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Masonry tools buying guide

Guide written by:
Dennis, self-taught DIYer, Bristol

Dennis, self-taught DIYer, Bristol

18 guides
To achieve quality masonry work, you will need the right tools. Among the dozens of useful tools dedicated to masonry work, such as a trowel, chalk, chisel, hammer, clamp, trough, wheelbarrow, bubble level, square, or ruler are indispensable. We’re here to help you get all of your tools in order.

Important features

  • Ruler
  • Chalk
  • Level
  • Trough
  • Trowel
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Square
  • Hammer
  • Cement mixer
  • Clamp

Which measurement tools do I need?

In masonry, it's essential to constantly check that everything is lining up properly with your plans. This, of course, means measuring lengths and checking the alignment of right angles to ensure that everything is square, plumb, and level.
 
To do this, different tools are necessary.

Mason’s Meter
 

Tape Measure

 
There are different kinds of tape measures: foldable, drop down, or electronic. A 3m tape measurer is sufficient in the vast majority of tasks. A robust case and rigid tape guarantee its quality. For measuring larger distance, you should select a decameter over a regular tape measure.



Mason’s Rule
 

Masonry Ruler

 
The masonry ruler makes it possible to align all of the elements to ensure a level end result. It can be used to check the straightness of materials or to even out the material while pouring concrete slabs. Aluminum models are lightweight and easy to handle and are generally 2 cm thick, around 10 cm in width, and 1 to 5 m in length.


Mason’s square

 

Mason’s Square

 
The mason's square is a metal bracket as long as 1 m on each side. Fixed at a 90° angle, it's used to ensure that all of your corners and angles are square.






Tubular Masonry Level
 

Bubble Levels and Plumb Lines

 
The bubble level and the plumb line are tools that indicate how close measurements are to a vertical or horizontal surface. In masonry, having a bubble level of at least 1 m in length is very practical. 
 
A plumb line is made up of a weight (called a plumb bob) suspended from a string and is used to measure how near to vertical a surface is. In most applications, a bubble level can be used in place of a plumb line.

What other tools am I going to need?


Patience and planning with your measurements are the keys to good masonry work. To help record your measurements, you need to be able to mark level, plumb, and square your measurements. Here is an overview of plotters and other tools that will help you do this.

Masonic Cord

 

Masonry Line

 
The masonry line lets you view a straight line to indicate a levelled surface or an angled gradient you may be working with. It's a simple tool that consists of a string stretched between two points. It is used, for example, to align the posts of a fence, the edge or surface of stone or other masonry work, or to help outline the footprint of a planned structure. 
 
Some masonry lines have a coating of chalk dust which can be used to snap a straight coloured line on a surface rather than trying to draw it by hand. These ‘chalk lines’ are usually wound up into a casing that stores extra chalk as well.


Powder to be traced

 

Tracing Powder

 
This powder is useful for marking lines on a surface similar to a masonry line. The different colours can be used to indicate different elements of a project or utility lines that are buried and hidden from view. Keep away from moisture as it will cause the powder to clump up and harden, defeating the purpose entirely.





Tracer spray

 

Spray Tracers

 
Spray tracers function in much the same way as the powdered tracer does. Spray tracers come in a pressurized canister and are used like spray paint to draw a line or mark a measurement. The main advantage is that the canister protects it from moisture so you don’t have to take as much care when storing or moving this product. Spray tracers are usually available in a wide variety of colours.







Marking pencils
 

Markers, Chalk, and Pencils

 
Markers, chalk, and pencils come in a range of sizes and tips which vary in use and accuracy. Markers and pencils work well for materials such as wood and drywall, but chalk is preferable on coarse surfaces such as concrete, masonry, and stone.

Which tools do I need to build?

Now, we come to the tools used by the mason.

Mason trowel
 

Trowels

 
Trowels come in different shapes (round, square, pointed, trapezoidal) and sizes. They are used to lay a variety of mortars and plasters and are often designed with specific tasks in mind, whether it's to mix, dig, spread, smooth, plug holes, or get in tight corners
 
The handles can be made of either composite materials or wood. Composite materials offer better ergonomics while wood offers better comfort.


