How to Use Brick Hammers Like a Masonry Pro

Brick hammer being used by mason building a stone wall.

Henry Arden / Getty Images

A brick hammer is a great tool for many hardscaping projects. It is one of the most used tools in the professional mason's tool bag. You can use it for splitting bricks or breaking small pieces off of rocks. It is made up of a handle and a head with two sides. The handle has a comfortable grip, meant to absorb some of the shocks that result from striking hard objects such as stones and bricks. The two sides of the head are quite distinct from each other in appearance:

  • One looks like a hammer, except that, instead of being rounded (as the hammer of a carpenter is), it is square.
  • The other side looks like a chisel.

Alternate Name for a Brick Hammer and How It Is Used

While a "mason's" or brick hammer is designed for cleanly breaking bricks, it can also be used to break rocks, hammer concrete, split pavers, drive stakes, and scrape dried cement. So do not get hung up on the name: It is a tool that can serve a wide variety of purposes.

Use the square, blunt, hammer-like side for a task such as breaking bigger pieces of brick, landscaping stone, concrete, cinder blocks, etc. In a pinch, you can even use it to pound nails. Use the thinner, finer, chisel-like side for more delicate hammering. If you need to chip a small piece of stone but do not want to risk breaking the whole thing, a brick hammer is the right tool for the job. This makes it well worth the investment involved in buying it since you cannot put a price tag on saving yourself from the frustration caused by wrecking your building materials and having to start all over again.

If you have ever watched a mason at work, you know that professionals in this trade can handle this tool with great dexterity and precision. Masons who need to cut stone will do so in the following way using a brick hammer:

Employing the chisel-like side of the head, they will gently cut a line around the stone in need of splitting (sometimes called "scoring"). You can almost think of this as creating a perforated line (we all know that a sheet of paper with a perforated line splits more easily and more cleanly than one that we tear willy-nilly). Then switching to the hammer-like side, they will deliver a knockout blow that yields a clean cut.

Where You Can Buy a Brick Hammer

You can find brick hammers at most home improvement stores, including Home Depot, Lowes, and local hardware stores. Of course—as with just about everything else nowadays—you can also buy this tool online. A professional mason would readily recommend that a homeowner keen on doing DIY masonry projects buy one since they come in handy for so many hardscape projects.