5 Uses of Slate Over the Course of History

Posted by Kathy Fisher on

There are many reasons why slate has been a commonly used product over the course of history. For one thing, slate is surprisingly hard. It's been measured at somewhere between a 2.5 and a 4 on the Mohs hardness scale. This means that slate is as hard as marble and limestone, though not as hard as quartz or granite. This makes it a stone that can be used to serve many different purposes, and it has been quite functional over the years. While not all of these purposes are still common today, it's important to recognize how useful slate truly is. So, what are some of those historical usages for slate?


You may have seen a whetstone at some point in your life. It's a hard stone surface that is specifically used to sharpen knives. In today's world, quartz is commonly used to make whetstones; but in the past, slate was a common source for whetstone creation which speaks to how hard slate actually is. There are still slate whetstones in use today. If you use a whetstone, which material do you prefer – slate or quartz?

Writing Slates

Now, you have almost definitely heard about the use of slate for writing purposes. Slate was once utilized by schools in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries for not only blackboards (which are still used, if less commonly and often made from different materials today) but individual writing slates as well. Students would write upon these slates with chalk pencils.


If you're not from Japan, you may be less familiar with the game Go. But it's remarkably popular in its country of origin, as a strategy board game that is meant to hone one's analytical mind. Go includes black and white game pieces, called stones. While slate stones are less common now, they are considered a luxury by many and quite impressive to fans of the game.


While it may be considered morbid by some, many people care quite deeply about what their tombstones (headstones) will be made of. Having a high-quality headstone or memorial wall plaque can be important to the family, and some of the most high-quality headstones are made of slate.


In the past, some artists used to paint on slate and, technically, you still can. Paintings on slate are now often classified as folk art. Today there are quite a few sites that give instructions on how to paint on slate or where one can buy them already painted. Many people use these painted slates as welcome signs on their house or give them as gifts to their friends and family to commemorate moving into a new home.

These are some of the ways slate has been used in the past but to see the myriad of useful and high-quality items we’ve created, visit our Collections page. We have used this superior material to create everything from cremation urns to farmhouse egg trays to inspirational wall plaques and more!