How to Make Slate Table Mats
Slate table mats are a unique innovation for your modern table setting. Table mats are one of the important decorative items for your table, and are as important as a good set of crockery. While they can be made of anything from paper to plastic, slate is one material that stands out of the ordinary varieties. Not only do they help save on later clean-ups of the table, they also are one of the first items required to lay out a table. Instead of investing on costly mats from the departmental store, you can add your personal touches to the slate mats that can be made at home by following a few basic steps.
Step 1: Preparation
Wear light clothes and put on safety goggles before beginning work. Take all the materials outside. Never work indoors, as you will be creating slate chips and rock dust.
Step 2: Decide the Dimensions
The first thing you need to decide upon is how big are the slate mats going to be. This must be done, keeping in mind the size of your table. You may use the worn out slate tiles off your roof, or order new slabs from the mason store. If you buy new slabs, make sure that they are cleaned with a stone cleaner and allowed to dry for a day before being put to use. If using old tiles, they must be carefully cut to size using the cutter. Note must be taken if the tiles are actually good enough for table use. For cutting the slate into neat shaped mats, use a circular saw that has a diamond blade. Another alternative is to use a slate cutter, found easily at all hardware shops, to cut the slate mats to size. 30 by 20 centimeters is the dimension of the slate mats in this project. Draw the lines of this length on the slate slabs using a marker and then cut it out as mentioned above.
Step 3: Making the Tiles
Once the slate slabs are cleaned, lay them out on a plain surface. Chip off the sides using a chisel and hammer. Place the chisel blade at the corners where you need to chip off and hammer gently on the chisel handle. This will make the slabs look tidy. You may round off the edges for a more artistic look. A circular power miter can be used for this purpose. You may also use a stone filer to smooth the edges of the slate slabs where you find them rough. Make sure that the tiles are not too thick. This makes them look clumsy on the table. A standard 4 millimeter thickness is fair enough.
Step 4: Finishing Touches
The final, yet the most important step is sealing the mats. This enhances the look of the mats, making them bright and shiny. Since these mats are meant for table use, use a solvent-based enhancing plus impregnating sealer to coat the surface. This prevents the absorption of excess water or formation of oil stains. Dab some sealer using a piece of cloth onto the mats. Leave it on for 15 minutes and then wipe away the extra sealer, without letting it form puddles on the surface. After an hour, you will see that the slate appears as it was before sealing it. If you want a glossier appearance, apply a topical impregnating sealer using a wet piece of cloth. The only point to be kept in mind when applying this kind of sealer is that you must apply it in a single swipe or stroke. This leaves your slate mats all lustrous and glowing. Clean these mats regularly with any neutral stone cleaning solution, available at all leading stores.