick one up wearing an oven mitt. I put cornmeal on the cutting board then put the loaf on it to rise, and slide it onto the preheated pizza stone really easily.

Advantages: they're lightweight, easy to clean, and I have about 8 of them already.

Disadvantages: no long handle, which would be more important if you were trying to put bread further into a hotter oven. For me it's not an issue, and if I ever feel that it is, I wear an oven mitt.

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Someone downvoted this answer. Adding a comment explaining why will help the answerer (and others) to improve the answers. –  J.A.I.L. Dec 2 '12 at 19:38

Here is what Kenki Lopez says about the desirable qualities for peels, in the context of pizza, but pizza is just flat bread with stuff on top:

Serious Eats article on Best Pizza Peel for my home

The main take away is that wood is not recommended, due to being flammable, thick, and hard to clean--they like metal. I know that isn't what you want to hear when planning to make your own...

As for shape, a squared off front edge (as opposed to rounded), and a length to reach the back of your oven make a peel desirable.

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Making my own in metal is also possible (I don't discard it). But some metals are harder to maintain: my iron peel gets rusty very easilly. –  J.A.I.L. Dec 2 '12 at 22:18
    
I've never heard of a pizza peel catching fire. Also, for pizza baking you have fire in the oven, something you don't do for almost any other dish. (Anecdotic: They use wooden ones at famous Pizzeria da Michelle, in Naples). –  J.A.I.L. Dec 2 '12 at 22:24
    
Why squared end, and not rounded? –  J.A.I.L. Dec 2 '12 at 22:25
    
I just summarized the article--I don't have a personal opinion here. I use an un-rimmed cooked sheet for the job, and it works fine with my home oven. –  SAJ14SAJ Dec 2 '12 at 22:26
    
@J.A.I.L. I linked the primary source. –  SAJ14SAJ Dec 2 '12 at 22:31

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