Sofa tables. Again.

I'm about to start on a pair of sofa tables. They are to look like this: http://tinypic.com/r/2d2c1ed/9
I have three possibilities for the inset black areas...
1. 3/8" black granite tiles, weight about 2.3 lbs./sq.ft
2. 1/2" soapstone tiles, weight about 9.2 lbs./sq.ft.
3. 1/2" ply plus laminate or 1/2" mel board, weight about 2 lbs./sq.ft. for the mel, less for ply
Each possible choice presents problems. My preference would be for the soapstone - even though it is much more costly - because it isn't much more difficult to work than wood which means I could easily get a flush surface between it and the wood surround. The problem is the weight...using it, each table would weigh 150 pounds or more. Not real easy to move to clean around.
The problem with the granite or mel/laminate is in getting it and the surrounding surface flush. Can't sand so that means plane/scrape/router trim, all of which are possible, just a bit of a PITA. There will be a shimming underlay under the tile so I'd be able to get it pretty close so the leveling of the wood surround would be minimal. Still, I'd really prefer the soapstone; maybe I'll do it and just forget about moving them to clean :)
I'd really appreciate comments/suggestions from y'all.
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On 10/19/2016 8:51 AM, dadiOH wrote: ...

...
I fail to grasp the "why" of the difficulty -- unless the proposed material isn't uniform thickness, perhaps?
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On 10/19/2016 9:01 AM, dpb wrote: ...

If it is that, or you're just not wanting to use the precision in setting and cutting a rabbet depth needed, the "trick" to leveling the tiles in situ would be to drill and tap for leveling screws at the corners. You can then "tweak" in minute amounts and account for variations in thickness at heart's content to match whatever is the finished height of the rail.
I do essentially the same thing when mounting the RAS or chopsaw in a long bench--support the saw frame on adjusting levelers that can be locked down so don't have to construct the benchtop itself precisely to match the saw.
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On Wednesday, October 19, 2016 at 9:50:20 AM UTC-4, dadiOH wrote:

Big fan of soapstone as well...if it makes a difference, you might want to check your weights again tho...I don't believe the difference in densities between soapstone and granite is that great (I think your granite number is low)
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On 10/19/2016 9:02 AM, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote: ...

Yeah, and in fact soapstone is a little more dense than granite despite being softer.
I get something otoo 7.0-7.5 lb/ft2 and closer to 6 for the granite on checking....
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On 10/19/2016 9:25 AM, dpb wrote: ...

And, one last comment re: the weight...I'm guessing the end result would be well over 200 lb each with either stone option you've outlined and that there's not enough bulk in the frame to keep it from sagging without center supports just as an initial design thought.
I think with time you'd find the weight to be more of a hindrance -- it'll get harder and harder to do anything with 'em as age which just may be a consideration depending on the house layout and all...not a deal breaker, probably, just a thought to consider longer-term.
Lastly, what strikes me is that if you were really serious re: the soapstone and willing to invest the money, I'd talk to a local cabinet shop and see if they couldn't either fabricate on site or order in thin veneer tiles instead of the full thickness. For the table top that would not be subject to heavy loading or (presumably) impact, with proper backing a much thinner piece of material would be more than strong enough and cut the weight significantly. "It's only money!" :)
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There are beefy center supports.

I'm 83 now. Which is why I'm worrying :)

I have been unable to find any source for thinner tiles. It isn't even all that easy to find soapstone vendors that sell tile, most are focused on slabs. However, skinnying them down is a distinct possibility, wouldn't be all that hard on my drum sander. AAMOF, I've done just that with Saltillo tiles - soft but way harder than soapstone - when I needed thinner pieces. Thanks for the input.
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On 10/19/2016 11:30 AM, dadiOH wrote: ...

