The Counters Blog

Kneading Surface



Any particular advantage of a wood surface over marble (besides the weight)?

I buy the sheets from a plastics dealer and cut them into usable pieces. They’re really great from a clean-up point of view or more aptly they help contain the mess. Most bread boards seem to be made out of a lighter wood for some reason.


The Stain Test. How Counter Tops Compare | Duration 7 Minutes 9 Seconds

One really interesting fact that has emerged, concerning wood, is that it doesn’t harbor bacteria on its surface. It wasn’t till someone had the temerity to acutally test the assumed hypothesis and voila!

There seems to be a natural system that reduces harmful bacteria from the surface after being cleaned with warm water whereas plastic remained contaminated. The marble is really pretty, but it weighs a ton, and it doesn’t roll up very easily. There have been studies done comparing natural wooden kitchen surfaces and plastic/man-made surfaces and the wood won out. These little beasties aren’t allowed to roam free in most commercial egg production farms, but live cooped up (pardon).

Let them roam and their pastures can do something to decompose their waste, whereas having six billion of them in a hundred square feet is more difficult. The water in the towel soaks the spot, and in 5-10 minutes, it should be damp enough to wipe easier. Maybe it’s just the water, and not necessarily the heat that works for me. No issues kneading, stretching, or folding and the cleanup was quick. It’s not an exact science but you do get a feel for liquid temperature adjustments after a few tries. I used them as a backing to parchment paper to empty the bannetons on and as a surrogate peel to place the loaves in the oven (have to be fast otherwise they’ll start melting). It has the right amount of frictional resistance to hold the dough in place while holding enough flour to prevent sticking. Cutting boards are usually made of hardwood and are usually much heavier. The scientific world had written wood off as a sanitary surface by assumption. As an interesting aside it seemed than none of the scientific people had noticed the successful use of wood in gastronomy since the dawn of civilization.





Marble Racetrack (Wnw #33) | Duration 7 Minutes 53 Seconds

I let the bits of dough dry and then chip them off with the square end of my measuring spoons. It is nice to be able to take your kneading surface over to the sink to clean it thoroughly. I just can’t help but think about all those bakers that have yards of wood surface to clean.

I figure our bodies need to be in a non-clean environment to build up resistance, but maintaining a minimum of cleanliness without getting freaky about it. But we don’t do everything like smart people might if given the chance. The health problem isn’t refrigeration, it’s contamination of the insides and this happens while yet in the chicken, because of unsanitary circumstances in their habitat. I don’t know, some of you who work right on the counter, may find this useful. I compensate with warmer or colder liquid temps depending on the target dough temperature. I have switched to a large, heavy wooden cutting board, at least temporarily. If you see anything inappropriate on the site or have any questions, contact me at floydm at thefreshloaf dot com.

Marble by unitedgranitepa.com

Marble’s all natural beauty is hard to find with any other choice of material, and that’s for sure. On your bathroom, areas around the fireplaces or to decorate your kitchen, marble never loses its stunning grandeur as well.

It doesn’t matter whether you already know that you need a kitchen marble countertop with dark, dramatic coloring marks or light and elegant one. It is an art best done by experts and those whose understanding of it is unquestionable. More than that, we’ll show you the basic marble countertop maintenance tips for a lasting appearance. It is one of the best stone surface choices for kitchen countertops, especially if you need to add a subtle and elegant persona to the kitchen. Furthermore, kitchen countertops made of marble have a particular kind of uniqueness that’s hard to create or modify, even when you use a different material. The best thing about the little marbles, unlike the limestone, is that it can be cleaned and polished for that beautiful glossy finish. And this natural and exotic elegance is what places a marble countertop far more glamorous than any other choice.

Buying marbles and using them to create a beautiful surface isn’t an investment you can hire anyone. You’ll need someone who will offer sound advice on what type of marble stones to buy according to how you’d love your kitchen to look. It’s nearly impossible to get your desired look and appearance on the eventual countertop made of marble if you go wrong in these two critical stages. Whether it’s something with a shiny and reflective look or a matte appearance, trust us to get the job done. So, if you need something that will never age, drop us a line.



