Lay Mortar for block – inside edge versus outside edge

Your course is showing how to lay the mortar for the inside edge of the block. How does it differ when you are laying it on the edge of the block furthest away from you?


House cleaning…

In case you haven’t noticed, we’ve been doing some tidying up around here.  Our site has been cleaned up considerably.  Our YouTube channel has been re-organized.  We also added student bricklaying photos and student bricklaying video pages as well.

We’re not done yet, we’ve got some big plans in the works!

If you purchased one of our courses, you probably got the book, “The Secret of Squaring Up” book or download. We have JUST finished revising that to make it more readable and clear.  If you are a previous customer, of course the new updated is available for FREE.  We also plan to update the lesson plan books here shortly.

In case you are interested in learning how to square up buildings quickly and accurately, you may want to visit…

The Secret of Squaring Up


Squaring up book

Trust me, the time, frustration, and money you will save by learning how to do this correctly once and for all will be well spent, do check that out if you have a chance.

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Bricklayer Shortage In UK

Bricklayer Shortage In UK

Coming To US – Or Is The Shortage Already Here?

The article points out some interesting facts regarding the current building sector economy in UK.

There is something to be learned here – – –

It appears they let the supply of tradesmen and specifically BRICKLAYERS fall behind the needs of the industry

January 1, 2016 1:40 pm

Where have all the bricklayers gone?

Sarah O’Connor

BC bracklayer 3Picture taken April 30, 2013 REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth (BRITAIN – Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS SOCIETY) – RTXZ792

A bricklayer repairs a wall in Ashford in southern England April 30, 2013. The UK Independence Party (UKIP) is forecast to win council seats in Ashford for the first time in local elections on Thursday, a success that is expected to be partially repeated nationwide as the anti-EU party taps public disenchantment with the three main parties.

It is a puzzle that goes to the heart of some of the problems bedevilling Britain’s recovering economy: where have all the bricklayers gone?

Cranes tower over cities such a London and Manchester as building projects resume, but construction companies are finding it increasingly hard to find bricklayers and other skilled workers. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors says labour shortages in the sector are the worst for almost 20 years.

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Because they are scarce, good bricklayers can now command about £150 to £170 a day. Rising labour costs mean London’s biggest construction contractors are increasing their prices and turning down half of all bidding opportunities in the capital.

Businesses of all types are beginning to fret about skills shortages now unemployment has sunk to pre-crisis levels and labour is less plentiful. Many blame poor vocational training in Britain, which is one reason the government has announced a compulsory levy to fund 3m apprenticeships by 2020.

Yet construction companies already pay a levy to fund training, administered by the Construction Industry Training Board. So why is their sector the one where skilled workers seem in shortest supply?

Part of the explanation lies in the volatility of construction work, which lurches from boom to bust with the economic cycle.

House building plunged 65 per cent between 2007 and 2009 as the economy fell into recession; almost 300,000 jobs disappeared. Rising wages in the construction sector have not been enough to lure all those workers back.

“The market has come back to a certain extent, but if you have moved into a different sector, or to a different country, where activity has picked up quicker and is more stable, it is questionable whether you would come back,” said Noble Francis, economics director at the Construction Products Association. “You know that at some point in the future there will be another recession, which is still in people’s minds. Are you willing to be burnt again in a few years?”

The other problem is that too few young people are becoming bricklayers in the first place. The shortage of recruits is odd, says the Brick Development Association, given that roughly 2,000 young people left college last year with a technical certificate in bricklaying. The BDA says many of them failed to find jobs in construction after they left college and drifted into something else.

This highlights the mismatch between the training colleges provide and the skills employers need, according to unions and contractors. It is a problem that extends beyond construction: businesses, schools, colleges and politicians all agree the links are too flimsy between the worlds of education and work.

Employers’ group warns on rising labour costs
Apprentices And Their Trainers At Work In The Siemens Energy Service Works Newcastle. Lib Dem Spring Conference At The Sage Gateshead Tyne And Wear….Mandatory Credit: Photo by Bruce Adams/Daily Mail/REX Shutterstock (2212332a) Apprentices And Their Trainers At Work In The Siemens Energy Service Works Newcastle. Lib Dem Spring Conference At The Sage Gateshead Tyne And Wear. Apprentices And Their Trainers At Work In The Siemens Energy Service Works Newcastle. Lib Dem Spring Conference At The Sage Gateshead Tyne And Wear.

Higher minimum wage and apprenticeships could hamper growth, says CBI

Michael Walsh, managing director of Swift Brickwork Contractors, which employs about 500 people, says too many college bricklaying courses waste young people’s time.

“You may be in a workshop building pieces of walls and having theory lessons, but you learn your trade on the job, not in a classroom,” he said. “It’s a shame because it’s the kids that come short-changed out of this, they’ve wasted two or three more years of life and their earning capacity’s no greater than if they’d come to us at 15.”

The College of North West London is home to some of these classrooms and workshops. Sand crunches underfoot as students learn how to build structures with special cement that can be scraped off so the bricks can be re-used. Andy Cole, the principal, says the college does offer multi-trade courses to 16-18 year olds that take place entirely in-house, but he says these are for people who are not yet ready for the workplace.

