Saturday, May 13, 2017

Soapstone Fun

A few months ago (was it really last fall?) I saw someone had posted a slab of soapstone on Craigslist for free. It had fallen over and broken into two pieces. You can see the trimmed edge of the broken piece in the bottom of that lower photo. That's after cutting off 11 1/4 inches.

The larger piece weighs well over 130 lbs and the smaller piece is probably 50-ish lbs.

I had read that you could cut soapstone with a diamond blade ($8.99) in a circular saw, so I figured I'd give it a try. We have a metal frame end table thing and I was going to make a wood top for it. It's about 11 1/2" by 29" -- and the smaller piece of the soapstone is 30 inches wide and the crack starts at 11 1/4, so we figured it was close enough.

I clamped a straight edge to the stone, put the 7" diamond blade in my ol' Craftsman 7 1/4" circular saw and went to town. It made a lot of dust (I wore a good mask and eye and ear protection for this one) but it seemed to cut ok. The saw kind of fought me but the end result was fine.

Then we took a closer look at the surface and saw quite a few shallow scratches. I figured I'd try out the sander and see if I couldn't smooth things out a bit.

The palm sander and a combination of 80 - 120 - 220 grit paper made quick work of it, and I spent < 20 minutes on the cutting and sanding. It came out much better than I expected and honestly, I'm hoping I can find something to use the rest of the soapstone on. Sanding with the palm sander really worked well. Finally, we applied a light coat of mineral oil and here it is:

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