Quartz Vs Soapstone | Countertop Comparison | Duration 2 Minutes 29 Seconds

Soapstone: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About This Amazing Stone by granitegrannies.com

The finished surface of soapstone feels like a dry bar of soap (and that’s where it gets its name!). Artistic grade is better for carving and sculptures, but high quality architectural is what you want in your home. Most experts recommend that you do not seal soapstone, since it is not as porous as granite. Unlike granite, the colors in soapstone will darken or change appearance over a long period of time as the stone is exposed to oxygen.

This is different than mineral oil treatments and must be done during fabrication and prior to installation. This is a purely aesthetic treatment that keeps the stone more consistent in color. Left untreated, the soapstone will darken around the surface areas most frequently used, particularly in a kitchen or food service environment. If you change your mind, you can go back to oiling the stone. You can actually scratch it with your fingernail, is this normal?

Because soapstone is a little softer than granite, nicks and scratches may appear, but they can either be sanded out or left for a weathered, rustic look. I tried putting it the oven at 350 degrees, but they are back again!

Some of our clients actually prefer to keep the scratches as it makes it into a more historic looking stone over time. Even without oiling, the counters are really difficult to keep clean. Are you sure it’s not just a granite with a leather finish? You can make it look almost black by applying various oils or darkening agents. However, it usually needs to be reapplied regularly (easy to do) so you may want to talk to your fabricator about what that entails. Is there anything that can repel greasy splatters from pans on the gas range?

No, the supplier would likely not know how hard the stone was. The talc mineral in soapstone gives it that soft, smooth feel. In fact, soapstone is not only naturally antibacterial, but it is also naturally burn and stain resistant and requires very little maintenance.

Some are darker or lighter with more or less veining, as you might expect in a natural stone.



Countertops Made Easy | Marble.Com | Duration 3 Minutes 25 Seconds

It can also help to blend any scratches that may occur over time. Experts recommend that you clean your soapstone with a mild soap and water.

Soapstone fell out of favor in the 20th century, but in the last decade kitchen lovers have been rediscovering its natural beauty, durability, and energy efficient heat retention.

Most homeowners who choose soapstone say the beauty of the stone it’s completely worth any marginal risk of nicks or scratches. You could oil or wax the piece to keep the color consistent. I can slice bread with a serrated knife on the counter and it will not even nick the stone. Any drop of water leaves a mark (no we don’t have high mineral count water). She will either know the answer or know where to get it!

This process is perfectly safe and wont’ change the hardness of the stone. I find it hard to believe that no one else is talking about it. I don’t want to seal the stone with mineral oil or a dry wax, because we like the medium grey color of the soapstone. We’ve tried other things for this problem, but since soapstone is so dense, you can’t really seal it like you do with granite. But if you supplier says it’s fine, then they are probably right.

I thought all was good but then i look closely and see the corbels are either not touching the stone at all or else ever so slightly. I am so tired of fighting with our kitchen contractor after 5 months of this reno that im praying you can tell me that a 12 inch overhang of soapstone is ok without support. A fabricator we were considering sent an article trying to convince me against soapstone; one of that person’s complaints was that grape juice stained it. And then one supplier is proposing a soapstone that is 50-55% talc.



All About Quartz Countertops | Marble.Com | Duration 2 Minutes 35 Seconds

Stone Sculptures Carving Marble Limestone Soapstone Alabaster by stoneshaper.com

Ask the local colleges if they are going to have a stone-carving workshop. Its well worth the work involved to shape it but it does help to have a good set of tools since it is a harder stone. As you can see it is easy to accrue many different tools but you really don’t need this many to start. I then sew up one end completely and sew the other end leaving about a two inch opening. You can get four out of a pair of pants which should be enough.

Wrap around goggles offer the best protection against dust and flying chips. Dust masks are a must when grinding and carving stone to avoid silicoses and lifetime health problems.

