How do you cut a concrete block?

Cutting a concrete block is a difficult task for any mason, whether they’re a rank amateur with hardly any tools or training or a veteran of the trade of years of experience. For those who do need to cut concrete blocks, however, the possibilities are wide open. Archways, curving walkways, planters in a wide range of shapes and sizes and any number of masonry projects rely on the mason’s ability to cut a concrete block according to the right sizes and dimensions as accurately as possible.

While most masons do not need to be as accurate as the ancient Egyptians were building the pyramids of Giza, most masons do still want to do a decent job with their cutting and laying. But how does one cut a concrete block?

The cheapest but also most time-consuming method is also hands down the oldest method of shaping blocks on planet Earth; with a hammer and chisel. The cut will be rough and jagged, not exactly safe for children and animals without some grinding down of the edges. But for those with limited budgets and plenty of time, it gets the job done. The first step is to lay out the lines on all sides of the block what shape you want the block to take. A chalk or pencil outline generally works well enough once you’ve decided what shape the block will take.

After that, with the chisel and hammer, start chiseling a 1/8″ deep score (or indentation in the brick in layman’s terms) across the places where you want the block to be split. Once you have a decent score everywhere you want the block to split, place the chisel at the top most part of the brick and then bring your hammer down hard on the block. The block should break apart into the shape you chiseled the score into.

Other methods of cutting concrete blocks also exist, but these tend to be heavy duty tools typically used mostly by professional masons and skilled do it yourselfers who need a cleaner, less jagged cut. There are power saws that can cut through concrete blocks. Making marks around the brick and then cutting them slowly and carefully (and moving the saw away from your body) is the best way to use these tools. There are also specialized concrete block splitters that are very easy to use in a similar but more automated manner that leaves precise but jagged cuts.