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    Bricklaying tools

    Gauge rod

    This is a homemade piece of equipment, used to keep each course of bricks at the correct height. A gauge rod is easily made from a length of 75mm x 25mm (3in x 1in) batten. Make a mark across the width of the batten every 75mm (3in) to indicate brick courses. If building a block wall the batten should be marked every 200mm (8in). Each mark indicates the depth of the brick or block plus the mortar.

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    Profile board

    Profile boards come in pairs and they are used for marking the edges of a strip foundation and the edges of the wall built upon it. They can be easily made and comprise of a horizontal piece of board about 460mm (18in) to 600mm (2ft) long, fixed across the top of two battens 600mm (2ft) in length. The lengths of batten have their ends cut to a point, so they can be easily pushed into the ground. Along the top edge of the horizontal board a series of notches are cut to indicate the edges of the foundation strip and the edges of the wall. Guidelines running from the notches are stretched between the profile boards. If the wall turns a corner you will need two sets of profile boards.

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    Line pins and line

    Also known as a bricklayer's line. This is essential in bricklaying, as the line keeps the brick courses straight. The line is secured in place with either with steel pins or line blocks, L-shaped blocks made from wood or plastic.

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    Spirit level

    Another essential tool, the spirit level is a straight edge used to check the alignment of the wall. It is about 1m (39in) long and has two small windows or vials, each containing liquid and an air bubble. When the air bubble falls between the two lines marked on the vial then the surface, which the straight edge is positioned against, is perfectly horizontal or vertical.

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    Brick hammer

    A brick hammer is purposely designed for ‘dressing' masonry and bricks. The hammer is T-shaped, with one end shaped like a chisel and the other squared off. The chisel end of the hammer is used to chip away masonry and reshaping while the squared off end is the driving face.

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    Rubber mallet

    This type of mallet is used to knock blocks, slabs and other heavy masonry materials into position. The weight of the rubber head means that very little effort is required when you hit the block and the rubber material does not mark the stone even when heavy impact is used.

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    Brick trowel

    The large brick trowel has a steel blade that finishes in a point, and a trowel measuring 250mm to 280mm (10in to 11in) from its heel to the point of its blade. It is used for picking up and spreading mortar when bricklaying.

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    Mortar board or hawk

    A 300mm (12in) square board made from plastic, aluminium or wood with a handle centred on its underside. Used for holding mortar while bricklaying. It can also be used to carry plaster.

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    Brick bolster

    A cold chisel with a broad blade measuring 100mm (4in) used for cutting bricks. Struck with a club hammer.

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    Cold chisel

    Made from a solid steel rod with a hexagonal section, a cold chisel can be anything from 150mm (6in) to over 300mm (12in) in length. One end tapers to a cutting edge. It is used with a club hammer to chop away mortar and to loosen old brickwork. A rubber or plastic safety sleeve can be fitted over the chisel to protect the hand from an inaccurate blow with the club hammer.

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    Club hammer

    A heavy hammer weighing approximately 1.2kg used with a brick bolster to cut bricks. It can also be used for demolition work.

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    Builder's square

    This is a large wooden set square used for marking out brick or concrete block corners to ensure they are perfect right-angles. Although sheet metal builders' squares are available it is easy to make one from thick plywood.

    You will need three pieces of wood about 50mm (2in) wide and 19mm (3/4in) thick. The three pieces should be measured and marked with different lengths: 450mm (18in), 600mm (24in) and 750mm (30in).

    Carefully line up the three lengths of wood to create a right-angled triangle with the longer length 750mm (30in) being the hypotenuse. The two shorter lengths can be joined using a half lap joint. Nail all three lengths together.

    Use a set square to check the right-angle for accuracy, then saw off the overlapping ends. The three sides should be exactly 450mm (18in), 600mm (24in) and 750mm (30in). Any three lengths of wood joined together in a 3:4:5 ratio will form a right angled triangle. Finally, reinforce the right angled corner with a piece of hardboard.

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    A string line weighted at one end, used to check the wall is vertical. Suspend the line from the top course as you build, keeping a small gap between the string and the wall. The gap should be uniform from the bottom of the wall to the top.

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    Brick jointer

    Jointers are metal tools used to finish the mortar joints after a wall has been constructed. There are several types of jointer, each giving a different finish depending on the look you are after.

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    Joint raker

    Before it is possible to re-point a mortar joint, the old mortar has to be removed. To do this, you need a joint raker. A masonry nail is positioned between two wheels on an aluminium frame. By wheeling the raker across the surface of the joint, old mortar is scraped out.

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    Pointing trowel

    The pointing trowel is the smallest trowel used by bricklayers. Its purpose is for pointing or for any other small odd jobs that may be required.

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    Gauging trowel

    The gauging trowel is more general-purpose than the pointing trowel. With its distinctive rounded end, it is used for finishing larger joints and other mortar patching work.

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    A finishing tool used in pointing that resembles a knife but with the tip of the blade bent at 90°. Used in creating ‘weatherstruck' joints.

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