Step 14: Clean your tools!

I don't have running water nearby, so here's what I do:

1.  brush off the tools that have mortar on them.
2. scrape trowels off with the other trowel
3. wet the tools.
4. brush again
5. air dry - keep them off the ground (notice mine are at least up on some extra bricks)

That just leaves a little haze. 

If you have a hose, then you can really rinse and dry them.  Take care of your tools and they'll take care of you.

You may also need to dremel your chisels every 10 sessions or so to keep them sharp.   That mortar can really dull them.  You'l notice a difference.
Civil Engineer here, I thought I would add a few comments to your rather wonderful article that I learned much about brick handling from. The first is I don't think you're describing very well how to get the mortar into the cracks. I can imagine what your doing but I don't think your words are describing it very well as some of the descriptions could be taken multiple ways. In particular I find 4 in the work-flow to be nondescript of what you are doing. I also was curious if you are pulling out all the mortar under a brick or if you are trying to leave half the brick supported, it sounded like you were removing all the loose mortar, even if it was all the mortar under the brick, which doesn't sound safe.<br><br><br><br>Finally the real reason I posted. Concrete, mortars or any lime or cement based product doesn't ever dry (well unless you're doing it wrong). As you mentioned in the article it hardens and as you mentioned in the article it's a chemical process. This chemical process takes the water and combines it with the lime/cement into a crystalline structure and hardens that structure with an exothermic process. Without water there is no reaction and if the cement/lime dry the reaction stops, the crystalline structure is incomplete and your cement will be extremely weak. <br><br><br><br>Now the key here is that you don't want the mortar to ever dry out (during the hardening phase) or you damage the end product. When casting any cement/lime based product extreme care is taken to keep the cement moistened so the reaction can complete. For example when doing sidewalks or driveways either the system is covered in moist burlap to keep the concrete moist or a chemical curing compound is used that will trap the moisture and prevent it from &quot;drying&quot;, or losing the moisture present in the mix. <br><br><br><br>Now for the suggestion, I'd suggest that for at least 3 days after every pointing you keep the new mortar and bricks wet. It depends on the mortar's composition (when you don't have to worry about adding water) but as a general rule after the first 24 hours the reaction is far enough along that you can soak the mortar and you won't harm the water/cement ratio (this is what determines the strength of the crystalline structure that makes up the mortar). So for the first 24 hours you shouldn't do more than mist but for the next 48 hours you can actively spray the mortar without worry of damaging it. Again, as a general rule lime/cement products achieve 90% strength in 7 days and 99% strength in 30 days. The first 3 are key though, deprivation of water or freezing the mix during those days will harm the final product (sometimes very badly), after 3 days the reaction has completed enough that the reaction can finish later even if it's abruptly halted by freezing or drying out.<br><br><br><br>Your process of handling and moistening the brick is correct, but I worry you are allowing the mortar to dry out if your basement is a dry environment, particulary given that the heat generated by the reaction in a closed space can push moisture out of the mix. Oh and I concur with the previous poster, a sponge is the best possible way to remove the excess mortar and keep your brick clean, though I never had problems using a modern factory produced sponge when laying tile so I don't think a natural sponge is required but you do need a nice big one (6&quot;x6&quot;x12&quot; or so, not a kitchen sponge).
Hey pretty good you found out what is what when it comes to mortar and brick. Congratulations!<br> <br> I'm not so sure if you've made the best choice of brushes though. Masons I've worked with tend to favor white wash brushes. Have you tried sponging your wall face while it was green? That should eliminate all but a haze of mortar, which would likely come off once it goes white with another damp sponging. Not a kitchen sponge either, like a big natural sponge.<br> <br> Honestly I've never seen anyone squeegee a brick or block work. That step is done with a trowel. Mud get flipped back into the pan, if it doesn't just fall down the wall.<br> <br> You know to sand your floor too right? As in put dry sand on the floor so the mortar that falls doesn't stick to it.<br> <br> I spent over 10 years as a union laborer, so I've worked with a few masons. Done some hack masonry myself too from time to time. Even re-pointed a building on the national registry once.<br> <br> <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5a/Elizabeth_convent_domed_tower_jeh.jpg" rel="nofollow">http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5a/Elizabeth_convent_domed_tower_jeh.jpg</a><br> <br> Nice to see some of my work online.<br> <br> This is a more challenging angle to photograph that structure from though:<br> <br> <a href="http://i.imgur.com/jvC9r.jpg" rel="nofollow">http://i.imgur.com/jvC9r.jpg</a><br> <br> heh
My floors tend to get &quot;sanded&quot; by the brushout - enough to knock loose while repointing... I'll keep that in mind on less damaged sections. So would you consider the white wash brushed more durable? Whatg would be better about them? I chose the ones I have since they fit the spacing and that's all... not considering anything else about them. Could you explain the de-hazing more for me? Everything I've learned is pieced together from several people's anecdotes.
Well what you're doing seems to be working for you. You know the old saw about changing horses in mid stream. I just consider the white wash brush the item I've seen masons I've worked with use. But they don't use their brushes how you're using yours so it hardly matters. They're just the brush a mason has, if he has a brush at all.<br><br>How you're cleaning your wall isn't how it is normally done either, but then again your job isn't a typical brick job today. Different horses for different courses!<br><br>If your re-pointing job is anything like the one I was involved with then each aspect of it has to be taken as uniquely as it presents itself. Just do the best you can. It isn't nearly as methodical as laying a brick wall. So no one can say this is right and that is wrong.<br><br>Just remember over hydrated mortar is weak and if you can control which mortar gets too wet then you might be able to use that to your advantage. Some truths are universal.
Excellent tutorial on a lost art. (Especially for those of us living in older homes in need of &quot;love&quot;)

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