Cheese shaver travails

In stately Mercotan Manor, it was our great fortune to have a kitchen well stocked with not one, but two identical cheese shavers. For decades, these two served our family very well, dependably and with safely.

Sadly, I did not fully appreciate these two tools for the heirlooms that they were. Passed down to me upon the demise of my father (who was raised in a former cheese factory), I felt some fondness for these handy twin devices but treated them strictly as easily replaceable pieces of equipment.

And so it came to pass in the fullness of time that one of the cheese shavers failed. Its teak handle split, after decades of repeated exposure to moisture. I did briefly toy with the idea of saving the working metallic head and neck of the device, with the goal of replacing the handle. But I did not demur when Mrs. Mercotan decided to pitch the whole damn thing. Thus it passed into legend via a trip to the town [del]dump[/del] recycling center.

Now, some of might surmise that we’d go along in life with one cheese shaver. This of course is absurd in its face, given the dairy intensive lifestyle we choose to live here. The discarded and largely unmourned device (you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone) was quickly replaced at my next visit to the local cheese mart. And promptly put into service at home the next day, tasked to shave some 4 year old cheddar to make my morning Mercotan marmite, onion, tomato and cheese surprise, toasted version.

And it was during its premier performance of this task that I saw, with great annoyance, that this cheese shaver was not all it should be! Aged cheese shaved by it did not result in razor-thin rectangles of white cheddar, but rather a crumbling, slivered, mealy mess!

Puzzled, I cleaned it out, wiped it down, and tried again. Same result. I inspect its edge, and saw no flaw. I tried it on a half dozen other hard cheeses, all much younger. It made swift and sure work of the Swiss, slicing it up to my expectations. Likewise the Gouda, the Jack, and the youthful mild and medium cheddar varieties we keep around for the benefit of the timid palates who visit us. But when turned back to the household’s standard cheese, very old white cheddar, it failed again. And again. And again.

Irate, I returned the shaver to the cheese mart, venting my spleen about its failings. Cheese shop staff was unimpressed, even after I pursuaded them to try it on some of their own aged cheddar, and again watched it make a hash of the job. “Aged cheeses are crumbly. Deal with it” summarized their attitude. They were unswayed by my contention that my old cheese shaver had been up to the task.

And so began my quest for another adequate cheese shaver. I visited cheese counters and specialty purveyers all over central and southern Wisconsin, always insisting that I test my potential purchase against one of their elder cheddars before committing. And always the shaver failed. :frowning: Shards, crumbs, slivers, fragments, orts, but nary a clean shave.

Reduced as I was to only one truly functional cheese shaver at home, I vowed to take better care of it! Yet despite my best efforts to do so, recently a crack has appeared in its teak handle! :eek:

I am now much more desperate to find an adequate shaver. But now rather than fruitlessly criss-cross the countryside in search of such a fromage-slicing device, I turned instead to Logic and Reason.

Examining my remaining treasured shaver closely, I was able to make some words on it: Spar Norway.

Eureka! I felt sure I could look up such a shaver on the web and easily obtain another Spar from the exotic land of Norway.

But that’s proving more difficult than I’d expected. Spar has apparently gone out of business, and so great is its fame and honor in cheese-shaving circles that old ones are hard to find.

But finally I was able locate an available one on eBay, and now it’s winging its way to me via the miracle of online ordering. I can only hope that this one is of the same quality and class as my old ones.

Wish me luck, fellow doper epicures.

Anybody got a line on replacement teak handles?

Would it be out of line to suggest wrapping the splitting handle with a little duct tape?


Link, please? If it’s really that good, I need one.

Admit it…you broke the other one solely so you could go on a Wisconsin cheese tour and cadge sample slices left and right under the ruse of “testing this shaver”…

I have a Zyliss adjustable unit and it’s a pos !

Make one. Or find a woodworker friend to make it for you, since you can’t do a decent carving job with a stethoscope.

He’s probably got plenty of knives that have only cut a little meat!

For the replacement handle, do you know of any aspiring woodworkers, high-school age, who need a short project to do? Turn a piece of teak on a lathe, drill a hole, voila, two birds, one handle.

Given the importance of the device for your epicurean traditions, it might be worth checking eBay every few months and ordering another one. It’s not like they’re going to go bad, stacked up in a corner of the attic, after all.

Logged in just to say “Bravo!” to the OP.

Now that I’m here, I will mention that the lowly potato peeler will provide a delightfully thin slice of aged cheese from a small block. Lay it on the tongue and let it melt. Yummy!

My new cheese shaver arrived today, Oh Boy!!

It does a brilliant job shaving without crumbling. But if not held just right, the pieces are a bit irregular.

Oh well, I think I can adapt.

And I’ll definitely contact one of our local craftsmen about a replacement handle for my other cheese shaver.

But I don’t think I’m ready for potato peel cheese yet. Maybe later.

All glory to Spar of Norway!!

Meanwhile, eBay will be looking for new Spar items for me.

My life has more purpose now. A higher purpose than saving lives and easing suffering.

Wish I was up your way.
'Twas a bit of an annoying day,
I think that cheddar cheese,
Finely sliced, and well aged, please,
Would make it all ok.

wire cuts dry cheese.

But not my aged stuff.

In our household we’ve got at least 3 wire cutters (various sizes and arrangements for various needs), a cheese knife, about 5 cheese shavers (two of which now work on the aged stuff), and about 5 different styles of graters.

So the next time I’m shopping for the person that already has everything, a couple of these are what I need to get them? Maybe I’ll order now. I hear they’re going fast.

I have a cheese slicer similar to that, but have never used it. Now I can’t wait to get home to try it out.

Goddammit I want some cheddar now.

In the interest of research, what might the functional attribute be bestowing upon the legendary Spar Norway cheese shaver its apparently unrivaled shaverdom?

Isn’t there some space age moldable material specifically for this kind of thing that debuted a year or two ago?

Here it is

I wish I knew.

I did experiment some, changing the angle of attack on my other, lesser cheese shavers. All with no positive results. I think it’s something to do with the sharpness of the edge. Or something.

The old Spar cheese planes have quite the following. One person opined about trying out a lesser, non-spar version here:

Oh, those? I’ve got one of them banging around in the gadget drawer. Guess I better start treating it with a little more respect.