Leather gloves will do a lot when you’re tired and miss that chisel. I finished the first seven of my works without ever reading about stone carving. This can be the hardest way to go since you don’t know where you’re going with it. Take a drill with a masonry bit and drill a couple of holes in it. You’ll be amazed how that will help to give you a starting point. I did this on one of my sculptures and it bled several centimeters into the stone. This is where the majority of the stone is removed and is done with a heavy chisel made for removing large amounts of stone or with power tools such as a circular saw with a masonry blade on it or an angle grinder with a diamond stone cutting blade on it.

These are easily removed without fear of damaging the rest of the stone as can happen with beating it to take off a big chunk.

The point chisel is held about a 45 degree angle to the stone. The object here is to make a line in stone with the first pass. This leaves squares of stone that can be easily knocked off with a chisel. Make the low points a lot lower while leaving the high points high.



Cool Countertops From Consumerreports.Org | Duration 1 Minutes 34 Seconds

After the rough shape has emerged you use the next chisel (called a claw chisel) to further refine the shape and to remove the lines left by the point. Once you have removed the lines left by the point and have roughed out the shape using the claw you can use the toothed chisel to remove the lines left by the claw. For the softer stones such as soapstone you may skip back and forth as seems best. The reason this chisel will save you work is because the next tool to use is a rasp or a riffler. They are not for removing mass amounts of stone although inexperienced carvers often use them this way. These may be bruises and can only be removed by chiseling or rasping deeper into the stone, which may change the shape.

When sanding make sure you remove all scratches left by the previous paper or when you go to the next finer grit you may not be able to (or at the very least it will take much more work). Get a shallow pan of water, dip the paper in it (you have to have waterproof sandpaper) and sand. Another plus to the water is that it will give you an idea of what the stone will look like when polished. Remember that you’ll be sanding with a much smaller area so you’ll have to dip it in the water much more often to keep it from getting clogged. Rub it with your fingers until some of it melts on them and then rub it into the stone.

If the stone is cold (and small enough) you may put it in a oven on warm. After applying the wax buff it with a buffing wheel (guess where you get that from?) or hand buff it with a lint free cloth (cloth diapers work well for this). A light pressure is fine and be sure to keep moving it around, don’t hold it in one place. There is something about feeling the stone warm up in your hands and seeing the shine come out as you work. Wash off after a few minutes with water, let dry completely, then use the wax of your choice.

If you decide to mount your piece, it is best worked on before you are completely finished with sanding as it requires handling and drilling the stone. Never use a magic marker or similar tool with inks or dyes in them. I could not remove enough stone at that place so there is a permanent blue smear. If the base of the stone is too small you can attach a piece of wood with a hole for the bit in it, to the tool. After the hole is in the stone, position a piece of paper on it. Put this paper on the base, line up the outlines and mark the position of the holes. Go to the library and take out a book on stone carving and use the resources at the end of this page to get your supplies. They often keep a supply on hand for the students and are usually more than happy to sell it. Polishes to a smooth finish and scratches leave a white mark which makes it easy to texture. It often has internal grains that add to the beauty but increases the breakage factor.

This will include a mallet, about seven chisels, and a set of stone rasps (rifflers). This takes out the vibrations in the stone as you hit it and really is necessary to prevent breakage.

I cut the legs off and cut them in half and turn them inside out. I then pull the bag right side out through the opening and fill the bag loosely with white pool filter sand (beach sand tend to sift dirt out through the fabric and get the stone dirty). For a really large stone you can build a shallow frame and pour in a layer of sand for the stone to sit on. Goggles or safety glasses are obtained at your local hardware store. Hearing protectors will help insure that you will be able to hear your grandchildren and birds later on. You can make it easier by giving yourself a “quick start”.

The reason for this is you want to keep the amount of stone to be removed to a minimum. If you cannot remove a lot of stone you’ll have a permanent smear to explain to your viewing public (mine is blue).

A word of caution here, wear safety glasses, dust mask and hearing protectors.Instead make several cuts with the power tool into the stone to make a series of grooves leaving small slices (maybe 1/2 in. Now that the outline of the piece is developed we go to the point chisel. As you make the lines and remove stone it should start to take on a shape. This is where you start to get excited, things are taking shape. This is the chisel that will save you a lot of work later if done right. These are used to smooth out the final chisel marks and to carve out fine detail that the chisels are too course for. I have worn a couple of them out but they are inexpensive and one of my favorites. Just put on some of your favorite music and get into the groove. Sometimes a high gloss is not what looks the best so experiment and see what happens. Once you get to the 200 grit (with soapstone you’ll have to start around 150 grit) it is best to use wet sanding.

