From quarry to kitchen: just how does your granite worktop get there?

IMAGINE the scene; your shiny new kitchen is now fully installed with the pièce de résistance, a shiny granite worktop being the final part of the jigsaw. But have given a thought as to where that shiny (and very heavy) slab of stone came from?

 

Granite is a light-coloured igneous rock with grains large enough to be visible with the unaided eye. It forms from the slow crystallisation of magma below the earth's surface, and is composed mainly of quartz and feldspar with minor amounts of mica, amphiboles, and other minerals. This mineral composition usually gives granite a red, pink, gray, or white colour with dark mineral grains visible throughout the rock.

Ours granite comes from numerous countries but mainly Italy, Norway, Brazil or India and arrives in a slabs of approximately two metres by three metres.

The geology of Yosemite National Park, in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, is dominated by granite, while closer to home Aberdeen is known as the Granite City thanks to many of its building from the mid-18th to mid-20th centuries being built from locally quarried grey granite, which can sparkle like silver because of its high mica content.

 

Granite is found close enough to the surface that it can be cut from shallow quarries, and in order to get it into transportable blocks small holes are drilled in the shape of the desired block size. Carefully planned explosives placed into these holes create just enough blast to separate the block of granite from the bedrock without breaking the block itself which, if everything goes to plan, lands on a bed of soft sand so that it doesn’t crack or split at a bad angle.

These huge raw blocks are then transported to the quarry’s onsite fabrication facility to be cut into slabs of either 2cm or 3cm thick using giant circular saws or with wire blades that are not unlike an egg slicer; and it can take up to an hour for these blades to go through 30cm of stone.
Once the cutting is done, the surfaces must be polished to bring out the natural colours and patterns and make them smooth to the touch and this is done by running the slabs horizontally through polishing machines.

These machines have large, diamond polishing pads that slowly bring out the shine in the stone with each new layer of polishing. Much like wood, granite much be polished with progressively finer pads to get a quality finish, and this process just polishes the top surface of the stone leaving the slabs with rough edges.

After the slabs are polished, they are put into bundles of six or seven slabs and almost always in the order that they were cut from the block to create batches that have consistent patterning and colour. After that they are put in a shipping container bound for the UK where they are distributed to natural stone specialists such as us.

It’s then our job to “fine tune” whichever piece of granite has been chosen by the purchaser. We ensure that the correct template is made for the granite to be machined to fit into your new kitchen; and in our manufacturing facility our technicians get busy with the latest in computer aided design to plan out the best way to cut each unique slab to make the most of its pattern and size.

Usage of combination of our three automatic Terzago saws, waterjet CNC machines and an automated polishing line we trim the granite to size before stone routing machines cut and polish custom edges.

Once this process is complete, our skilled technicians inspect each piece making hand-polishing finishes and finalising any details that could not be crafted by the machine. After all of that, the granite worktop is loaded onto one of our trucks for delivery and installation.

If want to know more about our range of worktops, give our Leeds showroom a call on 0113 262 4751 or our Glasgow one on 0141 778 6323.

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