That'd work but be wasteful of material...I was thinking of a custom fabrication starting with the 5/4 cabinet stock on hand. Essentially, it's a resawing operation. Actually, with a carbide blade if you had a sufficient bandsaw you might be able to do it with the existing tiles altho that's getting a little on the marginal side to expect, probably.
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For me, the chance of that working would be zero.
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On 10/19/2016 1:32 PM, dadiOH wrote:

Are there any good custom cabinet shops locally? I'd think they could either make them for you from some of their ordinary stock or have a vendor who would do so. Of course, the custom work might be more than the budget would stand so the waste of the stock from the off-the-shelf tiles thru the sander would still be less overall investment.
I've not looked at any recently, but there certainly has been improvement in the laminate appearance over the years; have you done any actual visual inspection of current choices? There is, of course, despite the superficial appearance that others probably would never really notice the factor of knowing yourself what is the actual material and that's not an insignificant factor to consider I'll grant.
I just have some concern for a furniture piece vis a vis a kitchen cabinet top or even island. But, your call of course... :)
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Don't know, never had need for one, I've always made my own stuff.

If I used laminate, it would be a matte black. But you're right, there are lots of nice looking laminates now.

I've made all sorts of furniture over the years. About the only thing I haven't made is a chair; assorted stools, yes, chairs no, haven't had the need.
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On 10/20/2016 1:17 PM, dadiOH wrote: ...

That part I knew; I was just concerned re: the weight of this piece as proposed being "over the top" from a practicality standpoint going forward.
But, again, it's your call, I've said my piece...
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Actually, I am giving serious consideration to skinnying down soapstone as per your suggestion. Not all that many to do, I could even attach them to the ply subbase and send the works through the drum sander as one piece. Wasteful, true but a viable solution.

Appreciated and thanks.
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On 10/20/2016 3:11 PM, dadiOH wrote: ...

Likely so, I'd be curious whether a local shop could fabricate what you need reasonably, though...which was all I was suggesting a local do; the stone work (providing, of course, there's one there who does actual work other than scribe countertop to a line). There was one in Lynchburg, VA, years and years and years ago we used to use in the old Federalist area revival that we "imports" to the area started when we were just getting out of school and couldn't afford much but these old run-down mansions and near-mansions could be had for near nothing if you were willing and able to put in the work needed...

No problem, will be interested to see what finally come up with (and if you are still ahead after buying the forklift to move it from the shop :) )
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I got the 9+ for soapstone by weighing a few of the tiles I last used (recently).
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Although one might argue that lb/ft2 is not a precise unit of measurement as weight is a function of mass(volume), not area. Given that the tiles referred to in the OP had different thicknesses, lb/ft3 is the proper unit of measurement for comparison.
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On 10/19/2016 12:41 PM, Scott Lurndal wrote: ...

Excepting we had the square footage to be covered not the volume of the total tiles. Hence, to get a total weight we needed the weight/sq-ft. of the tiles(*). That measure includes the thickness of the material implicitly so it's perfectly accurate (or at least as accurate as the overall weight and dimensions will allow).
(*) Or, equivalently, he could have told us how many tiles he was going to use and the total weight of an individual tile.
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On 10/19/2016 11:23 AM, dadiOH wrote:
...

Can't beat empirical evidence... :)
I was recollecting using ~20 lb-psf for computing cabinet supporting structure requirements, etc, and backed it down to 19 as being, I thought I remembered, closer to actual for most material. Those were 5/4 slabs, of course. The 9 would seem to be on the high end of the weight range but not ridiculously so (and I'm certainly not going to argue with your scales :) ). 9*2*5/4 --> 22.5 or 10%
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I checked again, you're right. I was looking at kg; pound weight is about 5.4 lb/sq.ft.
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On Wednesday, October 19, 2016 at 8:50:20 AM UTC-5, dadiOH wrote: The problem is the weight...using it,

A possible remedy for moving the furniture, is apply felt casters, for hardwood flooring, or vinyl casters, for carpet.
Sonny
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