If you have never seen a brick rake before, you may wonder what this device can do.
A brick rake is a device designed to remove the mortar between bricks. It is relatively simple in design but quite powerful when used correctly.
The principle of the brick rake is so simple that even those with little to no experience can use it right away with just a little instruction.
The device is small enough to be held in one hand. Plus, it works relatively quickly given its small size.
While the most common name for the device is a brick rake, it also has other names as well which include the following.
- Brick Jointer Rake
- Chariot Style Brick Rake
- Mortar Joint Raker
The mortar joint raker is distinguishable from a traditional brick rake due to the ball at the end of the handle.
The ball serves no purpose other than an aesthetic one.
In fact, the only difference between brick rakes is the design of the handle itself. Otherwise, they function in a practically identical fashion.
Parts of a Brick Rate
The brick raker consists of four basic parts.
While the parts themselves may be shaped somewhat differently, such as the handle, they all function in the same way.
a) Skate Wheels:
The brick rake has two skate wheels on the opposite sides of the robust pin and spade bolt.
The skate wheels are hard-wearing, which means they are made from solid materials.
They move on top of the bricks while the robust pin rakes out the mortar.
b) Spade Bolt:
This is the piece that secures the robust pin in place.
The spade bolt can be removed and replaced if it becomes damaged.
c) Robust Pin:
This is the functional part of the brick joint raker. The robust pin is the part that rakes or scrapes out the mortar between the bricks.
By loosening the spade bolt, you can adjust the height of the robust pin.
The top part of the pin is sharp, while the bottom part of the pin is flat. It is the bottom part that rakes or scrapes away the mortar.
Most brick rakes have handles made from solid aluminum. This makes them lightweight yet quite strong and durable.
The handle runs parallel to the mortar and allows the user to adjust the angle of the rake for maximum benefit.
Handles that curve upward toward the end allow you to use the brick rake as a brick joint trowel.
This means you can run the device across freshly laid mortar to smooth it out before it sets.
When to Use a Brick Rake Tool?
As its name suggests, you use the tool on brick walls to remove excess mortar.
The wheels run along the surface of the bricks. The pin is dragged along the mortar and scrapes or rakes it away to the depth that you desire.
For the most part, bricks tend to be even on the surface, so using the brick rake is not really an issue.
This also ensures an even depth when raking out the mortar.
The primary reason that a brick rake is used is to remove the mortar without touching the bricks.
For example, a hammer and chisel may be effective at digging out mortar.
However, they also stand a strong chance of damaging the brick as well. One slip and the bricks surrounding the mortar may crack or chip away.
This is why a brick rake is a popular tool because it can perform the job while also protecting the brick.
Brick rakes can be used on any brick surface that is relatively even.
While power tools are a popular option to remove mortar, the brick rake is primarily used on listed properties when power tools may be a viable option.
This is because brick rakes are better suited to protecting the bricks even compared to modern power tools.
Thanks to the adjustable robust pin, you can set the depth of the brick rake with ease.
This makes it far superior compared to using a chisel because getting an even depth is simply not possible due to human error.
This is the main reason why a brick rake is used. Proper depth control allows for smooth results.
However, the brick rake is not appropriate for all situations involving mortar.
For example, a stone wall with an uneven surface would not be suitable for a brick rake.
This is because the surface will not be flat and allow the desired depth to be set.
Under such circumstances, it would be better to use other tools to accomplish the task of removing the mortar.
How to Use a Brick Rake Tool Correctly?
To properly use a brick rake tool, you must first set the depth of the robust pin.
This is to ensure that it rakes deep enough to remove the undesired mortar but not too deep where it becomes difficult to use.
1- Set the Depth
Loosen the spade bolt and set the desired depth for the robust pin. Once that is reached, tighten the spade bolt so that the pin stays in place.
Start by turning the spade bolt counterclockwise. Once the pin is loosened, you can now lift or lower it to the desired depth.
