Thursday, April 26, 2012

Tutorial - 'Bricks For Chicks'

I'm really excited to share todays tutorial, I love a good DIY as much as the next creative chick and learnt some new skills last weekend that I'm dying to share!
As I said in my last post I'm currently building a wood-fired pizza oven, it's no small task and involves skills I don't have much practice at. However, after a chat with our friend and pro-brickie Andrew I felt pretty confident that this was one new skill I was keen to try my hand at... bricklaying!
With the ethos of giving it a red-hot go, I'm now proud to give you 'Bricks For Chicks'- a beginners bricklaying guide.
The first step is to prepare a nice level surface, a concrete slab, paving or existing brick base is perfect. Make a string-line where you want your bricks to go, this will help you make a straight line of bricks.
1. Mix up your mortar. I used bags of pre-mixed lime, sand and cement so all I had to do was add water. It's a lot like baking a cake, start with a mound of dry materials on a scrap bit of board or sheet metal, make a crater in the center and add water gradually folding in the dry materials. You don't want the mix to be too 'loose', if it's too runny it will run off your bricks. A stiff batter-type consistency is perfect, your brickies trowel should be able to stand upright in the mixture. CAUTION Always wear gloves (and a mask with dry materials) when working with mortar as the lime can give you nasty burns!
2. Now you are going to 'ice' your cake. Spread a layer of mortar 2.5cm deep where you intend to lay your brick. Work in small sections of a few brick-lengths at a time. Using your trowel, spread the mortar evenly right to the edges. Spread a 2.5cm layer on the ends or sides of any bricks that your new brick will butt up against.
3. Plonk your brick on the mortar. To get a nice level surface place a spirit level on top of the brick and tap it down into the mortar until it sits level. I have to confess I was pretty slap-dash with this part of the job... I was using very uneven, recycled old red bricks so didn't worry too much about the wall being level and went for a more organic approach, only leveling every few rows.
4. To finish, patch any gaps in your mortar and run the point of your trowel along the mortared cracks in the wall. Once the mortar has stiffened a little you can use a stiff brush to remove any mortar on the sides of the brickwork.
5. Cup of tea time!
Good luck! It's a LOT of fun!
X Steph