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phaelon56

Restoring the surface of a marble slab

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I long ago cured myself of the habit of curb shopping - the practice whereby I'd adopt and take home some discarded but possibly worthy item that had been set out for out for trash day. After accumulating an attic's worth of stuff most of which I unloaded at a garage sale I've restricted my adoption practices strictly to those items of significant value that can be put to use quickly.

Yesterday I found one: a slab of marble about 24" to 30" wide and with a usable length of nearly 48" (one corner is broken off but I have a stone and tile wet saw I can use to trim the end and also rip the length if necessary).

I'll add a picture to this post later to clarify the details but here are the questions:

1) Can the surface be planed down and restored and if so is that process even worth doing?

2) Will the handful of tiny pits on the surface even matter if I clean it diligently after use?

This particular slab was used in a restaurant kitchen for many years and they did have a pastry operation for awhile before their relocation (the kitchen at their new location was already well equipped - thus a few things fro the old location were sold off or discarded.

It was dirty but after degreasing and a good scrub/rinse it looks very usable. The concern is some tiny pits - about a half dozen or so in different spots. These are small (5 cm or less in diameter) spots where the smooth slab surface appears to have been nicked or chipped and there's a very slight indentation ( 1 cm or less in depth at the center).

In these "pits" the porous surface of the unpolished marble is visible. I won't be doing any work with liquids other than adding water to dough. Will this be an acceptable surface? I've been using a polished granite slab but the marble is larger and will make surface mixing easier for me.

If I decide to do any work with chocolate that will be in direct contact with the surface does that change things? I realize that having the surface planed and refinished may be possible but I suspect the cost of that will negate the savings effected by having "free" marble.

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In my patchy past I have worked on many construction sites and on one of them I collected the scrap pieces of marble from the installation of bathroom door sills. I would carve them into little figurines of all sorts using basic hand tools and sandpaper. Based on that experience I would say that marble is a soft stone that is most definitely refinishable. Just try a 1X4 with some medium sandpaper wrapped around it and have a go at it. You will be surprised by the results, I think.

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In my patchy past I have worked on many construction sites and on one of them I collected the scrap pieces of marble from the installation of bathroom door sills. I would carve them into little figurines of all sorts using basic hand tools and sandpaper. Based on that experience I would say that marble is a soft stone that is most definitely refinishable. Just try a 1X4 with some medium sandpaper wrapped around it and have a go at it. You will be surprised by the results, I think.

I don't mind putting sweat equity into it but wonder about the surface. Are the marble slabs used in pastry and candy making operations just polished to achieve their super smooth surface or is there some sort of food safe sealant? Marble is indeed soft and is also porous to an extent - thus my concern.

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I seem to remember from my preservation days, that, depending on the number of pits, you could mix marble dust from your sanding process with a food-grade epoxy and fill the pits. There are similar stone and marble epoxies such as this, but I'm not sure if they are safe for food service.

After reading the warning on the polikor product, I would say it's not recommended for food service. But there are probably similar food-grade products out there.


Edited by BeJam (log)

Bode

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The marble refinishing information I've been able to find on-line is limited and oriented towards floors. But it appears that with the right power tools and abrasives the surface is ground down and then polished with increasingly fine grits until a shine develops. Sounds like a lot of work for a single piece of marble. I think I'll try it with the pits first and see what happens.

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The marble is probably carrera if it was used in a bakery. You would have to plane it down quite a bit to remove the pits, and I don't think you can do it evenly yourself. You can pick up a slab that size cheap in perfect condition at a stone yeard that sells odds and ends that are leftover from other jobs. Carrera is a pretty inexpensive marble. I really don't think it pays to bother with it. The marble served it's use. Let it rest in peace ;-).

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Take it in to a counter top place and ask them to quote you a price for polishing it. I've had it done on a nice big slab I have and I can't recall how much it was, but I don't think it was outrageous.

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....  You can pick up a slab that size cheap in perfect condition at a stone yeard that sells odds and ends that are leftover from other jobs. Carrera is a pretty inexpensive marble. I really don't think it pays to bother with it. The marble served it's use. Let it rest in peace ;-).

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