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Masonry Tricks Of The Trade I Have Learned
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I am sitting in my family room thinking of something to write about for an article. Although I am a Carpenter by trade when you work on large commercial construction projects you get to know about other trades that you interact with. I decided to write this article about Masonry, installing bricks and blocks, and some of the tricks of the trade I learned while working with the Masons.

The first thing we did after laying out the block partitions with the masons is lay out all the door openings. I was taught by my Father and the Mason foremen to always lay out the doors with one side on bond. That means that there is either a ½ block or a full block on one side of the door jamb, this saves time cutting the blocks on one side and alleviates the need for a small piece on both sides of the jamb.

The door jambs are either set in place before the blocks or bricks are laid against them or the door jambs are knocked down jambs that are installed afterwards. Either way the door openings have to be held plumb and square. In the Case of openings for Knocked down frames the opening should be about ¼ of an inch wider and 1/4 of an inch higher than the opening

In the case of door jambs that are set in place before the masons lay the blocks, called welded frames, it is imperative that you set the frame up on bond and shoot down the bottom of the frame into the concrete floor on both sides. The frame have anchors that the Masons install on both sides of the jambs that snap into the jamb and look like a Big T usually there are 3 on each side of the door. Then you make a spreader that the masons use to keep the width of the door the same all the way up.

If you are working with a welded frame and it needs to be filled with grout on each side the mason should bring up both sides of the door together at the point of the door anchor and set the spreader at the height that the mason is grouting to. The door jamb should be grouted in stages not all at once as the pressure of the grout will bow the door making it impossible to install a metal door in the frame. (This is from my personal experience)

Sliding temporary anchors for the top of the doors called Buck ups hold the door plumb and square for the masons while the block work is being installed. They consists of EMT electrical tubing that you have 2 sizes one slips into the other so that you have adjustment with beam clamps on each end to attach to the door buck and the other end attaching to beams in the area. In the center where the one pipe slides into the other there is a set screw that you tighten once the door is plumb and square to hold it there while the masons bring up the wall

Another trick that I learned is making a story pole, a piece of wood that is ¾ x ¾ of an inch square ,and about 10 feet long that you mark up the block and /or brick courses on. I had to make up about 6 of the story poles for each job that the masons were on with me. It is also a good check for me to make sure that coursing is accurate.

These are a very few of the tricks I learned while working with the masons on jobs over the years. Anyone else having any questions or wants to add their views let me know.


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