How to cut a slate slab (and how difficult is it)?

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dannyr

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a few years ago I needed to shorten and shape a fine slate mantlepiece, - having nothing else to hand but a couple of too-blunted-for-wood cheapo hardpoint handsaws ready for scrap, used one of them --- surprised me by going through the slate slowly, but just fine. I suppose it's a bit like the old stone-masons saw pre-carbide/diamond, where the grit from the stone is actually doing some of the cutting?

I finish smoothed it with a carbide grit sander, but I bet an old scrapper rasp/file would have worked.

I used the offcut as a water stone for honing - worked OK - interesting how the same material can cut and be cut.
 

Spectric

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9 inch grinder with diamond blade, slate is easier than concrete but otherwise if you are not familiar with there use get a local landscaper to cut it for you as they use cutters everyday when laying patio's.
 

rogxwhit

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That being said, I've just measured the blade and up to the point where the blade is held by the metal piece it is only 33mm. With the slate being 30mm, I'm guessing I'd need more clearance?
Sounds to me that you can just do it then on that basis - you don't need clearance as such, just for the disc to penetrate the material - but the obstacle to cut depth might be the body of the grinder rather than the disc washer.

If it's still a runner, get a diamond wheel & use it dry. Otherwise, hire or borrow a 9", but it can seem a bit of a beast if you're not used to it. And for a one-off it might not seem worth investing in safety gear (I'm thinking gloves, leg & foot-wear, never mind the head, eye & respiratory protection ...)

Funny, I've never had a grinder kick back ...
 

Stevekane

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I had thought of making a house name plate with slate once and wondered how the router would behave with it? But by the same token would a router and with a long worktop bit cut your snooker table slate?
Steve.
 

rogxwhit

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Impractical, Steve, you need a narrow kerf to minimise the power needed.

You could use a vee cutter in a router to do lettering in slate, though, but the issue there is controlling the route of the cut - freehand doesn't quite hit it.

But carbide tips cut slate ok & are used in commercial stone lettering machines. As stone goes, slate is quite soft ...
 

Stevekane

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I guessed as much, and could imagine it behaving okay cutting letters, I would have used some Trend Templates I have, but Im sure your right about big cuts,,I might now give the slate namplate a go sometime,,
Many thanks,
Steve.
 

rogxwhit

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A crucial trick with lettering is to get a balanced visual spacing between all the letters, that accommodates them having such different shapes. There's no mechanical system for achieving this that I can think of - it has to be done by eye. But individual letter templates can be spaced by hand with improvised spacers ...

As with all things, there's a good job, a bad job & a spectrum in between ...
 

baldkev

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I did this a few years back. Made a template to lay over the slate, marked it, cut with an angle grinder and cleaned back to perfect with a belt sander. If it were straight cuts, i definitely would use a petrol disc cutter with water.

As said above, for the cost, hiring is worth considering. Diamond blades come in lots of forms. I used segmented for that job, but now there are the 'dna' style diamond blades which are pretty good
 

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Fergie 307

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Easiest way to cut something like this would be to lay it on a flat lawn. You can cut straight through into the grass, wont do it any harm. The big petrol ones wont kick back in slate, its actually very soft. The other advantage is that all the ones I have used have a flat deck or tubes underneath so you can put the machine down flat and rock it into the cut, keeps the blade at right angles. Buy far the best way to do it.
 

Dave Moore

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Hi

An old slate slab has come up that I would like to use for a kitchen worktop. It's from an old snooker table and is 30mm thick.

I'll need to cut it roughly in the first instance so that I can move it and fit it into the car. I can then cut it more precisely once the unit is made and I have exact details.

I've never done it before... For a rough cut and at that thickness, what would be best to use? I have got:

- a large circular saw (are they all capable of cutting stone with the correct blade or are some machines for wood only)?
- a mini circular saw (Worx)
- an angle grinder (but with no discs so would need to buy whatever would be suitable).

Hoping to collect tomorrow, so any advice would be fantastic.

Many thanks
The Range sell 9” diamond discs for about £10.
 

quintain

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Yes to scary "scariest tool I use after a grinding wheel" a good friend and a boss of mine in the early 70s lost an eye due to a grinding wheel shattering, obviousy no eye protection was in use. I learnt a lesson and always wear glasses and I can be a PIA to others about eye protection (but sod it, eye protection MUST always be used)
 

Torx

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I did this a few years back. Made a template to lay over the slate, marked it, cut with an angle grinder and cleaned back to perfect with a belt sander. If it were straight cuts, i definitely would use a petrol disc cutter with water.

As said above, for the cost, hiring is worth considering. Diamond blades come in lots of forms. I used segmented for that job, but now there are the 'dna' style diamond blades which are pretty good
Lovely. Bet that burns your bum on a hot day though.
 

Stevekane

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A crucial trick with lettering is to get a balanced visual spacing between all the letters, that accommodates them having such different shapes. There's no mechanical system for achieving this that I can think of - it has to be done by eye. But individual letter templates can be spaced by hand with improvised spacers ...

As with all things, there's a good job, a bad job & a spectrum in between ...
I made up a frame a few years ago that allows me to set up the letters, hopefully photo below,,
 

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cowtown_eric

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slate cuts easily with a diamond blade in a skill saw.

For letters, I bought some vinyl resist from a local sandblast place whom also provided the sand-blasting compound, had it cut on a lase cutter to size, put it on some granite, and 10 minutes with a sandblaster produced this.
1655614714966.png

Address#'s could be easily put on a couple of pieces of paper, and cut by hand into the vinyl resist with careful exacto knife use and if you don't have a sand blaster, lots of your buddies may or you can get a cheapo hand held unit.

The resist has a tenacious self adhesive back, so you may have to print a paper mirror image so yer cutting the proper side.
 

GweithdyDU

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I guess I'm lucky that I live close to Home - Abingdon Stone & Marble . They have done slate work for me (a record deck plinth believe it or not).
I do as it happens. Slate is a good material for top end hi fi. Those slate speaker cabinets I mentioned were HUUUUUgely expensive but apparently (and I've not listened to them myself) 'off the scale wonderful. Makes sense really for floor mounted speakers. Inigo Jones in North Wales do some very interesting work with slate (and a fair bit of tourist stuff as well though).
 

Krome10

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Crikey, I somehow missed all these replies so was very pleasantly surprised to find them just now... Great stuff!

In the end, I wasn't able to get that particular piece but will have the need to cut slate in the future so all really helpful info that I'll refer back to

Many thanks one and all
 

morqthana

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Maybe hire a van next time rather than cut the slab there? Or got a mate with a large estate?
 

morqthana

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I do as it happens. Slate is a good material for top end hi fi.
Conrete paving slabs are also good to sit record decks on (the big thick b****rs that the council use for pavements, not the patio ones you can lift with one hand).

Don't look as good as a piece of slate, of course....
 

Krome10

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Maybe hire a van next time rather than cut the slab there? Or got a mate with a large estate?

The car wasn't the issue the only issue.... In fact, I might have JUST squeezed it in (well, theoretically, actually doing it would have been another matter!) But apparently it was deep in a back garden with narrow access and no-one available to help with the lifting (so would have been just me and the wife!)
 

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