No matter what pattern you follow when installing a walkway or patio, you’ll have to cut some bricks. You can do it with a circular saw or grinder fitted with a masonry blade, but for a less dusty alternative, follow these easy steps to split a brick by hand. You’ll need a cold chisel at least 3/4 inch wide; a broad-bladed chisel, called a brick set, at least 3 inches wide; and a brick hammer. Once you get the hang of it, each cut should take about 5 minutes. Just be sure to put on safety glasses and earplugs before you get started.

1. Mark your cutline on each side of the brick using a pencil and a Speed square.

2. Place the brick on the ground or a sand bed, both of which have some give that will deaden the hammer blows. Score the cutline by tapping a cold chisel gently at about a 60-degree angle; striking straight on or with a full swing could prematurely split the brick and leave an uneven break. Alternate the angle of the chisel from side to side until you’ve made a 1/16-inch-deep groove all the way around the brick, as shown at left.

3. Hold the brick set upright in the score line. Face the set’s beveled edge toward the scrap side of the cut, and then tilt the blade slightly away from that side. Give it a solid blow with your hammer; the brick should split along the score.

4. Chip away any excess material with the chisel end of a brick hammer.
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