Creating a round outdoor planter to surround a tree or host a variety of plants is a project many homeowners undertake each summer. Some, however, hesitate because of the knowledge and effort required to cut rectangular bricks into shapes that butt up against each other to create a circular shape. Once you understand the basics, though, you don't need to be intimidated by the process of cutting bricks.
When it comes to cutting bricks into a shape to create a circular planter, it's crucial that you use the right tools. Select a circular saw, and equip it with a diamond or abrasive blade suitable for cutting bricks. Do not try using a blade suited for wood to cut bricks. You'll also need a tape measure to figure how many bricks you'll need to create the round planter and a pencil with which to draw the cutting line on the bricks once it's been determined.
In preparation for cutting bricks with a circular saw, gather the appropriate safety gear for the job before starting work. Safety goggles for eye protection, a dust mask to prevent brick dust from entering your mouth and nose, protective ear plugs to preserve your hearing, and a pair of heavy duty work gloves to prevent cuts and scrapes from the sharp saw teeth and rough brick edges are all essential. Opt for anti-vibration work gloves that contain cushioning in the palm to minimize the impact of the saw's vibration on your hands. Roll up long sleeves, and wear long pants and enclosed shoes or boots during the project as well.
Determining the Cutting Angle
Before you can determine how much to cut off of each brick, you must decide on the circumference of the planter's circle. Use a garden hose, or a length of rope or string to lay out a border that mimics the size of the circular planter. Lay the bricks down on the interior of the circle, overlapping each one slightly on the others to complete the circle. Use your pencil or marker to follow the line of the overlap to determine the appropriate cutting angle.
Preparing for Cutting
Before you begin cutting, use a straight edge and a pencil to mark the cutting lines on each brick. Marking the bricks beforehand will allow you to cut the entire pile without stopping to measure and mark each one. If the bricks are a darker color, use a felt-tip marker to draw a more noticeable line. Ensure that the angle at each end of the brick is the same in order to make a true circle from the bricks. Locate a stable surface for the job. Laying the bricks on a surface strictly for the purpose of cutting helps prevent unintentional scoring of surfaces such as patios or tables. Use a large paving stone as a foundation on which to lay the bricks during cutting. Hold the brick steady with one hand, keeping your fingers well away from the spinning blade of the saw. Alternatively, build a wooden frame in which to lay the brick and hold it steady during cutting.
When cutting bricks, set the circular saw for a depth of no more than 1/4 inch at a time. Use repeated cuts to work your way through the brick slowly with a light, forward pressure. Remove your finger from the trigger immediately after each cut to avoid inadvertently activating the blade. When you lay the saw down, always lay it on its side with the blade facing downward. Unplug the saw and clean the vents of the saw frequently to remove brick dust that may settle there. Clean the blade guards as well to ensure the quickest return possible.
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