As the paper gets clogged wash it and the stone off and repeat. Change the water frequently and always when you go to a finer grit since the water will contain the courser grit and will keep scratching the stone. Now that the sanding is done there is a number of steps you can take. If you do this, keep that wheel separate from your final buffing wheel. Some stones dry quickly and some like limestone can take a day or two. Try to rub it hard enough to warm the stone to allow the wax to penetrate. Be careful when using power buffers, you don’t want to press too hard. Works well on many stones but make sure you have adequate ventilation when using it as the fumes are bad while drying. After sanding and rouge (if used) you have to seal the surface. It literally melts the surface crystals together to seal the marble.

Tin oxide also works but it takes a lot of rubbing to achieve the same effect.

When you get the stone firmly shaped out and decide how you want it to stand, you will have to decide what kind of base to mount it on. Wood is one of the easiest to use while stone and metal are also favorites. Metal ones can be made if you are handy with a welder or pay a machine shop to make it. When you have the base shaped out, position the stone on it and mark around the stone on the base with a pencil.

You set the tool’s base flat on the stone and it makes sure you drill it straight. This will let it set on a smaller area than the manufacturer provided for. This creates a space in the bottom that allows me to install a washer and nut on the stud.

Living With Marble by thehandmadehome.net

I are in the middle of starting a remodel, and we’re at odds with which countertop to choose.

So without further ado, we’re diving into living with marble. We moved in and we were finally home, and then fear had us a little frozen when it came to the countertops. Or friends came over who had no idea that you’re supposed to tip toe around someone’s brand new kitchen and were super casual. Or something else super important that sounds scary and untouchable and alien. The thing is, we knew that marble isn’t high maintenance going in. But a lot of people are basing their their bias on what they thought they read somewhere about something else. All of this based on what their mother’s sister’s cousin’s neighbor’s plumber’s contractor said. No regrets, it’s one of the best decisions we made for our kitchen. It’s like a life rule or something until you grow comfortable with it. For what it’s worth, we say it’s easier to clean based on the finish of the marble that you choose.

We use soap and water and a paper towel to clean it up. When we feel that it needs an extra buff, we use a sealant to polish it off. We hope this answers a few of the basic questions people tend to ask… but we say it’s one of the best decisions if you’re leaning in that direction… a timeless option that you just can’t go wrong with!

I have to say we were inspired by you all to put in double lower ovens wit her a centered cooktop and we love it! We’ve had a few months to fall into our routine, and just shared this post on all things soapstone, and we thought it would be fun to spill all the goods on all things marble. I must admit in the beginning, we were a little skittish about it. They would scrape plates across the surface and ding with forks. I tip toed around the soapstone, but the marble was even more dainty in my book. It’s what we like to call the brand new period, we think it’s totally normal to behave this way if you tend to take care of your house, and this total irrationality can last for a few months. We spilled coffee on the countertops, and it sat there without us noticing.

I cover marble and what it is, in more depth via this post here. They think it works well for a magazine shoot, but not real life. We tend to lean our bias based on small inferences all the time, without really looking into it. It just wouldn’t look the same without this all natural, gloriously beautiful piece. Because we love that it was mined locally, and that it has such a beautiful look and feel. We go more into possible finishes of the marble, here. How do you recommend caring for your marble countertops?

We should be fancier, but that alone does the trick with our countertops.

Though we have yet to have that problem with anything, it’s definitely great to have it right at your fingertips!

My big fear is kids and crafts and homework and eek…sharpies!

