Masonry work is one of those home improvement skills that few homeowners attempt to master. Drywall, electrical, plumbing, and painting get most of the do-it-yourself attention, while masonry is often hired out to skilled masons.
Yet do-it-yourself masonry work can be highly satisfying and creative. And aside from the pleasure of seeing a job well done, one of the great things about doing masonry work is that its tools and materials are basic, inexpensive, and easy to comprehend.
As befits a trade that has been in existence since the days of ancient Egypt, masonry work uses common items like crushed stone and limestone from the earth and simple metal shaping tools. Suppose you are interested in do-it-yourself masonry for fireplaces, walls, planters, or just about anything that uses brick or stone. In that case, you’ll want to invest in a basic set of masonry tools and materials.
Brick masonry is a construction method that uses bricks and mortar to form a unified architectural structure such as walls and arches; it is also the term used to refer to the brick structure itself. Bricks are formed in a pattern and held together by a mortar that acts as an adhesive. The integrity of a brick masonry work depends on the following: the type of brick and mortar used, and the skill of a masonry worker.
Brick masonry structures are renowned for their beauty, practicality, and strength. These features command good prices in the market. They are also low-maintenance structures and do not require repainting or staining; they can stand up against fire, wind, and water erosion. They also provide good insulation so that homes are kept cool during summer and warm during winters.
Brick masonry can support considerable weight; on its own, it is vulnerable to stress caused by twisting, shaking or stretching. Because of this, some brick structures need to be reinforced with steel beams, fibreglass batts or insulation boards to make them robust.
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Basic Masonry Tools You Should Own
Laying brick and stone takes a different set of tools than most jobs. Masons have tools that are the same, yet different at the same time, like a hammer. We have put together a list of tools that you will need to become a mason, and given a brief example of what each is used for.
A margin trowel is a long, thin trowel used for heaping small amounts of mortar on stone and spreading it. Margin trowels are used with narrow masonry units such as a manufactured stone veneer in order to avoid spilling excess mortar over the sides of the veneer units. Margin trowels, while not appropriate for every masonry project, are as close to a universal trowel as you can get.
V- or Square-Notch Trowel
The workhorse of masonry jobs, the v- or square-notch trowel is large and has two straight sides and another two sides that are notched. These notches can either be square or V-shaped, and they act essentially as a metered system for dispensing mortar across a flat surface such as cement board. If you were to try to dispense the mortar evenly with the flat edge of a trowel, it would be nearly impossible to disperse the mortar at even rates. By pressing the trowel’s notches flat against the surface, the mortar extrudes from the notches evenly.
A cold chisel has a wide, flat head that is perfectly designed for slicing bricks or veneer stone in half with a blow from a hammer. A cold chisel also has a myriad of other uses, such as chipping away excess mortar or removing a single brick from a brick wall. Usually, cold chisels have plastic handles to absorb the shock from the hammer blow.
Brick Hammer or Mason’s Hammer
It would be best if you had a hammer for masonry work, and you should never use a carpenter’s hammer. Not only might you ruin your nice, expensive carpenter’s hammer, it simply doesn’t do the job for masonry work. What you need is a specialized tool called a brick hammer or a mason’s hammer.
A brick hammer has a blunt side for tasks like chopping bricks or stones in half with a quick, decisive blow. The other side is smaller and is used for scoring lines for more precise breaks.
Not all masonry tools are devoted to hammering, chopping, and cleaving. A wire brush is indispensable with masonry work for brushing away rock chips or concrete crumbs that accumulate in your work zone. For example, when you chip opens a crack in concrete prior to repairing it, a stiff wire brush and a shop vacuum are just about the only way to remove all of that debris from the crack.
Masonry Materials Your Should Buy
This entire collection of masonry materials does not need to be purchased prior to starting your masonry projects. Rather, buy masonry materials on an as-needed basis shortly before starting your project. Materials stored for a long time are subject to moisture damage. When moisture penetrates bags of veneer mortar, conventional mortar, grout, or concrete, the materials will harden, become useless, and need to be disposed of.
Veneer mortar is a specialized type of mortar that is enriched with polymers to help the veneer masonry units stick to vertical surfaces. As this mortar can be quite expensive, use this material only for manufactured veneer stones and be sure to mix it sparingly in small batches.
Reinforcing bars, or rebar, are steel bars that are added and embedded throughout masonry to increase its strength. Rebar is used for larger projects like concrete sidewalks.
