Do you know your pointing hawk from your pointing trowel? What about bolster chisels, club hammers and long bars? Building and landscape gardening comes with a whole catalogue of specialist tools - so if you're going to do the job, make sure you get the right ones.
General purpose tools
A selection of general purpose tools will be helpful in a wide range of projects. This guide suggests some of the most versatile, and the tasks they can be used for.
Choose a sturdy one, preferably with measurements marked inside. Buckets are invaluable for a huge range of tasks, from cleaning and tidying out of doors to measuring, mixing and moving cements and mortars.
Electrical extension lead
Essential when using power tools without a nearby power point. Keep your extension reel away from water and if the electrical load is heavy, unwind the reel so that the wires don’t overheat. Also ensure that you choose one suitable for outdoor use with RCD protection.
A common garden tool, rakes are useful for levelling surfaces as well as smoothing and spreading sand, gravel and mulch in to place.
Extremely useful when building a fence or garden wall, a laser level will accurately extend a level line over long distances.
Any straight piece of rigid and easy-to-handle timber will make a good straightedge. This can be used for a range of tasks from planning and marking out brickwork to laying out flower and vegetable beds.
Tape measure (30m)
An extra-long tape measure is essential for jobs like fencing or building a garden wall.
For heavyweight tasks, such as moving rubble or sand, you'll need a robust builders' wheelbarrow. An ordinary lightweight garden wheelbarrow won't be strong enough.
Breaking & digging tools
Using the right tools for digging and breaking ground will help to make light work of the task in hand.
Use a club hammer for small-scale demolition work, or for jobs like driving lightweight posts into the ground.
A long bar is good for prising, levering and also breaking up surfaces.
Break up ground with a pickaxe or long bar rather than a spade or shovel, especially if there’s buried rubble and rocks.
Use this to make neat holes in the ground for fence and gate posts.
The curved edges of a shovel make it ideal for moving aggregates as well as mixing and shifting mortar or concrete.
This is the tool for smashing up hardcore or slabs, and is also good for driving in fence posts and stakes.
Dig holes and trenches with a spade, rather than a shovel. A steel alloy spade is good, but stainless steel is best.
Brick & block laying tools
Laying bricks and blocks requires specialist tools which will help you to achieve a professional finish. Our guide will help you to select the appropriate tools for the job.
Bolster chisel (100mm)
Use to cut bricks and concrete blocks, as well as for general levering.
Tradesmen tend to prefer trowels with longer length blades, but you might find it easier to use a shorter one to begin with. Bricklayer's trowels are invaluable for any kind of brick or block laying.
For finishing concrete to a smooth surface or applying render and plaster to walls.
Builder’s line and pins
This nylon line is an essential guide for lining up and maintaining a level when building a structure of blocks or bricks.
If you’re concreting or mixing mortar on a large scale, buy or hire a cement mixer. These ensure that the concrete or mortar is thoroughly mixed to the right consistency. Be sure to wash the drum thoroughly after use.
Used for cutting through masonry by striking it with a club hammer. Choose one with a plastic safety sleeve to protect your hand from misplaced hammer blows.
Used to shape neat mortar joints in brickwork, and also to rake out old mortar ready for repointing.
This lightweight handheld platform is ideal for carrying small quantities of mortar to the wall when pointing.
This small-bladed trowel (between 75mm and 100mm long) is handy for repairing and shaping mortar joints in bricks.
Soft short-handled brush
A hand brush with soft bristles is perfect for finishing off mortared joints in bricks and stone.