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How to use a slater’s axe?

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Slate tiles should be cut from the back side The natural layering of slate means that it is relatively easy to chip bits off it under pressure. Slater’s axes can be used to trim slate tiles to size and punch holes in them. This can be useful for producing tiles which are not standard sizes and creating holes for fixings to go through.
Wonkee Donkee says "A slater’s axe will be either right or left-handed, so make sure you have the right one to suit you."

How to trim slate with a slater’s axe

Bench irons, slater's avils, or brake irons can be used to support slate when you cut it You need a solid surface to work with, so the slate can be supported, with a straight edge. Traditionally, slater’s axes are used with a bench iron, also known as a slater’s anvil. These are very narrow anvils which support the edge of the slate while you chip away the parts you want to remove. However, you can use anything with a sturdy solid edge, such as a brick.
Mark on the slate tile where you want to cut too

Step 1 – Measure and mark

Measure and mark on the back side of the slate where you want to cut it. The back of the slate is the smoothest and has fairly straight edges; the front has more naturally rough, slightly bevelled edges. Use a straight-edged guide, like a rule or level, for accuracy.

Support a slate tile ready to cut it

Step 2 – Support slate

Use a bench iron, brick, or similar solid object with a straight edge underneath the slate to support it. Place the slate on the support, holding it with the opposite hand to the one you’ll hold the axe in.

Cutting slate tiles

Step 3 – Perforate slate

If you are removing a fairly large piece of slate, rather than a thin piece close to an edge, you should perforate where you want to cut with the holing point. Punch out a series of holes just short of the marked line, while it’s supported underneath. The slate can then be tapped to split it across the line of holes.

Trim slate by cutting it a bit at a time

Step 3 – Make cuts

Now move the slate so the line is at the edge of the support and make careful cuts up to your marked line by striking the tile vertically with the blade of the axe. Move the slate as necessary along the support until you have reached the line. You can run the back of the blade up and down the edge to smooth it out.

How to punch holes in slate with a slater’s axe

Slate tiles can be nailed When slate tiles are fixed to roofs they will usually be nailed with two nails. Slater’s axes have a spike which is designed to punch holes into slate sheets for nails, or other fixings, to go through. You’ll need to use a bench iron, a brick, or a similar solid surface to support the slate when you strike it.
Mark out where you want to punch the hole in the slate tile

Step 1 – Mark slate

Mark on the slate where you need to the hole to go. You can mark this with a cross, on the back side of the slate – the smoothest side.

Cut slate by chipping away a bit at a time.

Step 2 – Support slate

Support the slate so that the mark for where you want the hole is just over the edge of the support.

Punching a hole in a slate tile with a slater's axe

Step 3 – Punch hole

Strike the slate with the holing spike, fairly hard. You may need to strike it more than once, to chip through the layers of the slate to produce a hole which goes all the way through the tile.

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