The term masonry can mean anything from a brick or piece of stone to a complete wall, so it is important to be specific when choosing the right tool for a cutting or shaping job. The hardness of the material to be worked is, perhaps, the most important consideration when choosing masonry tools. Some stone-cutting tools are designed for use only on relatively soft stones such as sandstone, and to use them on a hard stone like granite could cause damage to the tool or work piece Most ‘brick’ tools are intended for use on ordinary, relatively soft bricks and tend not to cope with hard engineering bricks, which have to be treated more like hard stone. Some are tempered just to cut brick and nothing else, whereas others may cut a variety of materials; it is important to check. When dealing with mixtures of materials, the general rule is to pick a tool that will handle the hardest element in the mixture.
For cutting blocks and slabs, or even masonry walls, a hand or power tool can help to achieve a neat finish.
Although the masonry saw resembles a normal woodworking saw, its extra-hard tungsten carbide teeth and friction-reducing PTFE coating are capable of slicing through brick, building blocks and most types of stone.
A large two-man version, which has a detachable handle at one end so that an assistant can help pull the saw through, will even cut through walls. Unfortunately, with the exception of small chasing saws used to cut electric cable channels in walls, using masonry saws is very hard work.
The cut-off saw is just another name for a heavy-duty circular saw which may be electrically or petrol driven. The key to cutting masonry, though, is not so much the power of the saw as the special cutting wheel a rigid disc of tough abrasive that grinds its way through the stone. Various grades are available to match the material being cut.
Such saws are professional tools that can be hired if there is sufficient work to warrant it, or if a particularly deep cut is required. However, if you already own a circular saw, you should be able to buy a masonry cutting disc for it. Take care, though, to get the right grade for the job.
The angle grinder is usually used to cut and grind all types of metal – pipes, rods and sheets. However, fitted with the appropriate stone-cutting disc it can also be used to make cuts and shallow channels in brick, stone and concrete. It is extremely useful for cutting earthenware drainpipe sections.
Brandon has written this article for Peterborough Construction a peterborough home renovations company.