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I have read over and over that you want a rough finish on a wooden pizza peel for best results. But other people seem to state that it is simply the moisture absorptive nature of wood that causes wooden peels to work better.

I purchased a cheap wooden peel with a slick shellac like coating and would like to fix it, but I am not sure how rough (i.e. what grit sand paper) is optimal for the surface of a peel. Has anyone ever done any tests or have any experience with different roughness's to find the optimal finish to put on a peel?

Quotes:

A wooden peel tends to have less problems with sticking as the wood is rougher, absorbs water and doesn’t get condensation. - https://www.crustkingdom.com/how-to-use-a-pizza-peel/

"Raw," unfinished wood peels have a rough, porous texture ... they actually tend to be more nonstick than coated peels. - https://www.businessinsider.com/best-pizza-peel#wood-versus-metal-pizza-peels-7

Here is a post written by a profession who apparently uses peels so rough that their employees get splinters - https://thinktank.pmq.com/t/wooden-pizza-peels-to-sand-or-not/15723/2

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    Where have you heard that a rough finish is good?
    – GdD
    May 19 at 18:09
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    And why would you consider exposing something with a varnish (can’t be shellac, that melts at 75° C) to the very high heat of an oven set for pizza?
    – Stephie
    May 19 at 18:16
  • @GdD Exactly my thoughts. Especially considering that many use semolina to minimize friction.
    – Stephie
    May 19 at 18:17
  • Mechanically, there's good comparison with a pizza peel & a Formula 1 racetrack surface (bear with me;) Too smooth & it's very grippy [good for cars, not good for pizza] Too rough & it digs into the tyre [pizza dough surface] & again becomes very grippy (not good for tyre life or pizza). Somewhere in between is the perfect 'slip'.
    – unlisted
    May 19 at 18:40
  • You'll want to check what that coating is to make sure it's food safe. If you can't I'd sand it off.
    – GdD
    May 19 at 18:57
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Based on personal experience:

The critical issue is that the peel be textured enough to "hold on" to flour or semolina, allowing the pizza to slide off of it. This means the ideal texture is the same as a new cutting board, oiled wood sanded to 120 grit or so. It's not rough as such, but rather just not smooth like plastic. I once got a bamboo pizza peel that was high-polished, and I found that 15 minutes with some steel wool was enough to make it usable.

The other issue you're going to have it that shellac is probably going to melt or catch fire in the pizza oven. So, while a light sanding with 100grit paper or even steel wool would probably do it for "roughing up" the pizza peel, you might find you have to strip off all the shellac to actually use it.

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  • I'm not sure I agree completely, I've used a metal peel for years and I've never had a problem with it holding onto semolina, and I've made a lot of pizza.
    – GdD
    May 20 at 8:01
  • Huh, my experience is completely different. That's why I have a wooden peel for launching, and a metal peel for turning/picking up. Most of the other folks in the Ooni Pizza Oven community have the same setup, unless they use one of the perforated metal peels for launching.
    – FuzzyChef
    May 20 at 15:26

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