How to cut slate rock

Written by tracy barnhart Google
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How to cut slate rock
Use a circular saw to slice through slate. (iacona/iStock/Getty Images)

Rich in clay minerals, quartz, chlorite and mica, slate is a fine-grained metamorphic rock that forms from a parent rock of either mudstone or shale. Many accessory minerals are also present in slate and often dictate the colour of the stone. Slate forms from a low grade of metamorphism, which means that low temperatures and pressures form the slate. During this process, slate develops cleavage planes that break easily in one direction. Take advantage of these natural breaks when you need to cut slate.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Slate rock slab
  • Chisel
  • Hammer
  • Wet circular saw with diamond blade
  • Dust mask
  • Tape measure
  • Chalk

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  1. 1

    Split the slate rock into the desired slab thickness using a hammer and chisel. Slate will naturally and easily break along cleavage planes that form during metamorphism. Continue splitting the rock until you reach the desired thickness for a slab. If the rock doesn't split easily, you are likely perpendicular to the cleavage plane rather than parallel, so rotate the rock and try again. Wear appropriate safety equipment while breaking and cutting the rock such as safety goggles and dust mask.

  2. 2

    Place the rock slab on a flat cutting surface such as a saw stand or table. If your saw has a guide, place the slate rock against the guide to achieve a straight cut.

  3. 3

    Measure the length and width of the rock slab. Mark the rock with chalk lines where you want to cut the rock. Align the chalk marks with the blade on the saw.

  4. 4

    Cut the slab into the desired length using a wet circular saw equipped with a diamond blade. Dry saws can also cut slate; however, wet saws are preferred due to the decrease in dust production. Gently and slowly push the rock slab into the saw blade. Although slate is very durable, it cuts very easily.

  5. 5

    Repeat the cutting process to achieve the desired width for the slate rock slab.

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