Judy Smith

Whether you’re repointing cracked and crumbling mortar, adding a new window or door in a masonry wall, or joining a new masonry wall to an existing one, the first (and often most challenging) step is to grind and chip out the old mortar. This is particularly hard to do when you need to remove bricks or stones to “tooth in” the new work to the old pattern. Doing this without damaging the surrounding masonry units is a job that requires more than a hammer and a flat chisel.

For years, I’ve used a grinder or a circular saw equipped with a diamond blade, a rotary hammer, and a plugging chisel that I strike with a 2-pound hammer. The diamond blade takes care of the long, straight joints, but it doesn’t fit into short joints, such as the head joints in brickwork. In those tight spots, I’ve used the rotary hammer to...

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