He says the best training requires collaboration with employers, such as level 3 apprenticeships where young people learn predominantly on the job but study at college for one day a week. Mr Cole’s college works with some construction companies to deliver apprenticeships such as these.
“You can’t expect to take out of the industry without putting something back in”

– Michael Walsh, Swift Brickwork Contractors managing director
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Yet if apprenticeships are the answer, there are surprisingly few of them taking place, especially given that construction companies pay a levy to fund training.

A recent report from Ofsted showed the number of construction apprenticeships has remained relatively flat over the past decade at about 20-25,000 a year, while apprenticeships in “business, administration and law” have grown from about 40,000 to almost 140,000 a year.

“Apprenticeships in our industry are in crisis,” said Barckley Sumner from UCATT, the construction union. “The basic problem is that employers don’t want to train anyone. Most major employers don’t employ anyone, so if you don’t employ anyone, you’re not going to train anyone.”

UCATT says large construction companies often rely on overseas workers to meet demand and tend to classify people as self-employed to avoid the costs and responsibilities of being an employer.

Yet there are indications that employers are starting to respond to the lack of skilled workers by investing more in the next generation. The Construction Industry Training Board says construction apprenticeships are on the rise. Swift Brickwork Contractors hires 15 to 20 apprentices each year. “To me it’s about an investment in our future,” said Mr Walsh. “You can’t expect to take out of the industry without putting something back in.”

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Australians Don’t Want to Lay Brick?

                An article posted August 28, 2014 states that Australians aren’t interested in bricklaying and masonry even though the salaries can be as high as $100,000. Unemployment in Australia is at 14%, the highest it’s been in 13 years and the number of apprentices in the field is lower than the past 10 years. Not only is the unemployment rate high, but the need for bricklaying is increasing due to no interest in the jobs.

The theory behind young people avoiding entering the bricklaying and masonry career field is the physical labor of the job. This is odd because the same people not wishing to work in a physically demanding job are going to gyms all the time. They want to pay to get fit (though probably not with a desire to actually be strong) but get paid by sitting around in an office chair even though many of these kids would either love masonry of be really good at it. Carpentry is viewed as profitable and attractive job options because of the boom in the housing industry, but these people don’t realize how important and useful bricklaying is for housing.

Parents are another problem. They are encouraging their children to go into fields which high competitive rates make it nearly impossible to get work in a career which requires a university degree. While higher education isn’t always needed for masonry and bricklaying, having a college degree doesn’t mean masonry is “beneath” someone. Mathematics, physics, and more can be very useful, especially when starting a new bricklaying business. It also allows for working in fresh air, freedom in work hours (especially when owning the business) and even the chance to travel across the world. Starting as a bricklayer can lead to owning a company and getting out of the sun and dirt, but keeping the knowledge and passion for this trade. College dropouts can make up to $100,000 per year when they enter the business roles of masonry.

There is no shame in bricklaying and masonry. On the contrary, it’s a much needed trade which should be admired. If you see a bricklayer, thank them for building such amazing structures and working so hard. It’s a hard job that should not die out. Become a mason or bricklayer through our program and maybe you can help teach Australia a thing or two about having a passion for trade and how profitable such a career choice can be. Not everyone is fit for office jobs or university, but nearly anyone can be a bricklayer—passion is key. Everything else will come in time.

Don’t let America end up like Australia. Pass down this passion to others. People say Americans are lazy, but apparently Australians take lazy to an entirely new level. Read the entire article here.

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Some Basic Tools for Masonry

Mortar pans and mortar boards: These allow masons to move, carry, and access mortar with ease. Some of these are a board style, while others resemble more like a bucket. Regardless of the exact make or model, this item is ideal to keep mortar in one place without it getting on other work. Cleanup becomes easier and the job can go by quickly. Many of these pans and boards boast helping masons maintain full motion and ease of carrying or cleanup.

Chisels: These are often used when removing stone, mortar, concrete, and other materials. Hammers are often used for especially difficult material. Beveled chisels are often used for corners since they feature an undercut blade. Chisels with a rectangular cross-section are often used for the tougher jobs. Paring chisels are long and thin, which are useful in places like housing joints and cleanup work. Chisels made of certain materials will cause less damage to brick and concrete, so always do your research to make sure all your tools are the appropriate material for the job at hand.

Pneumatic chisels: These are amazingly useful due to the decrease of manual labor required. Like other pneumatic devices, air is used to pressurize the device and when released, high power is achieved with next to no human strength requirements.

Jointing tools: Jointing concrete is an important step in masonry. This controls the locations of cracks caused by the shrinking during the drying process or temperature fluctuations. Various tools are available to complete this task including: bullhorns, convex brick and barrel jointers, groovers, dowels, etc.

Split Head hammer: Unlike other mallets and hammers, these allow the user to remove the face to replace it with other heads and faces which may be more appropriate for different jobs. Hammers and mallets are most often used in accompaniment with chisels. Many mallets and hammers are made from buffalo rawhide or other non-marring material to decrease damage on other tools or the materials being used. Some non-marring materials also decrease the chances of sparks that often occur when metal strikes metal.

