How to Cut Soapstone
Soapstone is a soft, metamorphic rock that many people are familiar with in its talcum powder form. Used in building construction dating back to the 1700s, it has found a niche in today's marketplace as countertops, stoves and exterior trims.
The stain-resistant, nonporous nature of soapstone makes it a desirable choice for kitchen counters. The ease of cutting and working with this soft stone allows many do-it-yourselfers the ability to create a dramatic statement in interior decorating. With the proper tools, cutting soapstone only takes an hour or two.
Things You Will Need
- Safety glasses
- Dust mask
- Tape measure
- Utility knife
- Circular saw
- Diamond blade
- 80-,100-, 220- and 300-grit sandpaper
- Belt sander
- Hole saw
- Angle grinder
Coat the soapstone surface frequently with mineral oil. This will help keep the surface in great shape. Regina Cole of My Old House states, "The beauty of soapstone is that, whether brand new or decades old, its good looks are easily restored." Use at least two people to move soapstone slabs. They are awkward and break easily.
Use safety glasses and a dust mask for this project. This will help protect your eyes and lungs.
Cutting the Straight Edge
Stabilize the stone slab on a flat and supportive surface. Leaving any ends without support causes that portion to break toward the end of the cut. It will seriously damage the edge.
Measure the length and width of the surface needed. Using a straightedge, score the surface with a sharp utility knife. This is the line you need to follow during the cut.
Cover the sides of a diamond saw blade with masking tape and install it on a circular saw. The tape will protect the soapstone from scoring as it is cut. Use a dust mask and safety glasses during the cutting portion. This stone can be wet or dry cut, but the dust will be prolific when dry.
Run the length of the cut at half the depth on thicker slabs. Cut 3/4 inch down on a 1 1/2-inch thickness soapstone slab, then return to the starting point and cut the remaining depth. This will make the cutting process more manageable with less stress on the saw.
Begin sanding the edges with 80-grit sandpaper. Gradually increase to a 220- or 300-grit paper. This will create a smooth finish. Use a belt sander to save time.
Creating Sink and Faucet Cut-outs
Measure the area to be cut out to hold the sink. Allow for 1/4 inch of overlap of soapstone and sink in the measurements.
Use a hole saw to drill a hole at all four corners of the measured sink area. Cut the holes to the inside of the measured area.
Fit a metal speed blade onto a jigsaw. Cut out the sink opening by running the jigsaw from one corner hole to the other. Follow the straightedge carefully on all four sides.
Measure and mark the needed faucet holes. Use the correct diameter hole saw blade to cut these by pressing the rotating blade down into the stone slab until it is through the entire depth.
Clean up the corners using an angle grinder. Gently run the grinder along the corner edges to shape the needed curvature that fits the sink. Sand all cut-out areas with 80-grit sandpaper. Finish with 220- or 300-grit.