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What is a Slater’s Axe?

What is a slater’s axe?

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Slater's axe - cutting tools for slater's and people who work with slate tiles A slater’s axe can also be called a sax, slate cleaver, slate trimmer, saxe, or zax. It’s a cutting tool designed to be used in conjunction with a bench iron (also called a slater’s anvil), or a similar solid surface, to trim sheets of natural slate to size. Individual slater’s axes will either be left or right handed, as the blade is offset from the handle to protect the users hand from chips of slate. They also have a spike protruding from the butt of the blade which can be used to punch holes in slate.
Slates can be trimmed into tiles with a slater's axe Slate is a type of layered rock which is quarried. Some of it can be cut into smooth, flat tiles with specialist tools. These tiles have been used for flooring, roofing and other purposes, for many years. It’s a popular building material and can last for hundreds of years. It’s low maintenance, waterproof, energy efficient, and fire resistant.
Wonkee Donkee says "Slate is a metamorphic rock. This means it is formed when subjected to conditions of pressure, temperature, or chemical environment which change the rock’s mineral grouping and texture."

What is a slater’s axe used for?

Trimmed tile Slater’s axes are one of a small number of specialist tools designed for trimming slate tiles and making holes in them.For more information see: How to use a slater’s axe?
Trimming slate with a slater's axe


Slate tiles typically come ready cut, in standard sizes. However, if you need smaller pieces to fill in gaps, or to use as end pieces, you will probably need to trim them to size yourself with a tool like a slater’s axe.

Punching a hole in slate with a slater's axe

Hole punching

When used as roofing tiles, slate tiles are usually secured with two nails. The holes for the nails to go through can be punched into the slate with the specially designed piercing spike built into the back of the slater’s axe’s blade.

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