Brick trowels: This is used for leveling, spreading, and shaping various materials used in masonry such as mortar and concrete. The type of trowel most used in masonry has a pointed noise capable of spreading material in a “buttering” fashion. This allows for precise movements and placement of mortar or concrete. Other styles of trowels include: bucket, concrete finishing, corner, gauging, margin, pointing, round, step, tile setter, and tuck pointer.

Fairly recently, many of these tools have featured handles made of leather. This is a vast improvement over wood since wood can expand, crack, and damage easily due to increased and decreased moisture. Leather prevents sweat or water from cleaning from damaging the handle, prolonging the life of the tool. Leather is also more comfortable for the human hand to hold.


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Why Modern Buildings Benefit From Masonry

Since the time of the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans man has been using the masonry technique to create beautiful buildings which stand the tests of time. Masonry offers many of the same benefits today as it did throughout history.

Fire resistance: Bricks are usually made of non-combustible materials, decreasing the chances and damage of fires within the structure. Even without regular maintenance, the integrity of the walls will not be compromised by the presence of fire.

Strong: Masonry—be it bricks, concrete, or stone—can bear heavy loads. It has been used for large structures meant to withstand beatings and constant attempts of destruction, like in castles and forts.

Weather resistance and the Environment: Masonry can handle heat, cold, rain, wind, sunlight, and many other weather-related causes of wear-and-tear. Bricks are not indestructible, but they can withstand much more than some other materials. Due to the natural components of masonry, “green built” structures are often made this way, allowing for tax breaks and lower permit fees for homebuilders. No trees are killed and no man-made products are being introduced to the ecosystem.

Low maintenance: Building material like wood, metal, and plastic siding need much more upkeep than masonry. The natural substances stand strong for years to come.

An example of a structure which did not use masonry

Mildew, Rot, Mold, and Bugs: Termites and wood roaches cannot live off of stone and brick. Other pesky house-killers like mold, fungus, and rot have a hard time growing in brick and stone. Allergens like mold and mildew cannot penetrate the masonry built walls so allergy sufferers should highly consider the resistance of masonry. The general air-tight abilities of brick decreases the amount of any pests entering the home, keeping you and your loved ones safe from structural damage from rotting and sickness from pests and spores.

Sound Proofing: Bricks and stone can block out noise, meaning neighbors hear less of your noise and you hear less of theirs. Masonry can absorb sound and reduce sound transmission. This allows homes to be closer together or in areas of high traffic and noise while not sacrificing privacy and home quality.

Insurance and Home Value: Due to the qualities listed above, insurance rates for masonry made buildings are usually very low, with most insurance companies offering up to 15% lower rates for homeowners of stone and brick houses. Similarly, masonry homes often retain much of their value and can be sold for much higher prices due to high quality with low maintenance. Home value is also effected by the variance of colors, textures, finishes, and styles masonry can provide.

Get your Masonry certification today and begin work in a beautiful, timeless, needed art. Help the world preserve this form of building to maintain high standards of quality, beauty, and usefulness.

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Masonry: History and Benefits

The History Of Masonry:

Within the last 6,000 years masonry has remained popular. Today, it’s used primarily for houses, fireplaces, and other modern buildings. Popular landmarks and historical buildings were made by masons, including the Taj Mahal and most of Egypt’s famous sculptures, tombs, and pyramids. This style of brick making and laying was made popular due to the durability mixed with artistry of the materials. Today, people chose masonry for new buildings because it’s a timeless and practical art. Brick buildings command respect as well. Most important buildings are not made out of shingles and plastic.

Not only can bricks be made by hand and laid expertly, but it can be stone or terra -cotta sculpted buildings or sculptures. Bricks will last for ages when properly maintained and they can keep a building safe from various natural causes such as earthquakes and fires (meaning lower insurance rates) and when using the cavity wall method (two walls with a space between the two) bricks can prevent leakage into the home as well as increase the load bearing capacity of the structure. Masonry will not rust or melt and will resist some mold. Bricks can help insulation, reduce painting costs, and isn’t full of chemicals and plastics. Oddly enough, brick buildings also dampen sound, meaning those outside your structure are less likely to hear the loud music you play at your first house party.

Bricks were traditionally made from slate and clay dried in the sun. Eventually, molds and fire drying came into play and mass production of bricks began. Later, straw and other aggregates were added for stability and to prevent cracking. Today, many bricks are made from cement, sand, and some type of aggregate.

Because of the precision masonry requires and the deep history it is a task done best by professionals and definitely not by machines. This also decreases in the plan drawing because pieces do not need to be fabricated—bricks just need to be made. .Mason made buildings can be erected very quickly without compromising structural integrity and the buildings can have perfectly sound and load baring features such as arches and circles. The buildings are made by people from natural ingredients to achieve a great product while helping the community and economy to provide better lives for everyone.

Choose a career in masonry and you will have work for life! Feel the pride of creating structures that will last longer than you will and provide safe, high quality buildings. If you choose to start your own business, you can create jobs in your community but if you chose to work for others, you are gaining work stability while doing something worthwhile. Get your masonry certification today and start your new future.