the fine art of brickwork – Basic Skills Lesson 1 – Freehand Panel



okay so when you lay bricks when you're learning to lay bricks it's really important to get into good habits right from the start because when you first start you're thinking about everything that you're doing it seems when you're driving a car when you first start to learn to drive a car you are thinking about every single movement that you do then once you've passed your test and you're driving you can drive any way and we've hardly even think about sort of changing gear or anything because it's all I have it same with brickworks you really want to get into good habits now the way I was taught and was good but I then move on to a different company and I worked with the best bricklayer who I've ever ever seen ever worked we've had a fantastic privilege working with him and another one as well and but his name was Derrick gone and he's retired now and he was the best bricklayer like I said I've worked with dozens and dozens since but the habits that he had I just polished up what I was doing and I changed a few things because he was so fast he was so neat and he was just brilliant so I like to think that everything I do is kind of mirrored from from him and that way I sort of have a bricklayers as well since then and I do like my way but again you have to find the way that you like mate so when I go through what am I going to do you may not like it and but again you just have to try it if you don't like it then carry on doing another way but what I will do is as I said before is I will explain why I don't like doing it one way and why I like doing it this way and then it's obviously for you to decide what you want to do okay so when I go look at the work area and how we stand at the work area because again that's really important and because you want to stand and work in a way that's going to be efficient you don't want to be turn around twizzle around and not really knowing where you are there's backwards and forwards alone as well which we'll talk about later on and just for now we'll just have a quick look at this work area where we're gonna be lying just a few bricks in a little while you'll see that I'm going to be working off from the wall to board and the materials to foot and the way that I stained my left hand will always build my work so I can come around and do this and then my right hand feeds this way there's no no messing around or anything everything is just done like which you probably have seen so what we're gonna do first though is we're just going to show how I lay bare joint and then from that we'll move on to perks so bed joints next you'll see the angle on the troll just smudge you bricks below and you're gonna be line as well so you make sure that your angle you travel this way so you see them all just flowers onto the trowel so now what we'll do and I'll explain the way right so it's three different types then way of doing a perp the first way I've seen a few people do but you don't see it very often because it's not a good one and and what people do is they just give the child a little bit of a flick so the more stays on there and they'll have their brick and I have to say as well when you have your brick you're always holding it this way so the Frog is under your palm and your thumb is always on the face that's how you pick every breakup anyway so this little joint it's called tip and tail and I've seen brick guys do that Boyd in there which collects moisture freezes and starts to disintegrate the rest of the joint there and then before you know you've got water running straight into your cavity and the other thing I don't like about it is you've got that slant okay we'll talk about the slant on the next which is lots of ways of doing this one this one is like an ice cream cone and this is how I was taught when I was a student and that was to put yet more on like that okay all right so that's how I was taught and you can see you've got big chances on every edge similar to the first one that we looked at got that chamfer oh just see the variations now because obviously as you get more fluent at you with your brickwork a lot of people tend to do it quicker but you still have the same principles and again there are dozens of variations of this but basically what it is is as I'm showing you just on my name the two sides right so they all have one thing in common and that is they all slant so when you come to lay that with another brick I'll have to go upside down ready for this you'll see that there's often you can't squeeze them up a little bit but if you've got big joints working with big joints you're gonna be having to fill those up just before you start joining up so if you can get a full joint right at the start you avoid doing that okay so the way I do it the way I do it is again to throw on push it down and slide my trowel off so I've got a tongue and then I'll cut it off as well so when I cut it that edge is flush with the rest of the brick and then I'll take that piece off a and put it on the back because the back generally you find you get loads of holes on the back so that extra bit always ensures that you have most full joint especially on a garden wall where you might have to be drawn in the back up but again when um if I show you again like this when you lay that brick straight away I'm in line with each other wrong way you can see that that joint is