Ever wondered how to cut a brick? No matter how you shake it, every masonry project will almost certainly involve cutting some brick to fit measurements.
The dimensions of a house, sidewalk, chimney, or whatever you’re working on will dictate how many bricks fit.
It’s your job, or the job of the mason contractor you hire, to cut bricks down to fill in the remainder. Cutting brick can feel intimidating, especially on a home or project you’ve invested so much time and money into.
A lot of homeowners just wish the bricks would fit perfectly into the space they’ve laid out. However, cutting brick can be done even on simple DIY projects.
Let’s take a look at how to cut a brick and what you’ll need and how it’s done in a few easy steps.
1. You’ll Need Appropriate Tools to cut a brick
The first thing you’ll need to cut a brick is a masonry chisel. Make sure it’s a least ¾ inches wide. A broad-bladed chisel at least three inches wide is also a good idea.
Cutting brick is easier with a short sledgehammer or brick hammer, but it’s not totally necessary. A normal hammer will do just fine. To measure the brick before you cut, get some measuring tape and chalk to mark the cut lines.
Hand tools are always going to have a little more wiggle room when it comes to exactness. If you need to be especially precise, you might want to think about getting a miter saw.
Always be mindful of safety, so make sure to buy some safety goggles, gloves and a mask to avoid inhaling too much brick dust.
2. Prepping the Brick
This may sound obvious, but just in case, all bricks need to be measured before you start hammering away. Save yourself going through wasted bricks by being thorough in your preparation.
Measure the length of brick you need cut and mark the line with chalk. Next, you’ll want to make sure all your safety equipment is on. If you have the time, wash the bricks so they’re free of any dirt or debris that could affect the accuracy of measurements or chisel strikes when the time comes.
Make sure that anyone in the area is also wearing the appropriate safety gear in case brick fragments go flying.
3. Score the Brick
When you’re ready, it’s time to score the brick. Place the brick on a flat surface that’s level so when you hammer, the force will be evenly distributed across the brick.
The ground is a good place to cut bricks because soil underneath will deaden blows and prevent the brick from shifting. Just be careful that it’s not some surface that will rebound force into the brick and move it when you hit it.
Place the edge of the chisel across the chalk mark and gently hammer the chisel into the brick. This will create a ridge along the measured line. It doesn’t need to be exact but shoot for the score lines to be about 1/16th inch deep. Do it on all four sides of the brick.
Scoring bricks makes sure the crack and break that eventually happens does so evenly. There will be less chance that chunks hang on or the brick splits into the portion you want saved.
4. Time to Break the Brick
Once the four edges are scored well, it’s time to go for it. Use the brick hammer to swing more aggressively and break the brick. Don’t use too much force, just enough to keep the chisel penetrating forward.
It’s not so much how hard you swing, but how the chisel is angled. It needs to be perfectly straight, so it doesn’t begin to cut at an angle. Breaking the brick shouldn’t take too long if it’s been scored well.
Repeat steps 1-4 for each brick you need cut. Things will go faster as you become accustomed to the process. Don’t stress out if you ruin a few bricks as you learn to cut them.
5. If You Need to Cut with a Saw
Using a saw is probably the best way to cut bricks exactly and with speed. A miter saw should be considered for important projects that are in public areas and need to look perfect.
It’s also the best way to make angled cuts into bricks. Not every brick needs a straight cut through the middle. As you become more proficient in brickwork, you’ll start to take on more complex projects that will require shaping bricks in different ways. I
t’s also a time saver if you’ve got a bunch of brick that needs to be cut.
Before you use the saw, soak your bricks in water for a few minutes until no bubbles rise to the top. This will keep brick dust down to a minimum to prevent it from spreading all over.
You’ll also breathe less dust in as you cut. Let them dry for a few minutes after soaking and you’re ready to saw. There are a lot of different saw sizes and options. Just make sure, whatever you choose, that a masonry blade is attached for cutting brick.
They’ll hold up the best and give you the most accurate cut. Measuring before you saw is basically the same as when you hand cut. Lay the brick on a flat, level surface and make the cut line with chalk. As you start, cut slowly until you feel comfortable operating the saw.
Don’t Stress Too Much Over how to Cut a Brick
A lot of homeowners get intimidated by masonry projects. They see businesses all over the place that specialize in masonry and construction, making them think it’s work that belongs in the realm of professionals.
It’s true, that you should consider a professional for any complicated brickwork, particularly if it involves the structural integrity of your home. But for small projects like a brick oven out back, or refurbishing some sections of sidewalk, think about doing it yourself.
With a few tools and patience, you can work your way into feeling comfortable cutting and laying brick. It’s a fulfilling feel for many to develop construction skills.