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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
What positive advice would you give someone just starting/wanting to lay block.

My background: Grew up with father doing grading & started on the carpentry/building side of things about 10 years ago. Currently can (seldom do) handle everything from the ground up, except for the block. I've pinned the corners for all the masons we've used in the past. Think that's mostly a liability thing for most.

I'm going to give a simple box foundation a try, just to see if I can. I'm certain there are very tricky aspects of the trade but a standard rectangle with no steps, should be free from most of the tricky stuff.

I'm thinking square, level and plumb. Most of the rest on this foundation should be the art of the trowel. Getting the mortar to go and stay where I want it and with enough speed to finish before x-mas.

What pitfalls should I be aware of and on the lookout for?

Nifty tools that can aid a newbie? Those story poles or speed leads whatever their called look handy for a new guy. Think I would rent some of those if I could.
 

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Oh it's pretty easy..... just lay one on top of two others and soon you will be the "best lay in town"

Just remember the ark was built by amateurs and the titanic was built by professionals!
 

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Just an idea,watch some guys laying block or watch a video. While a book is "somewhat" helpful,you know the old story,a picture is worth a thousand words.


Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Oh yeah just stack them up lol. Think Legos. No I have a great respect for all the trades. Getting by and being a professional are two entirely different things. When all goes well, some can get by, when things go south the professional knows how to make things right.

At 18 I was a "concrete adhesive specialist" or mud man. Sorry to say I didn't get much time to watch the masons in action. The only action I generally got to see was one or more masons banging their trowel on their mud board or the scaffold yelling for mortar or block.
 

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A "mud mixer" is actually very important and allows the masons show their skill, ability and speed. I knew a couple of large masonry contractors that paid the mud mixer the same as the highest paid man on the crews. - Especially on larger jobs.

Like all masonry the mortar properties are critical, even though strength is never critical with mortar since workability is more important.

The Spec-Mix systems have made a big dent in the market, but even with silos it takes a good man to control the water and mixing. - Especially with color.

Just stacking block/brick up is just one item on the production and quality list, but sooner or later, a level and line is needed to avoid "shingled" or shabby walls.

A good mason can adjust for some mortar variations, but in the end, the production and quality takes a hit.

Keep the sand pile protected and uniform moisture. The mixing water added takes time to be absorbed before it is off the board.
 

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You need to lay out the cellar windows in your first course otherwise utilize A and O blocks all the way up as not to choke the steel.

Filling the joints correctly will help not to get leaks even if you tar it.
 

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Much good advice above.

Start an exercise program, lower back, of course and don't forget to work fast twitch muscle fibers(hammering/throwing head joints) as well as the slow twitch fibers( old school heavy lifting and placing gently).

1. Swap labor with a mason for lessons.....
2.Hire a mason that can teach...maybe call the union hall for retired instructor...
3.Watch several videos, side walk supervise at a block basement.
4.rent or buy, new or used to resell a small paddle style mortar mixer--get what you can sell later to local pros, electric/gas motors can mix mortar without leaving you to tired to lay block.
5.Hire a skilled labor, as with the mixer, the laborer will allow you to focus on block laying, otherwise you're spending half the day tending, doubling the days needed to learn.....
6.Avoid crooked/seconds/poorly made block, square units are much easier to lay. Block are much easier to lay then brick because they are so consistent in size, shape and absorption. (keep your block bone dry)
7. Never set any block that is going into a water resistant wall on the earth or other bond breaking residue, dirty block = leaky basements. Nor saw units around others to be laid.--You shouldn't need a saw on a modular basement.
7.5. Mix up some sand and lime "mortar" to practice throwing clam shell bed joints on a 2x8 on saw horses, then gather up and reuse on practice "dog houses" on a flat concrete slab. A few hours a week will shorten your learning curve.

8.Unless you are a freak of nature, and can learn in days what most adults take years to perfect, you won't be pleased by your workmanship. Just special muscle tone needed to hold a 40 lb CMU for 4 or 5 seconds while you decide how to place might take months to develop. The actually theory of laying the unit plumb to the last course and the line to form a flat plane is exceedingly simple.

9. To succeed in life or business, one can't do EVERYTHING well, But then again, Winston Churchill spent his leisure hours laying brick......
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Got started laying yesterday. All has went better than I expected this far. I have run across a couple questions and possibly a problem.

1: How do you get your head joints full/no crack- separation? I've have mortar squishing out but still frequently get the crack.