Mason’s trowel
 

Finishing Trowel

 
This trowel, also called a float trowel, consists of a broad, flat surface with a handle on one side. It can be used as a tray that makes it possible to carry large amounts the mortar or the plaster and for a final pass to smooth out the mortar or plaster.





Mason’s Clamp
 

Clamp

 
The clamp is used for a wide variety of tasks, such as holding a form or guide together while the concrete, mortar, or plaster dries. The adjustable clamp can often be tightened and loosened by hand. For masonry projects, pick a model that is made entirely of metal.



Mason’s anchor
 

Anchor

 
The anchor is kind of like a large nail that is pressed into the substrate beneath the masonry and is used to secure various elements, such as formwork or a support, as you work or as the mortar dries. If anchors can’t be used for whatever reason, clamps can sometimes be used in their place.



Auge
 

Trough

 
The trough is a container that is generally made of plastic and used to mix mortar or plaster. They come in different sizes depending on the scale of your project. Plastic models are cheap but tend to break easily, while sturdier rubber models are more resilient. Although, the rubber models can deform under pressure.


Bucket bucket
 

Bucket

 
The bucket, like the trough, can be made of plastic or rubber and is usually used to mix mortar or plaster.




Wheelbarrow
 

Wheelbarrow

 
The wheelbarrow is essential for transporting large amounts of materials (sand, gravel, cinder blocks, etc.), tools, and different bonding materials (concrete, mortar, plaster, etc.). 
 
Models vary in volume, but for most masonry tasks, you will want one with a total volume of 90 to 100 litres that can carry about 200 kg. Look for a model made of stainless steel as it will last you far longer than other materials.

Cement mixer
 



Mixer

 
The mixer can be manual, electric, or thermal. It makes it possible to mix materials such as concrete, mortar, or plaster in large volumes. 
 
The tank can be found in different volumes and come with a variable number of blades.




See the masonry screens
 

Sieve

 
The masonry sieve is round in shape and consists of a wooden structure and a mesh grid. Its role is to filter the materials to eliminate clumps and impurities.




Creping machine
 

Rendering Machine

 
A rendering machine, also called a Tyrolean gun, is used to project plaster onto a surface. Its body is made of metal and uses a crank that applies the plaster.

How to demolish the existing masonry

Demolishing or digging up masonry requires specific tools.



Burin
 

Chisel

 
The chisel, sometimes called mason’s chisels, makes it possible to cut and shape bricks or stone. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes for a variety of different tasks. The striking end is often covered with a mushroom-shaped, rubber coating to protect the hand of the person holding the chisel.





Mason’s hammer
 

Mason’s Hammer

 
The mason’s hammer has a chisel opposite the striking surface for the removal of the points and to make small changes to the shape of a brick, tile, etc. The handle can be made of wood, composite materials, or metal.







Brick masonry
 


Sledgehammer

 
The sledgehammer is a hammer or mallet with a mass of 1 to 2 kg.







Crowbar
 


Crowbar

 
Crowbars measuring up to 2 m can have ends that come to a point or taper to a flat plane. They are useful for demolition or for prying up old masonry.
 
Electronic chisels, such as a chisel punch or the hammer drill, can also be useful for heavy demolition.
 

Additional tools you may need

Round Shovel

Of course, you will need a lot of more general tools, such as a shovel, to complete your masonry project.

All your tools should be thoroughly cleaned with water after each use to preserve their effectiveness and extend their lifespan.
 
Just follow this guide and you should have no trouble with any masonry work you do.
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Guide written by:

Dennis, self-taught DIYer, Bristol 18 guides écrits

Dennis, self-taught DIYer, Bristol

I started doing DIY 10 years or so ago, when I bought a house that needed to be renovated.

After having installed loft isolation, and having refurbished the bathroom, the toilets, the kitchen, the bedrooms… I built an extension, installed a new fence with a gate and kitted out the house with a solar panel to make hot water. I have poured tens of tonnes of concrete into slabs or into the foundations and renovated the roof… I can say that building materials and tools are no stranger to me!

If I had a pound for every hour spent looking up information in forums and DIY magazines to find solutions to my problems, I'd be a millionaire! So passing on my knowledge on tools and home equipment is natural, as it is just giving back what I borrowed.

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