How To Seal Granite and Marble Countertops by leshermarble.com

Ask three people whether you should seal granite countertops, and you’ll get three different answers. However, the vast majority of natural stone countertops do need to be sealed once in awhile. For these stones, sealant plays a vital role in keeping your countertop resistant to stains. An extreme example of a porous rock is pumice stone, where air channels are clearly visible. Granite has a reputation as a particularly non-porous stone. By using a sealer or impregnator on the stone, you’ll prevent liquids from seeping into the counter.

The next most common question we hear is how often you should seal your countertop. Others say it should never need sealing, and a number of people fall somewhere in between. If it absorbs the water in four minutes or less, the stone needs to be resealed.

Since it takes just a few minutes and no special materials, this is an easy test to do every few months. Some granite counters are so dense that they don’t need it, either. If you have a few problem stains you’d like to remove before sealing, start by identifying the source of the stain. Use plastic wrap on faucets, sinks or stovetops to protect them from the sealant. Just grab a magazine (or any other thin material you don’t mind getting sealant on). Since sealer doesn’t stay on the counter for long, this will let yo u wipe it off when needed. They’ll soak up leftover sealer without leaving fiber on the counter. In fact, in some cases it’s recommended to ensure an even coverage. Luckily, more absorbent stone also means less waiting time between coats of sealant. This will allow the first layer to be fully absorbed by the stone.

With water-based sealants, the stone may still have a wet look. That’s why we suggest you use mineral oil instead of citrus oil to test whether your counters need sealing. The most effective granite sealants are usually called penetrating sealants or impregnators. The resin used in granite sealer is critical to how well it works. Before sealing a marble countertop, test it with mineral oil or water to make sure it really does need to be sealed. Unfortunately, sealing marble won’t help to prevent etchings. It’s actually a change in the chemical composition of the marble. Marble is a porous, calcium-based rock that reacts with acid. That’s why it’s particularly important to avoid sealers with acidic ingredients like citrus solvent. If you’re sealing marble in the kitchen, we recommend that you look for a non-toxic marble sealer.

Consider what types of activities you usually use the surface for, and choose the sealant accordingly.

Quartz counters, tables and kitchen islands fall into this category. Some other types of natural stone don’t need to be sealed, either. In addition, sealing travertine, limestone as well as some marble is recommended more for cosmetic reasons than for protective ones. As it turns out, there’s a good reason for this range of opinions. Sealant also makes it easier to keep your countertop clean and looking good. Porous stones have small channels or pores in the rock, which are usually filled with air. The porosity of a stone is influenced by the number of channels, or micro-voids, in the stone itself. However, their presence means that food or water can seep into the stone, leaving stains. Many salespeople will recommend sealing granite every six months to one year.

Even if your counters need to be sealed, the dark spot from the mineral oil will evaporate in about 30 minutes. Check to see whether the stone darkens and absorbs the water. If the water is absorbed or leaves a dark mark the surface needs more sealing. We recommend that you decide whether to seal your countertops based on what your countertops need, rather than on an arbitrary calendar. Quartz, which is a crushed rock combined with resin, never needs sealant. Using sealant on these counters will actually give the stone a hazy or stained appearance unless wiped off properly. It’s a good idea to remove any stains as part of this cleaning process because the sealant will also help to lock in stains — which, of course, is something you want to avoid. However, a bit of preparation beforehand will save you some trouble later. We also think it’s a good idea to protect backsplashes and walls while you’re sealing. With homemade granite sealers, shake the spray bottle before use to ensure the ingredients are well mixed.

Once you’ve sprayed the counter, leave the sealant for approximately five minutes to allow it to soak into the stone. It’s best to apply sealer in small areas instead of over the whole surface at once. However, once a stone is sealed, there’s usually a bit of excess sealant on the surface.

This means that the sealer has been fully absorbed by the stone, and it’s possible the perfect amount of sealer has been applied. The more porous the stone, the more likely you’ll need to apply additional coats of sealant. If you’re using a solvent-based sealant, the stone should look dry before you apply the next layer of sealant. Because granite is so dense, the solvents and resins used in granite sealer need to be very lightweight. By contrast, a surface sealer creates a hard barrier on top of the stone. They’ll last longer than other resins, and they are more durable. Many people see etchings on marble, and they believe the stone needs to be sealed.

