Brick Raking

Brick joint removal can be undertaken with hand-tools such as a chisel and hammer but this is only feasible for small areas or where extreme caution is required on sensitive structures. There are also wheeled hand-tools available but these are only suitable for very soft and loose mortars. For productivity and ease of achieving a consistent raked depth, a mechanised method of joint raking is usually chosen.

As a general guide, a brick joint should be raked to a depth equivalent to twice it’s height. So a typical 8 mm bed joint would need to be raked to a minimum depth of 16 mm. It is also important to achieve this depth consistently along the joint.

Of the two techniques used, the most common involves a diamond raking blade fitted to an angle grinder. The raking blade is usually much wider than a standard diamond cutting blade - 6.4 mm wide blades (1/4”) are most commonly used for brick raking. For high intensity brick raking, we recommend the use of 125 mm (5”) angle grinders as they are more powerful and have larger bearings and stronger gears. This means they should work faster for longer! 115 mm (4.5”) grinders are often preferred due to their smaller size and lower cost. We accept they may be suitable for less intensive work, such as raking perp joints, or for persons brick raking at a slower pace.

With either grinder size, the thicker brick raking blades are likely to cause gearbox bearings and motor brushes to wear more quickly. It is therefore important to check and replace these parts in good time if you are to get maximum life from the angle grinder. Most grinder manufacturers consider bearings and brushes to be wear components and therefore not covered by standard warranty.

Most mortar compositions contain substantial amounts of silica. Failing to control and collect dust when brick raking, places the operator and other persons in the vicinity at an increased health risk due to the inhalation of fine silica dust -prolonged exposure to silica dust inhalation is proven to cause permament lung damage.

Power tools such as angle grinders rely on a flow of air through the motor for cooling - where dust control and extraction is not being used, the dust laden air will coat motors, switches and other mechanical components, leading to overheating and early failure. And controlling dust at source also means there is no need for costly clean-up operations when the job is finished

Pictured right is a PWM C-Tec dust control guard fitted to a 125 mm grinder; it is also available for fitment to selected 115 mm grinders. Most notably, it has a depth adjustable stainless steel skid, for smooth and accurate working at a consistent depth. It attaches to the angle grinder using an aluminium clamping boss, specifically matched to the dimensions of the angle grinder, thereby ensuring an accurate and secure fit. Click here for a detailed analysis of this product and the associated equipment PWM provide for dust free brick raking.

The less frequently used method for joint raking also features an angle grinder, but this time with a form of router bit. Router bits suitable for raking mortar joints are available in a variety of materials. We favour the Tungsten ‘chip’ variety pictured alongside for its durability and cost-effective productivity. Alternative versions can be of a fluted design, made from solid tungsten or edged with industrial diamond. As an aside, extra long diamond router bits are available, ostensibly for removing complete bricks. Care must be taken when using such items, as their extreme length, relative to their diameter, means they are susceptible to breaking under even moderate sideways loading.

A router bit will be substantially slower than a diamond raking blade. It will also be more difficult to maintain in the joint if a hard obstruction (e.g. a nail) is encountered. It is however a very suitable method for raking irregular joints - random  stonework is an obvious use, as is a brick structure with naturally uneven joints.

Using a router bit for brick raking without some form of dust control is inadvisable for much the same reasons as apply to raking with diamond blades. A number of angle grinder attachments are available with features to provide dust control, depth setting and visual guidance when raking with router bits.

Brick Raking Dust Free Cutting Cowl
TCT Mortar Raking Routers or Rakes
Brick Raking Dust Free Router System

It is not uncommon for professional Brick Raking contractors to use both raking types - the bladed C-Tec arrangement for fast progression along the bed joints, with perhaps a second person raking the perps with a router-based tool. However, it is feasible to rake the ‘perps’ with a diamond blade so long as attention is paid to the choice of blade diameter - click here to access blade depth settings (when used with the C-Tec Dust Free Raking Cowl) - you will be redirected to our primary website for this information.

Diamond raking blades are available in a range of diameters and widths. The most commonly used raking blade is 125 mm diameter x 6.4 mm wide; this equates to the imperial size 5” x 1/4”. Alternative blade widths in the 125 mm diameter size are 4.5 mm, 8 mm and 10 mm. We offer a limited range of blades in 115 mm and 100 mm diameter. Please call us on 01794 830 841 if you have requirements for specific blade sizes.

For sensitive structures requiring a mix of renovation and raking work, the Arbortech plunge cutting saw may be applicable. Summary details on this site under the Maintenance heading in the menu bar. More comprehensive information and On-Line purchasing are on our Arbortech webpage.

Arbortech Plunge Cutting Saw

Click here to buy Brick Raking equipment on-line

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