full okay so anyway that's how I do it and that's the reason I do it so you have no filling up quite often right so your C requires they'll do a wall and once they've done all the panel some will say am let's join up and you'll see they'll have this and I have their joint nine and they'll be filling one that's just taking you more time and I'll give a little instance I was only about 25 26 years old and I got told and the following day I look at me 1 so this one the following day I got told that I'd be am working with this really really good brick way really looking forward to it because he was 10 years older than me and he was quite fast and we could line up 30 bricks long and when we got to like the middle and he was like three bricks ahead of me so when the line went up I knew that I had to do a little bit faster and after about three course we were both doing 15 bricks each we were hit in the middle together which was good so we carried on we did about 910 courses together and then he turned round and said to me obviously him being 10 years older he was like the senior one he said well we better join up so this hand didn't do enough and I've just had majority iron in this hand and I was just perked their joints their joints just going along doing that now all of a sudden I found I had a whole little bit drawing more analyst bit unusual got hill filled up there's another one no let and all of a sudden I realize had a few holes in my joints I I look back and I realized then that I jointed all mine up but he was only halfway along doing his so I then had to help him fill all his old up and join up as well so we both like the same amount of bricks in the same time but my joining up was done twice as quick as what his words simply because he was having to fill up as he was going so hence my joints are always on site every time so what do you know Solan just like a little panel down here with no level this is again as I said the first exercise that I used to get more students to do so everything was just with your your eye and your trial just getting used to your trial a level comes a little bit later on another three jobs okay 20 min away again long figure Eight's anger the trial get you brick no no no good show a really important thing that we haven't mentioned yet we said that we're holding the brick with a thumb on the face every time no your thumb as soon as you lie on the bed then how old's the back of the brick so you've got complete control with your left hand of that brick this only this doesn't do anything else that's hats and puts makes them more like a jelly so that's this hand that actually lays a brick this one holding it and you're gonna be stand this is the reason you stand in this way as well so you're looking down and when you cut them all away keep that trial like that don't do it that way because you'll just smudge all the brickwork you're gonna cut that way okay cuz we're not going to use a level on these but again just emphasizing how important this is this part here now what I'm gonna do is you know like one more because this panel is only gonna be two bits long and then I'm gonna revisit what we just did there so the perp remember cabinet and then before it goes onto the bed you give it a little bit of a wheel on to that brick and then rest it on the bed joint so you push it on to that group first and then rest it down and then grab here as you're tapping down you're looking to make sure that that is that right as you can possibly get right I'm now gonna just lie brick on the board showing you the grip I've got at the back and why that is so important okay so we're just going to do a little demonstration on why this grip holding the brick like this is so important so when you have your bed join let's just say for example you've got a little bit too much on the back so when you lie it put it in place you can see that brick angle looks a bit then you can see that that brick is way way high at the back so again this only taps the back and the front two ends of the brick this hand is going to push down because your eye is looking down to make sure that this face is upright so as I'm tapping this hand is pushing down until I'm happy that is upright just the same as if I did this so you can see I know I'm exaggerating it but you can see that that face the bottom is sticking way out and you can see that that brick needs to come up so as I'm tapping again here again this only tapping this hand is going to pull up so I just pulled up until I'm happy that that is upright okay so that's the importance of this your eye is looking down this hand is going to move that brick as this one taps that to get that in the upright position okay I lay that brick dry because if I said bed that and then put joint on here when I push that on today this brick is only half the weight of that so I'll have to come back and touch that one up again anyway so I'll leave that and all lay that one last mr. trouble when it's been used as a demonstration brakes a little bit grubby thumb at the back in the Frog I'm looking over at looking down push it on there first hold the back the same this hand is moving that brick to make sure right now this one I'm gonna lay put the bed in but this time or joint on there so I'll turn the brick upside down because again this is the face so hopefully again we're not leveling anything we just want to be looking to see how we were you

