You might think that there’s nothing to the technique for cutting brick, if you’ve ever seen a builder taking a brick in one hand and, with a bricklayers trowel in the other, look by eye and then strike the brick cutting it neatly exactly along the required line.
However, even an experienced DIY enthusiast can find that technique for cutting bricks difficult, and a beginner will find in just about impossible. The experienced builder will have been doing it for years and will know exactly where the brick has a weakness to exploit. Not forgetting, of course, that different bricks themselves will require different techniques for cutting them.
How to Cut Bricks with a Chisel
If you only need to occasionally cut bricks and lack the technique of a master builder, the same effect can be had by using a chisel and a hammer. Using a piece of chalk, mark a line around the brick where you want to cut it. Whilst any cold, or stone masons, chisel will do a bolster chisel is best as it has a longer edge to do the cutting. These are small, sturdy chisels with a handgrip on the shaft and a guard around the top to protect your hand.
Don’t forget to put on your safety glasses first. Using a point on the chisel edge, scour along the chalk line down, or across, at least two adjacent faces of the brick. This usually means across the back and down one of the edges. Position the brick so that the cutting edge is facing you and the part of the brick you want to use when it is cut nearest to you.
Placing the brick on a flat surface that’s harder than the brick, hit the chisel lightly along the scoured line for lightweight bricks or more heavily for concrete bricks; to create a cut or groove in the brick – then apply one heavy sharp blow along this groove to cut the brick in two. As you become more practised in this, you’ll be able to dispense with scouring a guide line for the chisel to ‘sit’ in as you hammer it and will come to you instinctively how hard to hit the chisel.
Trimming Rough Spots
This can be done with a bolster chisel and hammer, but is probably more easily done with a masons hammer. The advantage of using a mason’s hammer is that you can hold the brick in one hand whilst trimming it with the hammer in the other, whereas with a chisel and hammer you’ll need both hands to hold the tools.
Trimming rough spots off a brick is simply about making small blows to the rough spots with the chisel end of the mason’s hammer, until the rough spots are removed.
Using an Angle Grinder
If you have a lot of bricks that will require cutting, or you need to cut bricks to strange angles and designs, then you should buy an angle grinder. An angle grinder can be fitted with diamond tipped discs capable of cutting through whole bricks to any angle and shape.
Again, mark out on the brick the shape you want to cut before starting to work with the angle grinder. You need to observe some safety precautions when using an angle grinder. They create a lot of dust, so wear eye and breathing protection. They are also noisy so you might want to consider wearing ear defenders.
Finally, although you can get cordless angle grinders they are very expensive, so most people buy ones that are electric powered with an electric cord attached to them. Be very careful not to cut through the electric cable.