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 13 tools that you will need to become a mason, and given a brief example of what each is used for.
A masonry hammer is shaped like a claw hammer, having a longer handle and a head, but that is where the similarity stops. The masonry hammer’s head is also two-sided, like the claw hammer, but one side has a square face on it, made for pounding in nails. The other side of the head has a long chisel-like tip that is very sharp. This side is used to split bricks or break small pieces off rocks.
A trowel is a small pie-shaped tool that is attached to a small handle. It is used to pick up mortar and spread it onto the brick you are about to put in place. Sometimes the brick may get set down a little out of alignment. The butt end of the handle can be used to tap it into place. Trowels come in all shapes and sizes. The one that you use depends on how big or how special the job is.
There are two different kinds of masonry saws:
The masonry hand saw looks a lot like a standard hand saw, but it has longer blades and larger teeth. The blade on this saw is only six to seven inches tall, and a standard brick is eight inches tall. That means that you can’t cut all the way through the brick with the saw, but by cutting as far as you can and breaking the rest off with your masonry hammer, you get the job done much faster and more efficiently than if you had done the whole thing with the hammer.
Masons use a circular saw with a diamond blade to cut brick because it is the hardest. They don’t cut all the way through the brick because doing so may damage the surface underneath the brick.
These saws can either be handheld or mounted to a table and used like a table saw. The table saw makes the cleanest cuts that you can get.
The masonry square looks like a standard square, but it is usually made of wood or plastic. The square is used at the corner of two perpendicular walls to make sure the bricks are set at an exact 90° angle.
The mason’s level looks like a standard level, but it is usually made out of wood or plastic and is very lightweight. These levels, like standard levels, have vials in them set at different angles, and each vial has an air bubble. There are two lines marking the center of each vial. When the bubble is in between the two center lines, the mason knows that the surface is level.
Masons establish two different kinds of lines with a level:
A straight edge is used to make level or plumb lines longer. It is generally about 1 ½ inches thick, six to ten inches wide, and up to 16 feet long. It is extremely important that the top and bottom edges of a straight edge are perfectly parallel. Even the slightest warp can throw everything off.
Jointers are made to make mortar joints, the spaces between bricks where the mortar is seen. Many jointers look like a long, flat metal bar that has been bent in the middle. They may be round, flat, or pointed. The shape that masons use is determined by the type of joint they need to make.
There are several different tools that can be used to mix mortar. You can get an electric mixer, or you can use a standard shovel and/or hoe. Just add water, mix well, and you are ready to go.
The mashing hammer weighs between two to four pounds and has a double-sided pounding head. This hammer is used to hit chisels to split brick or stone.
A blocking chisel is made from heavy-duty steel and can be as large as eight inches long. It is made specifically to split large numbers of blocks. Using a mashing hammer and blocking chisel is more efficient than a masonry hammer because you place the chisel exactly where you want to make your split, and then hit it. There is no guarantee that a masonry hammer will land exactly where you want it to.
A mason’s line is a heavy twine that is used to mark out a complete wall in one shot. The line is wrapped around blocks that are placed at each corner of the wall. The blocks are securely in the ground and the twine is tight, giving you a straight line to follow.
Tape measures are used to measure out where your walls begin and end, or how large an opening is meant to be.
Soft-bristled brushes are used to remove any excess mortar.
This is a list of the basic tools that someone needs to do a first masonry job. Hopefully, it will help you to be prepared before you start yours.
Header image credit: CC0 Public Domain, Torange
Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!