Working With Soapstone / Countertop Application

Have any of you kitchen remodel gurus ever worked with Soapstone for kitchen countertops? It is supposed to be workable with woodworking tools, circular saw with a diamond blade, diamond hole saws, diamond jig saw blades for sink cut outs, and edge treatment with carbide router bits. The current This Old House magazine issue has an article on DIY soapstone installation, it sounds pretty workable. Could one expect to get a clean enough cross cut with a circular saw with a diamond blade and edge guide to be able to join two slabs together with a respectable looking joint line? I can buy soapstone locally from a lumber supplier for $40 a sq. ft. so the price is attractive compared to other stone products. Any suggestions or advice drawn from experience would be appreciated. Thanks
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d.williams wrote:

I know you are asking for experienced opinion, but you might also want to check the porosity of soapstone. I seem to recall reading that it is one of the more porous countertop stones and requires a good deal of periodic care re-sealing it to avoid staining.
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If you're going to be dumb, you better be tough

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I agree with her but for a different reason. There is extremely hard soapstone out there and the harder it is the less maintence you will need to do. After a certain point any oil you put on it will just sit on the stone because it's too dense to absorb it. I know there is one soapstone out of argentena(sp) that is of this ulta hard type.
On Sat, 02 Aug 2008 12:02:12 -0700, Mark & Juanita

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Mark & Juanita wrote:

On the contrary, it is about as impervious a material as you will ever find. And for the poster who posted to you, soapstone - all soapstone - is very soft.
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dadiOH
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I have th eissue confused. I originally confused porouseness with hardness. Soapstone is totally non porous. Any sealer put on it would just sit on top. As is the oil used does the same but it's only a fine layer wiped on. It can still be scrached but with some sanding and oil it hides scratches.
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When I was in high school, the 60's, all lab tables in science classes were made of soapstone. It was heavy and durable. When I asked as to why the soapstone, I was told that the surfade did not react to a lot of chemicals. I am not sure about that.
I know that I have seen a number of antique soapstone sinks.
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dadiOH wrote:

Then I stand corrected. Sounds like soapstone's only deficiency is being soft and thus subject to damage.
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No firsthand experience, but I've been on quite a few jobs with an experienced soapstone installer as a sub, and have asked many of the same questions you're asking. One answer I recall verbatim: "You can work soapstone with woodworking machinery, as long as you aren't planning to use the woodworking machinery on wood again." At the very least, you'll need new blades.
He used a tinted epoxy on the seams, and then polished it out after the epoxy cured. His polishing equipment was an angle grinder with a series of ever finer diamond discs and honing pads. I don't think that a routed or sawn edge would be a satisfactory finished surface without further polishing.
Soapstone is more porous than some other countertop materials, but that is part of its charm. It very quickly darkens and develops a rich patina that many find more appealing than cold, polished granite.
Hope this helps -
Scott
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d.williams wrote:

Sorry, no experience, but I have some knowledge of it from when I was a geologist. Soapstone is composed mostly of the mineral talc and is very soft - easily carved with a pen knife. It is also very dense - it will not absorb liquids. Not unless there is a physical crack and even then the liquid is not being absorbed.
I can only guess as to its workability with power tools. My guess is that the only problem would be the potential of chipping. Since diamond blades cut by abrading, chipping should be very minimal if at all. It would be easily sandable too, either by hand or power.
--

dadiOH
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"Soapstone" is a catch-all term for a lot of different rocks. The common quality in all of them is that they contain a lot of the mineral "talc", which is very soft (Mohs 2-2.5, 3 at best).
Thus, the rock is very soft and probably workable with common wood tools.
-Zz
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I'm following this thread with a great deal of interest; hoping to learn something. I love the feel and look of soapstone. I can certainly envision it in a vanity application, I don't know If that would be the right choice in a kitchen. It marks easily. (That would mean it should be easy to refinish as well?) As far as permeability is concerned...no clue, but googling my butt off.
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I may give it a try on a small bath vanity to see how it works out. I was given a small sample piece. but haven't put a cutting tool to it yet. From what I have been able to find out, it is very resistant to chemicals, ( thus the chemistry lab table application ) and seals and darkens with the application of mineral oil. Here is a link to the This Old House install.
http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/how-to/intro/0,,20207908,00.html
Thanks
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I'm following this thread with a great deal of interest; hoping to learn something. I love the feel and look of soapstone. I can certainly envision it in a vanity application, I don't know If that would be the right choice in a kitchen. It marks easily. (That would mean it should be easy to refinish as well?) As far as permeability is concerned...no clue, but googling my butt off.
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All looks pretty basic except the undermounting part. That is not for the squeamish and I would not take a chance like that, not that close to the sink's edge. I'd go this way: http://www.vanceind.com/50insinkundermounter.aspx
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d.williams wrote:

The mineral oil will darken it because it wets the surface but it really doesn't do anything to seal it because of the built in impermebility of the stone. Mineral oil never dries but will eventually wear off; in the meantime, it can be a dust catcher.
--

dadiOH
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