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Masonry Tools
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Hello all,

My name is Walter, I am a masonry contractor from Chicago.

I recently created an article about masonry tools because most of the stuff on the web now was either outdated or did not provide enough information.

Also, it servers as a great tool for my new employees who want to remind their self of the tools.

I would love to hear everyones feedback. (I've already reached out to Sharla Kew to get the permission to post it here, just fyi )

Let's begin!


A trowel is a small tool, used by hand, with a flat blade that comes to a point at the end. It typically has a metal blade and a wooden handle, although some models can have plastic handles.

Masons use trowels to scoop mortar from one location and put it in another. The mortar is removed from the bucket or other container in which it was mixed, and placed onto the brick or other unit where it will be used. Then the trowel is used to spread out the mortar and shape that mortar once another unit is seated. For example, a brickmason would put mortar on one brick with a trowel, place another brick on top, seat that brick properly, and then use the point or edge of the trowel to remove excess mortar and make the mortared area even.

Mason's Hammer

The mason's hammer (which can also be called a brick hammer), has a flat face on one side, like a standard hammer, and a chisel shaped point on the other end.

A mason's hammer is used to gently tap bricks and other units into place, to tap the edges of a unit when it needs to be broken to fit into a particular space, and to chisel pieces of a unit of masonry off without the need to locate a separate chisel. The multi-tasking nature of this tool makes it very popular with masons.

Mashing Hammer

The mashing hammer is generally a two to four-pound hammer with a striking surface on both ends. It looks very much like a sledgehammer with a shorter handle.

A mason uses a mashing hammer to strike the chisel when chiseling off a piece of block or brick. It is not recommended that a mason's hammer is used to strike the chisel, as that can cause damage or injury. The mashing hammer has a larger striking surface, which can guide the hammer to strike the chisel more solidly and provide a better end result.

So here it is:

The masonry tools article with all masonry tools, their pictures and description.

Thank you!
Hi Walter,
I have a question, if you please, my father was the kind of man who would make his own tools if he couldn't get one to serve a certain purpose. I remember him mixing mortar in a wheelbarrow with a hoe that had two holes in it. Did he make that or buy it?
I'm curious, as someone that's really familiar with masonry, what are your thoughts on combining stone/cob/wofati walls? We have a tremendous amount of rock here, but are learning more towards a wofati with cob finished walls. Is there a way to incorporate rock into all of this?

This is really great stuff. It's very basic and very systematic in its presentation... a lot like masonry work.. one brick at a time.

Though I worked as a TimberFramer for more than 25 years, I have built a few fireplaces and chimneys with some success. I attribute the success to having watched masons in Chicago almost 40 years ago. I still have a lot of the tools I acquired at that time... like trowels, masonry hammers, and levels.

I think it would be very instructive for beginners to see something of the process of laying out a job, laying brick, cutting brick, etc. Most useful would be something about mixing mortar... how to achieve the right plasticity, how to choose mason's sand, etc.

Many thanks-

Karen Layne wrote:Hi Walter,
I have a question, if you please, my father was the kind of man who would make his own tools if he couldn't get one to serve a certain purpose. I remember him mixing mortar in a wheelbarrow with a hoe that had two holes in it. Did he make that or buy it?

He bought it. It's called a mortar hoe.
My dad was also like that, also a mason, and his mortar hoes ended up with modifications like welded metal handles, scoops on them etc.. Those were made But the base mortar hoes he bought.
Thanks Pearl. He did make and modify so many tools that I wasn't sure. I miss him terribly and miss just being able to ask simple gardening/DIY fixes/life/family/etc questions. On some things I wish I'd paid more attention to him.
Karen: I hear that. I miss my dad too. A lot of what I'm doing these days is stuff me and him always wanted to do: build greenhouses etc. After he died I went through his greenhouse glass collection etc, and kept what I would be able to use, so his spirit will be in the greenhouses...   My love of plants and animals and tools and doing stuff, and scavenging things all came from him. I was the only one of the 5 of us kids to end up like him that way.

When I cleaned out his shops and sheds, I REALLY missed being able to call him and say "ok, this tool, it's been modified, was it a planned improvement, or was a quick repair on a job site?" because some of them I look at and say 'ok, I can see what this is doing" and some I say "this looks like it was my uncle, with a welder, during lunch break" and some of it is just puzzling. We had planned to clean out the sheds a few years back, but things happened and it didn't get done until I did it alone.

But, on the upside, he DID teach me a lot, and I have built on that foundation, and will hopefully do neat things
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