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Time-Saving Prosphora Device
(Russian-Style Commemoratives)

Note: This was inspired by a similar cutter I saw used in a Navy kitchen to cut biscuits for hundreds of hungry sailors. That cutter made about a dozen biscuits at a time.  Obviously, this is a scaled-back version, but you can increase the size to whatever you think you need.  This cutter is very helpful if you make big batches of commemoratives.




  1. You will be making two cutters, one for the tops of the prosphora and the other for the bottoms. If your seal is larger than a tomato paste can, find another kind of can which matches the size of your seal.  Make sure you have four of the EXACT same cans (yes, stick with the same manufacturer, since a small difference in size between manufacturers will mean this thing won't cut correctly!).  The cans for the bottom cutter should be at least 1/2" wider diameter than the cans for the top cutter.

  2. Before beginning, consult the illustrations below.

  3. Take your punch and hammer, and poke holes around the outside of the can, 1/8" down from the rim of the end which has NOT been cut out.  These will give you air holes so the cutter doesn't pull a vacuum and hold onto the dough.  If you poke the holes down by then end which is cut out, you'll be sorry.

  4. Poke one hole directly in the top of each can.  Keep it centered.  If you want to use three screws or nails, poke your holes in a triangle (not too close to the rim, otherwise you'll have a tough time driving them in from the inside of the can).

  5. Now, take a can and use your pencil to trace out where you want the cans to go.  Follow the pattern in Figure 2. Make sure the cans touch at the rims.  This will give them extra stability.

  6. Trim off any excess wood from the board using your saw.

  7. Now, nail or screw down each can over the pattern you traced out on the board.  While these directions call for a single nail or screw in each can, you could use three set in a triangle to give you extra stability.

  8. If you are ambitious, you can add a handle on the top for a better grip.

  9. Once you are done attaching the cans, lay them on a perfectly flat surface and check to see if all the cans are laying on the counter evenly.  If you have a stray can not lining up (or all the cans seem to want to separate, run a thin wire (28 guage) around all of the cans and twist until all the cans are tight together.  If the cans are tight against the board and one another, but there are still a few minor gaps between some cans and the bottom surface, you may want to sand them all flat.  Wire the cans together as described above.  Take a fine grit wet-and-dry sandpaper and adhere it to a flat surface (I've used paraffin wax, but spray adhesives are best).  Press the cutter against the sandpaper and gently make circles.  Test frequently, and continue to sand until all the cans sit flat on the surface.  After you are done, use a strip of paper to finish any sharp edges that may form on the cans.

  10. Notes for the creative: you can expand this pattern to any number of cans you can handle without self-injury.  If you cannot find cans the right size, an alternative would be to use copper pipe caps, since they are thin and come in a variety of sizes.  I don't suggest PVC, since the walls are too thick so it will not cut as well.

Here's the first cutter I constructed for the seminary.  As you noticed, the air holes mentioned above are not present on this model.  I discovered this after putting it together, so I ended up drilling holes through the top of the board, which is an option if you don't want to punch holes around the sides.  Be careful not to cover the holes when using, otherwise you will pull a vacuum.

This is another view of the cutter.  Notice the 3-screw pattern.  The hole in the center of each can was drilled from the top.

I left the board square, since the extra bit of wood on either side provides a nice grip.