Fechino Files: February 2024

Words: Steven Fechino

Steven Fechino

Welcome to February! It is likely still really cold where you are, and hopefully, that means that someone else is paying for the heated tents on the jobsite, or you can get caught up in your shop before everything gets crazy in a few weeks. So, the other day, I took my tool bag and dumped it on the workbench, and after choking on all of the dust, I decided to see what was missing and what needed to be cleaned up; what a mess. Well, I actually lay brick as much as possible, that is why I decided to organize my bag; of course, I am the one buying the brick for my own projects, but I like my estimator, laborer, truck driver, old saw man and the boot mason. Best part is I do not ever get paid late… Yup, I do not get paid at all; it is kinda fun being a one-old-man show, but I still like it. Back to the tool bag - the tool bag must have weighed 25 pounds, and 10 pounds of it was unnecessary. So, I re-packed it, oiled up some of the tools, and she will sit in the truck until the next warm day that I can work.

There is a tool in my tool bag that I wanted to share with the readers; it is the “MASONRY SQUARE.” I think everyone in the trades knows about the Speed Square used for framing, but the Masonry Square is different; it is just for Masonry. The square is set up for residential on one side with a series of conversions printed on the square; you can figure and order sand, mortar, or brick and block. It also includes angle degrees so that the saw man can accurately cut the proper angle when necessary. 

For layout in tough spots, like between an air conditioner unit and an existing porch down in a hole, the Oversized Brick Spacing Rule that is printed on one of the short sides, and inches are marked on the other short side to make the layout much easier. The opposite side of the square is designed for commercial; this side of the square is matched with two different masonry scales; the first short side is marked with the Modular Spacing Rule, and the second short side is marked with the Standard Brick Spacing Scale all set to assist the layout in hard-to-reach places. The list of conversions on the Commercial side of the Masonry Square includes conversions to calculate brick, block, mortar, scaffold jacks and scaffold braces. The Masonry Square is something very useful for the younger person in the field that is moving up quickly; us older folks just need to use it to remind us of what we have already forgotten; go on, admit it, I had to. I enjoy and use this tool more than I thought I would. It is worth having even if it is just for the saw table as it measures 9 inches, perfect for marking 8-inch concrete block, and it even still fits in my tool bag.

The Masonry Square is currently available at Bon Tool, a Masonry Alliance Partner of the Masonry Contractors Association of America.

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