Food Prep Equipment Maintenance 101: Manual Food Slicer/Chopper Blades

Food Prep Equipment Maintenance 101: Manual Food Slicer/Chopper Blades

Keep your commercial kitchen slicers and choppers working like new by learning how to replace the blades.

You’ve long enjoyed the speed and efficiency that comes with commercial prep tools. When cooking for the masses, these handy pieces of equipment slice, dice, and chop quickly—saving you valuable time. Not only does uniformity look good on the plate, but you’ll find that prep tools also help you with portion control by reducing waste. Slicers improve your accuracy, so you’ll know exactly how many slices you get from one tomato, and how many of those slices top your sandwiches or burgers.

Common prep equipment you might already find in your kitchen include:

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Your prep tool is supposed to make your life easier by quickly and efficiently cutting uniform slices and dices of vegetables and proteins. However, if you find that tomatoes are coming out with jagged, messy edges, or if you find yourself using more force than usual, your blades could be dull. As a result, your product will not be cut uniformly or even visually appealing, adding to product waste you could’ve otherwise avoided. When your prep tools have dull blades, they do less of making the job faster and efficient, and instead slow you down and waste product.

If you find that your slicer, cutter or dicer just isn’t pulling its weight anymore, you’re faced with two options:

  1. Purchase a new unit

    Maybe your prep equipment is already pushing 5 or 10 years old, and you were already considering an upgrade. Or maybe you’ve honed your menu in over the years and found that instead of needing a specific onion cutter you can really get by with a general vegetable dicer. Whatever the case may be, there are close to 200 meat, vegetable and fruit cutters on the market today, making it easy to find the right brand and type that will work best in your kitchen.

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  2. Purchase replacement blades and update the assembly yourself

    When you operate a restaurant, you already know the profit margins aren’t high—that’s why they say most restaurants go out of business within the first two years. Keeping your expenses low is just good business, so instead of replacing your entire food prep unit, try shopping for the proper prep equipment parts. Many popular manufacturers like Nemco, Waring, Vollrath and Robot Coupe (to name a small few) all feature replacement parts for their commercial equipment. The cost savings from repairing your existing slicer can be significant when it’s a price difference of over a hundred dollars buying a new unit.

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Before you start shopping, find this important information to ensure you locate the right part for your equipment:

  1. Make
  2. Model
  3. Part number

This information should be located in your owner’s manual, however, if you’re like most chefs, that owner’s manual is long and gone. Luckily, most pieces of commercial equipment have the make (brand) and model printed right on the unit itself. Look for these items on a sticker, or check for this information embossed on the base. A quick search online with this information and you’ll quickly track down the proper owner’s manual you need to find the part number.

If you are unable to locate the right part number for your unit, sometimes it helps to contact the business where you bought your piece of equipment. Most businesses keep records on file and will be able to lookup your order to determine the make and model of your equipment. A good customer service representative should be able to lookup the proper part number for you quickly. You can always give our knowledgeable customer service representatives a call at 1-888-388-6372.

You’ve purchased the correct part for your equipment—great! Now what? Replacing the blades on your slicer or chopper is easy, but it requires care. New blades are extremely sharp, so take caution as you update the blades on your equipment. Before you get started, be sure to have the following handy:

  • Crescent wrench
  • Food-grade lubricant or grease
  • Cut-resistant glove, like chain mesh

A crescent wrench will help you unscrew the bolts on your assembly, while food-grade lubricant (or grease) will help ease items, like bushings, back into place. When replacing the blades on any piece of equipment, take caution when removing and installing the new blades; new blades are extremely sharp and you always want to be aware of which side the sharp edge is on.

How to replace the blades on a Nemco Easy Vegetable Chopper

  1. Remove the pusher block and blade assembly

    Lift the push block out of the assembly and set aside.

    Chopper step 1

  2. Unscrew the bolts on your blade assembly and remove the old blades Use your crescent wrench to loosen the bolts and remove.

    Chopper step 2

  3. Organize the Blade Guides Look for specific notches that indicate the vertical versus horizontal alignments.

    Chopper step 3

  4. Insert the New Blades

    Take caution to not touch the sharp edge of the blade when inserting into the blade assembly.

    Chopper step 4

  5. Insert the Cross-Blades

    Again, be sure to look for specific notches to indicate the proper alignment.

    Chopper step 5

  6. Screw the bolts back onto your blade assembly

    Use your crescent wrench to tighten your bolts.

    Chopper step 6

  7. Put the blade assembly back into place Reset your blade assembly and slide the bushings back into place.

    Chopper step 7

  8. Replace the chopper block on top Slide the chopper block back into place and you are finished!

    Chopper step 8

How to replace the blades on a Nemco Easy Tomato Slicer

  1. Remove the bolts on the blade assembly

    Use a crescent wrench to loosen the bolts.

    Slicer step 1

  2. Loosen the wing nuts on the side of the cutting board to remove the pusher block assembly

    Remove the endcap on the end of your cutting board first so that you can remove the entire pusher block assembly.

    Slicer step 2

  3. Remove the blades

    The blades will slide out easily once the pusher block assembly is removed.

    Slicer step 3

  4. Insert the new blade assembly

    Slide the new blade assembly into place, just take care that the blades are facing the correct way, and the bolt holes line up properly.

    Slicer step 4

  5. Slide pusher block back into place

    Reset your pusher block.

    Slicer step 5

  6. Screw the bolts back into the pusher block and blade assembly

    Use a crescent wrench to tighten the bolts on your blade assembly.

    Slicer step 6

  7. Replace the endcap to your cutting board

    Place the endcap back onto the unit and tighten the wing nuts.

    Slicer step 7

For more help, watch the video featuring our very own Chris Tavano

The longevity of your blades is dependent on the use of the product. How often do you slice, dice and chop? Not only that, are you regularly dicing vegetables intended for that machine? Or are you using your piece of equipment for other food items (like protein)?

Proper maintenance and care is key to lengthening the life of your equipment. Use your equipment for its intended food product, because your attempt to slice through food that is too large, fibrous or dense puts your equipment at risk for breakage. And while it might be a no brainer, always be sure to thoroughly clean it after each use.

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