A pizza peel (that’s the proper name) is a must-have tool for any pizza chef.
Most of the wooden peels you’ll find in the restaurants and stores have a wide paddle area with a simple tapered edge, extending about 3/4″ around the perimeter, top and bottom. The paddle itself consists of strips of soft wood, glued together, with an unstained finish. Sizes can vary from a few inches in diameter to rectangular beasts that are nearly 2’x3′, without the handle.
Constructing your own peel can range from relatively simple to beautifully hand crafted.
The fastest and easiest way to make a peel is with a piece of plywood.
• Find a scrap piece of quality plywood. 3/8″ or 1/2″ thick works well.
• Cut the plywood to the dimensions you require (my home-use peel is about 14″ x 14″, and overall length is 24″ – it’s shown in the top photo).
• Taper the top edge with a drum disk in your sander (or flap grind it, or sand it with a belt sander, whatever you’re most comfortable with). Round of the sides to get rid of sharp edges.
• For a nice touch, affix a top and bottom to the handle using rounded wood strips that can be glued, bolted, or attached with dowels.
• That’s it! Avoid temptation to stain your new peel – the heat and pizza ingredients work best with an unfinished surface.
A much more elegant and labor-intensive design uses a paddle that is fully tapered on both sides, not just a steep taper along the perimter. This gives a much smoother edge to allow your pizza to slide on and off the peel. It also allows you to use an overall thicker piece of wood.
Binkyswoodworking has a writeup on making a peel using a double sided taper. This requires the use of a router table and a couple taper jigs.
• His plan uses two pieces of 1×6 poplar, planed flat and glued together with biscuits along the handle (a very long handle, at that).
• Once the initial shape is set, the taper is created by screwing two tapered strips of wood on each side of the peel. These strips angle the peel upwards.
• The whole assembly is then pulled over a bit on the router table, to strip away the unwanted wood and create the rough taper.
• Flip, reattach the jig setup, and repeat. You can also choose to not have a double sided taper, and just have a dedicated top side.
• Once finished routering, pass the piece through the planer to clean it up nicely.
• Sand smooth, round the edges with the router again, and voila – a wonderful and highly functional pizza peel.