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7-3. Masonry originally meant the art of building a structure from stone. Today, masonry means to build a structure from any building materials, such as, concrete blocks, stones, bricks, clay tile products, gypsum blocks, and sometimes glass blocks, that consist of units held together with mortar; The characteristics of masonry work are determined by the properties of the masonry units and mortar, and the methods of bonding, reinforcing, anchoring, tying, and joining the units into a structure.


7-4. Figure 7-1 shows a set of typical basic mason's tools. Care of the tools are extremely necessary. Be sure to keep wheelbarrows, mortar boxes, and mortar tools clean because hardened mortar is difficult to remove. Clean all tools and equipment thoroughly at the end of each day or when the job is finished. A full set includes--

A trowel. A trowel is used to mix and pick up mortar from the board, to place mortar on the unit, to spread mortar, and to tap the unit down into the bed. A common trowel is usually triangular in shape ranging in size up to about 11 inches long and from 4 to 8 inches wide. Its length and weight depend on the mason. Generally, short, wide trowels are best because they do not put too much strain on the wrist. Trowels used to point and strike joints are smaller, ranging from 3 to 6 inches long and 2 to 3 inches wide.

A chisel or bolster. A chisel is used to cut masonry units into parts. A typical chisel is 2 1/2 to 4 1/2 inches wide.

A hammer. The mason's hammer has a square face on one end and a long chisel peen on the other. It weighs from 1 1/2 to 3 1/2 pounds. It is used to split and rough-break masonry units.

A jointer. As its name implies, this tool is used to make various mortar joints. There are several different types of jointer-rounded, flat, or pointed, depending on the shape of the mortar joint you want.

A square. The square that is shown in Figure 7-2 below is used to measure right angles and to lay out corners.

A mason's level. The level is used to plumb and level walls. A level ranges from 42 to 48 inches in length and is made from either wood or metal. Figure 7-2 shows a level in both the horizontal and vertical positions. When you place it on the masonry horizontally and the bubble falls exactly in the middle of the center tube, the masonry is level. When you place the level against the masonry vertically and the bubbles fall exactly in the middle of the two end tubes, the masonry is plumb.

A straightedge. A straightedge, shown in Figure 7-2, can be any length up to 16 feet, from 1 1/8 inches to 1 1/2 inches thick, and the middle portion of the top edge from 6 to 10 inches wide. The middle portion of the top edge must be parallel to the bottom edge. Use a straightedge to extend a level to either plumb or level distances longer than the level length.

Miscellaneous tools. Other mason's tools and equipment include shovels, mortar hoes, wheelbarrows, chalk lines, plumb bobs, and a 200-foot ball of good quality mason's line.


Figure 7-1. Basic Mason's Tools


Figure 7-2. Square, mason's level, and straightedge


7-5. Mortar is mixed by hand in a mortar box. It should be as watertight as possible. A mortar board (see Figure 7-3) can range from 3 to 4 feet square. Wet down a mortar board thoroughly before placing any mortar on it to prevent the wood from drying it out and absorbing moisture from the mortar. Figure 7-3 shows the proper way to fill a mortar board. Note the mounds of mortar in the center of the board; this minimizes drying. After filling the mortar board, keep the mortar rounded up in the center of the board and the outer edges of the board clean. Any mortar spread in a thin layer dries out quickly, and lumps form in it. Be sure to maintain the proper mortar consistency at all times.


Figure 7-3. Mortar box and mortar board

David L. Heiserman, Editor

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Revised: June 06, 2015