Soapstone is an excellent choice for the Do-It-Yourselfer!
Although soapstone is denser than marble or granite, it is a soft stone which may be cut and shaped without any special stone working tools, cutting gear or equipment. We recommend cutting soapstone with a circular saw diamond blade, however a masonry blade will work.
Simple edges may be finished with common powered sanders. More ornate edges can be mastered with a router using carbide router bits. Faucet fixture holes can be cut with a hole saw and larger sink insert cut-outs made using a combination circular saw for the straight runs, and a hole saw and jig saw to a achieve desired corner sweeps.
DIRECTIONS ON INSTALLING SOAPSTONE
Note: Not all soapstone varieties are recommended for do-it-yourself projects due to hardness.
Part one: Cutting stone down to size
The soapstone slab must be supported on a level surface, prior to cutting. All parts of the stone must supported by a table, you do not want the part of the stone that you are cutting to fall away from the slab. If this should occur, your slab will chip, the weight of the piece you just cut off will cause it to fall and snap off the remaining piece to be cut. Clamping a straight edge to both sides of the slab to be cut is vital. You will use it as a guide to insure that your cut is straight. A carbine blade will certainly do the trick, however, a diamond blade will work faster and cleaner.
You may cut soapstone dry. It is a very dusty endeavor though, and one must wear a respirator. You should do the cutting outside if possible. If you have a helper, have them follow you with a vacuum, taking up most of the resulting powder. Take a practice cut on a part of the stone you know you will not be using, to better get the feel of how it will cut. You should feel comfortable with what you are doing prior to making your final cuts. Place a layer of masking tape on the underside of the circular saw, creating a buffer between the deck of the saw and your stone. Dragging the saw across the stone dry can cause it to be scratched. The masking tape will prevent this from happening.
Part two: Edging your stone.
Soapstone is a stone that wants to be worked with. You should not be afraid of this process. You will actually enjoy watching your efforts turn into the finished product. If the edge you want, and the one we recommend is a simple one, an eased edge, you make do this with an orbital sander, or by hand. Start by using 80 grit sandpaper and work your way up to 120, or 220 if you like. If you go up to 220, but do not like your results, sand it back down with 120 grit, you are merely removing very small amounts from your stone and will not harm it. We feel that 120 grit is sufficient. Clean off all the dust thoroughly. Water works fine. Once dry, apply a food grade mineral oil to the stone. Let sit for a moment and buff with a clean dry cloth. Stone should not be tacky or oily, but radiant and full of life, beautiful!
If you prefer a more fancy edge, you may do so with a router and carbide bits. Take a few practice runs on the discarded pieces first, the feel needs to be right.
Part 3: How to handle a sink cut out and drilling faucet holes
This by far the hardest part of your install, and should be taken slowly. But let’s talk about the options to accomplish the task of doing an under mount sink. You may use an angle grinder with a diamond blade or carbide, a circular saw, or a jig-saw with a high speed metal blade. You may start by using a hole saw in the corners following up with your jig-saw to do the radius (the angled sides), or circular saw if straight, finishing up the corners and edges with an angle grinder. Leave yourself stone to work with; do not cut it exactly where you need the sink to end. Finish all edges of the sink slowly with the angle grinder. This will leave you room to make mistakes.
You now have an exposed inside cut in your stone. Finish the edge just like you did in step 2.
A ¼ inch overlap around the soapstone sink is recommended instead of making the cut flush with the sink. However, the choice is yours, feel free to be unique!
With a farm style sink, you will not have to make a cut out. There will be a small piece of soapstone seemed to the left and right counter, behind the sink, do not worry, if done properly, your seams will be nearly invisible.
Faucet holes may be drilled with a hole saw. Make sure you are cutting at a ninety degree angle.
Part 4: Invisible seaming
Soapstone allows for a very tight seam, unlike granite. Seams in soapstone are flush with the counter surface and if rubbed, you cannot feel them. Seaming might not even be necessary, but if it is, plan for it to be in out of the way locations, like behind the sink. You will need knife grade black stone epoxy. Do not be tempted to use a gray color to match your un-oiled soapstone.
With the soapstone in place on the counters, begin your seaming. Do not attempt to seam the stone somewhere else and then move it. Seam it where it is going to finally be.
Using your angle grinder, scar the edges that will need to be seamed, we recommend 1/8” cuts, to allow room for the epoxy to go in when the pieces are joined together. Do a dry fit before the final epoxy. Now is the time to make corrections if need be. Place a generous amount of epoxy and hardener on both pieces. You will need to work quickly as epoxy will set up in 10 minutes! Slide the two pieces together as tight as possible. Epoxy that is squeezed out of the seam should be removed with a spatula right away. Let the seam dry for ½ an hour. Once the seam has dried, sand an area of about 2” on each side of the seam, including the seam. You should see the seam get thinner and thinner. Once you are done and have applied the mineral oil, the seam will be nearly invisible.
Part 5: Affixing the soapstone to the cabinets
The soapstone may sit directly on the top of the base cabinets. Once you have dry fitted the soapstone to the cabinets, and know that everything fits together nicely, you will remove the stone and put a bead of silicon on all the cabinets that contact the stone (front and back as well as inside). Place the stone in place, the weight of the stone will be enough to keep in place until the silicone hardens.
Part 6: Oil and celebrate
Congratulations, you are almost done. It is now time to apply the mineral oil to the stone. Do so with a cotton cloth, use enough oil to cover the stone while gently rubbing the counters. Not too much, it’ll make your job harder. Once the stone is uniformly oiled, let it sit for a moment, then buff dry with another cotton cloth. Stone will be dark, and have a matte finish, and will not be oily to the touch. It is now time to open your favorite beer and toast yourself for a job well done!!! Enjoy!!
We sell sample packs of in stock slabs for $25 per set. (includes shipping) – ORDER YOUR SAMPLE HERE.