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How to cut slate for a chalkboard

Updated February 21, 2019

Typically made with porcelain enamel and backed with a tough, durable material such as steel, modern chalkboards come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Though uncommon, the utilisation of traditional slate as a chalkboard material is not unheard of, and the materials can often be considerably less expensive and more convenient to acquire. With a working table tile saw, you can cut and shape a slate section for chalkboard construction.

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  1. Designate a working area of sufficient lighting for cutting and shaping your slate. Clean the area of any dirt, dust or debris, and ensure that the tile saw has been plugged in.

  2. Consult the measurements of your chalkboard design and decide on the exact cuts required to reach the dimensions on the slate. Fill the bucket or basin with hot water and place it nearby.

  3. Measure and make the required marks for cutting on the slate, ensuring that you calculate at least 3 mm (1/8 inch) for blade-width. Mark the lengths with a permanent marker.

  4. Put on your safety goggles, safety gloves and earplugs. Turn on the table tile saw and carefully feed the slate section to the blade. Ensure that enough resistance is being applied with your hands, so that the blade does not move or go awry as the slate is being cut.

  5. Move to the side of the table saw while feeding the slate section as necessary to ensure an even cut. If sparks or smoke occur, immediately turn off the saw and retract the slate section, apply a small amount of warm water to the area, and return.

  6. Repeat for any other cuts required to meet the proper dimensions of your chalkboard.

  7. Turn off the saw and ensure that the blade has finished spinning before leaving the area. Remove the cut slate from the saw table and unplug the saw for cleaning. Use a broom or vacuum to clean up the copious dust created from cutting the slate.

  8. Tip

    If you do not have ready access to a table tile saw, check with your local tool retailer or rental centre for availability and saw rental.


    Always wear safety goggles and gloves when operating heavy machinery such as the table saw. Never leave a power tool plugged in unattended and ensure that any children or small animals are clear of the working area as you cut the slate.

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Things You'll Need

  • Table tile saw with diamond-tipped blade
  • Slate section
  • Bucket or basin
  • Hot water
  • Measuring tape
  • Black permanent marker
  • Safety goggles
  • Safety gloves
  • Earplugs
  • Vacuum cleaner or broom (optional)

About the Author

Based in the Appalachian Mountains, Brian Connolly is a certified nutritionist and has been writing professionally since 2000. He is a licensed yoga and martial arts instructor whose work regularly appears in “Metabolism,” “Verve” and publications throughout the East Coast. Connolly holds advanced degrees from the University of North Carolina, Asheville and the University of Virginia.

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