A masonry hammer has a square face on one end for breaking; it has a sharp edge on the other for cutting. They are used to split hard bricks.
A jointer is used to make mortar joints. There are three types of jointer shapes: flat, pointed and rounded.
Squares are used when constructing and measuring right angles and for corner layouts. They are usually made of metal for durability.
A mason’s level is used when establishing vertical or plumb lines and horizontal or level lines. They are typically made of wood, metal, or a combination of both. They come equipped with either single or double vials. More masons prefer the latter since they can be used for both horizontal and vertical measurements.
Straightedges act as extensors to mason’s levels: they are used when levels are shorter than the area that needs to be measured or assessed. The middle section of the top of the straightedge must be horizontally parallel to the bottom section. Widths of these tools range from 1 1/8 to 1 1/2 inches; they can be as long as 16 feet.
Masonry tools are as important as the skill of a mason. They are widely available in hardware stores and supply outlets. Due to the nature and scope of masonry work, they are built with durable materials to withstand heavy use.
Tooth chisel is also used for fine dressing. It is a handheld tool of metal consisting of a long shaft, with a toothed cutting edge at one end. It is again usually hit with a mallet or metal hammer. The number of teeth on this cutting edge varies, generally between three and five, but a variation with two teeth also exists. The tooth chisel is normally used between roughing-out and finishing, to clear away the rough marks left by the point chisel and prepare the surface for finer work.
It is a stone mason’s tool. It is a heavy hammer used for cutting, shaping and rough dressing of stones. It has a bevelled striking face. It is a large hammer usually with a flat face and straight peen for rough dressing and breaking of stone.
A mash hammer is also known as a stone mason’s hammer. It is used to hit and drive chisel for the rough dressing of stone. It is double-sided with two striking faces, most often used in stone masonry work. It should only be used to strike stones, but can also be used for such tasks as chipping away mortar in stone masonry. This hammer consists of a wooden handle to which is attached a heavy head, usually made of metal.
Mallet (Wooden Hammer)
It is a basic tool used for the shaping of stone. It is a wooden hammer used for driving wooden-headed chisels. It usually has a large head.
Dummy (Iron Hammer)
It is used for carving of stones. It also has a large round shape head which is made of iron. Its handle is made up of wood.
Scabbling also called scappling, is the process of reducing stone while dressing of stone. In scabbling dressing, only irregular angels are taken off with a scabbling hammer. Hence scabbling hammer is a tool used to break small projections of stones or removing irregular bushings from the face of the stone. It has a large head made of iron and wooden handle.
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Pitching tool is a hand-driven tool comprising of a long edge with a thick point. The ‘working-edge’ of the pitching tool has a broad flat face that is generally ground to an angle just slightly-off the perpendicular. It is mainly used to make stones of the required size. If the carving block of the stone has flat-sawn faces, then this tool can be used to remove a great deal of waste material at the initial stages of carving.
It is employed to dress the hard stones roughly. It is a one-piece rod-shaped tool made from metal designed to be struck by a hammer. It’s one end pointed, and the other is round shape.
It is employed for roughly dressing the hard and tough stones. Point is also used for roughing out areas and knocking off high spots in stones. Point tool is used after any initial work with the pitching tool. Both point and punch are used to rough-out the form but the latter tapers to a small cutting edge of stone whereas the former tapers to a single point of the stone.
It is employed for dressing the surface of stones. This consists of an edge with a number of teeth from 3 mm to 9 mm. Claw tool is used after the coarse carving with the point tool. The claw tool, with its row of pointed teeth, acts like a rake to even out the surface irregularities left by the point. While using this tool, care should be taken to ensure all of the chisel’s teeth are in contact with the stone, in order to prevent breakage.
Nicker (Broad tool)
The mason’s nicker (Broad tool) is made from high-quality steel. The blade is thicker and bevelled on both sides to create a cutting blade. It is held at right angles to the stone and hit with a hammer to split the stone.
It is a long drilling tool consisting of an iron bar with a chisel-edged steel tip at one or both ends, operated by striking it against the rock, turning it a little with each blow. They are used to bore holes for blasting purposes in a quarry by quarry workers and masons.
Wedge and Feathers
It is an oldest yet, one of the best tools to split the stone. It is a three-piece set tool. Each set of tool consists of a metal wedge (also called plug), and two shims (also called feathers). The feathers are tapered and curved at the top and wide at the bottom. When the two feathers are arranged on either side of the wedge, the combined width of the set is the same at both ends. They are employed for cutting the stones after they have been bored with a jumper.