These will yellow over time, causing your once white marble to look old and dirty. And because marble is more porous than some other natural stones, this can make a big difference. What about water-based versus solvent-based sealants?

On the other hand, water-based sealants are better at repelling oil.

Although quartz is made from natural stone, it’s combined with a resin in the engineering process. In fact, sealing quartz surfaces can actually leave them with a hazy film. Depending on the type of stone and its finish, sealants may need to be reapplied every year. There are a few professional-grade sealants for natural stone that don’t need to be reapplied. For soapstone, the sealing is at the discretion of the home owner. Having a professional apply these sealants is usually necessary to activate the warranty.

How Do You Tell If Something Is Real Ivory? by artifactcollectors.com

The problem is that real ivory varies so much in color and grain. Most fake ivory is made up of either plastic or a resin of old ivory that is ground down and mixed with another synthetic. Bone carvings are generally have far less value than those of ivory. Looking at bone under magnification you will see a lot of pitting something that real ivory will not have. Its best to perform this test on the bottom of the object that is not visible as it may cause damage to plastic objects.

A hot needle can not penetrate real ivory like it will a plastic or resin. Passing this test is a pretty good indication that you have real ivory. Before, the ivory was used for trading as gifts or for supplies from other tribes. So before u start pointing fingers, know ur facts and history! I love that pendant so much and would wear it most of the time back then, although it goes well with black lace strap. Better yet why not set up a site just for those just like you!

I need to know if the handles on my vintage strait razors are real ivory. It can be very difficult to tell real ivory from synthetic or fake ivory. There are ways of telling fake ivory from real ivory just by performing a few tests. The hot pin test can help you determine the difference between plastic, synthetic, bone and ivory. Heat a needle until it is extremely hot than touch the needle against the object you are testing. When you touch bone with a hot needle smell the area that you touched. When you touch ivory with a hot needle you will smell something more like a burning teeth dentist office type smell. Those of us who know it is very old are collecting items which were carved before it wasn’t “politically correct”! I have a white porcelain elephant with real ivory tusks and it seems to be. My nephew has two figures he thinks one is real ivory his theory is burn a. If it doesn’t scratch, is hard to scratch or if the scratch doesn’t produce a fine white powder then you have manufactured stone. Save that powder and make sure you have enough for the test to confirm. My husband and i bought our house a year ago and were told that the gas fireplace we have can also burn wood. The surface is not real marble it is the “cured marble” ?

First find an inconspicuous spot and use an old serated knife to make a scratch.

If the scratch produces a fine white powder it is most like real marble. There is heavy black residue on one of the logs in a couple of spots.

My husband cleaned the marble counter with a harsh cleaner that mottled the finish.

A Faux Soapstone Painted Countertop by maryhaseltine.com

I feel like the enamel paint would’ve given a smoother surface for cleaning, too. We are holding out on buying actual soapstone and we think this idea may be the perfect fix for now. I think, oh yeah, a new sink and faucet wouldn’t be a big deal!

I spent seven years giving it the stink eye and for some reason thinking putting a new one in is a bigger deal than it was!

But that pale green paint you’ve got at the top makes me think you need some pretty green glass accents. I did already have the first coat of countertop paint on from a few years back so you may need to add another couple of hours in to apply that before anything else. Those spots that were compromised have already peeled a little bit again, unfortunately.

How To Tell Jade From Soapstone by ourpastimes.com

Soapstone, as a softer stone, can usually not be carved thin enough to be translucent.

Jadeite and nephrite sometimes have a crystalline structure that is visible to the naked eye. Jadeite and nephrite are more shiny with a harder looking surface. Because waxing is an acceptable way of finishing jades, soapstone can sometimes look as if it has a hard surface. A fine jade of between 1-1/2 and 2 inches in height can cost thousands of dollars. If the price is low, the jade may be dyed, altered or made from a different material like soapstone. Due to linguistic and cultural confusion, a soapstone carving may be legitimately called “jade” in one situation, while it might not qualify as jade in another. Fine jadeite and nephrite can be translucent, although they are not always. If you can’t see a crystalline structure, examine the stone under magnification.

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