49 thoughts on “the fine art of brickwork – Basic Skills Lesson 1 – Freehand Panel”

  1. thanks ive been doing my own DIY since i was a lad, done a few small walls of my own, but learned watching your video in the first 3 minutes where i was going wrong with the buttering of the brick, superb and saves me so much time, and makes the job neater also down to holding the brick,,,, thank you great video have subscribed as i have a large wall to do next year so taking a year to get technique correct as it its 8 course high and full length of my front garden ,

  2. Rob thx for sharing, im a bricklayer to done loads of jobs, but your the best on YouTube I rated you five stars keep the good work up thx m8.

  3. Hi the Irish are the best bricklays in the world 🥇🥇🥇🥇🥇🥇🥇🥇🥇🥇🥇🥇🥇🥇🥇🥇🥇🥇🥇🥇🥇🥇🥇

  4. Utter bollocks. Your "Ice cream cone" is pathetic. That's absolutely not how that movement should be performed. Whoever taught you to do it that way is a bloody idiot. When done correctly (which is easily achievable with practice) you are left with a full perp joint, with no "slant" whatsoever.

  5. I always wondered how to do brickwork and you explained it to me in just a few minutes. So many excellent ideas and methods. Thanks Rob.

  6. Should do one of you rebuilding the shed or whatever that little building is….either way your trowel skills are exellent.

  7. Really interesting how technical each motion is and how it leads to the next step. Also, very interesting how just a small deviation from your lesson can result in many more minutes going back to fill in holes. So many subtle moves. Its a real art form.

  8. Hello
    My french subs talked about u ans i really enjoy to discover foreign tips in masonry
    In my country we dont lay bricks but stones so il totally rooky in this art
    If i Can submit a request ? Can u traduce or script ure explains ?
    Same for stu Crompton i would like to follow u more but langage barrer IS really strong
    i will start to do same if traditionnal stone build interests foreign masons
    keep like this , a pleasure to see that kind of community , loving to craft , laying a part of them for centuries
    Love this job 😉
    Bye^^
    Nicolas, french mason

  9. Hi rob . Your explanation is superb mate . Like the bit where you said learn right from the start not to pick up any bad habits,
    I know you say and everybody does that frog up due to voids etc But I can’t help thinking that if you put enough muck on and you tap tap that it will fill the void up . All though you can’t check this . And why is it so critical rob not to have a little void ? Is it water freezing in void . Pity as well rob you can’t ask the ritired bricky just to do a small demo . Thank you pal.

  10. Is there any way you could make a video on making a perforated brick wall, a screen wall, there’s not one single video on YouTube showing this process. Thank you!

  11. Priceless advice, this is. I'm very impressed with the level of detail discussed and how much knowledge goes into brick-building, when it's done with such craftsmanship. Thanks for putting this up.

  12. wonderful video rob! i learned a lot from your explanations about the details of your techniques for laying brick. i salute you by saying, perfection is made of seemingly trivial details and perfection is certainly not trivial!

  13. I thought you said you taught people the right way from the start? If you’re telling people to lay every brick by looking down the face to make sure it’s straight… you’re teaching wrong! The FIRST thing you teach someone when laying brick is to rely on the feels. Teach how it feels to set a straight brick and how it feels to hold your trowel correctly to cut wearing mortar and how it feels to put a head joint on your brick the proper way… rely on touch, check with eyes.

  14. Having a hell of a time trying to figure out what types of brick to use if one were to build a house in illinois . Would that be first or second class brick .. or what would the type/name of that be …thanks in advance

  15. I’ve decided that I have had enough of cowboy builders not up to the job or letting me down completely, so I’m going to do the job myself. Starting with clearing the garden and then building a wall (I’m going to do an evening course at college to set me on the right path). I’ll get there in the end and do the job well. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and skills.

  16. Hi Rob, I've watched your videos loads of times to try and copy how you lay bricks, I'm a complete novice and the one thing I'm struggling with is getting the mortar to stick, in your video at about 6:45 you sort of slide the trowel off the brick leaving a flat blob about 10mm thick, when I try this the mortar seems to stick to the trowel and not the brick and I end up pulling half the mortar off, would it be possible please to tell me why?

  17. When I place a joint on the end I use two moves. The joint after applied should be near straight with the face for a full cross joint when you lay it. Fast is measured when the wall is complete not just laid to the line. Most brick should be rubbed into position for speed. Thanks Rob.

  18. What sand is in that mortar because its very light in colour which is ideal for what i need on a pointing job at home?

  19. This guy is just bigging himself up…'I used to work with this guy who's ten years older but I'm far quicker than him cuz he doesnt fill his joints, what good bricklayers chooses to build a wall then go over the whole wall again doing something they shoulda done in the first place? If he had to fill his joints after the wall is built he can't be as good as this guy makes out…..
    Why would u leave it till after? Just a waste of time and money…..

  20. Amateur brickie here, been on a bricklaying course and I've built retaining walls etc. Really wish this vid was available when I started! Perfect technique, lovely work.

    There's something noble about laying bricks properly. Thank you for the video.

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