I visited New England Slate in Poultney, Vermont because they were hosting a training course for new roofers who had an interest in developing their slate roofing skills. Jens Lehman from Rathscheck was the lead instructor and a group of 15 roofers took the course. It started with a brief intro into what slate is and the quarrying process. I took some footage and pictures of it if you are interested in how slate is removed from the ground and ends up on your roof.
Special thanks to Clay, Chris, Nan, Gary, and Chuck at New England for the invitation
The video below shows a form of dynamite being used to remove a section of waste material. Most of the rock in the quarry is not usable for roofing material. You often have to blow up sections of unusable sediment to get to the “good” sections.
These larger blocks need to be reduced to workable size. Large saws with diamond blades are used to square these giant blocks.
Once formed into a workable piece, the square needs to be split into smaller pieces.
Taking a large piece of slate and using a slate chisel to split it down into roofing slate is the next step of the process. This job requires precision and practice. A newcomer tries his hand at it in the video.
Making sure that each piece of slate has a consistent look to it requires using a trimming machine to align all of the edges. You can see Clay of New England Slate demonstrating the process.
Producing slate is not easy work. There are many steps to the process and this even forgoes what it takes to find a spot in the quarry which has workable stone.
Now you may have a better understanding of why that piece of slate costs more than you think it would.