Please note

Because of the lack of published trowel and masonry tool histories, the information here is based on other sources that may be less reliable and certainly are incomplete. These include eBay and tools that I purchase myself that are the starting points for my research. I will write what I know as I learn it. If what you read here interests you, please check back often and look for revisions and corrections. Scanned catalogs are either mine or by Rose Antique Tools and used with permission, and are on Google Docs as pdf files. A few are links to other websites. Your photos and information are welcome. Please click on any picture to enlarge it. Comments are welcome, but any with links will be deleted as possible spam.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Chisels for Brick and Block

Several styles of chisels are used for cutting brick and concrete block, removing excess mortar, or removing old mortar from joints. In order of their popularity, they are:  

Brick set, brick bolster (UK) – wide, thick blade, for cutting brick; typical widths are 2-1/2”, 3”, 3-1/2”, 4”, 4-1/2", 5”.

Brick sets, from left, 2 by Baltimore, Delaware, Stanley
Mason chisel, mason's chisel, brick chisel, brick bolster – narrower, thinner blade than a brick set, for cutting and shaping brick, concrete block, and stone, or trimming hardened mortar.

Mayhew No. 777 mason chisel
Plugging chisel, tuckpointer’s chisel – narrow, heavy blade with a long bevel and a long handle, for removing old mortar from joints before pointing.

Baltimore No. 335 3/16" plugging chisel
Fluted plugging chisel – a flute on each side of blade, popular in the UK.

Cape chisel – narrow, heavy blade with a symmetrical taper, for removing old mortar from joints, and used by machinists for cutting keyways.

Cape chisel with swaged edge, unmarked

The site How Stuff Works has an excellent video of brick chisels being made at Baltimore Tool Works, which closed in 2009. The lack of automation is typical of older forges, making this video a rare insight into earlier manufacturing processes. Assembly Line Baltimore Tool Works

All types of brick chisels should be sharpened with a flat bevel, as on a sharpening stone or a belt sander. The concave surface or hollow grind made by a grinding wheel makes a thinner, weaker edge.

Chisel makers in the United States

All major masonry tool manufacturers have sold or made brick chisels, including Bon, Goldblatt, Kraft, Marshalltown, and Stanley in the US. Smaller US companies which have made brick chisels include the ones below:

American Swiss File & Tool Co.
24 John St., New York City
American Swiss Files 1920 catalog 
American Swiss Tools, catalog about 1923 

Baltimore Tool Works, formerly at 1110 Race St., Baltimore, MD
Their product line was bought out by Mayhew Steel Products in 2009.

Dasco 1922 advertisement

Dasco Pro, 340 Blackhawk Park Ave., Rockford, IL
Originally Damascus Steel Products Co., then Dasco, and Dasco Pro since 1984.
Earlier addresses include 2215 Kishwaukee St., where they still have a plant.   
Dasco Pro website
Google Streetview - Dasco plant

Delaware Tool Steel Corp., formerly at 34th & Market St., Wilmington, DE.
Sylvan N. Levy (1888-1967) was president and held several patents, some with William B. Levy.
Made a brick set, brick chisel, and cape chisel.
Delaware Tool Steel Corp. Catalog

C. Drew & Co., Kingston, MA
Operated 1837-1980 in the same location.
C. Drew & Co. Tool Collectors Research Forum

Enderes Tool Co., Albert Lea, MN
Offices at 1103 Hershey St., plant at 924 E 14th St.
Enderes recently changed owners.
Enderes Tools website

Kraeuter Co., formerly at 569 18th Ave., Newark, NJ
Established in 1878 by August Kraeuter, by 1970 it was Kraeuter Tools Division of Dresser Industries.

Mayhew Steel Products, Inc., formerly at Deerfield Ave., Shelburne Falls, MA
Office and warehouse now in Turners Falls, MA.
Originally named H.H. Mayhew Co. 

Vaughn & Bushnell, currently at 11414 Maple Ave., Hebron, IL

Chisel makers and brands in the UK

Evro 4.5 inch (11 cm) brick bolsters
Draper, Chandler's Ford, Hampshire

Eclipse, currently a Spear & Jackson brand

Faithfull Tools website

Moore & Wright, Sheffield, brands include Moorite and Surecut
Moore & Wright website

Spear & Jackson
Spear and Jackson website
J. Tyzack & Son 4.5 inch (11 cm) brick bolster

Tyzack, currently a Spear & Jackson brand

Other chisel makers

Rennsteig, Germany

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