2: How important is it to lay up corners first? I have to add horizontal wire every 2 courses and couldn't figure much of a way to lay up corners incorporating the wire.

3: I have developed this 1/2 block issue, where I have to put in a 1/2 block to keep the joints offset. I think it's something I did on the first. Not sure, my only issue with it is that it creates 1 double vertical joint per course. I've managed to side step it to break it the best I could. I'll try and attach a picture. I can't seem to figure out how to stop it. I'm certain this isn't normal or ideal but is it a major problem?

image-1700773242.jpg
 

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HammerOn said:
Got started laying yesterday. All has went better than I expected this far. I have run across a couple questions and possibly a problem. 1: How do you get your head joints full/no crack- separation? I've have mortar squishing out but still frequently get the crack. 2: How important is it to lay up corners first? I have to add horizontal wire every 2 courses and couldn't figure much of a way to lay up corners incorporating the wire. 3: I have developed this 1/2 block issue, where I have to put in a 1/2 block to keep the joints offset. I think it's something I did on the first. Not sure, my only issue with it is that it creates 1 double vertical joint per course. I've managed to side step it to break it the best I could. I'll try and attach a picture. I can't seem to figure out how to stop it. I'm certain this isn't normal or ideal but is it a major problem?
Those joints on top of each other are deal breakers . Who showed you how to lay block . That will bring cracks right down that wall . There is no break .
 

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You laid out the first course wrong. IE: either both blocks should have faced eachother or one went the other way. (opposite bond)

To fix it use 2 12" blocks next to eachother or one on each end in the lead, make sure it wont choke the steel.

Filling the joints as you go is almost an art to be able to do it as you go with your trowel without smudging the blocks too bad. Took me a while to get just as good as the sloppiest Mexican dude.
 

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You need to spend a few hours studying modular materials used in construction, it will pay you thousands of dollars in saved materials and reduced waste with increased production.

The English/American modular system is based on the studs/joists/rafters/etc being on 16 inch center mostly, 19.2 inches and 24 inches as alternates. so all the nailed on products fit without waste!

Write down the hours you spent trying to learn a skill with out an instructor, are U saving any $ Why the "Swiss Family Robinson" reenactment?

Lay the durawal in the lead to the end of the course its on, OVERLAP that wire with the infill wire at least 6" drive on to the next error.

I've seen worse by 20 year "pros".:sad:
 
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Advice For Someone Just Learning To Lay Block? After seeing the F/U....

Don't quit your day job :laughing:

Your 3 tab roofing jobs look like that too? :jester:

Fourth Generation gives the best overall advice and JBM the solution to your error/s.
 

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You need too start drinking at lunch!! I went too school for it , whoever said that job was ok needs his head examined !!

You can cost that thing 3" thick and it's still gonna fail!
Not everyone can lay block!
 

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Read a basic book on masonry. Bonding is absolutely something that can be learned from reading. Hopefully that was something you were practising on and not something you are trying to sell. If you are trying to sell it make sure there is steel and grout in those stacked cores
 

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Everyone hit it on the head - Understand keeping bond and then learn to lay to the line (height control can be a little tough).

As a block supplier, we held a 5 day (8 hrs/day) classes that was offered to GCs, masonry contractors and employees and limited it to 20 people. We supplied all material (we scrounged a little sand and. cement and some brick). None of the block were reused because you need new materials to learn and appreciate/judge what you can do. People addending the class were estimators, laborers, tenders, mud mixers and a few apprentices from the union program and some office employees. Their employers paid them for the time going to the classes.

The class started out with specs, materials and bonding principals. We worked off a reasonably level outdoor concrete area that had to be left clean. It began with the teams of 2 people laying out the projects and the first after some practice with a 20' long wall. After that is was another wall 4' high wall. Next was a series of lower (2'-4' high) sections of a typical corner and "T" intersection for layout and bonding education. We went on and did some brick/block walls sections (full collar joint and cavity wall) and then exposed them to curved walls.

The the last day, the teams could built anything they wanted that would be judged by experienced journey man masons without them knowing who built what.

It was huge learning experience for everyone - trainees, other suppliers and union reps. In the end the 2 top projects were built by women (secretaries/receptionists) and many others were embarrassed. Everyone enjoyed it including the burgers at lunch, beer afterward and steaks on the last day.

The instructor had done this before in different locations, but not as long and detailed, but had a lot of tips on what to do to make it work. It paid off for us for many years.
 
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