The distance between the bottom of the wheels and the placement of the pin will indicate the depth being reached.
You may use a tape measure if you need to remove a specific amount of mortar.
For example, if you want to remove the top half-inch of mortar from the surface, set the flat part of the pin one-half-inch below the bottom of the wheels.
Once you have reached the desired depth, turn the spade bolt clockwise until the pin is tightened. You are now ready to start raking away the mortar.
2- Hold Horizontal to the Surface
You should hold the brick rake by the handle close to the robust pin.
The rake should be against the surface and horizontal, assuming the mortar you are removing is from a wall. If the mortar is on the ground, then the rake will be vertical.
3- Start at the Top
It is generally better to start at the higher part of the wall first and then work your way down.
Always check to see that the robust pin is on the mortar itself and not the brick.
4- Apply Pressure & Move Side to Side
As you start to move the rake, apply downward pressure. This will start to scrape away the mortar.
The key is the application of steady, even pressure as you move the brick rake from side to side.
You will want to move the tool along the beds. And down the perps to get the best results.
As you move the rake, you will go back and forth or, more accurately, if you are working on a wall, side to side.
The key is to scrape the mortar evenly, taking away one layer at a time until you reach the desired depth.
5- Work One Section at a Time
You should scrape back and forth, lowering the depth of the pin into the mortar until the desired depth has been scraped away.
Once that occurs, move to the next section. You should work sections that are long enough for you to comfortably control the brick rake.
For most people, this will mean sections that run about one to two feet in length.
Advantages of Using a Brick Rake Over Other Tools
While powered tools that remove mortar offer considerable benefits, there are also solid advantages to using a brick rake.
This is especially true if the amount of mortar being removed is not too extensive.
For example, the brick rake is perfect for removing mortar from one side of your home or perhaps from a brick wall that needs to be prepared for painting.
But if the job is quite extensive, such as a multi-story building, then you may want to use power tools to do the job unless they are forbidden for some reason.
The brick rake will also work on different types of mortar.
Whether the mortar is Portland cement-based or lime-based, the brick raker tool will work equally well with both.
That is because the robust pin is made from materials strong enough to power their way through almost all mortar materials, no matter their source.
Brick rakes are lightweight and easy to use. This means less strain on the hands and arms when operating the brick rake.
If you have never used this device before, you will feel the effects on your muscles after working the rake for some time.
However, the lightweight aluminum construction makes it less of a burden to use.
In addition, brick rakes are relatively inexpensive compared to powered tools that do the same job.
Plus, they are also quite robust which means that they tend to last longer. And if you purchase a spare robust pin, you can keep the rake operating for quite some time.
What Can You Use as an Alternative to a Brick Rake Tool?
If you don’t find a brick rake, a plugging chisel can be a good substitute that can work.
It can easily get deep into the mortar so that you can remove the brick that needs to be raked out.
A brick jointer is also a great tool that is helpful, especially when you need to use the brick raker just for shaping the mortar rather than removing the bricks.
No matter what tool you use, it’s important to care for them and store them appropriately in the right place so that they will last you a long time.
Tips for maintenance and storage
These tools are often made of aluminum, so it’s best to keep them away from places where they can get wet or where they will be subject to rust.
It’s also a good idea to wipe them down after each use so that any mortar or debris is removed. For cleaning, you can use a soft cloth and soapy water.
To avoid damaging the blade, it’s also important that you don’t use too much force when raising the rake from the ground.
If you find that the brick is stuck, it’s best to use a mallet or hammer to loosen it before using the rake.
The Bottom Line
The brick rake is a simple, useful tool for removing mortar from between bricks.
Plus, some brick rakes can be used smooth out the new mortar that has been applied to the bricks.
Its simple design combined with ease of use makes it the perfect tool for the job of preparing surfaces before you apply the paint.
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Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for over a decade serving customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, and Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.