It is employed to level a stone surface. It consists of blades set at alternating angles, between 15 and 30 degrees, over the length of a block of wood. The blades are toothed to provide even removal of surface material. Some drugs can be fitted with specially shaped blades to follow convex surfaces.
It is used to cut soft stones. It is a saw with a wide crosscut toothed steel blade and wooden/plastic handle at one end. It is used in one hand.
A circular saw is either handheld or affixed to a substrate. It runs on electricity and is provided with a toothed or abrasive blade/disc which has the ability to cut different materials including wood, stone, brick, metals, plastic by using a rotary motion that spins around an arbour.
It is used to cut hard stones. It is designed specifically for rough cutting. It has a comparatively thick blade, with large, bevelled teeth. Traditional 2-man crosscut saws (felling saws) have a handle on each end and are meant to be used by two people to cut stones.
This is used to cut large blocks of stones. It consists of a comparatively narrow and flexible blade held under tension within a (generally wooden) rectangular frame called sash or gate. The blade is held perpendicular to the plane of the frame so that the stone passes through the centre of the frame.
Brick Masonry Overview
Building materials don’t get much sturdier than bricks, which makes brick masonry a favourite career and pastime among masonry enthusiasts. Brick masonry has always been a popular method of construction and home improvement, and it is widely used for a vast assortment of projects. This article will explore the basics of brick masonry, so if you’ve ever kicked around the idea of tackling it on your own, you’d do well to read on.
When it comes to building materials, bricks have a reputation for their solidarity and resilience, which is why brick houses can be considerably more expensive than wooden homes. Adding to their appeal, bricks require virtually no maintenance, making paint jobs a thing of the past for the residents of brick houses.
Furthermore, brick buildings generally have good insulation and do a fantastic job of standing up to the fire. While brick homes may come with relatively steep price tags, people who own them are likely to save a great deal of money on upkeep in the long run. So the next time someone asks, “Why bricks?” answer, “Why not?”
Although bricks are capable of supporting massive amounts of weight, they are fairly susceptible to shaking and stretching, hence the need for structural reinforcement. Steel beams, in conjunction with insulation boards and fibreglass batts, are the most common type of reinforcement used in brick masonry.
It’s important to remember that while bricks are among the most durable types of construction material, sufficient reinforcement is required to utilize their full potential. With the proper reinforcement, brick buildings can remain flawlessly intact for centuries. Is it any wonder the vast majority of historically preserved structures are composed of brick?
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Types of Bricks
Before getting started on any masonry project involving bricks, it is important to select the right type of brick for your project. Building brick is perhaps the most common type of brick currently available and is often used in the construction of homes. Face brick is generally used to build walls. Fire brick, with its resilience towards heat, is used almost exclusively in boiler rooms and fireplaces.
Glazed brick, which is easily cleanable, is used to build highly sanitary facilities such as hospitals. Don’t forget—bricks may be extremely durable, but the stability and integrity of a building are largely dependent upon the type of brick used in its construction. Thus, when selecting the proper brick, you must make an informed decision.
And there you have it. If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at brick masonry, you have all the basic knowledge required to get started. With the right type of brick, the proper reinforcement and a cursory understanding of masonry, you should be well on your way to tackling brick-related projects head-on. Whether you’re looking to repair an old chimney or even construct a home, you’ll find that bricks can be a mason’s best friend.
To sum up, the list of masonry tools is exhaustive. Here we have made an arduous task of listing out the masonry tools and its functions. Proper tools are an essential aspect of all constructions, big or small. Though there are a number of tools, most of the masonry tools are the upgraded version of the same old basic tools. Equipping the construction site with adequate construction tools is essential to achieve good quality timely results. For every construction activity, there is always an optimal combination of tools, equipment and labour. According to ‘IS 1661: 1972’ (Code of Practice for Application of Cement and Cement-Lime Plaster Finishes), all tools shall be cleaned by scraping and washing at the end of each day’s work, or after use with different materials. Metal tools shall be cleaned and greased after each operation. The tools shall be examined and thoroughly cleaned before plastering is commenced. Cleanliness is particularly important with cement plasters, where contamination with set material may seriously affect the performance as well as reduce the effective life of the tools.